Book Recommendations from 2019

Here is a giant dump of all of the books I read in 2019 that I loved the most.

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Science Fiction

The Humans by Matt Haig – The story is told from the point of view of an alien sent to Earth to make sure a recently discovered world-changing mathematical formula was squashed, rather than made public. Seeing humanity through the eyes of an outsider was heartwearming.

In every human life there is a moment. A crisis. one thing that says, what I believe is wrong. It happens to everyone, the only difference being how that knowledge changes them… The single biggest act of bravery or madness anyone can do is the act of change.
– The Humans, Matt Haig

Seeds Triology, K. Makansi – It is rare that I read past the first book in a series, but I read this whole YA dystopian trilogy. The well developed world is one where the powerful oppress (and determine) the powerless by manipulating the biology of food. The three books are called, in order, The Sowing, The Reaping, and The Harvest.

Stories have power… Artists tell stories with pictures so those who are deaf to the truth can see it instead. Poets tell stories with words so those who are blind to the truth can hear it instead.
The Harvest, K. Makansi


Fantasy

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – This is the sequel to one of my favorite books of all time Strange the Dreamer, also by Laini Taylor. Together these two books are possibly my favorite story. Laini Taylor has created a vast universe where gods and goddesses live among humans… and are blue. It’s just amazing. If you like fantasy at all, check these out.

Once upon a time there was a silence that dreamed of becoming a song, and then I found you, and now everything is music.
– Muse of Nightmares, Laini Taylor
The Falconer, Elizabeth May

The Wrath and the Dawn & The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh – Strong female protaganist. Mysterious ritual murders. Magic. Romance. Stories. Intrigue. Adventure. Everything I want in a story spread out over two books.

Destiny was for fools. [She] would not wait for her life to happen. She would make it happen.
– The Rose & the Dagger, Renée Ahdieh

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao – I discovered my favorite type of book in 2019 and all of these favorite fantasy selections exemplify my favorite type of book. This is another one with a strong female protagonist who DOESN’T choose the boy. There’s also magic and mystery! This is not a predictable story.

For that is the way of the world… Some are given a rope to the moon, and others claw up the sky.
– Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, Julie C. Dao

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – Speaking to modern day struggles of African Americans via a strong female protagonist living in a fantasy world that includes magic and romance? Yes, please. The sequel was recently released and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

The odds were against us then. Reality told us we would fail. But again and again, we fought. We persevered. We rose.
– Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi


Young Adult

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green – I’m not generally a big fan of John Green but I could really relate to the way anxiety was portrayed in this one.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – YA Romance!!!

I think all the good parts of us are connected on some level. The part that shares the last double chocolate chip cookie or donates to charity or gives a dollar to a street musician or becomes a candy striper or cries at Apple commercials or says I love you or I forgive you. I think that’s God. God is the connection of the very best parts of us.
– The Sun Is Also a Star, Nicola Yoon


Historical Fiction

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler – This is not just historical fiction but it’s also kind of science fiction, which is awesome. A black woman living in the 70s who is married to a white man finds herself suddenly (and repeatedly – spoiler alert?) transported back to 1815. It’s a very creative and fresh (though it was first published in 1979) look at slavery and race relations.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan – I believe I picked this one out of one of those little free libraries this summer. It was so precious. It’s a WWII story about the people left behind and the hope and kinship a choir brings. If you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I bet you’ll like this.


NonFiction

Miracles and Other Reasonable Things by Sarah Bessey  – I have read so many of Sarah Bessey’s words over the years. I have read blog posts and books and email newsletters. I have read Facebook posts and Instagram captions and articles. I am a BIG Bessey fan. I cried and sighed and breathed deeply through this book. This is the best of the best, friends. The best of Bessey, for sure, and among the best of spiritually-minded books.

Once upon a time, I held on tight. Then God opened my hands. Once upon a time, God was certainty and right answers. Then God became the questions.
– Miracles and Other Reasonable Things: A Story of Unlearning and Relearning God, Sarah Bessey

Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen – It’s important for me to see fat women being fat and happy, fat and in love, fat and successful, fat and anything and everything else because it turns out “fat” is only a bad thing if you decide it is and I decide it’s not.

There are two different ways of dealing with sadness. You can create something, or you can destroy what other people have created.
Happy Fat: Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You, Sofie Hagen

Becoming by Michelle Obama – I personally did not realize how good we had it until the Obamas were gone. What an amazing, intelligent, powerful, hardworking, accomplished woman Michelle Obama is! She’s a wonderful example for all of us to look up to and her story (so far) is so good.

You may live in the world as it is, but you can still work to create the world as it should be.
– Becoming, Michelle Obama

The Very Worst Missionary by Jamie Wright – Praise God I found this woman’s blog right when I moved to the Dominican Republic. Her words and confessions and stories gave me permission to be exactly who I am, not who I thought a “missionary” should be.

When we do what we were designed, equipped, and educated to do best, in the company of a God who continually nudges us in the direction of love, I think that’s when we find ourselves in the most productive, most compassionate, most life-changing spaces.
– The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever, Jamie Wright


Fiction

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – First of all, this story takes place in Australia, so if you’re looking to read around the world or something similiar, here’s one. This is just the beautiful and at times heart-wrenching story of a family. It goes back and forth in times, which I typically enjoy. Sometimes the narrative was hard to follow because of the back and forth, but that’s my only critique of the book.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – If you liked Island of the Blue Dolphins when you were a kid and reread it a million times like I did, you’ll probbaly like this one. The main character essentially lives by herself in the wildnerness. We see how the outside world bumps into the life she’s created for herself and how that changes both her and others.

It wasn’t so much that the herd would be incomplete without one of its deer, but that each deer would be incomplete without her herd.
– Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell – I had this one on hold for a long time and it was worth the wait. There’s a hoarding mother and her kids and the story is weird and spans decades and grabs your attention from the get go.

The human memory is such a cruel, frustrating thing, the way it just discards things without asking permission, precious things. At least here, in my house, I have control over my memories.
– The House We Grew Up In, Lisa Jewell

Girls Burn Brigher by Shobha Rao – This story takes place partly in India, so it’s good for a read around the world, too. This book was hard to read because the women in it live hard lives that reflect the hard lives of so many women living and breathing and surviving today. 

Everything is already written in the stars… By the gods. We can’t alter a thing. So what does it matter? Why worry?
 Girls Burn Brighter, Shobha Rao


Mystery/Thriller/Creepy

After the Fire by Will Hill – This year I’ve gotten into cults (learning about them, not joining them). This story is a fictionalization of what went down in Waco with the Branch Davidians.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan – My GoodReads review for this book was, “Sad, but really good.” I like when books move forward, when there is a journey of forward motion. This story is a puzzle/mystery set off with a suicide.

You by Caroline Kepnes – It’s a talented storyteller that has their reader sympathizing and cheering for the physcopath.

I will never again underestimate the power of anticipation. There is no better boost in the present than an invitation to the future.
– You, Caroline Kepnes

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Well, that’s it! My top 21 books from 2019. If any are calling your name do what you can to get your hands on them. I’ve learned a lot from these books this past year and have also been entertained and creeped out and challenged. Reading is good for our souls. What did you read in 2019?

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