Best Books 2019 {Reviews & Recommendations}

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

One of the many benefits of no longer juggling running a business and selling a business, is I have a much improved work/life balance. I’m still covered in toddler slobber most of the time (don’t want to give you an unrealistic vision of a glossy blow dry, hot yoga and zen) but it does mean I can READ BOOKS.

And what a relief that is. I’ve missed the escapism. And my vocabulary has definitely suffered as a result (not to mention the mostly talking to myself or a 20 month old in my previous work-from-home scenario). I’m sharing my best books of 2019, please do share yours in the comments section below.

My first recommendation is The Cactus by Sarah Haywood. It’s not new – you’ve probably seen it recommended before. But if you haven’t read it yet please do. It’s very VERY witty. And I much prefer it when the heroine is sharp as hell and knows what she wants vs overtly romantic/a victim of her own naivety yada yada.

The book follows the story of 45 year old Susan Green who finds herself in a predicament she was not expecting, and certainly hadn’t planned for. Mostly it is about needing to be in control but circumstances dictate that is no longer an option. It is very astute whilst being heart-warming and unique. Read it.

Next I would recommend When You Read This by Mary Adkins. The plot is centred around a young woman who dies of cancer at 33. It is not particularly maudlin however, and had I not picked it up from the “returns” section of the library in a rush without actually reading what it was about, I may have decided against it, given the subject matter.

I’m so glad I didn’t, it managed to be extremely moving whilst making me laugh out loud. The format is quite different to anything else I have read – the story is mostly told via emails between the heroine’s work colleagues and elder sister and moves effortlessly between the past and the present. I read it in two sittings and I know it is one of those poignant tales that will stay with me for a long long time.

Make the most of every day. None of us are around for ever. Take the risks. If it doesn’t work for you change it. Growing old is a privilege denied to many.

I ordered The Man That Didn’t Call because I had seen so much online praise. I couldn’t help thinking “Perhaps he just wasn’t that into you pet?” but I was pleasantly surprised by the engaging story telling and unexpected twist. It is a very modern love story, with relatable lead characters and absolutely zero cliche or twee.

I found the PR/the marketing associated with this novel didn’t fit with just how entertaining it was “OMG the best love story of the year” and so on. Ignore all that, it’s definitely worth a read.

Best Books 2019?

Please do leave any recommendations for your pick of the best books 2019 in the comments box below, and if you haven’t joined your local library as yet then please please do! I’ve put amazon links in this feature so you can easily read more about the books I’ve mentioned but I’m sure the vast majority of libraries will carry these titles.

You can read more about my personal library adventures in For The Love of library books.

I have recently borrowed Letters To iris, only a few pages in but I’m throughly intrigued so far.

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea
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26 thoughts on “Best Books 2019 {Reviews & Recommendations}

  1. Oooh love a good book chat! My book for the year has to be The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – I’ve just finished it and I loved it. It’s the follow up to The Handmaid’s Tale but it’s been years since I’ve read that and couldn’t remember much about it and that wasn’t a problem, so don’t let not having read that put you off. Highly recommended and very easy to read and immediately gripping (necessary for me these days with my sleep deprived brain!)

    1. I have this waiting Katie! so glad to hear it’s great. I didn’t read the Handmaids Tale but I think the Netflix adaption is amazing. x

  2. I feel like I’ve really de-found my reading mojo recently, and my pledge to myself for next year is using the local library more.

    Favourite books I’ve read this year – Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. Retelling Rumplestiltskin, full of magic and one of those excellent strong heroines who is most certainly not about the romance.
    Also The Salt Path, which is non-fiction, and tells the story of how a couple – made suddenly homeless – decide to walk the entire length of the South West Coast path. It is inspiring, funny and also full of good nature writing.

    1. The Salt Path sounds really interesting Rebecca, thanks for the recommendation. We tie in going to our local library with the local park/coffee etc so it is part of a trip, I’ve always failed to go ‘just’ for me to choose books. Definitely worth it though.

    2. I spend so much of my time commuting that audiobooks have transformed my reading this year! My top three are –
      1. The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans
      2. When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
      3. The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
      All brilliant in their own rights with some great twists! X

      1. I really need to get into Audio books Daisy – especially now I am commuting more…and I love a good twist!

  3. Eugh my reading habits have been crap lately! I’d rather read a book in the evening, but Gavin would rather watch TV, so the telly goes on and I inevitably end up next to him on the sofa. What I need is a reading chair in our bedroom. Yes yes.

    My fave non-fictions have been:

    The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive by Daniel J. Siegel

    Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday – About why it’s important to put higher goals above the desire for recognition in an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion. VERY good read.

    As for fiction:

    The Stranger by Kate Riordan – A young woman is found dead on a beach in a quiet town during the war and three girls find themselves entwined in the story. Excellent read, really good characters.

    Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce – Set in London during World War II a young woman becomes a secret advice columnist against her employer’s wishes. I loved the main character, the plot and the day to day depiction of life during the war.

    1. Oooh love the sound of all of these Naomi. Ego is the enemy – that’s a brilliant title, so appropriate in today’s climate. I do have to choose tv or book – I tend to have at least one night a week where I have an earlier evening shower/get into bed and know I have an hour of peace to read without disruption!

  4. *open my Amazon list of books I want to read* … love a book recommendations post!! I think my two recent favourites have been Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams … would be a good holiday read, I really enjoyed it … and The Lido by Libby Page, I really got sucked into this one!!!

    1. I have tried to borrow the Lido a few times from the library Amy but it’s always out! I must make the effort to reserve it.

  5. Loved The Cactus & The Salt Path. Other than those ones i have read this year and loved – Paige Toon “if you could go anywhere” perfect holiday reading and also Rowan Coleman “the girl in the window” – made shivers go up and down my spine. And for a good thriller – I think this could be a couple of years old – but i only read it this year 🙂 “I am Pilgrim” Terry Hayes.

  6. Janey I haven’t read any thrillers for a while – my Mum has just finished “The couple next door” by Shari Lapena and she said it’s excellent – I’m definitely going to borrow it.

    1. I loved the Couple Next Door! Lots of plot twists. It’s not the most high brow or taxing but at the end of hard day at work don’t we all need a bit of escapism…I loved Lucky You by Dawn O-Porter. I haven’t read anything by her before but I would thoroughly recommend. Really funny, great characters, good easy reading x

  7. Thanks for all of the recommendations! I’ve been terrible with reading this year, but have started heading up to bed a bit earlier and reading before I settle down. So, I haven’t read many books at all this year – but did really love The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett (a few years old now I think) although it did take a while to get going as at first the split narratives were hard to keep track of.
    I’m almost finished The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins which has been on my shelf for years and only started reading last month. It’s a classic Victorian sensation thriller and has the most perfect villains and a full on dastardly scheme.

  8. Thank you for this – I’ll be pinning it for future reference.

    I highly recommend All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s a beautifully written book about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. It’s heartbreaking at times but really does show the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

    Just started La Belle Sauvage – Volume 1 of Phillip Pullman’s The Book of Dust Trilogy. Really good so far!

    1. Sarah, I’ve got All the Light We Cannot See on my shelf, I bought it for my mum and now she’s lent it to me! Look forward to reading that one as she really enjoyed it too. 🙂

    2. I’m listening to La Belle Sauvage at the moment. I couldn’t get my into the physical book (possibly because the hardback was so heavy!) but I’m enjoying listening.

    3. I had All the light we cannot see on Audible and can really recommend. Some are not so well narrated – I had The salt path on Audible and couldn’t get on with the narrator – it sounded so moany.

  9. If you like Derry Girls, I can’t recommend ‘OMG What A Complete Aisling’ by Emer McLysaght enough.

    It’s not serious or heavy, but it is laugh out loud funny. It’s set in Northern Ireland and has that same dry humour that Derry Girls has.

    I also loved the ‘Rosie’ series by Graeme Simsion – about an autistic genetics professor who sets out to find a wife – very funny, touching and engaging.

  10. Love this! Quite a list forming over here. Thought I’d just pop up to add two recommendations of my own…

    All the birds, singing by Evie Wylde and The Essex Serpent by Sarah Parry. I also love anything by Kate Morton – her novels often swap between then and now but always have a fabulous twist.

  11. Absolutely LOVED ‘The hearts invisable furies’ by John Boyce – the man who wrote the boy in the blue striped PJ’S. I laughed and cried all the way through. A great one to read at christmas time, snuggled up with a box of chocolates close by.

  12. Just wanted to say thank you for all of the recommendations! Since this post I’ve read both the Lido and the Cactus. Currently working my way through the man who didn’t call. After a bit of a break, I feel that I’ve got my reading mojo back!

    Earlier in the year I read the Kevin Kwan ‘Crazy Rich Asian’ series which were really good page turners. It’s a bit of an old recommendation but I also really enjoyed ‘the keeper of lost things’ by Ruth Hogan. For a good thriller, I thought that Steve Cavanagh’s ‘Thirteen’ offered something a bit different. I’m always on the look at for true page turners to read on my commute to avoid wasting so much time on my phone.

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