2019: my reading year in review

My favorite 19 reads of 2019, in no particular order.

I love tracking my reading and compiling my stats at the end of the year. 2019 was an excellent reading year for me. I finished 210 books, and an amazing 46 of those were 5-star reads and another 112 were 4-star reads for me. So many good books! My top 19 of 2019 are shown above, but here are some highlights.

Favorite audiobook of the year: The Stand by Stephen King, narrated by Grover Gardner.

An epic story, fantastically read. It was like listening to a movie (for 46 hours).

Favorite new-to-me author of the year: Susan Fletcher.

The Highland Witch was one of my first books of the year, and I loved it so much that I went looking for more.

Favorite classic of the year: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.

Such a gorgeous book; it made me nostalgic for a time way before I was born.

Favorite fantasy of the year: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

So lovely and magical. I’m still thinking about it months later.

Favorite post-apocalyptic of the year that was not The Stand: Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich.

I love Erdrich’s writing, but I was not prepared for how good this book was.

Favorite historical fiction of the year: The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton.

My love affair with Morton’s lush writing and fantastic characters continues.

Favorite #1001BooksToReadBeforeYouDie book of the year: The Cider House Rules by John Irving.

I have such an inappropriate author crush on this guy, and it has everything to do with his magical stories and characters.

Favorite NetGalley ARC of the year: The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahisi Coates.

I started NetGalley over the summer, was thrilled to get this one, and then completely blown away by it.

Favorite new release of 2019: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.

Despite the buzz, I had no plans to read this until a friend sent it for postal book club. One of the absolute best books I read all year.

These selections really just touch on what I read, but fortunately I have lots of stats to evaluate as well, thanks to my slightly obsessive tracking and my monster book spreadsheet.

Just the tip of iceberg…

Audiobooks comprised the majority of my reading: 143 of my 210 books were audio (68%). I love that audio helps me get through more excellent books each year than I normally would be able to. I love that audiobooks free me up to ‘read’ while I cook, clean, drive, exercise, etc, and I don’t feel I’m wasting nearly as much time watching mindless television as I used to.

Some stats I’m happy about:

  • The majority of the authors I read were women (68%).
  • I finished 38 books from the #1001books list.
  • I saved $2,376 by using the library.
  • I finished FIVE different annual reading challenges, and used different books for each of the 138 prompts.

Some stats I’m not crazy about:

  • I spent $238 on new books for myself, despite owning 674 tbr books at the beginning of the year. 😬
  • My unread tbr count on 1/1/2019 was 674. My unread tbr count on 12/31/2019 was 715. Whoopsie.
  • I didn’t read nearly enough books from POC authors. I thought I was doing well on that front, but ended up only 16% of total books read by non-white authors. I plan to watch these stats more closely throughout 2020 and do much better.

All in all, I’m happy with my reading year. I read some great books, joined NetGalley, interacted with wonderful bookish people on Litsy, started this blog, and overall just enjoyed books and life.

On to 2020!

Until next time,

My month of Pride & Prejudice

(Including two mini book reviews and a lot of mixed movie gifs.)

Hi! I haven’t blogged since December 8, and that has a lot to do with the fact that I fell head first into a Pride and Prejudice hole this month, and had zero interest in getting out of it. I’m not sorry.

I love Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice was my first Austen, and remains tied (with Persuasion) as my favorite Austen. I have been entertained by the ladies at Drunk Austen for a couple of years now, and decided to follow along with their #25days of Pride and Prejudice this year. I watched one episode of the 1995 miniseries every day from December 1 through December 24. For those keeping score at home, that’s 4 complete trips through the miniseries. That’s a lot of curtsies, a lot of bonnets, a lot of broody Darcy and delightful Lizzie, a lot of Lydia and a whole lot of Mr. Collins.

Here’s the thing though—while I most certainly did start to curse at Wickham, Lydia, and Collins, I never got tired of watching. I never had to force myself to watch it, and found myself looking forward to that hour of my day. As an added bonus, my 8-year-old son, who watched with me most nights, got really good at his Mrs. Bennet impersonation.

I had watched the miniseries before, but now I have a greater appreciation for just how faithful it is to the book and how wonderful the cast was. I adore Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth, fangirled like crazy over Colin Firth’s exposed neck every chance I got, and could watch Lizzie and Darcy make heart eyes at each other over the piano forte forever.

Actual 😍

On Christmas Day, rather than binging the whole miniseries like our fabulous hostess, I chose to watch the 2005 movie. This was mainly because of time issues (we had to go see Star Wars after Christmas brunch!), but also because I freaking love the movie, and as much as I adore Colin Firth’s wet Darcy, Matthew MacFadyen is my favorite wet Darcy. I mean, come on:

As if enjoying the miniseries and 25 days of brilliant, funny blogs from Drunk Austen wasn’t enough, I was ecstatic on Christmas night when I opened the Day 25 blog to find that I had won the gosh darn Janeite lottery. Friends, I won Drunk Austen’s giveaway prize for Jane’s birthday, and I am so. freaking. excited.

SO happy!

While I am pleased to report I have resisted the urge to watch more P&P for 4 days running, I’m not going to lie and say I’m not having some withdrawal symptoms. As is most generally the case… books to the rescue!

This is just as ridiculously funny as it looks.

Because Litsy friends are the coolest friends, I got quite a bit of Austen swag as Christmas gifts this year. One of the books I received was Darcy Swipes Left by Courtney Carbone. This book was made for people like me. It’s basically the whole story of P&P, told in text messages and social media posts by the characters. It’s a quick, clever read that I had finished within 24 hours of opening the gift. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Just imagine Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, and Collins having access to social media. Hilarity like this ensues:

Before I could start to ponder what to do with my time without Pride and a Prejudice, a library hold came in the allowed me to continue to dwell in Austen land:

The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley is a continuation of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of our dear Charlotte. Greeley does an excellent job capturing the general feeling and humor of an Austen novel, and I love the added depth to Charlotte’s character. Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine are just as annoying as ever and a little glimpse of Lizzie and Darcy post-marriage had me starstruck.

The ending is sad, but it really couldn’t end any other way and be true to Austen. I’ve tried a lot of Austenesque books with very mixed results, and I was so pleased with this one. I’m looking forward to more from this author. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I recommend both of these books to my fellow Austen fans. If you have any recommendations for good Austenish books, please leave them in the comments. I’m not sure I will be out of this current period of Austen enthusiasm for a while yet, and I may need the material.

Until next time,