In 2019 I read 32 books! Here is my ‘read’ list and some of my highlights.
I am quite a fast reader, but generally I find that I only manage to read while I’m on holiday. In 2018 I started reading audiobooks again, which has really helped — I find that I can listen while I do other things, such as housework or while doing my makeup on the train in the morning!
I had a very stressful project at work during the first half of 2019. This absorbed most of my time and so I didn’t manage to read as much as I would have liked. But, given this setback I am pleased with my total.
The books I read in 2019
Here is a full list of all the books I read last year, with completed dates. I have also given notes on some of the books, with my brief thoughts on each one.
1. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman (finished 2nd January)
2. The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett (finished 2nd January)
3. A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett (finished 3rd January)
4. Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett (finished 5th January)
5. I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett (finished 17th January)
6. The Shepherd’s Crown, by Terry Pratchett (finished 17th January)
In January, I decided I would finally read The Shepherd’s Crown, the final book that Terry wrote. I had previously avoided it (as many fans of the Discworld have), as it would mean that the series is finally over and that there is nothing left to read. However, I felt it was time, and thought that as Terry had worked so hard to write that book, it was only right that I take the time to read it — and that I might find it hard to read, but no more than his family or close friends might feel.
I re-read the Tiffany Aching series to refresh my memory before reading the final book. Last time I read them, I read them in the wrong order so they didn’t make much sense. I also read them as audiobooks this time, which made it so much more immersive — previously I had really struggled with the Nac Mac Feegle’s Scottish accents! The accent comes across so much better in the audiobook — Stephen Briggs does a great job! I really enjoyed the series and while I cried for a lot of the Shepherd’s Crown, I am glad that I read it.
7. Becoming, by Michelle Obama (finished 18th February)
8. Moab is my Washpot, by Stephen Fry (finished 18th February)
I am trying to read more non-fiction books, and so picked up Becoming on Audible. It is read by Michelle Obama, and hearing her words spoken in her own voice made such a difference. You can hear when she was smiling, and her voice crack when she talks about her father passing away. I really enjoyed it, and it gave the book an extra dimension for me. Hearing about her life before she met Barack was so interesting, and I also really enjoyed her ancedotes about her time living in the White House. She is a really interesting and intelligent woman and I certainly recommend reading her book.
I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry, and Moab is my Washpot was a re-read. It covers his early childhood until he is 18. Again, this was an audiobook, and I think this is my favourite method now of reading any autobiography! I found reading about life at a boarding school really interesting, particularly as I’ve never heard about these experiences from a ‘real’ person — just in novels like Harry Potter.
9. The Bullet Journal Method, by Ryder Carroll (finished 2nd March)
10. Moon Over Soho, by Ben Aaronovitch (finished 7th March)
I have kept journals and diaries for over 20 years, but it is only in the last year or so that I have become aware of Bullet Journalling. Created by Ryder Carroll, a Bullet Journal is a way of noting your to do lists, goals, future plans and your day-to-day life using bullet points. While the #bulletjournal hashtag is filled with beautifully lettered pages on Instagram, the original concept was that it should be quick and easy, with no decoration required. Ryder’s book talks a lot about goal setting, productivity and focusing on what really matters to you — things that are so easy to forget when you are wrapped up in the busyness of your day-to-day life. I use some Bullet Journal techniques and found this book so helpful. I think it is one I will go back to again and again.
11. The Priory of the Orange Tree, by Samantha Shannon (finished 6th April)
12. Captain Marvel, Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More, by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Writer) and David López (Artist) (finished 6th April)
13. Sharp Ends, by Joe Abercrombie (finished 16th April)
The Priory of the Orange Tree was a new book that I read as part of the Facebook book club I co-manage. I read this on Audible, but I think next time I’d prefer to read it on paperback or Kindle, as I didn’t like the narrator — her odd pronounciation of certain words and her voices for the dragons particularly bothered me. But, ignoring that, this was a great read. The characters and story gripped me straight away. I also loved that there were so many strong female characters in this book, and that despite its seemingly traditional fantasy setting, there wasn’t the traditional patriarchy too. I really hope that Samantha writes more books set in this rich, fascinating world!
Sharp Ends is a series of short stories by Joe Abercrombie. He is one of my favourite authors, and I love how he can create such vivid characters and settings with just a few paragraphs. I loved it, and the narrator is excellent too!
14. To Best the Boys, by Mary Weber (finished 6th May)
15. Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (finished 15th May)
As you’ve probably gathered from the start of this blog, I am a big fan of Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman is also a favourite. I remember reading this many years ago after reading the Sandman series, but as the TV series was coming out, I thought it was a good time to re-read it! My favourite parts are around the bike riders of the Apocalypse, the paintball game that Crowley interferes with, and when Adam receives Dog. I also really like the characters and the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley, and the struggle they have between their respective roles of good and evil.
16. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (finished 5th June)
17. Columbus Day (Expeditionery Force #1), by Craig Alanson (finished 27th June)
Columbus Day and the Expeditionery Force series was recommended to me as an enjoyable, fun read. I really liked this first book, and the narrator of the series, R. C. Bray, is absolutely fantastic. I love the relationship between Joe, the main character, and the AI, which gets nicknamed Skippy. Joe by himself is a little annoying, but as the books progress and more characters are introduced the series gets better. I liked some of the jokes, too — the ‘one sheep’ joke had me howling (I imagine it’s quite an old joke but I hadn’t heard it before!), and I appreciated that when characters tell jokes, you actually hear them, rather than just hearing the punchline as the character enters the room (sitcom style).
18. Furyborn, by Claire Legrand (finished 2nd August)
19. Kingsbane, by Claire Legrand (finished 4th August)
20. The Binding, by Bridget Collins (finished 6th August)
21. SpecOps (Expeditionary Force #2), by Craig Alanson (finished 7th August)
The Binding was another of my book club reads. I absolutely loved it! I thought that the concept was great and the twist at the end was fantastic too. It was one of my favourite books of 2019!
22. Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin (finished 29th September)
I really didn’t enjoy this audiobook and returned it on Audible as it was so bad — I wrote a review of it if you want to learn more.
23. A Little Hatred, by Joe Abercrombie (finished 2nd October)
24. Paradise (Expeditionary Force #3), by Craig Alanson (finished 27th October)
25. Trouble on Paradise (Expeditionary Force #3.5), by Craig Alanson (finished 27th October)
A Little Hatred is a brand new novel by Joe Abercrombie, set 20 years or so after the last books. I was really excited about reading it and it certainly didn’t disappoint! I love the new characters, especially Savine, and hearing about what characters from the series have been up to in the remaining years. The ending was heartbreaking, as well as making me intruiged about what will happen next.
26. Body Positive Power, by Megan Jayne Crabbe (finished 11th November)
27. Black Ops (Expeditionary Force #4), by Craig Alanson (finished 13th November)
28. The Penmaker’s Wife, by Steve Robinson (finished 23rd November)
Body Positive Power was recommended to me by a friend. I have always struggled with my appearance and self-esteem, and my friend said that she found this book really helpful. It was absolutely fascinating. A lot of themes in the book such as knowing about the beauty and dieting industries and that they have a hidden agenda, and that every photograph in the media has been photoshopped to some extent, is something that I know is true — and yet it’s so easy to forget. Putting everything together and in one place, mixed in with Megan’s own experiences, really made it hit home for me. I would recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their self-image, their self-esteem or with their relationship in general.
29. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson (finished 15th December)
30. Ghoster, by Jason Arnopp (finished 25th December)
31. The Last Days of Jack Sparks, by Jason Arnopp (finished 26th December)
32. Zero Hour (Expeditionary Force #5), by Craig Alanson (finished 29th December)
A friend posted about how great Ghoster was on Facebook, and inspired me to pick it up. I read it and the Last Days of Jack Sparks while I was away at Christmas and enjoyed both books, though Ghoster was my favourite of the two. I loved all of the twists and turns throughout the story, and the text conversations and diary entries. It is set in Brighton and I loved the name checks — I stayed in Camelford Street before Christmas and admired the beautiful Van Alen flats next door!
My goals for 2020
This year I am aiming to read 52 books. While I managed 32 books last year, I usually manage to hit 50. I want to spend more time relaxing this year as I spent a lot of time in 2019 feeling stressed and overworked, so I hope that reading more will help with that!
Of those 52, I want to aim for 12 non-fiction books and 12 ‘classics’, books that I feel I should have read but haven’t yet such as Moby Dick, the Count of Monte Cristo and Anna Karenina. I will also have a monthly book to read for my book club — January’s book is Follow me to Ground by Sue Rainsford that I am really excited to read!
I will keep you updated with my progress — you can also follow me on GoodReads!