Book Stack :: Best of 2019

January 04, 2020

Hello! Welcome to 2020!
The year has been off to a strange and sad start - I have spent most of my time since Boxing Day glued to the weather/fire danger apps, and the coverage of the fires that are now burning all through our corner of Australia, as well as other parts of our country.
It has been hard to disengage from the horror of the reports we're seeing coming through - and there is no end in sight yet with tonight expected to bring more destruction - and I know so many of us haven't felt like 'Happy New Year'-ing at all.

I do, however, still want to share and celebrate some of my favourite books of those I read in 2019. I tried to make the stack a clever number - like, a top 10, or 12 for 12 months, but it just didn't work out that way! Each of these books brought me joy as I read them, and I hope they will do the same for you if you decide to pick them up. I should note, this stack doesn't include some of my favourite #loveozya from the year, since many of those are mass market size, and in this stack I only included trade paperback size books - I might wrap them up in the next week or so. Also missing from the stack is Melina Marchetta's The Place on Dalhousie because it is currently traveling around the country with a friend of mine (you can check out my review of it here.)

So, here are 11 of my favourite books from 2019. Click the titles to go to the Goodreads page, and I'll link to my reviews where I have done them. I've also indicated which of these titles I was lucky enough to receive from publishers.

The Saturday Portraits - Maxine Beneba Clarke
This was kindly sent to me by Hachette Australia.
I'm starting with a bit of a cheat here, because I haven't actually finished this entire book yet - I'm about two thirds through - but I am just loving it so much that I can't wait to tell you how good it is. I will have a proper review of this one up once I'm done. I also just want to note that while this copy was sent to me for free, I have actually purchased 3 copies to give to friends! I hardly ever read non-fiction, so it was a delight to find one that I enjoyed so much and that is so absolutely accessible.

The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead
I love Whitehead's writing so I was super keen to get my hands on this, and went out to buy it the very same day it was released. One of my favourite things about his writing is the way that writes beautifully about heavy issues and awful events without putting specific or graphic details on the page - leaving you horrified without it ever feeling gratuitous. We actually own his entire - very varied - backlist, and I'm keen to read through more of them this year.

The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle - Sophie Green
Sophie Green's previous novel, The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club remains a firm favourite of mine, and one that I have either loaned or given of copy of to many of my friends, so I was delighted when I saw she had a new book coming out in 2019 - and even more so when I got to meet her at the Canberra Writers Festival. Hachette Australia also sent me an early copy of this one, and it did not disappoint. Check out my review here.

The Mother-in-Law - Sally Hepworth
This family drama was the first of Hepworth's books I have read and I thought it was a delight - I honestly found it so hard to put down. Huge thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a copy! Check out my review here.

Wildflower Ridge - Maya Linnell
Maya Linnell's debut novel was one of the best rural romances I read this year, and I can't wait to dive back into the lives of the McIntyre sisters when her second book comes out later this year! Thanks to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of this one - here's my review.

Ninth House - Leigh Bardugo
This was one of my most anticipated new books of 2019, and I was lucky to win a copy from Hachette Australia in a giveaway they held on instagram! Gah it was SO GOOD! It's a pretty big book but I just sped through it, and it made me realise I need to read more urban fantasy! Here's my review.

Gravity is the Thing - Jaclyn Moriarty
I find Jaclyn Moriarty's writing so delightful to read - its whimsical and fun while still tackling serious issues in a moving way. This one was sent to me by Pan Macmillan Australia, and my review is here. 

The Wailing Woman - Maria Lewis
This was another book sent to me by Hachette Australia (they really were so good to me this year!). This one really surprised me - I expected to like it, but I just adored it! Definitely more urban fantasy for me this year - quite possibly starting with Lewis' entire back list! Here's my review.

The Blue Rose - Kate Forsyth
Forsyth is an auto-buy author for me, and I will travel to see her as often as I can. She is an absolutely gorgeous storyteller, both in person and in her writing. I was lucky enough to see her speak about The Blue Rose twice over the Canberra Writers Festival weekend. Huge thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for sending me a copy of this one - my review is here.

The Orchardist's Daughter - Karen Viggers
I love to read books by local authors, so I was absolutely delighted to receive a copy of Karen Viggers' new novel, in the mail from Allen & Unwin. This was a lovely read - the setting is written so beautifully that it becomes a character in itself. You can read my review of this one here.

Beauty in Thorns - Kate Forsyth
I was lucky enough to not only see some of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings that inspired this book at the gallery here in Canberra, but also go to see Kate herself speak about both the art and her book (I can't believe I never got around to talking about that here!). I would honestly recommend any of her books, and am planning to read more from her back list this year!

2019 really was a fantastic year in books! Here's hoping reading brings us all this much joy again in 2020!

xo Bron

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  1. This is such a good collection of favourites, Bron. I'm so glad you had a good reading year last year to get so many favourites.
    And I hope you're staying safe. I love you. 💜