It’s finally the best time of the year: sharing my favorite books I’ve read. I read a lot, surprisingly, and yet I didn’t even have that many books to talk about. I was able to find a list of ten that I’m really invested in and that I have so much to talk about, so maybe it is for the best I don’t have so many, otherwise this post will last forever, lol.
FIRST READ OF 2019
It’s so crazy to think that my first read of 2019 actually turned out to be one my favorites of the year. I’ve talked a lot about American Panda already, but this book was such a delightful ride. Mei, our main character, is struggling with being her own self in front of her very traditional Taiwanese parents. She’s in her first year of MIT, studying to be a doctor, even though her passion couldn’t be further from anything biology related.
There’s so much I loved about this book. First, Gloria Chao’s realistic writing, that had all the romantic moments but in ways that could happen in real life too; then, the complex relationships. Mei loved and respected her parents and was grateful for their sacrifices, but still felt the need to be her own self, which would never meet her parents’ expectations. It was very heartbreaking following her struggles and how alone she felt, but to me, it’s what made the whole ride even more beautiful and rewarding.
MY FIRST CO-WRITTEN READ
All American Boys was the first book I ever read that was written by two authors. Even though the first couple of chapters were really hard to get through, I was incredibly invested by the end. In this dual perspective novel, we follow Quinn and Rashad, and how their stories intertwine over police brutality, fear and doing what’s right.
I think the big lesson of this story – to speak up, even when it’s hard – was so incredibly powerful. The characters had a lot of layers, even the side characters, and Rashad’s father especially was one that hit me the hardest. The dual perspective added a lot to the story too, because it was so great seeing both the privilege that made both of these characters different, but also all the other aspects of their lives that made them so much alike. I really think this is one that deserves more hype.
For 2019, I had the goal to re-read at least one book a month, which I accomplished. I have such a fun time re-visiting stories I love and reconnecting with characters that I’d missed. There were some books I already expected to love, and did; and others that I didn’t feel the same way after the re-read. The only one that I truly grew to like even *more* the second time around was The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.
I remembered this book being hilarious, but I was taken aback by how sad it could be at times. Monty, our protagonist, is such a phenomenal character. In this journey he takes around Europe with his best friend and sister, and through all their crazy adventures with royalty, pirates and sinking islands, he grows so much and following such growth was remarkable. He not only learns and understands his own privilege, but also recognizes himself as someone worthy of love and affection, in ways that he’d never had before. It was heartbreaking to see his trauma, but also so heart-warming to see him find love. (And also incredibly hilarious to see his meltdowns over the most ridiculous things).
MOST SURPRISING READ
I think, to a certain degree, all the books I have in this list were books that I already expected to really, really like. Either because they had some of my favorite tropes or because they were really hyped and recommended over and over again. But prior to picking up Heretics Anonymous, I hadn’t even heard the most flattering stuff, but decided to read anyway, since the premise sounded so interesting.
And the payoff was incredible. Here, we follow our main character Michael, an atheist going to a catholic school, and the friends he makes there – a group called Heretics Anonymous -, that just like him, aren’t the biggest believers, and they form a very interesting friendship. The biggest take for this book, in my opinion, is how Katie Henry was able to both address that Michael was incredibly privileged being a white, straight, cis boy – especially in contrast to his very diverse group of friends -, and also recognize that his problems and struggles are all still very valid.
The dialogues were hilarious, the characters were so interesting and I was finally able to read about a South-American character, Lucy, who was our 10/10 love interest. Basically: this was so great I can’t believe no one else talks about it.
DESERVING OF ALL THE HYPE
Vicious is seriously a book I’ve been wanting to read since I found out BookTube in early 2014. Since then, I had never seen anyone giving this book any less than 4/5 stars. And when I finally got the chance to acquire a copy while in NYC last December and then to finally read it, this April, I totally comprehend all the people who *love* this book.
V.E. Schwab created such an intricate plot, that jumps into timelines, while following this villanous story that start out as a simple academic research and turns into an intense chase. Because of how the book is told, you end up going through it like finding different pieces to complete a puzzle and I absolutely love how invested I was in figuring out exactly what led these characters to where they were.
I really think this was the most outstanding writing I read this year and I really wish this could get turned into a Netflix show. It would be so amazing.
BY MY FAVORITE AUTHOR
It is official: Nic Stone is one of my favorite female authors of all times. This year, I read two books by her, and though the first one was bittersweet, it just showed me how great her writing is and Jackpot completely solidified that. I will never shut up about how more people need to read her books, because her work is truly fantastic.
In this book, we follow Rico and Zan, who despise their *very* different financial backgrounds, team up to find a missing lotto ticket. And this book delivers everything I expected: hilarious dialogues, fantastic & layered characters and deep discussions on very serious topics. This book explores privilege, money and race, while also being fun and entertaining. It truly is the best of both worlds.
MADE ME CRY THE MOST
I don’t really cry a lot with books, so whenever I find a novel that can bring these much tears, I know it is a keeper. That was Far From the Tree – a three-perspective novel about three siblings finding each other at the age of 16 and each of their struggles with family, love and identity.
There’s so much that this book discusses that this description I just gave barely scratches the surface. Even though there were characters and storylines I didn’t connect as much with
(cof cof Maya cof cof), I still have such fond memories of my time reading this. Robin Benway creates fantastic family dynamics – the type that will bring tears to your eyes within two seconds – and I wanted so bad to just jump into this book and hug all of these characters so hard.
I don’t think I’ll ever shut up about Radio Silence, because just like Vicious, it was one of those books I had on my TBR for ages and as soon as I started it, I realized why everyone raves about it. But I was surprised to see how much I would actually relate to these characters.
While Radio Silence mostly focuses on a podcast and follows a girl who’s obsessed with it, I feel like the word “podcast” could’ve been replaced by book series or TV show and it would’ve been all about me. I also can’t tell you which character I relate the most with, because both were so well written and I could see myself in both Frances’ self-pressure to be perfect and in Aled’s way of using fiction to cope with his own feelings.
This was also so incredibly diverse and I am so glad that I picked this up, because it was truly so awesome being able to see myself in such phenomenal characters too.
A NEW FOUND FORMAT
At the beginning of the year, one of my goals was to explore different formats: try more e-books and, especially, audiobooks. And I fell in love with audiobooks – hence why most of the pictures you’re seeing in this post aren’t of physical books, because I listened to most of them. But the best audiobook I listened all year was definitely Me!
If you’ve read any of my posts before, then you probably know I’ve been obsessed with the movie Rocketman and it has become my favorite movie of all times. And so when I decided to pick up Elton John’s autobiography, Me!, I knew it was going to be a more developed and personal version of the movie and it totally delivered.
But what I loved the most was the narration – done by Taron Egerton, who plays Elton in the movie. It made me feel like I was going through everything along with the characters, with the raw emotion during the sad parts, the chuckles during the hilarious parts and even some frustrated sighs at any mention of Elton’s mom. Even the change of accents was so natural! I really didn’t think any audiobook experience could be this good.
BEST BOOK OF 2019
I read a lot of amazing books this year, but the one that had the most long-lasting impact on me was Birthday, by Meredith Russo. In this dual-perspective novel, we follow the shared birthday of our two main characters over the years and their amazing friendship.
I didn’t think any book would make me feel this much and I truly can not remember the last time I was this invested by a contemporary pairing. Eric and Morgan are the best-friends-to-lovers story that I’ve always wanted, because while the romance can be a big part of this novel and one I was truly immersed in, they’re also amazing characters on their own.
This book is very much about: facing who you truly are, even when the world around you is cruel; feelings that can’t be explained but that make so much sense; people who change and who are worth fighting for. I loved every aspect of it, from the writing, to the dialogues, to the relationships. If you’re going to take anything from this immense post, take this: please, read this book.
That’s it, friends! Now, it’s your turn: what is the best book you read in 2019? Any favorite re-reads? Best pairing you read about and any genre did you find out about only this year? Most surprising read? Let’s discuss in the comments!