Great Big 2019 Book Review


Woohoo! Another fun year of reading! Here’s what’s so great about reading: there are approximately 300 trillion books being published each year, so there’s never a shortage of amazing new books to discover. I love thinking of all the potential learning and entertainment that’s waiting for me out there in those un-read books. When I look back and think about how certain books have absolutely changed my life, I get so excited all the books I’ve yet to read that will also change my life. 

Today I’m sharing a recap of all my favorite from the year! This was a very random year of reading for me… It was partly due to being preganant, so I read a lot of books about pregnancy/childbirth/child raising. I also read more self-help books than fiction, and fewer memoirs. I read some books about finance, because that’s an area of life that’s really fun for me to learn about right now. And of course, I read a few fun novels, too, because I always love reading some chick lit in the summer! So it was just a random hodgepodge of 60 books throughout the year. 

This was also a special year for me, because I had my first book published. Eeeks! Writing it, photographing the Austin food scene, and publishing Austin Food Crawls in September was a dream come true. Can I call that my favorite non-fiction book of the year? šŸ˜‰ 

It was also a special year for fiction, because my sister Courtney had her first book published: Tornado Season. It’s a collection of short stories, and it’s phenomenal! Courtney is a “real” writer…haha. My book is a collection of pretty pictures and ideas of where to eat in Austin, but Courtney’s collection of stories is the result of years and years of work, and her beautiful words reflect all of the time she labored into writing this book. If you love reading meaningful fiction that deals with very real issues going on in the world today (no fluff here!), you’ll love Tornado Season

If you’re looking for lots more book recommendations, here are all of my year-end book reviews. This is where I take a look at all of the books I read throughout the year and pick a few favorites: 

See my 2018 book review here

See my 2017 book review here

See my 2016 book review here

I’m going to start by sharing a few books I’ve enjoyed since I wrote my October book review, and then I’ll share all of my favorites from 2019. K? Here we go!

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I read March last month (the new novel that focuses on the father in Little Women, Mr. March), so I decided to re-read Little Women this month before the movie comes out on Christmas Day! Here’s a little story: this was my first “chapter book” to own. My parents gave a beautiful, illustrated, hardcover copy of it to me for my 5th birthday, so I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Little Women. It’s been over a decade since I read it last, so I picked it up again and read my original copy. It’s weird to not read on a kindle after reading everything digitally for so many years! 

Anyhow, I just adore this sweet book. I haven’t read much of Alcott’s other books like Jo’s Boys or Little Men. Maybe I’ll read more classics in 2020. šŸ™‚ 

2. The Secrets of Closing The Sale by Zig Ziglar

See? I told you it was a random year of reading. Haha! I think it’s fun to focus on a particular concept of learning and dive deep, and two areas that I need some growth are 1) finance, and 2) sales. Now, my job is not directly in sales, but I’ve come to realize that pretty much every career field has at least a little bit of selling involved. So, I started with an old-school classic: Zig Ziglar’s The Secrets of Closing The Sale. 

Of course, a lot of the details are outdated, but the concepts are still rock solid and I had fun listening to this as an audiobook while I put my son’s crib together in his nursery

3. Money: A Love Story by Kate Northrup

If you enjoyed You Are A Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero, you’d probably like this book too. Kate Northrup is very in touch with the spiritual woo-woo side of money, so there’s a lot in this book about manifesting, appreciating, and diving deep to change your mental approach to money. I loved it! I really feel like the book is an even amount of spirituality and journaling exercises mixed with practical lessons that can be immediately applied if you’re looking to revamp your financial situation. I really recommend this book to anyone who’s looking to create any sort of financial makeover in her life for 2020.

And that’s all I have to share with you because…I’ve had a new development in my reading habits: I don’t finish as many books! I used to feel like I had to finish every book that I started, and I’ve recently made an effort to stop reading a book if I don’t love it. I know…some of you are like, “duh, that’s an obvious thing to do.” But I’ve always struggled with giving myself permission to stop a book half way through (because it just drives me so crazy to not finish something!), so this is a big development for me. Haha.. 

Ok, moving on to all of my favorite books of 2019! I’m going to use the same categories as last year: favorite author, favorite memoir, favorite self-help, and favorite fiction. Here they are: 

Favorite Author of 2019

Kate Northrup! My friend Kaileen recommended the book Do Less, and it was just the perfect book for me to read right before having a baby. (It definitely aligns with one of my favorite podcasts, Hurry Slowly.) And I loved Do Less so much, I immediately got Kate Northrup’s other book, Money: A Love Story, which I just talked about with you. Besides the content of the books, I loved both of these because they both cited so many other books that I’ve added to my to-read list. 

Favorite Memoir of 2019

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro. This was a memoir that has stayed on my mind long after I finished it. It was fascinating, enrapturing, and honestly un-put-downable, but I really love how it made me think about genetics, family, and the moral obligations of sperm donors, which is something I’ve never had to think about in my life. I was completely gripped by her story, and I’m glad it was a book that my book club read because it was a good one to talk about as a group. Dani Shapiro is a phenomenal memoirist. I haven’t read her other books, but if they’re anywhere near as good as this one, they deserve a spot on your bookshelf. 

And then…I have a second place to mention as well. Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl is another one of my favorite memoirs of 2019 because I just love Ruth Reichl’s writing so much! I’ve read every single one of her books, and any time another one comes out I order it (as an audiobook, because I love her deep, husky reading voice) and immediately binge through it. Save Me The Plums is a memoir of Ruth Reichl’s decade at gourmet. I mostly knew the story already, but it was fun to hear all of the gossipy details! Her writing is absolutely yummy. 

Favorite Self-Help of 2019

The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle. This was on my list for a while, and to be honest, I have no idea why it took me so long to pick it up and read it… But I do believe in timing, and when something sounds fun it’s probably the right time to do it, and this book finally felt like fun to read this year, so I read it! The Power of Now challenged me in a new way, because I’m always go-go-going and thinking of the next thing, and I’m truly not very good at staying in the moment I’m in right now (which is really all we have, anyway.) I’m loving the way that this book is slowly changing me. Right when I finished reading through, I immediately bought the audiobook version and have listened to certain snippets of it on repeat throughout the year. It’s a sort of meditation/alignment exercise for me. 

Favorite Fiction of 2019

Ok, I have 4 books that I have to mention, because I couldn’t pick just one! I truly loved all 4 of these. If you’re looking for a really good novel to read this on vacation, on a long plane flight during the holiday travel season, or just something fun for a lazy Saturday morning on the couch, grab one of these!  

  1. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I declared Taylor Jenkins Reid my favorite author of 2018 (I read so many of her books last year!) and I was PUMPED when she released this book about  a fictional 70’s rock band. I listened to the audiobook version, which I can’t recommend enough; the cast is amazing. (Although, I’m sure the book version is awesome, too, if audiobooks aren’t your thing.) I haven’t fallen in love with characters like this in a long time, but I felt truly invested in the outcome. Ha! You know when you feel like you really know the characters? That was how I felt about the band members in this one. 10/10 can’t recommend this book enough!! 
  2. Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Honestly, it was a little slow going at the beginning, but about 1/3 of the way through this book picked up and I loved it so hard at the end! I mean..there’s a reason why this was a bestseller in 2019. The story of a young girl who grows up in the marshes of North Carolina was riveting to me, partly because I don’t know that area of the country very well, and it was beautifully described throughout the book, but mostly because the murder investigation component of the book was so good. 
  3. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I definitely judge books by their covers, so I wasn’t interested in this one until my little sister Kylee told me I had to read it. And since she and I typically enjoy the same types of books, I picked up a copy and I’m so glad I did. The reason I didn’t originally think I’d like it is because it’s a very “outdoorsy” book that takes place on the Alaksan frontier, and I don’t know…I just assumed it wold be all about fishing and foraging and wolves. I don’t know, y’ brain is weird sometimes. But the truth is that the story line captured my attention from the very beginning, and although it’s a long book, I didn’t want it to end. Since then, I’ve read another one of Kristin Hannah’s books. I love her writing so much! 
  4. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was SO excited for this book release this year! Liz Gilbert’s newest novel didn’t disappoint. Y’all, I devoured this thing. I love the story that she spins about a young girl who goes to New York City in the 1940s to live with her aunt in her playhouse theater, and the shenanigans she gets into and the lessons she learns. I especially loved how the story line follows the main character throughout her whole life. Like the other novels that I enjoyed this year, I fell deeply, madly in love with the characters and felt like I knew them at the end of the book. That’s the sign of a great piece of fiction. Friends – order this book. So good! 

Any reading goals for 2020? I read 60 books in 2019 (see them all on goodreads!), and I’m going to set 60 as my goal again for 2020. 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas! I’m off to go enjoy some homemade cinnamon rolls (Kylee always makes this recipe from Pioneer Woman) and open presents with the fam! 

To see all of my book reviews, click here

See my 2018 book review here

See my 2017 book review here

See my 2016 book review here

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5 months ago

[…] didn’t share an end of the year book review in 2020 like I did in 2019, but I did read lots of great books in 2020! Here are a few memorable […]

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