Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Best books from 2019.

I try to round of my reading year with picking my five favourite book.  This year as I spent so much time escaping from life through reading I consumed more books than usual. 2018 I read 60 books, 2019 it was 74!

So here are my favourite eight books , in no particular order from 2019, all of which have made onto my top 100 list, which now stands at 56 books chosen.

Mary Prince- The History of Mary Prince- The story of a slave in the 1830s in her own words- a harrowing book of mans inhumanity to man.

Nella Last’s War- or Housewife 49, as Victoria Wood called her TV drama based on the diaires. Brilliant.

Markus Zusak- The Book Thief- really very good indeed. Liesel is taken to live with foster parents in Munich by her mother when he Dad is arrested for being a communist. She comes to love her new Mama and Papa especially her Papa, and the little boy next door, Rudy who becomes her best friend. Max the son of a Jewish friend of Papa’s is sheltered in the basement. Liesel finds and sometimes steals books and her Papa and Max teach her to read. An interesting perspective on the second world war from the viewpoint of those who did not wave the flag for Hitler.

Amor Towels- A Gentleman in Moscow- Count Rostov is put under house arrest in the Hotel Metropol. Free to mingle with staff and guests, he does, eventually becoming an employee and unofficially adopting a daughter. Just wonderful.

Betty Smith- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- 1914-1917, Brooklyn, the story of the Nolan family living in extreme poverty. Johnie the father, a singing waiter and alcoholic, usually out of work. Katie the mother, a cleaner, who provides the money and struggles to produce meals, Francie and Neeley the children.Themes of pverty, love, education and hope. Semi auto-biographical and so full of great detail. Brilliant novel.

Heather Morris- The Tattooist of Auschwitz- the real story of Lale Sokolov and how he survived Auschwitz, marrying the young woman whose arm he tattooed. Well written and very moving. ( nb I have since heard conflicting opinions of this book- that it fudged too much).

Tracy Chevalier- Remarkable Creatures- based on the true story of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, fossil hunters and extremely knowledgeable  women   set in 1800’s  Lyme Regis, and a reminder of how inferior women were regarded at that tm and their limited life opportunities. A good read, and soon to be a film.

Sally Magnusson- The Sealwoman’s Gift- Olafur and Asta, three of their children and 395 other Icelanders are taken by pirates in 1627 and sold into slavery in Algiers. Heartbreaking and very very good indeed.

Have you read any of these? What were your favourite books that you read in 2019?

Comments on: "Best books from 2019." (44)

  1. Great post, I recently wrote a similar one for my blog 🙂

  2. There’s some books I’ve read on your list. Glad you enjoyed them too. I’ve yet to write my final installment for 2019. Just can’t seem to get motivated. I look forward to your future book reviews. xx

  3. I have read four in your list and I will now try to find the others in my library.

  4. Grear list, I’ll make note of few of them. I’m joining the Goodreads challenge, so I need to have a good stock of books for this year.

  5. I loved both A Gentleman in Moscow and the Book Thief. I recently read Sold on A Monday by Christina McMorris loosely based on fact. It was a tough subject that did have a happy ending, about a family of children sold during the Depression. I have started I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott and Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, too soon to tell on those since I’m only a few pages in, but I think I’ll enjoy them.

  6. I absolutely loved A Gentleman in Moscow, and in fact have reserved it again from the library only a few weeks after I last read it!

  7. Gosh that’s a lot of books! There’s a few on your list I think I’ll ask my library for – my New Year resolution is to borrow instead of buy!

  8. Murtagh's Meadow said:

    A great list as always Cathy. I will look out for these. Admittedly many of the better books I have read this year are children and teen fiction, which I have read with my kids. Seacrow island by Astrid Lingren has been a firm favourite for us all. Also currently reading ‘how to bee’ , a story of family, loyalty and bring brave, all set in the future.

    • There are some really good children’s books these days. I loved reading with my children and it is good that all three read as adults, and their children are book worms too.

  9. I have read Remarkable Creatures , after seeing your review. And I have seen the film The Book Thief which I enjoyed. Looks like you have some interesting sounding favourites there. X

  10. I now try to avoid books about the holocaust, 19th century slavery and both World Wars so that will rule out some of those on your list for me. Not that I’m trying to avoid the issues but I’ve read a lot about all of those – hard to avoid in contemporary literature with some books a lot better than others – and there came a time when I felt as if I wasn’t really learning anything new but just getting depressed I’m the same with films about those topics.
    I’ve read ‘The Sealwoman’s Gift’ as you know and, although that is also disturbing, it was at least a period and location completely new to me and I found it fascinating.
    I’m a bit ambivalent about Tracy Chevalier but do want to read ‘Remarkable Creatures’ before I see the film, which I will as I Iove Kate Winslett.
    I’m very tempted by ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ but waiting for the price to come down a bit.

    My favourite ‘easy read but well written” books of 2019 were probably ‘The Doll Factory’ Elizabeth MacNeal: ‘The Familiars’ Stacey Halls: ‘Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel’ Ruth Hogan:The book that made the most impression on me was ‘Milkman’ by Anna Burns (listened to on Audible rather than read thank goodness otherwise would have given up after a few pages) but the stand out favourite was ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller – Fabulous!
    Ooh! Sorry Cathy, I appear to have written my own blog post

    • I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post especially as you covered books I’ve also read and enjoyed. The Doll Factory is top of my library pile for January. I shall see if I can track down the Milkman at the library. I really like your recomendations, you’ve certainly pointed me in the way of some corkers.

      • ‘Milkman’ is a very challenging book both in subject matter and in the way it’s written. Sentences can go on and on without punctuation and change subject halfway through, perhaps, but not always, coming back to the original thread eventually. Sort of like a stream of consciousness. I think I only persevered because I bought it on Audible and it was being read to me in a Northern Ireland accent which I wouldn’t have ‘got’ if I was reading it myself and makes a huge difference to the ‘feel’ of the narrative. You would have laughed if you could have heard me trying to say ‘now’ in a Northern Irish accent. It was a Man Booker Prize winner in 2018 and about coming of age during ‘the troubles’. So, it’s a book I would recommend with lots of reservations – but give it a try, I’d love to know what you make of it.
        (p.s. another good book I read recently is ‘The Conviction of Cora Burns’ by Carolyn Kirby – girl born in jail and bought up in the workhouse trying to believe she could have a future, set in 19th century Birmingham).

        • Oh my those streams of consiousness! They drive me bonkers- but I will give it a go! I’ll make a note of The Conviction of Cora Burns, I have a rather long list of books to read! A thing I find strangely reassuring, like having lots of patterns to knit!

  11. claire93 said:

    wow that’s a lot of books read this year!
    I don’t keep count of how many I get through, but I’d say probably only about 20.

  12. I’ve read many of these Cathy – and loved ‘the Book Thief’ in particular. I also grew to love his second novel ‘Bridge of Clay’ which is so different to the first it is a challenge to get into. Perseverance pays off though and I highly recommend that one. I’m going to add ‘The Sealwoman’s Gift’ to my list. Thank you 🙂 and Happy New Year!

    • Happy New year too! I read the Bridge of Clay but it didn’t grab me so to speak. I think you will Like the Sealwoman’s Gift.

  13. You say you read to escape life, but I think the topics of these books are very challenging ones! I read to escape too, but I am just going through all of Georgette Heyer’s books (for the first time). That is what I call escapism! 🙂 An hour of Georgette before bed and I can sleep at night.
    When I have run through all of hers, I think I will try Remarkable Creatures and A Gentleman in Moscow.

  14. Add to your 2020 Book list. “The Choice Embrace the Possible” by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. It is the Story of her life starting with being sent to Auschwitz, seeing her mother sent to the “showers” where she was killed. About her life as a Jew in the concentration camps and death march, left for dead, survival and rebuilding a life. I can’t put the book down. I am adding your list to my 2020 list

  15. Very interesting list, Cathy! I wonder how many might be available over here. . . As part of my Christmas have ordered electronic versions of Furrowed Middlebrow’s latest reprints, due on Monday 6th Jan electronically. Cannot wait to read this trilogy of D.E. Stevenson again. There is something very calming about her writing, and they will be welcome bolt holes the first part of this new year and decade.
    Do you know Scott’s (San Francisco) blog, Furrowed Middlebrow? And Simon’s (U.K.), Stuck in a Book? If not, you might find them interesting. Also Dean Street Press, Scott’s British republisher. Happy reading! 😘

  16. I love The Book Thief. I read the author’s newest book, Bridge of Clay, as well as his first published book in 2019. They’re both good but The Book Thief is his masterpiece.

  17. Penny Post said:

    An interesting selection I have read two of them myself both associated with WWII. I might hunt out the first book on your list and read it later this year.

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