My reading year

It’s my favourite time of the year. It’s not the Christmas festivities that thrill me although I do love catching up with family and friends and of course I love eating left-over Christmas pudding with lots of custard AND ice-cream.

No, what I really hang out for is reading about people’s favourite books. I love finding out what everyone else has been reading – there’s always a chance that there’s a little gem that I’ve missed.

A lot of people think that I read all the time but that’s not true. Like most people, I’ve got other responsibilities but to be honest, reading is probably my favourite activity.

This year I read about 28 books, mostly fiction and mainly written by women. I think this is more than last year but perhaps I just kept better records this year. So here are my top picks for 2019.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

I was a bit reluctant to read this book because the review said that it was a reworking of the play Antigone by Sophocles. Not having a classical education, I had no idea what this meant so I thought it might be too sophisticated for me. Apparently the play is about a teenage girl who is forced to choose between obeying the law of the land and religious laws but I’m happy to say that it doesn’t matter one whit if you aren’t familiar with the storyline, it’s a great book. Lots to think about and beautifully written. It’s written by a Pakistani writer and covers many themes around family, loyalty and love.

Ask again, yes by Mary Beth Keane.

This book gets my award for the weirdest title. It’s very hard to recommend a book with a weird title, don’t you think? Having said that, this was a great multi-generational read about love, redemption and messy families. If you like Celeste Ng you will probably enjoy this book which is set in New York. This review describes it as a gripping and compassionate family drama and I think that’s a pretty accurate description.

The Children's House by Alice Nelson
The Children’s House by Alice Nelson

The Children’s House was recommended to me by one my sisters. Both are keen readers and a great source of reading recommendations. Lots of people in my family read a lot, so I’m lucky there. It’s written by an Australian author and tells the story of a woman in New York who befriends a refugee with a small child. It’s a beautifully written book that would be a great choice for book groups. Lots of themes around belonging, motherhood and what it means to be part of a community.

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

I finished reading this one about 10 minutes ago. Couldn’t put it down, so it’s just as well I’m on holiday! Well plotted, fast-moving and an all round great read. Really enjoyed the descriptions of Devon and can’t wait for the next book in the series. This is a new series for Ann Cleeves, famous for the Shetland and Vera books (which I haven’t actually read although I’ve watched and enjoyed both of these as TV shows). She introduces a new detective called Matthew Venn who is both slightly troubled but principled in the time-worn tradition.

If you’re after something for a holiday or a plane trip and you enjoy mysteries, I really don’t think you can go past this one. It’s a satisfying read.

So there’s my round up of top picks for the year. I also enjoyed the much lauded “Where the Crawdad Sings” which didn’t disappoint.

I would love to know what you read during the year and what you would recommend? Do share…

4 thoughts on “My reading year

  1. ibcreader says:

    When I look through my reading log for 2019, Home Fire and The Children House are up there with my favourites. I also loved Commonwealth by Ann Patchett and have just finished The Dutch House by the same author and really enjoyed that as well. I devoured Before we visit the Goddess which you recommended last year and The Weekend (Charlotte Wood). I have come to the conclusion that I chose books that are well written but also stories that resonate with me. I loved Digging to America (Anne Tyler) for instance, as it discusses the issues of being a grandmother and adoption (two topics of interest to me) among other things, but my bookclub didn’t rate it at all (even though most are grandmothers). I have yet to read a Jane Harper but have ordered one for our bookclub reading in 2020.

    • Margaret says:

      I also loved Digging to America although I didn’t really get into her most recent book (A Spool of Blue Thread). I’m surprised that your book group didn’t rate it very highly as there was lots to talk about. Similar themes to The Children’s House I think.
      I’m going to read The Weekend based on your recommendation. I’m so glad you enjoyed Before We Visit the Goddess, it was definitely one of my favourites last year.
      Have a great reading year!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I really enjoyed Home Fire too + it had m/f twins in it! Haven’t read anything by Ann Cleeves but will add to my list.
    Recently read Jane Harper’s third book The Lost Man which is a good read about a family on a cattle farm in the outback + a murder mystery.

    • Margaret says:

      I enjoyed Jane Harper’s book too. I read in the paper this morning that she has a new book coming out next year as does Dervla McTiernan.

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