Annual Roundup: My Books of 2019

Before anyone points it out, I know there are still a couple of weeks left in the year. Plenty of time to read a few more books and maybe find a gem that could have made it into my annual list of recommendations. However, with January fast approaching I need to make a start on my 2020 TBR pile. Also, I like to get this list out before Christmas in case it tempts anyone to buy another easy to wrap present, or to treat themselves.

A quick count suggests I have read around 135 books so far this year. Unlike Lucy Ellmann (author of the critically acclaimed tome, Ducks, Newburyportand seemingly fond of making sweeping, controversial statements when interviewed), I enjoy reading contemporary fiction including quality crime fiction. Many of the titles selected below were published this year. Not all though. Let’s start with the books I read in 2019 that were not new releases and that I am happy to recommend.

Click on the title to read my review. Click on the cover to find out more about the book.

   
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, published by Corsair
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, published by Picador

   
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges, published by Fox, Finch and Tepper
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore, published by Salt


On Silbury Hill by Adam Thorpe, published by Little Toller

 

It is fair to say that I enjoy translated fiction from around the world. Books selected for translation will generally have been well received in their original language before being published in English – many are award winners. These are just a few read this year that I particularly recommend.

 
Katalin Street by Magda Szabó (translated by Len Rix), published by MacLehose Press
Resistance by Julián Fuks (translated by Daniel Hahn), Published by Charco Press

 
A Devil Comes to Town by Paolo Maurensig (translated by Anne Milano Appel), published by World Editions
The German House by Annette Hess (translated by Elisabeth Lauffer), published by Harper Via

 

Short Story collections are, apparently, more difficult to sell than novels. Given modern man’s allegedly shortening attention span this seems strange to me. If tempted to dip in then these two books are worth considering – quality writing telling succinct, captivating tales.

 
Witches Sail in Eggshells by Chloe Turner, published by Reflex Press
This Way to Departures by Linda Mannheim, published by Influx Press

 

Most non fiction is chosen by readers because the subject matter is of interest. Sometimes, however, a book is just so original, well written and entertaining that it is worth reading however much (or little) the headline topic may appeal. I believe every reader would find the following two titles both interesting and engaging.

 
Car Park Life by Gareth E. Rees, published by Influx Press
The White Heron Beneath The Reactor by Gary Budden, with artwork by Maxim Griffin

 

Children’s fiction is a genre I would like to read more of. Treat the young readers in your life to this, the second in a series that I am enjoying immensely.


Sunny and the Hotel Splendid by Alison Moore (illustrated by Ross Collins), published by Salt

 

My next recommendation is a recent read so hasn’t yet had time to prove it will linger. Nevertheless, I’m including it because it was so compelling and hard hitting – YA Fiction to open eyes to the challenges faced by troubled teens.


The Raven Wheel by AF Stone, published by The Book Guild

 

Crime fiction is a popular but crowded genre so authors have to offer something special to be noticed. The Marnie Rome series, which I believe finished with this next recommendation (I have read and enjoyed all six books in the series), does so with ease.


Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary, published by Headline

 

On then to new releases in general, sometimes described as literary, fiction. This includes titles with greater or lesser elements of fantasy – isn’t all fiction an imaginative creation? My longest list of recommendations as it is the type of book I read most often.

 
Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession, published by Bluemoose Books
Mothlight by Adam Scovell, published by Influx

 
The Fire Starters by Jan Carson, published by Doubleday
Flotsam by Meike Ziervogel, published by Salt

 
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, published by Granta Books
The Offing by Benjamin Myers, published by Bloomsbury

 
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay, published by Atlantic Books
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, published by Harvill Secker

 

Twenty-four books is more than I would usually include in my annual roundup but I decided not to cull my choices further as all of the above deserve consideration. I hope that each of you will find something of interest in my recommendations. I wish you many hours of satisfying reading.

 

3 comments on “Annual Roundup: My Books of 2019

  1. I have 26 on my list Jackie. I’m not a fan of convention that says I can only have 10 or whatever arbitrary number is applied. If I loved it I loved it! You’re got a super selection here. Happy Christmas and happy reading in 2020!

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