What a year for reading!
In 2018, I set a New Year's resolution to read 24 books - a huge increase from my meagre 2017 reading.
For me, 2 books a month is the perfect number. It's not unattainable, but it does require me to be intentional about it. Carving out more time for reading has been a welcome lifestyle change, and my only complaint is that I can't read even more books! My "To Read List" grows daily!
I don't pick my books with any specific theme or plan.
Sometimes, they came from recommendations, some I received for review, and sometimes, one book will naturally lead to another. I aimed for a mix of fiction and non-fiction, with mostly first-time reads.
That said, two interesting themes evolved from this year's book choices:
#1. Local Authors
In our touring, I started to ask for local books and added them to my list. Seriously, this was our 5th year touring Canada (9th year touring the East Coast!) Why didn't I start this sooner?? I wasn't looking for travel books. I really wanted either real life stories, or locally inspired fiction. I highly recommend adding this to your reading practice!
#2. Authors I Know
I'm blessed with lots of talented friends! Most of them are musicians, but this year, I read 4 books by authors that I know personally. In most cases, what followed were interesting discussions and a greater sense of friendship. Added reading perk!
Here are my 24 books of 2019.
What did you read this year?
Leave your top picks in the comments below...
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
By M. L. Stedman
I grabbed this book while traveling through Jasper, and I'm so glad I did! Its January setting and themes of trying to see the past and future in the turns of our lives made it the perfect book for the New Year. Add in a lighthouse, a dramatic setting, and all the emotions and you're in for a fantastic
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
By Celeste Ng
I read this captivating book our on flights to and from Edmonton to attend the Covenant Awards. An engaging story rife with family drama, small town politics, long held secrets, and the various faces of true maternal love.
THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ
By Heather Morris
A fascinating and compelling memoir. There are scenes that will turn your stomach, and others that will have you cheering out loud. And if you can believe it, it has one of the most beautiful love stories I read all year!
By Tara Westover
This was on everyone's 2018 reading list, and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!! Tara Westover is a marvel, and her story is beyond amazing. I can't recommend this enough!! The book stands on its own, but due to its popularity, there are lots of fascinating interviews with Westover online if you like to do follow-up reading.
YOUR BEST YEAR EVER
By Michael Hyatt
This was a reread, and there's a good chance it might be on my 2020 list too. Probably the best book I've read on goal setting. HIGHLY recommend!!
THE PASSION OF MARY MARGARET
By Lisa Samson
Even though I'm a Christian who makes my living making Christian art, I never read Christian fiction! Someone once told me she loved Christian fiction because it's "safe", and I could never get over that saccharine impression. So, I was quite shocked when another passionate reading friend recommended I read this "Christian fiction". The book was well written, engaging, with a wonderful protagonist! It led to some great post-book discussions, too!
THE LIVING DIET
By Martha Tatarnic
I was so excited when my dear friend, Martha Tatarnic, launched her first book! I wrote a review of it for the Niagara Anglican newspaper that you can read HERE.
WE HOPE FOR BETTER THINGS
By Erin Bartels
I loved this book! You can read my review HERE.
THE ISLAND OF SEA WOMEN
By Lisa See
Lisa See is possibly my favourite author ever! She always opens up a new page of history for us, and fills it with engaging and heartbreaking stories and characters. Her latest novel introduces us to the all-female fishing community of Jeju island (Korea) and takes us on a journey of friendship that will tear you apart. I love this book in so many ways!!
LOVING MY ACTUAL NEIGHBOR
By Alexandra Kuykendall
Loved this challenging and inspiring book! You can read my review HERE.
SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY
By Rachel Held Evans
I'd heard of RHE, but really knew her by reputation only. I knew she spoke out about her evangelical experience, and was considered controversial by many. But her sudden and tragic passing brought messages of love and respect from both her supporters and her detractors. That had to mean something, right? I turned to her writing to see what all the fuss was about. I can see why she would have offended many people, and I'm not here to challenge those feelings, but at the core of it all, I read a story of grace, redemption, faith in the face of doubt, and unconditional love. If that isn't the Gospel, I don't know what is...
JESUS DOESN'T FIX EVERYTHING
By Mark Smeby
I met my talented friend, Mark Smeby, when we were on the same worship team in Nashville. He has a fantastic voice and a powerful message of hope. This short book is full of honest, inspiring thoughts on moving with God through the challenging seasons.
WHOSE WAVES THESE ARE
By Amanda Dykes
Such a great summer read! You can read my review HERE.
VIOLA DESMOND: Her Life and Times
By Graham Reynolds, with Wanda Robson
Every since she graced our new $10 bill, I've been wanting to know about the elegant Viola Desmond. Hailed as "Canada's Rosa Parks," Desmond's role in our own civil rights movement was almost forgotten until her face appeared on our currency. I was thankful to find this book in a Lunenburg bookstore (thank you, indie bookstores, for still hosting a "local authors" section!) I encourage all Canadians to learn about Viola Desmond, and to continue the ongoing discussion of civil rights in Canada.
By Aja Gabel
Another great recommendation from a book-loving friend. Follows the journey of a chambre quartet from their shaky start through decades of friendship, rivalry, and music. Fantastic book, especially relatable as a music-maker myself.
BEING LENA LEVI
By Bobbie Ann Cole
I met Bobbie Ann several years ago when we sang a concert in her church in Pennfield, NB. She's since moved to England, which provides part of the backdrop for her latest novel. You can read my review HERE.
TOMORROW IS SCHOOL... And I'm Sick To The Heart Thinking About It
By Don Sawyer
At our neighbourhood Canada Day party, I discovered that the couple across the street had started their teaching careers in a remote community in Newfoundland! They weren't from there, but since I am, we shared a great conversation. A few minutes later, he ran across the street to give me a copy of this book, a memoir of their exciting NL adventure. A great read about the power of creative teaching.
BEARS IN THE ALLEY... Among Other Places
Compiled By Val Delill
After 10 years of touring across Canada, Gerald and I finally had our first shared bear sighting! I celebrated by buying a few bear-inspired treasures in Jasper, including this charming little volume. A compilation of local stories, primarily ranging from the 1930's-1960's when bears were as common in Jasper as squirrels in Toronto.
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING
By Delia Owens
If you haven't read this yet, get it tonight, cancel all your plans, and prepared to be fully engrossed by this awesome tale. Seriously. I'm not kidding. Do it now!! Coming soon as a movie, but of course, read the book first...
THE UNCOMMON READER
By Alan Bennett
What if an unidentified queen (who happens to own corgis...) discovered a passion for reading? A charming and enjoyable quick-read from the creator of stage and film hits "The History Boys" and "The Madness of King George III".
THE THREE SISTERS BAR AND HOTEL
By Katherine Govier
This was another travel find, this time recommended to me in the absolutely gorgeous Cafe Books in Canmore. A sweeping historical fiction, inspired by the sites and history of Canmore, Banff, the original trail guides, and the birth of Parks Canada. As bonus, you can visit the bar and hotel that inspired the title just a few doors down from the bookstore...
THE DUTCH HOUSE
By Ann Patchett
I'm a big Ann Patchett fan (her heartbreaking "Truth & Beauty" was a favourite 2018 read), so I snapped this up as soon as I saw it on the shelf. We follow three generations, and their relationship with the imposing Dutch House, in their discovery of home, family, and place. This one took me a while to get into, but once I got into it, I was hooked.
By Louisa May Alcott
I read this when I was a little girl, and in my excitement for the upcoming film, I decided it was time to read it again. What a book! I think I love it now more then I get when I was a child. The characters and relationships are bold, relevant, and completely endearing. It's both of-its-time and timeless. From what I hear, the film is true to the spirit of the book, so I can't wait to see it!
By Ruth Chou Simons
What a lovely book to round out the year! Gracelaced takes us on a journey through the year, with gentle and inspiring thoughts on God's faithfulness in all seasons. Light on text, the book encourages a slow pace, with page upon page of Simons' stunning artwork, filled with Scripture and nature images.
So, there were my 24 books for 2019!
Did I read any of your favourites this year?
And I'm making up a list for 2020...
Let me know if you have any recommendations!