When I set up this blog, I had every intention of making frequently updated book recommendations for young readers, teen readers, and mama readers. Sadly, the pages under those tabs have been “under construction” since I started this blog three years ago. Ahem. All signs are pointing to me not being capable of keeping up with that intention, but I CAN share with you my top ten reads from my own 2019 Reading Challenge. For the past couple of years I’ve set a challenge for myself on Goodreads to read 50 books. It’s a great form of self care for me, and it’s nice to end the year feeling like I’ve accomplished something for myself when I log book 50 out of 50.
Here are my top 10 favorites from my 2019 Reading Challenge. I hope you’ll find a few to add to your own reading queue.
I read this book about a mysterious pandemic at the end of 2019, and it was very much on my mind as the 2020 pandemic began. The response of the government, the response of the population – it all seemed so in line with what I had read about in this book. This is a book of many paced reveals, so it’s hard to say much about it without ruining part of it for you. I will say, though, that I consider it the best apocalypse book I’ve ever read, and it would make a great book club selection, because there is SO VERY MUCH to talk about.
If you’re looking for a perfectly creepy read (perfect for Halloween!) to immerse you in an atmosphere and help you forget about reality, this is the book for you. A young woman in dire financial straits receives an apartment-sitting offer that’s too good to be true. What’s really going on in this posh apartment building?
I hung on every word of Tommy Orange’s novel told from multiple perspectives. The stories of each character delve into issues facing Native Americans in our time, illuminated by interjections of historical context, and ultimately interconnect in ways that are revealed as the novel progresses.
For language enthusiasts, McCulloch’s approachable book about linguistics reveals how the internet is spurring the evolution of our language, and it provides a little comfort for those of us bothered by the ways we see others using language on the internet.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
The real Alice Network was a network of female spies located in France during World War I. With some of the book’s characters being based at least somewhat on these real-life heroes, this story is a peek into a moment in time when a few extraordinarily courageous women helped save the world.
This book has the sort of layers that make it worthy of being talked over in a literature class. A young African-American newlywed couple is separated when Roy is accused of a crime he didn’t commit and sentenced to twelve years far away from the couple’s home in Atlanta. This book holds nothing back. Raw emotions, inner lives, and experiences are laid bare.
I carried this book around with me for a few weeks, picking it up for a few minutes here and there while the kids played outside or while I waited for an appointment. Those few minutes packed in a lot of insight, though. It’s a collection of reflections on being a better human, one worth taking a little time in this busy season of life to mull over.
It seems that I used to read a lot of apocalypse books before the pandemic. Ha! Maybe not anymore, or maybe, as my friend Leslie says, it’s almost comforting to read apocalypse books now because you realize that our own little societal breakdown isn’t as bad as what’s happening in the book.
In any case, I read this with my book club and thought it was a great selection for us because the discussion was so interesting. It’s characterized as a satire, but for me, there weren’t a lot of laughter moments (though a few of those moments were there), but the main character’s survival through an apocalypse driven by a gentle but devastating pandemic was haunting.
In a United States that seems a little too similar to our own, women are given a meager allotment of words to speak each day, enforced with dire consequences by a digital wristband. One women fights back.
In the near future, the world tries to carry on without bees. But if you’ve ever done any nature study, you know that a world without bees must be very different and far less nurturing of human life. This book offers a glimpse around such a world. You’ll want to plant a pollinator garden when you put down this story of devastation and hope.