Welcome to a new decade, y’all! Now that 2019 is behind us, I’m excited to share my thoughts on what I read – the good, the bad, and the ugly -with my Best & Worst Books of 2019.
This year was a pretty great reading year for me. I discovered some amazing books, books that are now on my list of all-time favorites. I also, unfortunately, discovered books that made me cringe, made me sigh with disappointment, and nearly thew me headfirst into a reading slump. Such is life when you’re an avid reader.
After a very rocky start, I managed to knock out 53 books in total this year, which is my new personal best, so cheers to that. I actually created a post recently detailing my specific reading stats for 2019, including ratings and a full list of every title I completed, which can be found here if you’re so curious.
Disclaimer: The opinions stated below are entirely my own. You may love the books that I disliked and dislike the books that I loved – that’s the beauty of reading! We all have different tastes, different thoughts, and different topics we gravitate toward. Please do not be swayed from picking up a book that I disliked if it’s something that interests you. Additionally, this is my list of best and worst books read in 2019. That does not mean that all of these books were published in 2019.
The Bromance Bookclub by Lyssa Kay Adams Y’all this book was so fun and fast-paced and just what I needed after my thriller binge around Halloween. It was so refreshing to read a story focused on a couple staying together and working on their relationship instead of forming it. All of the characters were endearing and charismatic, and the excerpts from the group’s historical romance novel spliced throughout the book were such a cute touch.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah A story of family and survival in the Alaskan Wilderness, The Great Alone was definitely difficult to read but impossible to put down. Kristin Hannah is the master of atmospheric settings and relationship building. Her novel, The Nightingale, is my favorite book of all time, so I will definitely be picking up any and everything she writes in the future.
Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark I’ve been a huge fan of My Favorite Murder for years, so you bet I pre-ordered this baby as soon as I could. Karen and Georgia honestly feel like old friends. They’re candor, insight and humor are so appreciated and have a way of making you feel right at home. Or right at therapy? This book was everything that I wanted. While I read the physical version, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the audiobook which is actually narrated by Karen and Georgia.
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager My favorite thriller of the year! In Lock Every Door, we follow Jules, a girl who’s down on her luck when she’s presented with an almost-too-good-to-be-true opportunity: getting paid to become a tenant in an infamous luxury apartment building. This book was super creepy and unsettling, and the writing was super vivid and fast-paced. My first Riley Sager, but definitely not my last!
On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves My first five-star read of 2019! A story of survival and romance, we follow 30 year old Anna, a teacher, and 16 year old TJ, the student she will be tutoring for the summer. When their plane crashes, they become stranded on a remote island where they remain for almost 4 years. While this one seems a tad problematic, nothing happens in their relationship until TJ is 18. This was a super slow burn, high stakes romance that I couldn’t put down. Highly recommend!
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead I read many challenging books in 2019, but none more challenging than this one. The Nickel Boys is a fictional story rooted in reality and based on a grotesque, abusive reformatory school that operated in north Florida for over 100 years. Set in the early 1960s in a segregated Tallahassee, our main character, Elwood Curt, finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time and is sent to the Nickel Academy, where he is subjected to awful, torturous horrors. A hard read but a necessary one.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell A thought-provoking conversation starter on abuse of power, consent, trauma, and the uber-relevant #MeToo movement, the book’s narrative switches back and forth between timelines; a vulnerable, 15-year-old Vanessa who’s being groomed for a sexual relationship with her English teacher, Mr. Strane, and present-day Vanessa, as she struggles with the aftermath of his abuse and manipulation. This is a very challenging, raw read but one that I highly recommend you pick up.
The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren This book CHARMED me, y’all. The Unhoneymooners is the perfect summer romance and, I’d venture to say, my favorite Christina Lauren yet! We follow Ethan and Olive, enemies who end up on a honeymoon trip together after unfortunate circumstances. This is hate-to-love romance with a fake dating trope, which is my ~jam.~ The chemistry between these two characters was swoon-worthy and their banter was spot-on. Such a good beach read!
Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey This book DID NOT do it for me and I’m disappointed for so many reasons. I typically love a good fake dating trope and I also really enjoy a good “I’m in love with my brother’s best friend” story line. In theory, I should have enjoyed this book, but so many elements annoyed me to no end, especially the love interest, Travis. His excessive use of “baby girl” made me want to throw up and his cockiness was a major turn off for me. The illustrated cover was cute but the story was ugh.
Meet Cute by Helena Hunting On the note of cute covers, DON’T LET THIS ONE FOOL YOU. I went into this story expecting a fun, lighthearted romance, but the actual story was much more serious? Meet Cute is about Kaitlyn and Daxton, law school enemies who reconnect later in life and a second-chance romance ensues. This book had such potential and it was actually one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 (yikes), but the dialogue was cliche and cringey and I was unable to connect with any of the characters.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen I can’t quite put my finger on the specific reasons why I didn’t enjoy this book. Honestly, I was really bored and felt myself zoning out while listening to the audiobook. After perusing Goodreads, it looks like I’m the unpopular opinion on this one too so if the plot interests you in anyway, by all means, give it a go. I’m still planning on picking up their first novel, The Wife Between Us.
Elevation by Stephen King Another case of me getting bored and therefore not liking a book. I listened to this story via audiobook and felt very distracted throughout. The story line didn’t feel strong enough to keep my attention and even though the book was super short, I was ready for it to be over. 2019 was the year of me discovering that Stephen King is not for me.
A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson Okay, I blame myself for not paying attention to this book’s full title. An avid consumer of all things true crime, I was super intrigued to learn more about the BTK killer and the impacts his actions had on his family. I did not, however, expect this story to be so heavily focused on religion. I don’t want to knock her for turning to religion to cope and understand, however, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis It’s no secret that Rachel Hollis is a bit controversial. She’s been accused of plagiarizing and she’s also been dinged for her privilege. All of that aside, I went into this book with an open mind and discovered that it just wasn’t for me. I’m not a huge fan of motivational self-help books to begin with, but Rachel’s guidance didn’t connect with me and honestly, a lot of her ideas seemed pretty common sense.