At the beginning of 2019, I set myself a goal to read 45 books. I rediscovered my love of reading and I haven’t looked back since. At the end of 2019 I managed to read 38 books. 38 books! I can’t believe it. I never imagined myself reading that many books in one year. So even though I missed out by 7 I’m still so proud of myself. I look back to the end of 2018 before I started the goal and think of how much I have learned since. I’ve become a better reader and writer, and I’ve discovered some amazing authors and interesting topics along the way.
My original reasoning behind setting such a high reading goal was to improve my reading and writing skills in general. I want to write a book at some point in my life, so why not start by reading a wide range of novels? The book idea I have is quite intricate and daunting to me, so I want to find all the inspiration I can. Reading has really started to guide me in the right direction. And, even though I have miles to go yet, I’ve come so far with my idea just in 2019.
So, with that being said, here are some little reviews of some of the books I’ve read this year…
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood (2/5) I don’t have much to say about The Handmaid’s Tale other than it was terrible. I didn’t find the characters, setting or plot in any way engaging. But I can understand why some love it and I do usually like this genre. This book just wasn’t for me.
Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf (2/5) This one was just boring, but so many love it. I did enjoy the little tour we got of London but that’s pretty much it. This book was almost plotless, which I do typically like but I just didn’t engage with the characters very much.
The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro (2/5) This was recommended by someone I follow on Instagram, so I thought I’d give it a go. The first 1/3 was really good and then it just went downhill from there. The main focus was on an elderly couple who are suffering with what I think is dementia. But after the first 1/3rd It was as if Ishiguro forgot where he was going and just wrote about anything. Quite disappointing really!
Dracula – Bram Stoker (2/5) This one is well known and well loved. I do appreciate this work because it has influenced vampire/werewolf fiction so much today. I do like how the story is told, through newspaper articles and diary entries, but the character’s telling the stories have no distinguishing personality traits – I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart if it wasn’t for their name at the beginning of their section.
The Overstory – Richard Powers (2/5) The Overstory was ooookkkk. Again it was recommended to me by someone on Instagram. I am glad I read it and I did learn a lot, but for me there were too many characters and too many boring bits that didn’t really need to be in there. When it ended I didn’t feel satisfied or fulfilled, more just annoyed that I spent so much time on it.
Devotion – Madeline Stevens (3/5) Stevens’ writing style is wonderful and I did relate to the main character in this short book, but there were so many plot holes in the end. I debated reading it again to see if I’d missed something, but after looking at reviews I found many others felt the same way as I. I think more work was needed on the plot but I still enjoyed the book. An easy and engaging read.
The Idiot – Elif Batuman (3/5) The Idiot is another book that I think could have been shortened down considerably. There were many unnecessary scenes in there that did nothing for the plot. I felt like I was wasting my time. That being said I did enjoy it for the most part. And I liked the main character, Selin, I related to her a lot.
My Favourites / I Recommend
The Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger (5/5) It’s a toss up between The Catcher In the Rye and Rebecca for my favourite books of 2019. I adored the stream of consciousness style in this book and the main character Holden was a real love-hate character. This book is a great example of how a plotless book with an intriguing, multi-layered character can be so amazing. There isn’t much else I can say, just read it – Salinger is a genius!
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier (5/5) Du Maurier – what a beautiful writer! With tons of detail she managed to immerse me in the world of Manderley – a country estate in Cornwall. The main character who is unnamed reminds me of myself. A young naive woman marries a widower and moves in to his charming home which is where the plot unfolds. Rebecca has an engaging and satisfying plot which is perfect for an autumn/winter read.
The 7 Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid (5/5) I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I thought it would be an average read, but it’s turned out to be much, much more! It tells you the story of a Hollywood movie star who is complicated, independent and brave. In the book, the main character Evelyn tells her interesting life story to a journalist who she has an unexpected connection to. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was inspired by someone in real life.
The Water Cure – Sophie Mackintosh (4/5) Set on a remote island, three sisters and their parents live on a remote island and take part in the ‘water cure’, a strange ritual. Life on the island is all they have ever known, and their parents have nurtured the three girls to believe that men are toxic (apart from their father, King). The girls are told that even breathing in air from the outside world is deadly and will eventually cause serious damage to them. As the plot develops we find out shocking truths and twists. Mackintosh’s writing style is engaging too, I want to read more from her in the future.
And the rest
(I’ve underlined the ones I recommend)
Expectation – Anna Hope (2/5)
Under A Dancing Star – Laura Wood (2/5)
A Sky Painted Gold – Laura Wood (4/5)
The Woodlanders – Thomas Hardy (3/5)
Agnes Grey – Anne Bronte (3/5)
The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides (4/5)
The Dreamblood Duology – N.K. Jemisin (3/5)
The White Book – Han Kang (2/5)
Story Genius – Lisa Cron (2/5)
The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell (4/5)
Revenants – Daniel Mills (4/5)
Normal People – Sally Rooney (4/5)
Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger (2/5)
The Harry Potter Series (4/5)
The Confession – John Grisham (4/5)
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson (5/5)
Dark Matter – Blake Crouch (3/5)
Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (3/5)
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (3/5)
MY 2020 READING GOAL
So this year I’d like to continue with setting a reading goal of course! Although this time I want to lower the goal slightly to 40 books instead of 45 like last year. I was stressing myself out a bit when I didn’t feel like reading and started to feel guilty about not reading every day. I want the challenge to be fun, so I think I can definitely do 40 books this year.
I might start writing notes about the books I’ve read to so I can remember what I liked/disliked about each one. Looking back at my 2019 book ratings I think I was a little generous, so I expect this years Good Reads ratings to be a little bit harsher too.
Are you setting yourself a reading goal this year? Let me know in the comments! Follow along with me on Good Reads.