Here we go!
It’s that time of year again when we all start putting together our ‘end of year’ lists and I’m bringing mine to you today! I could have whittled it down to 10 books, 15 books, 20 books? but ya know what?……I didn’t want to!
I choose my books of the year based on the very scientific process of scrolling through my Goodreads and seeing which books still give me ‘the feeling’. Crazy I know! There will be some 5 star books on my Goodreads that won’t necessarily appear on this list due to the fact that they have faded a little for me, and that is the true test of a good book! Whether it can still give me ‘the feeling’ some months after reading it.
I have a good mix of novels and short story collections here, however I only have ONE non-fiction! ( I really need to make more of a non-fiction effort in 2020!).
I will also say that these books are books I’ve read in 2019 and not books published in 2019 so bear that in mind.
I won’t harp on about each book but I will link any reviews I’ve done. (Lets face it, a lot of you will probably just scroll through the pictures anyway! No judgement here!).
Without any further ado, lets crack on! (In a loose ‘oldest first’ order)
Slack Tide by Elanor Dymott – Jonathan Cape
This gave me distinct vibes of Louise O’Neill’s Almost Love (which I adored!) I also loved Elanor Dymott’s novel Silver & Salt, she’s an amazing author. Add to the mix a tale of a coercive relationship and I was hooked! my review is here.
When I Had A Little Sister by Catherine Simpson – 4th Estate
This book just broke my heart. I still think about it often and can remember feeling utterly bereft and having a good old cathartic sob in the bath. This an unflinchingly raw account of suicide in a rural farming family. I think it will always remain one of my most memorable non-fiction reads. My review is here.
It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mothers by Lisa Blower – Myriad Editions
I have such a strong nostalgic feeling even just looking at the cover of this short story collection. It is perhaps the collection I recommend the most. If you haven’t read it, you really need to! My review is here.
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal – Picador
This book could not have been any more ME! A dark and gritty historical tale that lures you in and drags you under. Bloody marvellous! My review is here.
The Rapture by Claire McGlasson – Faber & Faber
Another stonking historical tale but with one foot firmly rooted in the truth. If cults are your bag then you need to get your hands on this beauty (and it is a beauty! Look at it!) My review is here
Common People Edited By Kit De Waal – Unbound
This book is another nostalgic trip down memory lane for me! I feel like I could have written some of the stories myself, they felt so closely connected to my own Northern working class upbringing. This book will always have a huge piece of my heart. My review is here.
Some New Ambush by Carys Davies – Salt
Carys Davies was a new author to me this year and the stories in her collection Some New Ambush are amongst some of the most memorable I’ve read. I read a lot of short stories and sometimes I struggle to remember who wrote what or which collection each story appears in. However, Carys’ distinct voice shines through in this collection and it contains one of my most memorable stories.
Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine – Picador
Another short story collection with some of the most enjoyable tales I’ve read. If I ever see anyone reaching out and asking for short story recommendations I always suggest Sweet Home. They are stories of everyday lives behind closed doors on normal streets but with deeply rooted themes of loss and grief. My review is here
The Vet’s Daughter by Barbara Comyns – Virago
2019 was the year that Barbara Comyns came into my life! Man am I glad she did! This book sparked a love affair with Comyns and I now have read or own most of her books. My review of The Vet’s Daughter is here.
Witches Sail In Eggshells by Chloe Turner – Reflex Press
I chanced upon this short story collection via Twitter. It is an absolute stunner and each of the stories touched a part of me. This is another hugely memorable collection which has pride of place on my ‘Forever Shelf’ and another book I recommend lots! My review is here.
Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley – John Murray
If I was pushed I would have to say that Starve Acre by Andrew Michael Hurley is probably my overall book of the year. I ate it up in one rainy afternoon and can still remember how it made me feel. I closed it immediately wanted to shout about it to the world! My review is here.
The Mating Habits Of Stags by Ray Robinson – Eye & Lightning
This book was a joyous little surprise. One that almost flew under the radar but thankfully ended up soaring right above it! This is another one that I gobbled up really quickly and immediately wanted to tell everyone about. My review is here
They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple – John Murray
Ahhhhhh Dorothy! I think someone suggested Dorothy Whipple to me when I asked on Twitter for recommendations of books based in the 1920’s and 30’s. As with Barbara Comyns, They Were Sisters sparked a Whipple love affair and some may remember that I battled with the library to let me keep the old fusty falling to bits copy they kept in their basement, to no avail! However I am now the proud owner of this First Edition which was kindly sourced for me by my lovely Aunty and Uncle! I love it!
Things We Say In The Dark by Kirsty Logan – Harvill Secker
Now this short story collection is just deliciously dark and horrifying! I sat and read it all the way through one night. Wow! What an experience! I love Kirsty Logan’s writing so much! My review is here.
The Murder Of Harriet Monckton – Myriad Editions
A stonker of an example of perfect historical fiction for me. Elizabeth Haynes can do no wrong in my eyes and I absolutely adored this book! Get your hands on it immediately.
This Is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill – Serpents Tail
This is a short powerhouse of a book that really packs a huge punch! I was conflicted about my thoughts on the protagonist and wanted everyone to read the book so that I could discuss it! My review is here.
Reality, Reality by Jackie Kay – Picador
Jackie Kay is another new to me author this year. I picked up a copy of her other short story collection Why Don’t You Stop Talking purely on a whim and really enjoyed it. This led me to loaning Reality, Reality from the library and racing through it. Short stories with a hint of magical realism? yes please!
Haven’t They Grown by Sophie Hannah – Hodder & Stoughton
Now this book sparked off pure excitement before I’d even started reading it! I read the blurb to my friends and family and it had us all crying out ‘BUT WHY HAVEN’T THEY GROWN???’. Having now read it, I KNOW why they haven’t grown……..but I’m not telling. You’ll also have to wait for my review until my stop on the blog tour on 16th January. Ooooh I’m a tease and no mistake!
Little Bandaged Days by Kyra Wilder – Picador
Sorry but this is another book that hasn’t been published yet! I love books surrounding struggling mothers and the mental issues this presents. This book knocked me sideways and was one of those books that I had to review IMMEDIATELY as soon as I’d finished reading it because my brain was fizzing! Again, you’ll have to wait until closer to publication at the end of January for my review.
We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson – Penguin
I know, I know! I was super late to the party with this one! You’ve all read it, you’ve all loved it. I’m now part of your crew and kicking myself that I left it soooo long to actually read it!
All The Birds Singing by Evie Wyld – Vintage
This book is the reason why you should never close off your books of the year list too early. I read this a few days ago and it has made a huge impression on me. It was recommended to me by the amazing Daisy Johnson when I asked on Twitter for books about living in isolation. It blew me away and I’m so glad I kept my mind open to amazing books this close to the end of the year.
So there we have it folks! My ‘List’.
I have read 148 books this year and most have been hugely enjoyable. The 21 books you’ve seen here are my ultimates. The cream of the crop (a great crop at that!).
Have you read any of them and do any of them appear on your list?
I hope you all have a marvelous New Year and here’s to more amazing books in 2020!
Thank you all so much for your continued support.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx