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


Spookathon 2019 TBR

In my October TBR post, I announced that I want to read ALL THE THRILLERS this month 😊 okay, not all of them, but a lot of them. I had 10 on my initial list, and hoping to get to even more than that if I can.

What better time to participate in a spooky readathon to motivate me to keep chugging through that list? Below are the challenges created by Booktuber Booksandlala, who created and is hosting Spookathon from October 14th-20th. The overarching goal is to read as many thrillers as possible throughout that week, but there are 5 specific challenges to also hit:

  1. Read a thriller
  2. Read a book with red on the cover
  3. Read a book with a spooky word in the title
  4. Read a book with a spooky setting
  5. Read something you wouldn’t normally read

My TBR right now consists of 3 books, which I can double up to make hit all of the challenges. I really like to go into my thrillers blind, so instead of any type of synopsis I’ll just share what I DO know about the books (if anything) and a short explanation on how they complete the challenges.

Title: Two Can Keep a Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Challenges Hit: 1, 2, 3

I know close to nothing about this book, but have seen it floating around the bookternet enough for it to have made its way onto my TBR – bonus that it hits 3 challenges as a thriller with red words and the spooky word “secret” in the title!

Title: Lock Every Door
Author: Riley Sager
Challenges Hit: 1, 4

I am so excited to finally get to read this book! I have recently read and enjoyed Riley Sager’s other two thrillers and have heard that this one is even better. This takes place in a big, creepy apartment building, fulfilling the spooky setting challenge #4!

Title: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Challenges Hit: 1, 5

This is the book I know the least about – I consider it to fill challenge #5 because this is an author I have never heard of and never would have picked up without having previously done research on books that have a chance to be nominated for Goodread’s Thriller category in about a month.


I’d love to know who else is participating in Spookathon this year and what’s on your TBR! Or, have you read any of these three books?


September 2019 Reading Wrap-Up

I am loving fall so far and all the inspiration and motivation it’s giving me to keep reading 🙂 This month I read 11 books – while that’s not my highest of the year, I’m still very happy with that amount and really happy with the books themselves that I was able to complete! Without too much of an intro, let’s go ahead and get into the wrap-up!

This month’s quick stats:
11 books (3 audiobooks)
2,814 pages
9 authors (5 female)
2 nonfiction | 9 fiction
This year’s quick stats:
77 books (15 audiobooks)
19,832 pages
73 authors (37 female)
23 nonfiction | 54 fiction

Title: Golden State
Author: Ben H. Winters
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Pages: 319
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book takes place in a futuristic society where lying is among the very worst crimes a person can commit. We follow Lazlo, a member of this society’s “Speculative Service,” as he enforces the laws requiring citizens to tell the truth at all times.

My Thoughts: This is a WILD ride of a book… at first it seems clearly dystopian, then it turns into sort of a mystery/thriller, and then it erupts into complete chaos. I didn’t know who was good and who was bad, who and what I was supposed to believe, and I CERTAINLY didn’t know what to expect from the ending. Not sure I’m completely satisfied with how it wrapped up, but it had/has my mind reeling, and I really enjoy that. Aside from the ever-twisting plot, I really enjoyed reading about the nuances of this society – for example, finding out that fiction books are outlawed because of their obvious deviation from the true world, and that sarcasm is considered okay as long as all parties understand that the speaker isn’t deliberately trying to mislead the listener. Overall a great read, and I fully recommend to fans of dystopias, science fictions, and government conspiracies.

Title: Appalachian Book of the Dead
Author: Dale Neal
Genre: Metaphysical Thriller (?)
Pages: 250, DNF’d at 100
My Rating: 1 star
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
An ARC of this book was provided to me by SFK press, but I am under no obligation to review positively or otherwise. All thoughts are my own and are given voluntarily!

Brief Summary: This book has been described as a “metaphysical thriller,” as it starts out by telling the story of an outlaw escaping prison and disappearing into the woods in South Carolina, murdering the unlucky few who get in his way. The book then follows several different individuals living in the near vicinity, paranoid by the news of this escaped convict but otherwise trying to live their lives.

My Thoughts: I just could not get into this one… I was confused about the tone and vibe of the writing – very slow-paced and ominous, but no clear plot – and I didn’t care about or connect to ANY of the characters. I unfortunately DNF’d after 100 pages, which is something I have a really hard time doing, but my reading experience was that bad.

Title: Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office
Author: Lois P. Frankel
Genre: Female Nonfiction
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This nonfiction book highlights “101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers,” and then offers advice and solutions to stopping them.

My Thoughts: The format of this book was enjoyable – each of the 101 sections/tips were short enough to easily digest, and it offered plenty of convenient stopping points for reading this book in small chunks. Most of the advice was pretty generic, but overall good. Some of it started to rub me the wrong way, however – her advice to women “with thin skin” and who find themselves getting overly emotional at work is to just “get over it”… really? That along with a few of the sections on personal appearance felt way over-simplified and a little outdated. Overall not life-changing, and I will not be re-reading or recommending in the future, but there are some helpful nuggets if the reader is open to some tough love.

Title: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth
Author: Alexandra Robbins
Genre: Miscellaneous
Pages: 448
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book explores “quirk theory,” or the idea that quirks and things that usually make us feel excluded early in life (like in high school) are exactly the traits that make us unique and successful later in life. The book follows seven individuals from different locations in the U.S. throughout one school year, going in-depth to their feelings and experiences – particularly how their quirks make them feel in relation to their peers and if there is anything they wish they could change about themselves or their situations. The book alternates between their stories and the author’s expression of different social theories, how they apply to each individual, and what it means for us as the readers and society as a whole.

My Thoughts: This book is really hard to summarize in just a few sentences because of just how in-depth it goes to each of the followed individuals’ lives, plus we get constant commentary from the author relating everything back to different psychological and social theories. It was really, really interesting, plus the seven different storylines made it feel like reading a fictional novel. I enjoyed seeing how each of the individuals’ lives played out, and I think I gained some insight and confidence that my own quirks should be celebrated and honed, not ignored. I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to high-schoolers or any individuals who are struggling with feeling excluded from their peers.

Title: The Last House Guest
Author: Megan Miranda
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This thriller follows Avery, a young, 20-something woman living in Littleport, Maine and working as a property manager for some of the vacation homes. It follows two timelines, the first being the summer of 2017 when Avery’s best friend Sadie is found dead in the water near her family’s vacation home, and the police are questioning everyone near to her to find out whether it was an accident, a suicide, or a murder. The other timeline is one year later, as Avery is dealing with the closing of Sadie’s case and wondering whether the police might have gotten it wrong.

My Thoughts: As an audiobook, I generally enjoyed this story. The setting of Maine gave it a great small-town, beachy vibe that was both fun and a little creepy. I can’t say that anything in the story was particularly great or terrible – a pretty run-of-the-mill thriller. I didn’t predict the ending, but that’s not usually my strength or my goal when reading thrillers. I love to just absorb the story and twists as they come – but some reviews I’ve seen say that the twists were obvious, and veteran thriller readers may find this story unsatisfying. If you’re a fan of Megan Miranda, I think this one is worth a try, but if you require huge plot twists or over-the-top storylines, you may want to skip this one.

Title: The Art of Fielding
Author: Chad Harbach
Genre: Sports/Contemporary
Pages: 512
My Rating: 5 stars

Brief Summary: This book mainly follows the players on a midwestern collegiate baseball team throughout the senior year of team leader Mike Schwartz and junior year of talent standout Henry Skrimshander. 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 including plummeting self-esteem, messy relationships, and uncertainty about the future.

My Thoughts: Whew… this book. There is so much more than meets the eye. First of all, I will say that although this book centers heavily around baseball, I do not think you have to be a sports fan in order to enjoy it. But if you ARE a baseball fan, you will enjoy it that much more. These characters are SUPER complex and the story is long enough that we get very intimate with their thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and uncertainties, which I think makes the story extremely relatable and easy to become invested in. Since my husband was the one who originally recommended this book to me, I think I can safely recommend it to both men and women – anyone who is looking to dive into an emotional story with lots of ups and downs, not unlike what we all go through in life in general.

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Fantasy
Pages:418
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This fantasy novel follows Karou, a college student who spends half of her life in the human world, attending art classes and struggling with a nagging ex-boyfriend, and half of her life in a fantastical world, running errands for her part-human-part-animal father figure and receiving wishes in return – one of which she used to have her hair permanently grow in a bright blue color. She doesn’t know much about this other world, or her own past for that matter, and suddenly things start happening in and around this fantastical world that cause her to start questioning more deeply, which ends up putting her in danger and leaving her wondering if she should abandon the other world to live safely as a human, or risk everything to get the answers she’s been looking for.

My Thoughts: I’ll start out by saying I am NOT a fantasy reader. I prefer my fiction realistic, but I have seen this book and Laini Taylor often highly rated and recommended by members of the book community, so I decided to give it a try – and I really enjoyed it! I appreciated that I could still identify with the main character as a person (not just a mysterious magical being), and the fantastical world/magic system was complex enough to make for a compelling and satisfying story while also staying simple enough that I could follow and understand it all. I enjoyed the entire story, including the ending, and although I don’t think I will be continuing with this series nor will I only be reading fantasy from now on, I’m glad that I branched out and overall enjoyed my reading experience with this one. 

Title: Maybe in Another Life
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 342
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book starts with main character Hannah moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles after several years moving from city to city, job to job. On one of her first nights back, she is confronted with a turning-point decision: go home with her best friend after a night of drinking and dancing, or stay out with an old fling possibly wanting to rekindle their romance? The story then splits into two alternate realities, following Hannah as she lives out her life based on the two possible outcomes of this decision.

My Thoughts: I think the concept of alternate realities is really interesting, and I loved reading about both possible outcomes and the compounding effect of one seemingly simple and trivial decision in the main character’s life. It really makes you think about all of the pivotal decisions in your own life and where you might be had you chosen a different path (which I guess is equally exciting and terrifying, depending on your personal outlook). I don’t think any of these characters were overly compelling, and this is not my favorite TJR book to date, but it was a thought-provoking page-turner of a book and I was ultimately left extremely satisfied after reading it.

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 339
My Rating: 4 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Quincy, a woman who is twelve years removed from a traumatic life event where she was the sole survivor of a mass murder in a cabin in the woods. This puts her in a very small and exclusive group of women known to the press as “final girls,” something she shares with only two other women in the country. When one of the other final girls is found dead having committed suicide, and the other shows up suddenly at Quincy’s doorstep, Quincy is forced to dig up old memories and emotions she’d been repressing in an attempt to form a normal life after such an abnormal past.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this as my first Riley Sager read. The idea of uniting sole survivors from mass murders into this kind of “final girls club” is really intriguing, and that was enough to pull me through the first half of this book, which has very little thrill/mystery to it other than the backstories of all of the final girls. Once the twists and mysteries of the present time are revealed, it becomes more of your typical thriller and although it includes one of my least favorite plot devices – women with memory problems – I still enjoyed the ride and didn’t predict any part of the ending. So far I see why the Riley Sager hype is there and I’m excited to get to his subsequent books!

Title: After I Do
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 336
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: In this book, a couple that has been married for 9 years finds themselves in a rut in their relationship – they are constantly fighting, resent each other over small things, and are just generally unhappy being together. They decide to take a one-year break from their marriage, during which they are free to explore other people and relationships and are not allowed to contact each other in any way. The goal is for each of them to re-evaluate the relationship and decide if they want to fight for their marriage or go their separate ways for good.

My Thoughts: As someone who is married, a lot of the elements of this book hit close to home – it’s super common for small, nitpicky items to add up and boil over into a huge fight if you can’t communicate before it gets to that point, and it’s definitely difficult to learn to love the other person past the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Other than the interesting ways this couple chose to deal with their issues, I didn’t find myself super invested in the relationship and rooting for one outcome or the other. The couple is very average – which is what they’re supposed to be – but it made the overall story kind of boring and forgettable.

Title: One True Loves
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 0 (audiobook)
My Rating: 3 stars

Brief Summary: This book follows Emma, a young woman who is celebrating her engagement to a man named Sam when she suddenly gets a phone call from her previous husband, Jesse, who has been presumed dead for 3 years. With this revelation that Jesse is still alive, Emma is caught in between her feelings for both men and wondering if it’s possible to love two people at the same time.

My Thoughts: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are so unique and I always find the plots super interesting to think about. I mean, nobody can imagine losing the love of their life early and having to move on to another relationship only to find out that the first person is still alive. However, with this book I just didn’t feel like I had enough time with the characters to be fully invested in any relationship. The story flips back and forth between current-day Emma and Sam, current-day Emma and Jesse, high-school Emma and Sam, and high-school Emma and Jesse – which are all relationships with completely different dynamics that make it really hard to sink your teeth into one before you’re whisked into another.


As I said in my October TBR, I am sooo excited to get to reading allll the thrillers this upcoming month. Let me know what you read in September and what you have planned for October!


October 2019 TBR | Reading the Most-Hyped Thrillers of the Year

October is almost here! Bring on the spooky décor, costume parties, and THRILLERS 😊 I’ve had a great start to fall so far and am super excited for Halloween and the holiday season coming up. In October, I definitely will be getting my thriller fix when it comes to reading, as my plan is to read some of the most-hyped thrillers that have come out this year!

In preparation for this TBR, I went onto Goodreads and made an Excel list of all of the thrillers I can think of with their respective ratings and number of ratings. Because I want to read the most-hyped books, I ordered them in order of NUMBER of ratings so that I know these have been the most-read out of all thrillers I could find or think of.

Most of these books I am planning on checking out from my library or listening to on Scribd – because of that, I’m not 100% sure which books I’ll have access to at any given time during the month, so my goal is to read 7 of the 10 listed below.

And lastly before getting into it, because these are all thriller/mystery books, I want to go into reading them without much knowledge of the plot so that I can be fully surprised by all of the twists and turns. Because of that, I don’t have any sort of synopsis to share for any of them! All I know is that lots of people have read and enjoyed them 😊

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

134,155 Ratings

4.05 Average Rating

Verity by Colleen Hoover

57,836 Ratings

4.38 Average Rating

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

57,621 Ratings

3.85 Average Rating

Recursion by Blake Crouch

29,581 Ratings

4.22 Average Rating

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

28,937 Ratings

3.93 Average Rating

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

24,042 Ratings

4.03 Average Rating

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

23,657 Ratings

3.98 Average Rating

Run Away by Harlan Coben

23,000 Ratings

4.08 Average Rating

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

21,627 Ratings

4.03 Average Rating

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

19,100 Ratings

3.84 Average Rating

If you love thrillers… PLEASE let me know which ones of these you have read and what has been your favorite! Also, let me know if there are any thrillers you think are missing from my list 🙂

Happy reading!