Another a year, another almost impossible task trying to each choose our Top 10 Reads of the year! Like past years I won’t be including re-reads, and I also realized that sometimes my opinion of a book could change and evolve after I had read it, so some surprises may be up near the top. And since it’s the end of the reading year, don’t forget to enter our “Twelve Days of Christmas” Giveaway! Today I’m going to countdown my favorites reads, ten to six.
Pick Number 10: “Lock Every Door” by Riley Sager
It took a lot of mulling and hemming and hawing to decide which book was going to be the first to make the Top 10 of 2019. But the book that eventually got the honor was Riley Sager’s “Lock Every Door”, which means all of Sager’s books have been in my Top 10 in the years that they’ve been published. This book got the spot because it was compulsively readable, it had some delicious homages to the creepiness of the Dakota in New York and “Rosemary’s Baby”, and kept me guessing for a majority of the time. Sager still finds ways to surprise me and I greatly, GREATLY look forward to his books every year, and “Lock Every Door” was a wicked and paranoia inducing thriller that will make you question if you’re actually safe in your own home, and if perhaps someone is watching your every move.
Pick Number 9: “Two Can Keep A Secret” by Karen M. McManus
Karen M. McManus is well on her way to becoming a YA mystery guru, with her debut “One of Us Is Lying” becoming a runaway hit and it’s sequel “One of Us Is Next” coming out early next year. And between those was the (as of now) standalone “Two Can Keep A Secret”, a YA mystery involving missing people, a small town with secrets, and intrepid twins who are new in town. “Two Can Keep A Secret” sucked me in and made sure that I was fully invested in twins Ellery and Ezra and their transition to the town of Echo Ridge. Ellery and her love interest Malcolm were some of the best YA characters I read in 2019, and their romance and tangentially shared traumas that involve a notorious tragedy came together and wove a story I was completely obsessed with. I still think that fans of adult thrillers would find a lot to like in McManus’s books, and “Two Can Keep A Secret” would be the perfect place to start!
Pick Number 8: “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei
Being a “Star Trek” fan I was of course very interested in reading Takei’s graphic memoir about his time in an interment camp during WWII, and “They Called Us Enemy” became one of the best graphic novels I read in 2019 because of it’s scary timeliness. Takei recounts a traumatic and disgusting part in American history where American citizens were imprisoned because of their race and ethnicity, and he gives it a personal and vulnerable spin. Takei’s story is combined with how Executive Order 9066 came to be, and gives a comprehensive and easy to follow history lesson of one of our nation’s greatest shames. Given that there are internment camps along the border now in 2019, it goes to show that perhaps history isn’t so hard to repeat. “They Called Us Enemy” is necessary reading, and one of the most powerful memoirs of the year.
Pick Number 7: “Educated” by Tara Westover
Ah ha, the first book of my Top 10 of 2019 that didn’t make it onto the blog due to time and theme! But I would be remiss if I left the fantastic “Educated” off my list. This memoir tells the story of how Tara Westover went from a fundamentalist and abusive home where her education and worth were thrown by the wayside, to becoming an incredibly educated and independent woman free from her toxic family’s influence. “Educated” is a story that I couldn’t put down and read in one night, and Westover’s deeply personal tale was hard to read at times (from her mentally ill father who isolated the family, to her complicit mother, to her abusive older brother and the violence he heaped at her), but at the same time it was completely inspirational as she did everything she could to escape. There’s a reason this was such a runaway hit. If you haven’t read “Educated” yet and were mulling it, do it. DO IT.
Pick Number 6: “Kindred” by Octavia Butler
The speculative fiction/historical fiction/science fiction epic from Octavia Butler was the stand out book club pick of the year for me! I had always meant to read “Kindred” but hadn’t gotten around to it, but when we picked it for the club it was finally time. This story of a black woman sent back in time to an Antebellum plantation has been hailed as a classic of sci-fi, and it’s commentary on race, racism, and privilege is still resonant in the decades after it was first published. Butler isn’t afraid to tell violent truths about slavery in America, and she also finds ways to show how it still continues to haunt society in the 20th Century, and beyond (which she probably hadn’t intended, and yet here we are). “Kindred” is a hard read, but it’s excellent, and necessary if you want to see what speculative fiction can achieve when it comes to commentary on society.
So that’s ten through six. Next time I will give a countdown of my top five. What have been some of your favorite reads of 2019?