Saturday, December 28, 2019

Favorite Fiction 2019

Here it is! My final list of 2019! Most of my reading has been in the fiction category. I read 35 adult novels and 11 written for kids and teens. A reminder: I only finish books I like and admire, so all of those 46 were good! You can see all the books I read this year on Goodreads (and while you're there, you can mark MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES, out 2/4/20, as "Want to Read." That helps me.) 

And, here are my favorite five novels in alphabetical order by author.

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Annabelle is a high school senior dealing with trauma. We don't know what exactly happened to her, but it has to be bad because one minute, she's out to dinner with her family, and the next, she just starts running. She's a long-distance runner, so she knows how to do it; but this is different. She decides to run across the country from Seattle to D.C. It's crazy and foolhardy and unbelievably difficult, but she just. has. to. do. it.
And as she logs the miles and faces her guilt and fear and heartache, slowly things start to change for her. I listened to the end of this one while running, and while it was challenging to put one foot in front of the other while simultaneously sobbing, my heart was so, so full. This went straight to my all-time favorites list along with other 2019 reads Good Talk by Mira Jacob, and All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung from the nonfiction list

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
The narrator is a tennis pro in a fancy gated community. His wife is a real estate broker. They've got two kids and bills and regular married-people problems, like what to do to keep the spark alive. What sets them apart is their solution to the spark problem: they kill people. They're a murdering duo. The bodies--and the secrets between them--keep piling up. I recommend starting this in the broad daylight for the creepiness factor. Then, don't imagine you'll do much of anything else until you're finished. And, I can't resist adding that the ending to this one is just so perfect. I'm still shivering thinking about it.

Circe by Madeline Miller
I loved this remarkable novel of Circe, the witch whose story famously intersects with Odysseus' on his ten-year journey home from Troy. I find Miller's prose to be beautiful and hypnotic, the phrasing echoing both Circe's eternity and her expanding desire for the finite. I probably found special pleasure in this novel because I read the Odyssey with sophomores for five years straight, but I do think this beautiful and satisfying literary novel has broad appeal.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 
I included this one in my audiobook list, too, so I'll keep this short: I just really love it when a book is both completely readable and enjoyable, and at the same time packs a big emotional, ethical, or existential punch. This book is exactly like that. Read it and tell me what you think!

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
a 70s rock band (a la Fleetwood Mac) abruptly breaks up and quits their tour at the very pinnacle of their success. No one knows why...until now.
I had this novel on my shelf for a couple of months before I got to it. Once I started, I fell for it hard, finishing in a day or two. (This is a hazard with Reid's works, I've found. The plots are so immersive and the characters so compelling that I sometimes find myself reading more and more quickly just to make sure everything turns out okay.) In Daisy, Reid blows up traditional novel form. The whole story is told in transcript, as if it's a VH1 Behind-the-Music style documentary. Somehow, she gives us a full, throbbing story in monologue only--no descriptions of setting or inner thinking beyond how seven band members and their significant others, producers, photographers, and managers describe seminal (sometimes catastrophic) events. I loved it. It's light, and it's brilliant, and I couldn't put it down.
And that's it! What a great year of reading. 2020 is going to be an exciting one for reading! Do you have my debut, MINOR DRAMAS & OTHER CATASTROPHES on your list?! I'm so excited to share it with readers, and at the same time, I promise to keep talking about the many other books I read and love! There are so many.


LH said...

I'm reading My Lovely Wife right now and it is indeed quite creepy. Enjoying it.

Will write down these titles in my bullet journal. Thanks, Woman.

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