2019 was my book-ban year. I had hundreds of books on my shelves that I just hadn’t gotten around to reading, and I decided that in 2019, I wouldn’t buy any books but rather read everything that was outstanding on my shelves. It’s been great, and whilst I’ve read books that I didn’t necessarily like or love, I’ve equally read books that have quickly become my favourites. I loved many of the books that I’ve read this year, but in this post I’ve listed six that I now consider some of the best books that I’ve ever read. Whilst it is now February 2020, it’s never too late to write about books you love!
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
This is a book that had been sat on my shelf for a while. The only other Picoult book that I had read was, predictably, My Sister’s Keeper. I really enjoyed it and thought her writing style was great – I love the way each chapter focuses on a different character’s perspective and think that it adds real depth and character development to her stories. I decided it was time to give Salem Falls a go and I really didn’t regret it. At first, I wasn’t too sure about the Wicca element of the story, I felt it could take away from the realism of the tale. In the end, I found it only enhanced the story and it became a real page turner. I was invested in the fate of the characters, particularly Addie and Jack. I thought it was a different approach to a harrowing tale and in the end, it really worked. I’d recommend this novel to those people who like both page turners and romance. I’ll definitely be picking up more Picoult novels in 2020.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
I’d heard great things about Salinger’s work and had always wanted to read The Catcher in the Rye, and couldn’t resist picking up this beautiful Penguin copy when browsing in Waterstones. A seemingly superficial novel but when read with deeper focus, becomes an intriguing comment on American society in the late 40s/early 50s, particularly what it means to be a youth at that time. Holden is full of angst and his story epitomises the true feelings of alienation, identity and youth-hood. A coming-of-age story that is definitely worth the accolades and prizes it has received, and also a relatively short novel that could be read in one sitting. For anyone looking to dip a toe into contemporary classics, I would argue that The Catcher in the Rye is the way to go.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
There is nothing surer than the fact that this book was my ultimate favourite from 2019. I couldn’t resist the absolutely gorgeous Virago Modern Classics edition, the cover is beautiful and compliments my book shelf perfectly. At first, I found this book to be a little bit slow on the uptake – du Maurier is extremely descriptive, the intricacies of this book make you feel as though you’re genuinely stood in Manderley with the characters, as though you’re a part of their conversations, of them readying the morning room, as though you’re experiencing the memory of Rebecca first hand. As the mystery grew, I became more intrigued but the one thing that made this book my favourite of 2019 was the plot twist. I really was not expecting it at all, and I think that’s where du Maurier’s description and intricate detail is important. Without this, I don’t think I would have been so shocked at the plot twist. 10/10, could not recommend this book more.
Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel García Márquez
My only collection of short stories of 2019, I thought it was brilliant. Twelve stories that relate to the strangeness of living in a foreign land, I found a lot of it, whilst largely symbolic, to be heavily relatable having previously lived in two different countries (Spain and Portugal). What is means to be ‘foreign’ is the common theme and something which I haven’t read about before, so it was refreshing to read something new. My two personal favourite stories were ‘I Sell My Dreams’ and ‘Maria dos Prazeres.’ I found a lot of the writing to be dream-like, whimsical and more fitting to a fantasy theme, yet still portraying a realistic, societal issue. For this reason, I found García Márquez to be such a talented writer and I can’t wait to read more of his work.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
At some point in their lives, everyone should read this book. It took me a while to get around to it but when I finally did, I didn’t regret it! A philosophical novel but still a page turner, I loved following the protagonist’s journey. It really made me think about my approaches in life and being more positive/prioritising myself and my goals. It’s also a relatively short novel and can be read in one sitting. I’m not the biggest fan of the edition that I have but Waterstones and Blackwell’s sell beautiful, hardback editions of the novel for anyone interested in buying it. I’m looking forward to reading more of Coelho’s novels, I feel they offer great lessons of life but also amazing page turners.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I would argue that this is possibly one of the strangest books I’ve ever read, and considering the premise to the plot, I’m almost ashamed to say that I enjoyed it. Hubert Hubert is pathetic and honestly one of my least favourite characters I have ever come across, but nevertheless, I loved the book and can see why Lolita is so popular. Nabokov has influenced me to delve deeper into Russian literature, despite the very strange storyline and I can’t wait to read more of what Russia has to offer. I particularly love the Penguin Classics copy of Lolita that I own, it was relatively well priced and I picked it up in Waterstone’s. I know it’s a common debate when Lolita is discussed but I personally do believe that Hubert Hubert is a monster, nevertheless I really enjoyed the book and would say it is definitely worth the read.
I can’t wait to lift my book-ban this year and read brand new, current books. Hopefully I’ll come across some that are just as amazing as this year! For any avid GoodReads users out there, I log and review everything that I read and also make lists of books that I still need to read, you can find and follow me by clicking here.