Books and Reading 2019

I like reading other people’s “year in review” and reading lists about this time each year, so I usually post one, too. I was looking over my post from last year, where I commented that I certainly don’t post these things to make myself look good. That’s for sure! My happy news is that I read more books than last year, when I read more books than the year before. My grand total is 51 full books, although I read some other things (a Shakespeare play, portions of many books that were not read in full) that I’m not listing.

Once again, my first category is Elizabeth George, who gets a whole category to herself just because I’m in the process of rereading her books. There wasn’t a new one this year—I have hopes for 2020! (Word of advice: read them in order. The first one is A Great Deliverance. )

Elizabeth George

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner
Traitor to Memory
A Place of Hiding
I, Richard
With No One as Witness
Careless in Red
Believing the Lie

Classic and Literary Fiction

Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Come Rain or Come Shine, by Jan Karon
The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham
Cousin Phyllis by Elizabeth Gaskell (audio)
Coromandel Sea Change by Rumer Godden
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (reread)
To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Esther Waters by George Moore
Persuasion by Jane Austen (reread)
News from Thrush Green by Miss Read (reread)
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (reread)
Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery (reread)
At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon (reread)

I averaged more than one of these per month, so I’m pretty happy about that. On the other hand, about a third of them were rereads. I don’t think I mind—rereading is a good thing. Of the books that were new to me on this list, I think The Razor’s Edge was probably my favorite. I’ve wanted to read it for so long! But Jan Karon is up there pretty high, too. Having finished all the Mitford books at long last (I dawdled over the last few, knowing they were coming to an end), I decided to go back to the beginning and reread them all. Jan Karon will probably get her own category in 2020.

Elbow-chair Reading

(If you’re not sure what I mean by that, be sure to check out my reading post from last year.) There are a few here that perhaps should be on my literary fiction list, but I suppose that’s balanced by a few on that list that should perhaps be on this one. If I haven’t provided a link, it’s because I don’t think you should bother.

The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson
The Virgin in the Ice by Ellis Peters (reread)
The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer (reread)
A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity
Finding Sage by Logan Judy
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Turbulent by T.L. Payne
An Unwilling Guest by Grace Livingston Hill
Aunt Crete’s Emancipation by Grace Livingston Hill (reread)
The Obsession of Victoria Gracen by Grace Livingston Hill
The Stand by Stephen King
The Reckoning by John Grisham (No link—I like Grisham, but this is his worst.)
The Scorch Trials by James Dasher
The Death Cure by James Dasher
The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer
Masquerade by Nancy Moser
Matilda by Roald Dahl (reread)
Cold Flat Junction by Martha Grimes
Stolen Son by Cole Baxter

Most of these would fall into the “guilty pleasure” category, and there is a fair representation of some themes and genres that appeal to me—playing with time, post-apocalyptic, mystery/detective fiction, and whatever category Grace Livingston Hill belongs in.

I probably read a little too much in this category in 2019, but I did a good bit of traveling which included some long plane and train rides, and that’s when I read most of these. Actually, I think all the Georgette Heyers and Grace Livingston Hill titles represent a few days when I was pretty sick. (These average out to nearly two per month, but that’s not how I actually read them.) Connie Willis is my hands-down favorite in this category, but I will also say unabashedly that The Stand was amazing. I don’t read a lot of Stephen King, but he is a good story-teller, and this was a good book. I would call it a post-apocalyptic struggle between good and evil.


I read a lot of nonfiction this year, far more than this list suggests. However, only books that get finished make this list, and my stack of books-in-progress is something else altogether. If I keep working at it, my finished list for 2020 will probably look a lot more impressive.

A Thousand Miles to Freedom by Eunsun Kim
How to be Unlucky by Josh Gibbs
Spilled Milk by K.L. Randis
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis
Educated by Tara Weston
Maybe You Will Survive by Aaron Goldfarb
Home Education by Charlotte Mason (reread, but you knew that)

My favorites were definitely A Jane Austen Education and Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism which I read along with others for the podcast group The Literary Life.  And Charlotte Mason. I’m not sure it’s obvious from this list, but if my nonfiction books aren’t about books and education, they are probably memoirs.

This represents, as I said, 51 books which is almost one book per week. I don’t honestly aspire to more, because if I did read more, they would just be fluff. However, perhaps you will grant me an indulgence because there is actually one more book that I read in full this year, and I read it more than once. I’m talking about In Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of Education. If we can agree that I can count this as a “book I read in 2019,” then I’ll have a nice, tidy 52.

Well, that’s settled then. Thanks. I wish you a happy year of reading in 2020! I have no plans, other than to read whatever I feel like reading on any given day, and that’s usually enough to cover a good bit of ground during the year.





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6 thoughts on “Books and Reading 2019

  1. Karen, you’re calling The Doomsday Book elbow-chair reading?! It’s not exactly what I’d call a pick-me-up! Or is your elbow-chair not necessarily a cheerful one? Have you read Connie Willis’s book Belwether? It was new for me this year.

    I think Somewhere Safe is probably my favourite Mitford book, but I did like To Be Where You Are…new looks at minor characters, and newer ones like Grace Murphy.

    1. I could probably shift a few books in my two divisions for fiction. These are the only two books I’ve read by Connie Willis, but I will read more.

  2. Wonderful list. I found many good friends and ideas for 2020. I will keep your list at hand, for sure.

    I read less this year, but I loved everything and read many new to me authors.

  3. I read A Great Deliverance upon your recommendation a few years ago but it was so dark! I will steer clear of Elizabeth George until my days with babies and very young children are over because I find that I am too sensitive! I loved The Stand and also the made for tv miniseries with Gary Sinese and Molly Ringwald which was very faithful to the book. I’m not a huge Stephen King fan, but I have a few favorites, including Duma Key, which has a bit of a silly ending in my opinion but a lot of good parts too.

  4. I’m working on my list of 5 topics each with 5 books for 2020, a schole sister challenge, so this was good to read. And I love me some mystery fiction, I might find some of these at the library to enjoy in the bath!

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