A few of my friends and I created reading goals for 2019 on the popular website Goodreads.com. We used our goals to track what we read, share recommendations, and challenge and encourage one another to keep reading all year long! I finished with 52 books read this year – an average of one book per week. If you know me very well, you know that there are few things I love more in the world than books. If you are reading this post then maybe you can relate. Hopefully my list can help you find some good reading material for 2020, and I would love it if you could return the favor in the comments to help me build MY list for the upcoming year!
Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss): My favorite book I read all year. The first of a trilogy, this fantasy novel swept me away from page one. I enjoyed every minute I spent with Kvothe at the University and exploring the magical world of Temerant. I check Rothfuss’s website weekly in anticipation of the release date of the third and final book. Highly recommend for any adult who enjoys fantasy.
The Nightingale (Kristin Hannah): The Nightingale drops you right in the middle of France during Nazi occupation at the beginnings of World War II. The story follows two sisters; one sister trying to win the war and save the world, the other doing whatever it takes to keep her family alive. This novel was a rollercoaster on my emotions – the first book to make me cry since Dobby died in the Harry Potter finale. Highly recommend for fans of historical WWII fiction.
Beartown (Fredrick Backman): If you had told me that one of my favorite books of the year would be about a podunk town up north and its youth hockey team I would have told you you’re crazy, but this book is a work of art. You quickly get sucked into the drama of Beartown and fall in love with a few characters, and hate a few others. Benji might be one of my favorite literary characters of all time. Please give this book a chance.
Ninth House (Leigh Bardugo): Bardugo does it again. My favorite YA fantasy author crushes it in her adult novel debut with exquisite worldbuilding and well timed intrigue. The story follows the dark arts of the secret societies of Yale University, and one girl’s attempt to solve a murder while avoiding her own. Full of magic and mystery, you might want to read this book with the lights on.
Reframation (Alan Hirsch and Mark Nelson): No book changed my worldview more in 2019 than this one. Reframation is a call to people of faith, primarily Christians, to “reframe” and “reenchant” our perception of God. It’s a call to trade in our cynicism and formulaic gospel for one full of mystery, imagination, and paradox. This book articulates my hopes for the Church moving forward. I think I underlined and highlighted more in this book than in any other.
Learning to Walk in the Dark (Barbara Brown Taylor): This book explores the premise of darkness, and in only a way Barbara Brown Taylor can, shows us how to find spirituality in times when we might not have all the answers. “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light,” she says. This book challenges people of faith to not run from dark times, but embrace them, because as Scripture shows us – God is there. This is the shortest book on my top 8 list, and could be read in a weekend.
The Sun Does Shine (Anthony Ray Hinton): Read this book with my book club crew, and boy was I glad I had a few friends who could experience the same amazement I felt while reading Anthony Ray Hinton’s story of living for 40 years as an innocent man on death row. This story is not a political one, but rather is a story of tragedy, perseverance, faith, hope, love, struggle, redemption, and forgiveness. Everyone should read this book.
Liturgy of the Ordinary (Tish Warren Harrison): This book is hard to describe in a few sentences, and it’s tagline “sacred practices in everyday life” just doesn’t do it justice. It is a spiritual memoir of sorts, full of wisdom, that opens new doors (and old doors) that we can walk through to encounter God more often and more authentically. The most “mundane” practices can often be the ones that lead us down the path of holiness and connection with God. A great devotional type read to highlight and refer back to.
- Scythe (Neal Shusterman)
- Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)
- Educated (Tara Westover)
- The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch)
I’ve only read 3 of your 8. For sure Reframation was my best read this year; it affirmed my journal notes of the last few years! We’re both hoping & praying!! You’re welcome!! And BBT has done it once again; this time poignantly proving the powerful lessons only the dark can teach! Thank you!! Nightingale and Crawdads were my only two fiction indulgences. The former exquisitely superb, the latter entertainingly strange. Thanks on both! Will I read your others… not sure, but I’m intrigued! Your sheer volume is quite impressive this year! Congrats!