Selection criteria for an annual “best of” list is kinda squishy, especially when it comes to books. We all have our fave authors, genres and styles, right? If a book made it onto my “best of” list, it had to include:
1. Rich, robust writing that’s a cut above.
2. A creative, clever plot that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go until The End. The story had to be powerful, poignant, or unusually memorable. Even better: all of the above.
3. Three dimensional characters that are lively, intriguing, and powerful. The type you don’t forget after you close the book.
4. Bonus points for a fresh approach on an old topic, a unique perspective, or inspiration as sound as sterling.
So here’s my totally unscientific, 100% subjective list of Best Reads of 2019. (Not every title on this list was published in 2019. It’s just the year I read it, okay?)
In no particular order, here are my top reads of 2019, by category:
MOST INSPIRING :
Bòrn Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds, Joy Adamson
My Pride and Joy: An Autobiography, George Adamson
The Winter Pony, Iain Lawrence
Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Ablom
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris
Lassie Come Home, Eric Knight
MOST CREATIVE & ORIGINAL:
One of Our Thursdays is Missing, Jasper Fforde
Flame in the Mist, Renee Adieh
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of 4 Sisters, 2 Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy – Jeanne Birdsall
Out of my Mind, Sharon Draper
Maze Runner, James Dashner
The Prey, Andrew Fukuda
I Am Still Alive, Kate Alice Marshall
A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean. I’ve read this before, but I appreciated it more the second time through.
BEST HISTORICAL FICTION:
Sky in the Deep, Adrienne Young
At the Mountain’s Edge, Genevieve Graham
Making Bombs for Hitler, Stolen Girl, and The War Below, Marsha Skrypuch
BEST NARRATIVE NONFICTION:
Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All, Various
Spencer’s Mountain, Earl Hamner (A novel, but with a strong narrative voice)
‘NEW’ AUTHORS OF NOTE (In no particular order. List not exhaustive)
The Case Against Socialism, Rand Paul
The Library Book, Susan Orlean
No Safe Spaces – Dennis Prager, et.al.
Max Lucado, Scott O’Dell, Gary Paulsen and Sarah Sund. Also Ingrid Paulson and Richard Paul Evans. Karen Kingsbury. Debbie Macomber. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a book I didn’t like by C.W. Anderson, Walt Morey, or Maurice Sendak.
I’m working on a TBR list for 2020. What do you recommend? Holler in the Comments!