Being a librarian and former bookseller, I’m a voracious reader who tries to read widely to try out different genres and styles of reading. Here are a few of the standouts from my 2019 reading list.
This was a book that seemed tailor-made for me. As a one-time huge fan of VH1’s Behind the Music, I was obsessed with the oral history format, and could NOT put this book down. I have read many rock star (and rock groupie) biographies and memoirs, and this read just like so many of those true stories. Jenkins Reid did her research and it shows. I read the ebook for this, but I hear the audiobook is a phenomenal way to experience it as well.
I am absolutely a HUGE fan of Queer Eye. I was a fan of the first iteration of it, and the update is incredibly sweet and lovely. I could not resist getting to read Tan’s story! Being a Utah resident currently, I loved learning that Tan calls Salt Lake home (and I know folks who see him at Harmon’s or the gym or just out and about and I’m so jealous lol). He has charming origin story of becoming the person he is now, and all the struggles and adventures he had along the way. It’s a quick read and loads of fun, and great for anyone who feels they’re just a little more odd than most.
I cannot stress to you how much I love Alyssa Cole and her Reluctant Royals series. I wasn’t previously much of a romance reader, and Cole was a big reason of why I now read a ton of them. Her characters are incredibly fun and real and experience very relatable stumbles and challenges. Her heroines are strong and nerdy and truly adorable. Her heroes are super cute and not intimidated by the fabulous women in their lives. These are the kinds of fantasies you imagine can be real. This is the third in the series, and worth getting to!
While I still had access to HBO after Game of Thrones ended, I devoured this series based on a real woman named Anne Lister and her diary that wasn’t decoded until recently. (She wrote it in CODE!!) The way I describe the book and show to people is “it’s Pride & Prejudice with lesbians.” That wasn’t the term used in the 1830s, but that’s what we view them as now. Anne took charge of her life in a very different and unique way, and wanted to settle down with a wife like any other landowner. So the book (and show) is so much like a novel of manners that we associate with Jane Austen, following her exploits, mundane tasks of running her family’s estate, and trying to woo the pretty (and wealthy) lady who lives nearby. I was very captivated by it all.
This book has stuck with me since I read it months ago. The writer relates the stories of three different women who experience love and heartbreak in three very different ways. The one that resonated with me the most was the woman who had an affair with a teacher in high school and has to revisit the experience years later as an adult. I can see how this book might upset some readers, but getting to read about some very deep and complicated emotions that these women experienced and had to justify was an exercise in and of itself.
This was a HIGHLY anticipated release. I didn’t read Handmaid’s Tale until fairly recently, and the show is a little obsession of mine. So I was thrilled that Atwood was going to update the story of Gilead for us, though slightly apprehensive that it would be a money grab and be unsatisfying. For me, it was an excellent addition to the story. Gaining further insight into the women of Gilead and how the outside world sees it was wild and scary and still relevant to political narratives around the world today. This filled in a lot of questions I had, and I appreciate that the author gave us a great follow-up to her story.
I have not read much indie publications, and have had a bit of a snobby outlook on it for awhile, but this is a book that helped change that perspective. I now know that I LOVE small town romance stories, especially if they are Southern as well. This was a comfortable and enjoyable read that made me excited to read anything else this author publishes, and look for any other similar romances. And when the heroine is an over 30-something getting her life back on track after divorce, I just had to root for her the whole time to get her truly happy ending.