So many books. So little time.
What a year 2019 was! Is it me, or was a lot jam-packed into that year? Each event felt like sardines in a can. Needless to say, if you are reading this, we made it! We made it into 2020! And since hindsight is 2020, let’s take everything we learned from 2019 and apply those lessons to this year—cheers to that right?! Because quite honestly, I have a good feeling that this will be the year that many of us stare our goals right in the face and conquer them like never before. You with me?!
Speaking of goals, one of mine for 2019 was to read at least 25 books. Unfortunately, I fell short by four due to some of my projects. However, I plan to read at least 30 next year, so I will just consider 2019 a warm-up 😊.
In no particular order, here are my top 5 reads of 2019:
**As a disclaimer, some of the books mentioned are not new releases in 2019
1.The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs
By Dana Bate.
Honestly, I devoured this book. It was funny with a good romantic ending. With this particular read, I connected with the main character Hannah Sugarman and felt myself cheering for her throughout the story. How could you not? She was real. She was funny. She was chasing her passion and not allowing any obstacle to stand in her way.
This book checked all the boxes for me. So, if you are looking for a romantic comedy with a yummy twist, this is the book for you!
Hannah Sugarman seems to have it all. She works for an influential think tank in Washington, D.C., lives in a swanky apartment with her high-achieving boyfriend, and is poised for an academic career just like her parents. The only problem is that Hannah doesn't want any of it. What she wants is much simpler: to cook.
When her relationship collapses, Hannah seizes the chance to do what she's always loved and launches an underground supper club out of her new landlord's town house. Though her delicious dishes become the talk of the town, her secret venture is highly problematic, given that it is not, technically speaking, legal. She also conveniently forgets to tell her landlord she has been using his place while he is out of town.
On top of that, Hannah faces various romantic prospects that leave her guessing and confused, parents who don't support cooking as a career, and her own fears of taking a risk and charting her own path. A charming romantic comedy, The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs is a story about finding yourself, fulfilling your dreams, and falling in love along the way.
By Alice Hoffman
Wow. Just wow. I read this book in less than four days because I couldn’t put it down!
It’s sometimes a tricky balance when writing such a flawed character by not making them seem pitiful and hard to connect with, but Alice not only did it beautifully, she killed it! Shelby was written in such a way that anyone, no matter their life experiences, could find pieces of her struggle relatable.
It was a powerful, moving novel that made me instantly purchase several more books of hers.
Alice Hoffman is a fantastic, poignant, and thoughtful writer. There is something to be said in the depth she creates in her stories, and no matter how deep she goes, she never loses you.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.
Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dar k suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.
3. Eat, Pray, #FML
By Gabrielle Stone
Thank the Book Gods for this book! Why? Because it was “the right book at the right time” kind of scenario in my life. For several years prior, I was toying with the idea of creating a book around the devastation of having a broken heart and rebuilding yourself after. Gabrielle's book not only was an excellent read, but it gave me that little kick in the butt to finally chase after that idea of mine (She has no idea how grateful I am that she “paved that way” for me).
What I loved most about this book, was that it was raw, it was truthful, and Gabrielle did not hold back on what she thought or felt in any of the moments she shared within the story (even during some very painful times). What does that say about her? It tells me that she isn’t afraid to be real with her readers. By not sugarcoating anything, she was able to form an authentic connection, which made it feel like we were just two girlfriends talking about our lives over a bottle of wine (or two—who am I kidding? Lol).
With complex, thought-provoking imagery like her "thought onion", she gives her readers tools to help solve how we think about certain situations in our lives. At the surface, we think one thing--more of the superficial thought-- when really, below the surface, there is a true meaning to why we are having certain thoughts in the first place. Bravo!
This is Gabrielle’s first book—and I hope not her last.
A year and a half into our marriage, I found out my husband had been having an affair with a nineteen-year-old for six months. I filed for divorce and left.
Two weeks later I met a man, and we fell madly in love. It was a fairy-tale romance for a month and a half, and he convinced me to join him on a romantic month-long vacation in Italy. Forty-eight hours before we were supposed to get on a plane, he told me he needed to go by himself. I was devastated. So, I had a decision to make. Either stay home and be heartbroken, or go travel Europe for a month by myself. And staying at home heartbroken? F%*k.
That. What does a woman do when her life has fallen apart and her heart has been ripped out and stepped on twice in two months? She goes on a wild adventure, makes some bad decisions, and does a sh*t load of soul searching. But most importantly? She finds out how to love…herself.
This is so not Eat, Pray, Love.
This is Eat, Pray, #FML.
4. Love and Ruin
By Paula McLain
This book was, for lack of better words, beautiful. Any time I go to a bookstore, I gravitate toward specific genres: historical fiction, romance (romantic comedy is a plus), thrillers/detective novels, and any literary/contemporary fiction books. When I first laid eyes on Love and Ruin, I knew it was a special book. Having only heard of Paula McLain within the book community, I ended up buying several other of her books at once without even trying to read Love and Ruin first. THAT was how sure I was that this book was going to be a fantastic read.
What I loved most is that Paula was able to create a story so vivid that you would honestly believe that it was a true story. When it comes to Marty Gelhom, my connection with her was on such a deep level, that at times, I felt that even though she and I were born at different times, we were able to go through similar struggles of love and finding one’s purpose in life. She was a brave woman—far braver than I could ever imagine being--and that trait carried on in different forms throughout the novel. What was most impressive regarding how Marty was written, was that even during the most vulnerable times in her life, she never lost her grasp on reality. She always managed to stay grounded even when the world around her was crumbling.
And if that wasn’t enough, McClain’s portrayal of Ernest Hemingway blew me away! He was written with a complex blend of charisma, passion, likeability, while still reminding us of how selfish and undesirable he can be.
In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha Gellhorn travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people
caught in the devastating conflict. It’s her chance to prove herself a worthy journalist in a field dominated by men. There she also finds herself unexpectedly—and unwillingly—falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man on his way to becoming a legend.
On the eve of World War II, and set against the turbulent backdrops of Madrid and Cuba, Martha and Ernest’s relationship and careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must forge a path as her own woman and writer.
Heralded by Ann Patchett as “the new star of historical fiction,” Paula McLain brings Gellhorn’s story richly to life and captures her as a heroine for the ages: a woman who will risk absolutely everything to find her own voice.
5. Big Magic
By Elizabeth Gilbert
As a disclaimer, I owned this book for quite some time, however, it always seemed to fall behind in all of my TBR piles due to more pressing reads. In hindsight, that was an unfortunate decision of mine.
What I loved most about this book was that it answered a lot of questions that, for me, as a writer, I was too afraid to ask myself. It showed me that it was OK not to be perfect or to give myself time to work on things by not rushing. She also expressed the need for anyone in creative fields to explore other creative outlets. Those creative outlets help inspire and motivate—even help with writer’s block—in ways far better than staring at a blank screen waiting for something to happen.
This book is a *MUST READ* for anyone who is pursuing a creative passion (whether it be a hobby or a career). I loved it soo much that I plan on rereading it in 2020.
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and
radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives.
Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.
If you are interested in reading any of my top 5 books of 2019, please click on the links located under the book cover images.