The Best Books I Read In 2019

At the beginning of this year I made a big declaration, I was calling 2019 The Year of Books. I was craving time away from my laptop and cellphone. I was missing the immersive experience of reading a good story and I had a huge stack of neglected books taunting me. Proclaiming that this is the year I will read more books isn’t something new. I often add this to my New Year’s Intentions, and then sadly get too busy and make too many excuses.

However this was the year I made it happen! I didn’t join any book clubs and I didn’t set any specific number of books to read. Often times, that has the opposite effect on me and I feel so much pressure to read that I give up before I’ve given myself a real chance. What I did is set timers to remind myself to carve out 15 minutes to read here and there, I kept books in my handbag so that I could read while waiting in lines or when waiting for appointments, I finally started an Audible account and listened to books before bed and in the car, and probably the most crucial step is I set limits on my screen time. All these steps meant that I read more than I probably ever have. Which is something that I feel really happy about. Especially as an example to my kids. I think modeling is the best way for them to learn, and would I rather them see me with a book or a phone in my hand?

I started off 2019 strong as I was geared up for to achieve my new goal! However, I quickly felt into a slump and couldn’t pick up steam for a few months. What I later realized is that I read a lot of non-fiction and non-fiction isn’t typically as gripping as reading a beautifully told story. I was having to take breaks and then feeling overwhelmed at how little I’d accomplished. So I started adding more fiction onto my nightstand and found that I was able to dig into one of those in a day if it was really good. Also, I would have a audiobook going too. I found that listening to 30 minutes before bed was a great and it helped me fall asleep.

I was too non-committal to sign-up for a Good Reads account (although it’s a smart way to track your progress) so I used my notes on my phone to keep track. I also loved walking to my local library and used book store to find books — which saved me money and created less clutter. I highly recommend supporting both if you have them near you.

OK, enough rambling, let’s get into my favorite reads this year! Keep in mind, these won’t be full book reviews. I’m no book critique, these will just be short blips about why I loved these books.

Call Me By Your Name

This was my favorite book I read this year. I fell in love with this movie and was totally transfixed. I knew that I wanted to read the book, but I just never got around to it. I’m so glad I finally did because the book is even better than the film. It’s so beautifully written. It’s a complex and pure love story of two gay men. I fell deeply in love with this characters and their stories. I couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that stays with you. I felt like I was living in a dreamland after it was over and it still is something I think about. If you’re like me and are obsessed with this story and want to read the author’s much anticipated follow up, Find Me, I have to admit I was not a big fan of it. For me, I wanted to hear more about Elio and Oliver and it was too much about other things. I can see why the author didn’t want to just write a story all about them to please everyone, but I think it would have been a lot more interesting. Let me know what you think.

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Heartburn

Who doesn’t love Nora Ephron?! I could watch When Harry Met Sally pretty much every day. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages and decided to listen to it on Audible since it’s narrated by the equally amazing Merly Streep (who also stars in the movie version). It was an easy listen about love, divorce and other quirky things Nora loves to complain about. I also listened to I Feel Bad About My Neck last week and it was neurotically charming.

One Day in December

I actually listened to this on Audible too. It’s a wonderfully charming love story. I really enjoyed how it was told from both the male and female point of views. I couldn’t stop listening to it which really got in the way of my daily schedule, but it was totally worth it. A delightful read for this time of year.

Just Kids

As a Patti Smith fan I was really excited to dive into this book and it was everything I hoped for. Beautifully written and so truthful and honest about her life and her incredible connection to Robert Mapplethorpe. There is so much about the ’60s and that bohemian lifestyle that they both experience together and emerging artists. Yet, their uniquely special love and friendship is what makes the book so riveting.

Eleanor & Park

Last year, my twelve-year-old niece left a book at my house for me to borrow. She wanted me to experience the Fault In Our Stars (which I read and enjoyed). I wanted to return the favor with an excellent book that was also appropriate for her. I was recommended this book and ended up being totally immersed in it myself. The characters are interesting and complex teenagers and it’s a story of two misfits falling in love for the first time.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

I picked up this book based off pretty much everyone’s recommendations this year. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. I didn’t know how I felt about the main character. However, I quickly changed gears and loved her and the story totally hooked me. It’s one of those great novels that you will read in like one day!

White Teeth

I wanted to read something by Zadie Smith after hearing her on various podcasts this past year and finding her extremely interesting. I also had heard she has incredible prose. I have to admit, there were times where I really struggled with her style of writing. You know when you’re aware you’re reading something important and unique, but you just can’t totally grasp what’s going on? That was me often when reading this. However, once you get past that you can enjoy the fact that you’re reading something unlike anything you’ve read before. It’s plot is still too tricky for me to even try to explain, but it’s an interesting tale of family, race, religion and points of view. I added it to my favorites for being a challenge and making me interested in reading more from this talented writer.

Heartbreaker

This was a surprise find for me. I was scrolling Instagram and stumbled upon author Claudia Dey’s account. I was instantly enamored and felt a sort of kinship to her style and interests. Both of us share a fondness for ’90s nostalgia and the dreamy aesthetic of a Sophia Coppola film. Claudia also has a clothing brand called Horses Atelier (and they have an addicting Instagram dedicated to to their inspiration). I knew right away I wanted to check out her most recent novel, Heartbreaker. This is such a beautifully eerie story about a settlement that was an old cult town. The people who still live there are dark, complicated and fascinating. It’s really a love story about family, but told in such a wonderfully weird way. Also, the music references through the book are like an epic playlist.

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The White Album

Like so many women, I too am obsessed with Joan Didion. For me, it’s how honest and dark she is. She doesn’t write to make me feel good and at ease. She talks about serious subjects and in a way that makes me want to read more. I also read The Year of Magical Thinking this year — which is such a hard yet poignant read. I’ve discovered I really enjoy reading essays. The White Album is probably one of her most famous books and I finally got around to finishing it. What I enjoyed about it was the deep look into the dark side of the 1960s (my favorite decade)

You’ll Grow Out Of It

This is a hilarious and candid book written by author and comedian Jessi Klein. I feel like I read this book at the perfect time, being the exact age that Jessi was when writing it. I relate to all the tragically funny things about being a women who’s aging and being close to forty. I couldn’t put it down.

Three Women

Wow this book was incredible. Lisa Taddeo’s reporting and writing was remarkable. It felt like was reading a fiction book. It’s a look at three women’s stories about love, sex and desires. In many ways, I felt sad while reading this book. I hurt for these truly complex women (and aren’t we all?). However, it was a great reminder that stories like this should be told more. You see yourself in these women.

Period Power

This year I decided I would stop taking hormonal birth control. Personally, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. I’ve noticed huge differences. However, I’ve also found that I’m experiencing more highs and lows.I decided to track and journal my menstrual cycle and it’s been so eye-opening. I came across Maisie Hill’s book Period Power and it was a fascinating read. It really explains the different phases and what you may be experiencing during all of them. It’s stocked full of a lot of really helpful information and totally worth checking out!

Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, is one of my favorite books when I need a creative pep talk. It’s inspiring, helps you break out of creative ruts and leaves you feeling empowered. Harnessing your creative energy and believing in yourself is no easy feat and she helps you recognize that and gives you advice to guide you through the ups and downs of the process.

Give A Sh*t: Do Good, Live Better, Save the Planet

Climate change is really scary and overwhelming. Ashlee Piper’s book approaches it in such a funny, practical and motivating way. There are so many shifts we can make to do our part and she lays them out in a way that feels totally doable! I loved this one.

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Author: Taylor Sterling

Taylor Sterling is the founder and creative director of Glitter Guide. When she's not working on all things GG, she can be found reading and sometimes art directing photoshoots for @LolaJayne. She enjoys spending time with her family and eating french fries (not necessarily at the same time, although that's definitely the best combination). Follow her at @TaylorSterling