2019 Reading List

Photography by Ally Regan

I’ll be the first to admit it, there a quite a few holes in my literary education.  I haven’t read anything by Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, or even all of the Harry Potter books.  I know, its terrible.  But I love to read!  So when thinking about what books I want to read in 2019, I put together a list of classics, nonfiction, memoirs, and new releases.  If you want to up your reading game, feel free to use this list and let me know about it by using the hashtag, #nutmegreads2019 so I can see it!  I think 2019 is going to be a good year for readers!

Be aware, this is a long post.  If you just want the new releases list, feel free to search for my 2019 Book List on Amazon to see what new releases I’m excited about!

(1) Becoming by Michelle Obama

First on my list is the most recent book that I’ve bought, that was just released a month or two ago.  This is definitely one of those bandwagon books that I’ve seen all over social media.  I’ve always been a big fan of the Obamas, and I haven’t read any of the books that they’ve written.  Maybe I’m just missing them being in office so I feel compelled to read this book, but I’m also intrigued at the idea of getting a closer look into Michelle and what it was like for her to be the First Lady.

(2) Golden Child by Claire Adam

This next book is going to be released in January of 2019.  I found this book on Oprah’s list of the Most Anticipated books of 2019 so it’s probably going to be a great read.   This book is published by Sarah Jessica Parker’s new publishing house and if this book is anything like her debut book, A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mizra, it will be very well written.  It tells the story of a mother choosing between her two sons, set in Trinidad.

(3) Severance by Ling Ma

I know, I’m a little late to the Ling Ma train, but better late than never, right?  Published towards the end of the summer, this book quickly caught the attention of book reviewers and even NPR.  In her debut novel, the main character lives in NYC but ends up fighting for her life in an apocalypse-type situation.  Not quite the usual reason people leave the Big Apple.  While I love movies that have this same fight-for-survival theme, I’m interested to see how it plays out on the page.

(4) There There by Tommy Orange

The striking orange cover with black artwork is what drew me to this book, and the reviews are what prompted me to add it to my list.  In fact, this book was on the New York Times Book Reviews 10 Best Books of 2018 list.  Orange’s debut novel tackles of theme of home through the eyes of Native Americans’ set in Oakland, California.  Hopefully, it’s a great read!

(5) The Handmaid’s Tale

I’ve been meaning to read this book for years now.  In a sense, I have read parts of the books, through the lense of Sparknotes, apologies to my Honors English teacher!  This book is finally being pushed to the top of my reading list not only because I want to finally watch the series on hulu, but also because Margaret Atwood is coming out with a sequel to this book in 2019!  If you also haven’t read this classic dystopian novel, it’s the story of a world where womans’ freedoms are limited and women are only valued for their fertility.

(6) In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

This is another book that’s been on my shelf for a while, but I’m pushing it near the top of my list for next year.  I’m obsessed with food, not sure if you noticed) and I’ve been told that I should read this multiple times.  In this nonfiction book, Pollan delves into the idea of what we should actually be eating and how, over the years, food has left natural food items and turned into products of food science.  I’m looking forward to this book and it will be a timely read when so many people are trying to be healthier in the New Year.

(7) Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

I first heard about this book on NPR and I was immediately interested.  I don’t know much about Steve Jobs or even that he was married!

(8) The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Pt. 1, 2, and 3

I’ve seen the movies… so I should really read the books!

(9) The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

I found this book on another Most Anticipated List, it might have been Oprah’s again.  This chilling story is definitely a huge step out of my comfort zone for books.  I avoid scary movies at all costs and I hardly ever read thrillers.  But this book sounds so intriguing that I just might give it a shot.

(10) My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

This is one of those books that I picked up a while ago at a little bookstore in Grand Rapids cleverly called Books and Mortar.  Written by an Italian author, I bought this because I was intrigued by a story that takes place in Naples.  I hope it was a good purchase!

(11) Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

I don’t read many memoirs, but one of my goals for 2019 is to read more memoirs by people that inspire.

(12) More Than Words by Jill Santopolo

(13) Atonement by Ian McEwan

(14) All The Birds in The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

(15) Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

(16) American Prison by Shane Bauer

(17) Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken

(18) The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

(19) The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

(20) All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

(21) The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

(22) The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano

(23) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

(24) After you by Jojo Moyes

(25) The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey

(26) Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

(27) Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

(28) Era of Ignition by Amber Tamblyn

(29) How to Change your Mind by Michael Pollan

(30) Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

(31) The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

(32) The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

(33) The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

(34) The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani

(35) Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlanksy

(36) Sourdough by Robin Sloan

(37) Normal People by Sally Rooney

(38) Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight

(39) Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg

(40) Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

(41) The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

(42) The Farm by Joanne Ramos

(43) Farmacology by Daphne Miller

(44) City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

(45) Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

(46) The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

(47) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

(48) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

(49) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

(50) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I just might add to this for the second half of 2019, as most of the new releases I found are being published in the first six months of the year.  Plus, I’m sure I’ll come across a few classics that I desperately need to get under my belt!

Happy Reading!

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Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

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Another great Book of the Month selection!

Swimming Lessons is a novel about a young love that blossoms between a budding feminist and her literary professor/writer, set in England.  They fall in love and an unplanned pregnancy brings a tumultuous and emotional time for Ingrid.  She’s unable to finish school, struggling to accept her new daughter, and finds out that her husband is the man she was warned about.  After several miscarriages, and many more mistresses, Ingrid finds herself on the verge of leaving the life she has come to hate.  What actually happened to her is speculation, but Flora never gave up hope that her mom was still alive.  Written from Flora’s point of view as well as from Ingrid’s point of view in the letters that she leaves for Gil in his expansive book collection, you are left to piece together the story and speculate about what really happened.

This book is artfully written.  I am a sucker for books about book stores or writers or books themselves, which this book is about all three of those things.  But it also shows us the complicated webs that love weaves, between husband and wife, mother and daughter, life and loss, betrayal and trust.  The narrative is quite creative in that as soon as you find yourself hooked on Flora’s point of view, the chapter ends and Ingrid’s lost letters enlighten the reader.

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What are the odds that I would start reading this book on May 2nd, the same date that was mentioned two pages in?

It was quite interesting to watch Flora grow up and to watch Ingrid disappear.  Claire Fuller did an excellent job in revealing just the right amount of information to keep us turning the pages.  It’s a medium length book, but a fast read and would make a great book club book.

 

 

 

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

It’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten lost in a book they way I got lost in ‘The Leavers’ by Lisa Ko.  The story she weaves is so artfully and purposefully unraveled.  You are discovering new things about each character as they realize them about themselves.

I picked this book up on a site called Book of the Month.  If you’ve never heard of this subscription box service, it’s pretty great.  They select five books every month that you can choose from based on whatever subscription level you sign up for.  What I really like about them is that you can read a synopsis of each book as well as a review written by a fellow book lover about the book.  They picks are smart and broad, covering a wide variety of genres.  I often use this site when I’m looking for books that I know will be good, but may be in a new genre.  You can also skip the month if you don’t see anything you want.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not being paid to promote them, I just really like them.  If you’re interested, click this link to sign up!

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‘The Leavers’ tells the heart-wrenching story of a mother and son, who try to find their home in a world that prevents them from truly knowing each other.  Immigration, adoption, adolescence, heartbreak, mental illness, abuse, and poverty are all topics that find their way between these pages.  After reading this book, my eyes were really opened to what immigrants sometimes have to go through to get into America, all for a better life.  I don’t think this book was based off of a true story, however I do know that there are Immigration Detention Centers in the USA that have less than perfect living conditions and that stories similar to this exist.

It breaks my heart to think about stories such a this one, where a mother leaves her child in her home country and survives the travel conditions to make it here, only to work hard to pay off her debt and then be jailed, abused, and deported.  This book also tackles the topic of adoption, and exposes all sides of it.  This is the first time I’ve read anything about an older child being adopted, one that remembers his birth mother all too well.  Another topic that is touched on can speak to probably almost everyone.  It shows a very raw look at the struggle it is to find where home is for yourself and to find something that you are passionate about in life.  All too often, kids think that they need to figure out everything by the time they get to college when that is unrealistic.  Deming’s story took a good look at this.

Overall, this book really widened my world view and I would highly recommend it.  Also, Lisa Ko’s writing style worked really well for me and I found myself completely submersed in the story.  This is the kind of book that will have you thinking about the characters even when you aren’t reading it.