For the last few years I’ve started the new year by looking back at all the books I’ve read over the past year. It’s great looking back to see which ones I’ve really enjoyed and it’s definitely a big achievement if I manage to beat my challenge number of books for the year. I do a mixture of reading real paper books and listening to books on Audible.
I started the year by finishing The Luminaries. This absolutely stunning book is set in Victorian era New Zealand and centres around gold prospectors. There are many stories that run alongside each other. The book is pretty complex, long and there is a lot to keep up with, but it was absolutely beautifully written and I cannot wait to pick it up again soon and give it another read.
I also very much enjoyed reading two books about Music, one was a collection of essays by music writer David Hepworth the other was the only authorised book ever written about the Beatles by Hunter Davis. It was written at the height of their career with direct access and plenty of primary sources. I’d definitely recommend it to any fellow music geeks. I learnt a lot about the Beatles that I didn’t know and it made me appreciate their music even more.
I had a bit of a Bill Bryson moment at the beginning of the year and worked my way through most of his books. I love his hilarious takes on travel and history and absolutely whizzed through the books, laughing non stop at the same time as learning loads of interesting stuff.
Another highlight was The Familiars, the debut novel by Stacey Halls. The book is set in the 17th century and would be a great read if you like The Miniaturist or other well written historical novels.
I also read Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and Other Lies, which is a fantastic collection of essays on feminism that are all relevant, interesting and inspiring. The mixture of voices and diversity of the writers definitely got me thinking and I gained a lot from reading it. Another completely relatable book for millennials would have to be Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. This had me laughing til I cried and also cringing at the reliability of some of Dolly;’s experiences. It definitely took me back to my wilder younger days!
A big game changer for me this year was reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up. It lead me to set a whole week aside to focus on decluttering my life and streamlining my house to be an organised easy to manage haven. I fully embraced the programme, made big changes and got rid of a ridiculous amount of stuff. Months later and I’m still organised, my housework takes half the time it used to and I’m more relaxed and happy in my home. Life changing stuff!
Every year I count down the days until the latest book by Ben Aaronovitch comes out. I’ve read all the books from The Rivers of London series and have loved them all. I just hope they maker a TV series out of it soon, because that would be AMAZING!
I then read a lot more Bill Bryson and moved on to The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. This slow paced book gives a day by day account of Shaun’s life running a second hand book shop in Scotland and although the formula is simple it totally works. I loved everything about the book, from the trials and tribulations of the book trade to the hilarious accounts of Shaun’s more quirky customer’s. This is great as a light read with plenty of escapism.
For more escapism, I needed some very lighthearted chick lit, so I read two Lavender Bay books by Sarah Bennett. I can remember really enjoying them at the time, but I’ve read so many books since I can’t really remember the plots now! I have to say though, that when you’re feeling a bit off, a fun book really is the best medicine.
One of the most fascinating books I read last year was Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. I learnt a hell of a lot from this book and understood so much more than I had previously. The book is well researched, beautifully written and I think everyone should read it.
Moving on from that I read Emma Gannon’s The Multi Hythen Method. Which is really a how-to book for the millennial generation on generating multiple income streams. I thought the book was OK, but didn’t really contain any huge revelations. I felt it covered a lot of the why and not enough of the how, when it comes to being an entrepreneur and creative.
I revisited a few of my favourite classics this year starting with Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. I really enjoyed this long book and just about managed to keep up with all the different characters.
I was really happy to read the new novel by Louise Pentland. Wilde Women is the third in the series of these wonderful novels about motherhood, relationships, real life and work. Just like the other two this was well written, relatable and left me wanting more. I cannot wait for the next one to come out!
I also re read one of my all time favourite books Catch 22. Half way through reading it, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and very sadly passed away a week later. While he was in hospital we talked about the book loads and it breaks my heart that he never got to read it. It took me a while to finish it because of everything that was going on at the time and I have a feeling if I ever read it again it will remind me of that awful time too much, so this might be my last time reading it. It is however a dark, funny and shocking book about the futility of war and I’d definitely recommend it if you like modern classics.
I then read another excellent Dickens novel before picking up Becoming by Michelle Obama. I loved her before I read the book, but afterwards I absolutely adored her. The book is fascinating, educational and above all else inspiring. I really enjoyed getting a behind the scenes glimpse of life during a presidential election and in the White House as well as finding out about the Obama’s family life and how Barack ended up becoming president. If you haven’t read this yet, go and grab a copy!
I’ve wanted to read Anna Karenina for years, but to be honest I was put off by it’s sheer length and the number of characters in it and had never really got very far. So I decided to download the audio book and got stuck in to the 38 hour narration. I ended up flying through it and finding any excuse I could to give it a listen. It really is an absolutely beautiful book and I was so engrossed in all the stories. I might even devote a couple of days of my life to listening to it again in a few years.
Probably my favourite book of the year was the next instalment in Philip Pullmans Book of Dust Trilogy. His Dark Materials will always hold a special place in my heart as I read each one as they came out when I was growing up and have reread them so many times. So it’s an absolutely huge treat to be getting new books about Lyra to enjoy. This was an amazing read, but it does end on a complete cliff hanger and I’m kinda wishing the time away until I can read the next one!
I read The War of The Worlds, as I saw that the BBC had made an adaptation. I really enjoyed the book, but absolutely hated the TV series and stopped watching after the first episode. I know that films and TV rarely live up to their books, but this one was especially dreadful!
Needing a bit more of a Philip Pullman fix, I also started rereading His Dark Materials and revisited the first few books. I could never get bored of them and will probably read them every couple of years forever.
I finished the year with two final books. Middlemarch by George Eliot, has got to be one of the finest novels ever written and I really enjoyed working my way through it again. It was another very long one, but the story is so good you really don’t feel the time pass. I’m definitely going to re-read some more George Eliot this year too.
My final book of the year was the perfect read to finish 2019. What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey is one of those books that could potentially change your life. It’s full of wisdom and insight and gives you a refreshing an inspirational look at life. Winfrey uses her life experiences and wisdom to give advise on gratitude, appreciation and mindfulness and reading the book is like getting advise from an old wise friend. If you need a bit of a pick me up in 2020, then this is a great place to start.
So that’s it for another year. I haven’t gone into detail about every book I read, but on the whole I think it’s been a good year for books! Do you have any recommendations for this year’s reads? What books have you enjoyed recently?
Ways to follow Vintage Frills