You may have figured out by now that I am a bookworm. I love to read – getting lost in the stories is a great way for me to unwind. And even more than that, I always learn something about life and about myself in each and every book.
This list was supposed to be my Top 10 Favorite Books of 2019. You’ll see that there are actually 11 books on the list. I couldn’t possibly leave the 11th book off my list as it was just too engaging for me. It’s somewhat different from the rest of the books here – they are novels – but still no less important in its impact on me.
My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2019
Caroline: Little House Revisited by Sarah Miller
I’ve been a fan of the Little House books since I was a child. As soon as I saw this one in my Amazon recommendations, I knew I had to add it to my reading list. I really love how much Miller has complemented the style of the original books. This story is written from the perspective of Caroline Ingalls, a viewpoint we haven’t seen much of before.
I remember in some books and even the TV show, you would see Ma Ingalls as being kind and compassionate but certainly not a pushover. What was so enchanting to me about this book is that it showed her vulnerabilities too. In our Instagram world, I often hear people talking about the unrealistic expectations that we place on ourselves because of what we’re shown by others.
Being able to “listen in” on Caroline’s inner thoughts as she struggled with her fears – fears for the safety and well-being of her family – made her more human and more “real” to me. It showed me that despite living in a much different time and place, she is much like me. Caroline was doing the best she could in trying situations to keep her family safe and happy.
The Lost Diaries of Susanna Moodie by Cecily Ross
I’ve heard that if you read and enjoyed Bride of New France (which I did), you’re likely to enjoy this book too. Add to that it’s historical fiction (and I am an amateur historian) and in fact, about a woman I heard mentioned before in passing as I was teaching 8th Grade History, and I’m all in.
Susanna Moodie has a successful and growing career as a writer in England. She agrees to leave it behind to move with her husband to the Canadian backwoods in the 1830s. The book begins with telling the story of Susannas’s upbringing and relationship with her family and community and moves through her coming-of-age and coming into her own.
It then moves on to her struggles to survive in a log cabin in the harsh Canadian wilderness. She is unprepared for what she has to face but at the same time, Susanna is a strong, resilient woman. It’s an engrossing story of courage and adversity but most of all, it’s a story of the enduring quality of love.
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge Fiona Davis fan. I find her novels absolutely captivating! I wait for the weekend to be able to read her books so I can binge my way through the whole thing!
Davis’ books tend to have two (related) stories in one. Each is related to a particular place or item but occurs in different time periods. Here, the stories are set in the 1970s and the 1920s and center around Grand Central Station in New York City. In 1974, Virginia finds a painting by Clara Darden in an old abandoned art school. Her discovery leads her right into the mystery of Clara’s disappearance in 1931.
In 1928, we meet Clara herself, an artist and teacher at the Grand Central School of Art. Clara finds success as an illustrator for Vogue magazine and begins enjoying the elite party life in New York City. Clara’s life takes a downturn as her relationship with poet Oliver Smith becomes challenged by a friendship with artist Levon Zakarian and the stock market crash of 1929.
As Virginia and Clara’s stories unfold, we see parallels between them, handled with the always engaging, heartwarming and heart-tugging writing of Fiona Davis.
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
Have I ever mentioned how much of a Hemingway fan I am? This is a fictionalized account of his first marriage. Ambition, betrayal, 1920s Chicago and Paris? I’m all in.
Love and Ruin by Paula McClain
Still on Hemingway, but this time about a different wife. We’ve now moved forward in time to 1937 Madrid. Martha Gellhorn is a war correspondent reporting on the Spanish Civil War. While there, she meets and falls for the legendary Hemingway.
They begin as equals – professionals whose careers are both taking off. But, after the publication of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway meets with incredible success and the balance has been tipped. Gellhorn now has a difficult choice to make between the man she loves and the successful writing career she so craves.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Jean Perdu owns a bookshop on a barge. That in itself was fascinating enough for me. Then when I read that he considers his shop to be not just a bookstore but a literary apothecary, I was completely intrigued. Perdu has amazing skills when it comes to his customers. They come in and tell him their woes and he prescribes just the right books for them. The question is, will he be able to cure himself?
The Little French Bistro by Nina George
Okay, you might be seeing a theme here. Forgive me, but once I find an author I like, I tend to want to read pretty much everything they’ve put out. And once again, all you have to do is set a book in Paris and I’m going to want to give it a try. As with The Little Paris Bookshop, this is a story of the charms of living in France and of second chances at life. Marianne has had enough of her loveless, unhappy marriage. So, she leaves her husband of 41 years and sets out on a journey to the coast of Brittany. She learns to take delight in life’s small moments again and that it’s never too late.
The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Another book about second chances and finding that it’s never too late to embrace life and happiness. Grumpy AJ Fikry has been living a life of loneliness. Even the books in the shop he owns have stopped giving him pleasure. One day a mysterious package is left behind at Fikry’s store and with that, his life is transformed.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Poignant story of forbidden love between a Chinese American man and a Japanese American girl in the time of World War II, the period details are so perfect that you feel a part of the story yourself.
Fast forward to 1986. The Panama Hotel has been sold and the new owner has found that the belongings of Japanese families sent to the camps were being stored there in the basement. This discovery takes Henry Lee on a journey through his memories of Keiko, the young woman he loved.
Keiko and her family were shipped off to an internment camp and they lost touch, but now Henry is face to face with the sacrifice he made for love and for his country those many years ago.
Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
As with Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this book is also set in Seattle. This time though, the time period is during the Great Depression. A 12 year old Chinese American boy named William is living at an orphanage where he was placed ever since his mother’s lifeless body was carried away from their home 5 years prior.
When the orphans are taken to a movie, William sees an actress named Willow Frost who looks just like his mother, Liu Song. Convinced she is alive, he escapes from the orphanage with his best friend Charlotte in search of Willow Frost.
Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife
This book was amazing and it just had to be on my top 10 Favorite Books of 2019! You might look at it and think, a book about the Ravenmaster of the Tower of London? That doesn’t sound interesting at all! But you’d be wrong. I thought it was going to be interesting, but I had no idea that it would be so compelling! In fact, I had a hard time putting it down!
I have always loved history. British history is a particular interest of mine. Coupled with a trip to Europe and to the Tower of London where I saw the ravens myself, I was drawn to this book. But it is Skaife’s writing – his passion and his wit – that kept me reading.
Legend has it that if all of the ravens ever were to leave the Tower, it would crumble and the Crown and Kingdom would fall with it. The Ravenmaster is responsible for ensuring that this never happens. In his role, Skaife becomes extremely knowledgeable about and attached to the ravens. He shares this with the reader in a way that fascinates – their intelligence, their personalities, and their own senses of humor.
If you’re looking for more amazing books to read, check out my favorite books of 2018 here!
Out of the 40+ books I read this year, these are my top 10 favorite books. I think you’ll like them too!
What books did you enjoy in 2019? Share them in the comments below. I’d love some recommendations!