Top 10 Favorite Books I Read in 2019

As I said in my most recent post, Top 10 Most Disappointing Books I Read in 2019, this year was a great reading year in terms of quantity AND quality of books read – making it really difficult to narrow down my Top 10 Favorites of the year. I started by looking at all of my 5-star ratings – which, surprisingly, ended up being almost exactly 1/5 of the total books I completed. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a variety of genres represented, proving that I enjoy all kinds of books and that I should continue exploring outside of my comfort zone.

I ultimately was able to narrow the list down to my Top 10 favorites, listed below along with some explanation of what exactly I loved so much about each of them. If you have read any of the books below, I’d love to know if you enjoyed them yourself. If you haven’t read any of the books I list, I’d encourage you to pick at least one of them up! 🙂

Title: Verity
Author: Colleen Hover
Genre: Thriller/Romance

This book was not only my favorite read of the year, but also my biggest surprise. I had no idea what the premise was, and I have not read any of Colleen Hoover’s other books, but I picked this one up as part of my Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominee Predictions reading challenge – and I am SO GLAD that I did. This book follows a young writer named Lowen, hired to complete the remaining books in a series started by famous author Verity Crawford. In order to perform this job, Lowen moves into the Crawford household temporarily in order to sort through Verity’s office to find things that might help in her writing, and ends up uncovering all sorts of things about Verity and her family that she never expected. I definitely recommend going into this book not knowing much more than that – a combination between a thriller and a romance, this book kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and I absolutely loved every single twist and turn that the plot took – all the way up through the ending. Highly recommend, and I’m very excited to read more from Colleen Hoover in the future!

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

If you have spent a lot of time on the bookish internet, then you no-doubt have heard of this super-hyped, universally highly-rated book. The story is about Evelyn Hugo, a fictional Hollywood actress who, now at the end of her life, is giving an exclusive interview to young journalist Monique revealing everything about her life, including the seven men she married and what each one brought to her life. The story is smart and complex, but told in a way that is very easy to follow and is nearly impossible not to become invested in. I loved the unraveling of the story and the way that everything connects and becomes important at just the right time, and think that this book can appeal to fans of almost every genre in literature.

Title: Little Fires Everywhere
Author: Celeste Ng
Genre: Contemporary

This book is one of the slower-paced on my list of favorites, something that is both surprising and unsurprising to me. The story mainly follows two families of very different backgrounds that become intimitely involved with each other’s lives through employment arrangements and their children becoming friends, but ultimately end up on different sides of a custody battle happening for a third family in the community. I ended up loving all of the well-developed, complex characters and appreciated how the book made me think about morally charged issues including abortion, adoption, and how knowing the people behind these decisions can change your viewpoints very quickly. I think Celeste Ng did a wonderful job interweaving multiple story lines in a realistic and impactful way, and would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy slower-paced, character-study type books.

Title: Recursion
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction

This was the second Blake Crouch book that I read this year and – spoiler alert – they BOTH ended up on my favorites list. Recursion I liked just a little bit more – this science fiction novel is all about memories, and a disorder that is showing up in individuals called False Memory Syndrome. This syndrome is infiltrating sufferer’s minds with memories of lives they have not lived, causing some of them to go mad and eventually kill themselves to make the flood of false memories stop. I absolutely loved everything about this book – I appreciate how Blake Crouch’s plots and science elements are just enough to keep your mind reeling, but not too much so that you feel lost or stupid for not fulling understanding (it is still fiction, after all). I found the exploration of memories super intriguing and also found myself really invested in the characters and their outcomes. I highly recommend this book to you if you already know you like Blake Crouch’s writing, or if you are intrigued by the phenomenon that is False Memory Syndrome 🙂

Title: Dark Matter
Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction

Very similarly to Recursion, Dark Matter is a sci-fi novel that gives you plenty to think about yet remains entertaining and readable. This novel follows Jason, a seemingly average husband and father whose life is completely derailed when he’s attacked one night and awakes to find himself in a life just slightly different from his own – his wife is no longer his wife, and his son seems to no longer exist. The story takes off from there, exploring the possibility of alternate universes and the implications of wanting to step into a reality not your own. This is the book that got me completely hooked onto Blake Crouch as a writer, and if the premise sounds at all interesting to you I’d recommend it as a great sci-fi read.

Title: The Girl He Used to Know
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Genre: Contemporary/Romance

This is the first ARC I have ever received – the publisher kindly sent me a physical copy in exchange for an honest review. I was so, so happy when I ended up completely falling in love with the characters and story, a pretty straightforward second-chance romance that follows Annika and Jonathan throughout two timelines, one when they first meet in college and the second ten years later. I found myself falling in love with both of the characters twice over, and appreciated that they were crafted not to be perfect but to be realistic, making the overall story and love story feel authentic and genuine.

Title: The Art of Fielding
Author: Chad Harbach
Genre: Contemporary/Sports

This was another one that took me completely by surprise, as it’s my husband’s book and I read it per his recommendation. It’s a contemporary novel that follows the players on a midwestern baseball team. Although baseball takes up a majority of their time, and therefore makes up a lot of the book’s plotline, the characters also deal with plenty of other issues. I was COMPLETELY invested in this story – the characters are super complex and the book is long enough that we get very intimate with all of their thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and uncertainties. I think that non-sports-lovers can and will enjoy this book, but fans of baseball will enjoy it that much more.

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre: Dystopia

I’m a sucker for a dystopia – I loved The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, and The 5th Wave, despite some of their inherent flaws/plotholes and immature writing. When I first heard about Scythe, I was so intrigued by the synopsis, by the fact that it seemed to be more of an adult read, and because so many people online actually loved it. After reading it myself, I can say that the online community is correct and this book is COMPLETELY worth the hype. Absolutely the best dystopian novel I’ve ever read. Just this last month I read the sequel, Thunderhead, and I can’t wait to get to the recently-released conclusion, The Toll.

Title: The Last Time I Lied
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller

If you don’t consider Verity to be a thriller (I do, but many don’t), then here I listed my favorite thriller of the year. This is the second of three thrillers I read by Riley Sager this year, and by far my favorite. The story follows a young woman who is returning to a summer camp as an instructor 15 years after she attended as a camper and her three bunkmates went missing. Not only is she hoping to gain closure for herself, she’s hoping she can dig up some secrets and solve the mystery that has remained open since that time. I loved the atmosphere Sager created in this book, and the plot itself had me on the edge of my seat completely unsure of what to expect with every page flip. Highly recommend to thriller lovers, whether you have read any of Riley Sager’s other works or not.

Title: I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This
Author: Kate White
Genre: Nonfiction

And finally, rounding out my top 10, we have the sole nonfiction book. I try to read as much nonfiction as I can, but a lot of them in the “self-help” realm start repeating the same information and blend together in my mind. This book, however, completely stood out. If I could recommend ONE book for a woman looking for career-focused advice, this would be it. It covers everything from how to apply for and land your first job, to how to impress your boss, to how to get promoted, to how to manage other people, all the way up to how to handle reaching the “big job” that you’ve spent your career striving for. Even though my industry is COMPLETELY different from the magazine/media industry (the author’s area of expertise), I still found so many helpful tips within this book. They are actionable, there are a lot of them, and it fully flushes out one idea before moving onto the next. I plan to reread this book several times throughout my career, and because of that would recommend to anyone at any point in theirs.


With my Top 10 set for 2019, I’m so excited to get into 2020 and discover what great reads are waiting for me next year. If you haven’t already, check out my posts below that include some of the books I’m planning to get to! And let me know what your favorite reads have been this year, and what you’re planning on reading next year (if you know)!

2020 Anticipated Releases

2020 Owned TBR

20 Backlist Titles I Want to Read in 2020


Top 10 Most Disappointing Books I Read in 2019

I’d like to start out this post by saying that this year was actually a pretty great reading year – I didn’t read THAT MANY books that I completely disliked or couldn’t finish. But, of course, there were some – and some that I was very much not expecting to be so disappointed by. This post is highlighting those books – the ones I expected to love but was let down by in one way or another. I have to make the disclaimer that I DO NOT THINK these are bad books, and I COMPLETELY respect those who enjoyed or even loved the books below. Sometimes reading tastes don’t align, and that’s okay! I’d actually love to know if you disagree with any of my opinions below – if you enjoyed one of the books, what was it that worked for you?

Title: The Sun is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating: 2 stars

This book, although not my lowest-rated book of the year, I consider to be my biggest disappointment because I whole-heartedly thought I’d love it. The story follows two strangers, Daniel and Natasha, who meet in New York City and develop an unlikely relationship over the span of a single day. My problems with the book included the pacing (SO slow, with choppy chapters) and the love story (completely unrealistic in my opinion). Although I typically don’t mind character-focused, slice-of-life type stories, this one just did not work for me – I was left bored and unsatisfied!

Title: Not All Migrate
Author: Krystynna Byers
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating: 1 star

I had received this book as an eARC on Netgalley, and I was really disappointed to not connect with the story and have to leave my dissatisfied review. This book follows a man who has lost his wife and two daughters in a car accident and is informed that his wife had an unknown drug in her system at the time of the crash. He sets out to find out what the drug was and who supplied it to her, but ends up addicted himself (not a spoiler – the addiction part is essentially the entire book). The premise was completely unbelievable to me and the writing of the book was so graphic and strange that it took everything in me to complete the book at all. I said in my inital review that although this book could be entertaining to someone, I’m just not sure who that someone is – definitely not me or anyone looking for a traditional thriller.

Title: Appalachian Book of the Dead
Author: Dale Neal
Genre: Contemporary (?)
My Rating: DNF’d/1 star

This year, I only DNF’d two books – this unfortunately was one of them. I don’t even know how to describe the genre or the plot of this book, it was that unusual. I’ve seen it described as a “metaphysical thriller,” but I’m not really sure what that means. The book was very slow-paced and ominous, but there was no clear plot that I could distinguish by the time I quit reading about halfway through. I had received a physical ARC of this book from the publisher, but even that could not motivate me to finish this strange story.

Title: The Lost Man
Author: Jane Harper
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: DNF’d/1 star

This was the second of two books I couldn’t finish this year. I had picked it up as part of my Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominees reading challenge, but after attempting to read it both physically and as an audiobook, decided it wasn’t worth suffering through. The plot follows two men searching for answers after the mysterious death of their third brother, but the writing is extremely slow-paced and focuses heavily on the atmosphere of the Australian desert that the story is set in. I found absolutely nothing that intrigued me from the start of the book, and after reading in other reviews that the pace never picks up, decided I could put the book down with the decision that it was not the thriller for me. I know Jane Harper is a very popular writer, so I’m sure this book as well as her others appeal to many readers, but I don’t foresee myself racing to pick up her books again anytime soon.

Title: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Author: Stephen R. Covey
Genre: Nonfiction
My Rating: 2 stars

This book is highly regarded as a nonfiction classic, an authority on the topic of forming habits and becoming successful in a business sense as well as in one’s personal life. I was excited to soak up all of the knowledge, but very quickly found it to be outdated, preachy, and long-winded. I have read a number of other nonfiction books that seemed to say the same things that this book did, but in much more concise and impactful ways.

Title: The Unhoneymooners
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Rating: 2 stars

This was a VERY popular contemporary romance book this year, and I had no reason not to believe that I’d love it as much as everyone else. What came out of it was the realization that I prefer this “rom-com” type story in movie form MUCH more than in book form – I think it just took way too much of my time for a story that is so overly cheesy and lacks any real substance. I can totally respect that other people might connect with this type of light-hearted story, but now I know better before jumping into them myself.

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 2 stars

Another very hyped book this year, My Lovely Wife is a thriller that follows a couple that murders women as a way to spice up their marriage. Again, I had no reason to think that I wouldn’t love it, but after completion I have concluded that I don’t enjoy stories from a serial killer’s perspective. I didn’t find anything suspenseful or surprising about the story and was expecting more from the amazing thriller this was supposed to be.

Title: Someone We Know
Author: Shari Lapena
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 2 stars

This was the third Shari Lapena thriller that I’ve read, and unfortunately my least favorite. The story follows several members within a neighborhood where one woman turns up dead and everyone starts pointing fingers and discovering secrets that everyone else is hiding. I had a number of problems with the tropes used, including cheating/lying between every married couple involved, and the fact that every single person had a motive to be the killer made the ending unsurprising and unsatisfying.

Title: One Nation Under Taught
Author: Dr. Vince M. Bertram
Genre: Nonfiction
My Rating: 2 stars

This book, which I read way back in January, had me really excited – as an engineer myself, I can totally see the need for more graduates of STEM fields and think that a book designed to educte on that topic is a great idea. However, this book ended up being a 200-page advertisement for Project Lead the Way, one program that – although I see its merit – claims to have all of the answers and be ready to solve all of America’s education problems, and it just rubbed me the wrong way.

Title: Inspection
Author: Josh Malerman
Genre: Dystopia
My Rating: 2 stars

I was super excited to read this book, a dystopian novel about two separate but nearly identical experiments being done on boys and girls to study how being raised completely isolated from the opposite sex would impact their development and potential for success. A great premise, but unfortunately I was disappointed by the execution of the book because of its slow pace, limited surprising elements, and too-late action.


With that, I’m actually glad to be done writing this post – I don’t enjoy talking badly about books or revisiting all of the books that left me with disappointed feelings – I’d much rather talk about favorites! So my next post will highlight my top 10 FAVORITE books that I read in 2019. Feel free to comment and let me know (or leave a link to your own post) either your favorite or most disappointing books that you read this year!