Most Memorable Reads of 2019

December 31, 2019

Most Memorable Reads of 2019

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books Read in 2020 and Girlxoxo and Traveling With T for Month of Faves: Favorite Books Read This Year.

Top Ten Memorable Reads:
The List and The Categories

I mostly love the angst of creating top ten lists! It can be a daunting task! First, let me remind you that this list is subjective. It’s compiled of books I’ve read this year (there are always so many more great ones that I didn’t get to), and each one has made it onto this list because reading it was a memorable, emotional experience and gave me a “book hangover.” I’m presenting my list this year in two formats: in list form and in categories. the categories part is a bit more comprehensive because I provided some runners up. Titles are links to my reviews. Although most titles in this post were published this year, a couple were not.

Thanks for sharing great reads with me this year!

Top Ten Memorable Fiction Reads of 2019: The List

(see categories below for runners up and additional selections)

  1. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

2. The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

3. Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quin et al.

4. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

5. The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

6. The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

7. If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

8. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

9. The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

10. The River by Peter Heller

Most Memorable Nonfiction

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom

Memorable Reads by Category

It’s difficult to rank books in order from 1-10 because they are each special in their own way, so I’ve sorted them into categories (similar to last year) and included some runners up (because who can choose just ten?). Even though not all of them are 5 star reads, these are the books that were the most memorable for me….the ones that I still think about….the ones I recommend the most often.

Most Memorable Overall

(and my BEST read of the year)

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Genre: Histfic
5 Stars

Close Runner Up
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
Genre: Family Drama
5 Stars

Most Memorable WW11 Historical Fiction

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke
Genre: HistFic
4.5 Stars

Close Runner Up
The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
Genre: HistFic
4.5 Stars

Most Memorable Refugee Story

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Genre: HistFic
5 Stars

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

Most Memorable Non WW Historical Fiction

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Genre: Histfic, Coming of Age
4.5 Stars

Close Runner Up
If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais
Genre: Histfic
4 Stars

Most Memorable Women

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quin et al.
Genre: Histfic
4.5 Stars

Ribbons of Scarlet

Most Memorable Light Historical Fiction

Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
Genre: HistFic
4.5 Stars

Close Runner Up
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
Genre: HistFic
5 Stars

Most Memorable Biographical Historical Fiction

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini
Genre: Histfic (biographical)
4 Stars

Resistance Women

Most Memorable Middle Grade

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Genre: MG Memoir, Free Verse
5 Stars

Brown Girl Dreaming

Most Memorable Dysfunctional Family

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
4.5 Stars

Ask Again, Yes

Most Memorable Wilderness Thriller

The River by Peter Heller
Genre: Wilderness Thriller
4.5 Stars

The River

Most Memorable Memoir

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
4 Stars

Close Runner Up
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom
Genre: Memoir
4 Stars

Most Memorable Young Adult

Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming of Age
5 Stars

Close Runners Up
Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Histfic
4.5 Stars

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: Contemporary YA Fiction, Coming of Age
4 Stars

Link to Previous Best of Year Posts

Most Recommended Reads of 2017

Most Memorable Reads of 2018

journey of a lifetime reading meme


Please share your best read of the year in comments! Please?! I’d love to hear!

Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

Happy New Year!

happy new year 2020

In Movie News….

Have you seen Little Women?

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  1. Thank you for reminding me of A Fall of Marigolds. My library only has an e-copy and since I just got an e-reader yesterday, I have now borrowed it. I’ve been waiting for YEARS to read this book 🙂

  2. I was tempted by the River, since I loved an earlier book by the same author. Maybe I’ll give it a try! My book group has The Beekeeper of Aleppo and Ask Again Yes coming up in the new year, and I’m really looking forward to both. Wishing you a year full of great books in 2020!

    • Your book club knows how to pick some great reads! I hope you enjoy them. The River is a memorable read…..hope you give it a try! Thanks for commenting and happy new year! 🎊🥂

  3. HI Carol – Happy New Year!! I’ve read 6 of your top ten– and am on the last section of Ribbons of Scarlet. I’m really enjoying it, but am spending a whole lot of time on Wikkipedia, getting all the background info on the characters!! So thanks thanks for all your recommendations!! P.S.- plus read Girl with 7 Names– such a heart wrenching incredible story to think a whole nation of people live like that. So worthwhile.

    • Delightful to hear from you Rhonda! I felt like Ribbons needed to have a dummies guide to the French Revolution included! I also spent time researching the characters! That book felt like I was reading narrative nonfiction! And it’s long! Quite an ambitious collaboration! I enjoyed reading the authors’ notes as I read each section. What was your fav read of 2019?

  4. Favorites of 2019?? Here’s my top 6: Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doer (He writes about moving to Rome with his wife & 2 small boys and it reminded me so much of our move to Spain with our 2. Plus I love travel books). Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson (Did you recommend this?? A reading memoir with list after list of books by categoy). Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tsh Warren (My best book. She writes of the events of a 24 hour day, linking Making the Bed, Losing Your Keys… to a life of sacrament– life changing for me). The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (Know you recommended this one! Such a real story of faith in many guises by a pretty secular author). Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (Loved the story of the rise & fall of the friendships between 2 couples– plus one of them lived on the same street i Madison that my kids lived on!) The Dutch House by Anne Patchett. (Story of a brother & sister and their lives of losing their mother, their father, their home and how they see each other through it all). So glad to have your blog–I’ve recommended it to all my reading friends!! xo

    • Oh where to start! We need our own book club Rhonda! Four Seasons… on my TBR….always fun to make personal connections! I have not read Book Girl….looking it up! Liturgy…..thanks for the rec! Sounds like a must read! I kept thinking of Crossing to Safety when I read Dearly Beloved! ….and again, personal connections really enhance the reading experience! I listened to Dutch House on audio….Tom Hanks is a magnificent narrator!
      Thanks for your kind words and support! I appreciate it so much!

  5. Hallo, Hallo Carol,

    I’m still working on my #BestReads of 2019 post — might take me a few days or a week, or most of the month really to compile it properly because I’m using the *End of the Year Survey* format I first released in 2015. I love how it allows me the benefit of going back through all the books, getting a proper look at my reading stats and just overlooking the past year from a retrospective perspective as a book blogger. *However!* I did release my Top #NewToMeAuthors List – it was meant to be a Top 10 list for Top Ten Tuesday (laughs) but it turnt into a lovely recapture of the 32 authors I loved discovering the most in 2019!!

    You’ll find I highlighted key genres of interest – from Historical Fiction to Contemporary Romance to Speculative Fiction and then an odd mix of favourite genres which also includes a variant of Jane Austen on audiobook! I’m listening to another Jane Austen audio this week, too from the same editors (The Quill Collective).


    We share one book in common (for 2019) – “The Medallion” – which I found emotionally convicting – you’ll find it on the list I’ve linked in this comment with a link to my review.

    I also *loved!* reading “A Fall of Marigolds” — although I’m curious how did you designate that as “light”? I was so emotionally stirred by that novel… plus I have an affinity for time shifts / time slips / time travel narratives in general and this one was such a realistically compelling story. I had the unexpected joy of reading that one when it first published when the author contacted me. I’d share the link but these comments get flagged if I share more than one per response! You can find it via my blog’s search box though! 🙂

    I’ve had Woodson earmarked on my TBR for awhile now – maybe this is finally my year? I believe it was the 88 Cups of Tea podcast where I heard her interview and *knew!* I wanted to be reading her novels! I think my libraries are starting to get her stories in audio and that migth be an easier way for me to read them this year as I’m still attempting augment my readerly habits from print to audio and have a better balance of the two as it helps with reducing my chronic migraines.

    I haven’t made the transition from Jennifer C.’s Elm Creek Quilts series into her Historical Fiction – I attempted to make that transition but I liked her voice and style of the previous series so dearly I found the transition to be difficult. I should re-attempt some of her selections though — which were your favourites that you’ve read?

    Isn’t this always a lovely time of the New Year? Where we share our recomendations of the past year and look forward to the new bookish adventures we’ll all be having this year?! Stay bookishly curious!

    • I categorized A Fall of Marigolds as light histfic because it didn’t include the atrocities of war (e.g. concentration camps). Cilka’s Journey for instance would be a heavier read. You’re right, though, that Marigolds is emotional!

      I hope you enjoy Woodson! My fav is Brown Girl Dreaming (her childhood memoir). I just finished Red at the Bone, her adult novel, and it’s beautifully written, too.

      I have not read the Elm Creek Quilts series. I think Resistance Women is quite different from that series. Some readers had difficulty engaging with RW because of its dense historical content. I loved it!

      My TBR certainly expands this time of year as I enjoy all the top ten lists!

      Thanks for commenting! Good luck with your end of year post!

      • OOoh now I understand!! That’s a new term for me “Light HistFic” and I was thinking that that is the new direction I’ve started to take myself – as I’m seeking ‘less’ grittiness at war during battles and more stories involving human interest stories… I might have to borrow that term this year!!

        Ooh dear my…. even though I’m not a quilter but a knitter, though I’ve contemplated quilting – Elm Creek just feels like a warm hug of book love whenever I revisit the series. Took me a long time to sort out the list of order to read it though! lol That series was published a bit haphazard to the order of everything but its well worth sorting!!

        I’ll have to keep this in mind and see if I can get into Resistance Women. I’ve read plots of a similar nature before and maybe it will work for me – if not, I’m glad it resonated wtih you. As even if I take a pass on a book its nice to know its gaining traction with other readers.

        lol Isn’t it just? (TBRs go tumbling down,..)

        Bless you! I’ll need the extra encouraging… those wrap-ups of mine take a lot of hours,…

      • Ha! Light histfic is my own invention! Less gritty is a good synonym! I read so much histfic that I’ve begun to think of them as heavy, medium, and light in my mind! In my reviews I need to be more specific about what I mean!

        I’ll keep the Quilt series in mind!

        Looking forward to your Wrap up!

  6. I’m looking to borrow With The Fire On High because it seems very good! Trying not to add to my bookshelf much this year and maybe get rid of some too. The library worked for me for years up until I join bookstagram and everyone seems to own books? Aha, love this post idea!

    • I hope you get to read it! I think you’ll love it. Actually, I buy very few books. Over 50% of books I read are from the library. One tip is to request books you know you want to read from the library before they are published…that way if the library buys the book, you’ll be near the top of the wait list because most readers wait until release day to request and by then the wait lists are long. I also get a lot of books from netgalley. I’m always on the look out for kindle deals! I think a lot of what you see on bookstagram are ARCs…I can’t imagine buying all those books!

      Thanks for commenting Kitty!

      • I do order in books and they often come from other libraries in the area! Sometimes the YA section can be really sparse and it’s reaching a point where I’ve read almost every book in it 😂

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