After several years of barely finding time to read more than a few books a year for pleasure, I’ve found the Goodreads Challenge to be super motivating to make the time. I am really achievement driven, so if there’s a mark to meet, I will do all I can to meet it, which means I’ve been doing a lot less insomnia TV-watching and a lot more insomnia reading.
The two years I’ve done the challenge, I set goals which amounted to 3-4 books a month—more than I had been reading for pleasure in the recent past, but something reasonably attainable. The first year, I met my goal in November-ish, so I upped this year’s goal a little.
And crushed it. In May. Since then, I’ve more than doubled my goal. Clearly, I’ve uncovered the secret to finding time to read for pleasure.
(Okay, it also helps that I’m logging my re-reads and work-related reads, too, which I hadn’t been doing.)
Anyway, this year I read a ton of books I loved—and I read a lot more romance than I usually do, because I’m preparing to teach a class on the genre next semester. In addition to the one that made my top five listed below, I especially enjoyed romances by Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, Kristen Callihan, and Penny Reid.
Here are my Fave Five for 2019:
“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.”
I discovered V.E. Schwab this year and read two of her series: The Shades of Magic series and the Villains series. I loved loved loved all these books, but the Villains series, in particular the first book, Vicious, absolutely blew me away.
Schwab’s writing is emotional and engaging, her world-building is fucking brilliant, and oh! her characters are so wonderfully rich and complicated. I found myself loving the antagonists as much as the protagonists, because Schwab brings you in deep and lets you know them all.
Victor Vale, the lead of Vicious, is one of my favorite characters of all time
2. THE BRIDE TEST, BY HELEN HOANG
“Everyone deserved to love and be loved back. Everyone. Even her.”
I adored The Kiss Quotient, Book 1 in this series, last year, and called it perhaps my favorite romance of all time. That’s still true, but I also loved Book 2, The Bride Test. Hoang’s writing style, a perfect balance of humor and angst, really works for me, and I love her quirky characters who are struggling to be in a world that doesn’t have much patience for difference. Her neurodivergent leads really resonate with me—and Khai, the male lead of The Bride Test, is especially awesome. Esme, the female lead, is an homage to Hoang’s mother (there’s an author’s note at the end of the book which is a lovely tribute to her mom), which makes her all the more special.
“Hell, nobody’s okay. Maybe we never were, and we damn sure aren’t now. But we’re here. Until we’re not. And that’s all I find it fair to ask for.”
This massive apocalyptic story is full of action and mystery and wonderful characters—people to root for and people to absolutely despise. It gets compared to King’s The Stand all the time, and the comparison makes sense, but I think Wanderers is the better book (and I say that as a King fan since the 70s, who loves The Stand).
4. THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO, BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID
“People are messy, and love can be ugly. I’m inclined to always err on the side of compassion.”
I know I’m late to the party on this one, but holy crap I loved this book. Evelyn is a tough cookie, and her nearly barren field of fucks makes for a truly wild life story. Reid weaves a rollicking, complicated tale of a woman’s trek through the rocky terrain of Hollywood stardom and her fight to live her life on her terms, in and beyond the spotlight.
5. SIX OF CROWS, BY LEIGH BARDUGO
“I will have you without armor, Kaz Brekker. Or I will not have you at all.”
I also discovered Leigh Bardugo this year, and really loved this series, especially Six of Crows, Book 1. Another beautifully rendered fantasy world, with rich characters navigating complicated relationships and challenging lives.
I’m going to up my Goodreads Challenge goal substantially for 2020, and I can’t wait to see what great books I get to know!
I hope your reading year as been great, too!
PS. Check out my FB author page for a giveaway I’ve got going on today and tomorrow (12/17-18)!