Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Best Books of 2019 Pt. I -- Backlist and 2019 Debuts!

Happy New Year's!
I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve and that your new year is off to a great start. The beginning of a new year still manages to make me anxious, but I know how excited most people are about the prospect of what is often seen as a fresh slate, so I hope it's going great for all of you!

Now that we've got the most disappointing books out of the way, we can finally move onto the best books of 2019! I read a total of 150 books this year, so my favorites lists always tend to get a bit, uh, out of control and I end up having to split them up. 

Today I'm sharing my favorite backlist titles that I read this year as well as 2019 debuts (simply meaning no previous books from these authors) and tomorrow I will be sharing all of my favorite 2019 releases (non-debut)! I decided to highlight a few titles in yellow to indicate they are ones I especially loved this year and would highly recommend. I'll have the rest of my favorites up tomorrow, so in the meantime let's jump into these favorites!

Top 5 Backlist Titles:

Vita NostraNight FilmDown Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible VoyageThe Night Circus

1. Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko: This book was so brilliant and unexpected and unpredictable. It was truly unlike anything I've read and I really want to re-read sometime soon and immerse myself in this weird story that doesn't quite make sense, yet somehow still completely pulls me in. I highly recommend this book if you like things a little on the metaphysical side (even if you don't, it's completely worth it!). (Review)

2. Night Film by Marisha Pessl: I meant to read this when it first came out years and never did, so this year when I finally got around to it I was so frustrated with myself for not reading it before because I was enraptured by this incredible book. The mixed media components added so much and I loved the explorations of darkness and unpredictability of people. This seems to be a really polarizing book for a lot of people, but I fell for it--hard. (Review)

3. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire: This book was written for me, I think. All of McGuire's Wayward Children books have been great, but this one easily takes the cake for me of the ones I've read. It follows Jack and Jill as they first enter their fairy tale land and it just had the most incredible atmosphere and a plot that I was so engrossed in. (Review)

4. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing: When I picked up this book, I knew it would be interesting, but I had no idea how much I would actually love it. Ernest Shackleton is incredible (a fitting title!) and this true story of how his entire crew survived lost in the Antarctic for over a year is astounding. I now plan to read everything I can about Shackleton (including his own account of the wreck, which I didn't know existed until after reading this!) and this horrible yet inspiring story of survival. It's really something special and I would encourage anyone to read it.

5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading The Night Circus as well. It was almost exactly what I expected in terms of prose and it was beautiful. I love the aesthetic of the circus itself and all of the little tidbits of magic that inhabit it. This book is about the characters, yes, but it's also equally (or more) about the circus and the magic as characters as well. 

Top 2019 Debuts:

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah HeepHouse of Salt and SorrowsNottinghamThe Luminous Dead

1. The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry: This book came up on my radar out of nowhere from Orbit and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to read it. It was so fun while also being surprisingly deep and full of really interesting themes relating to life, literature, human nature,and so much more. It's incredibly imaginative and I couldn't put it down while I read it. (Review)

2. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig: 'The perfect dark fairy tale retelling' is the most accurate description of this book that I can think of. I loved the characters, the atmospheric setting, the plot, the twists--truly, I loved everything. This book was a genuine joy to read and I can only hope that Craig continues to write books that grab me as much as this one did. (Review)

3. Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk: This has easily become one of my favorite Robin Hood-inspired tales and I'm so excited by the innovative qualities Makaryk brought to the story. It's a serious story while at the same time it somehow doesn't take itself too seriously and there is plenty of humor and sarcasm and wittiness that makes this not only an interesting book, but also a highly entertaining one. I had a fantastic time reading this and I really can't wait to see what's next. I believe there is a sequel coming out in 2020 and I will absolutely be checking it out! (Review)

4. The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling: This was one of my favorites because of how engrossing and unique it was. I'd never really read any fantasty/sci-fi books centered around a cave diver-especially one cave diving on a different planet. I loved exploring this underground world along with the protagonist while also learning about the safety, steps, and courage needed to undertake this job. There were so many twists and turns in this book and I genuinely enjoyed every second of it. (Review)

Have you read any of these books? What were some of your favorite backlist titles you read this year and/or debuts!?


  1. I love the way you're splitting up your lists😁 Down Among the Sticks and Bones is definitely one of my favorite of the series. I just finished Come Tumbling Down which is a sequel to it, and it was interesting to see what happens to Jack and Jill😁

    1. I'm so excited for Come Tumbling Down since it follows them again!

  2. I listened to Endurance late last year, and it was an amazing book! What a story - I really don't know how those men survived out there for so long.

    1. Same here, it's unbelievable to me how long they were out there! It's one of those things that always makes me wonder about social dynamics and how some groups can maintain survival and camaraderie and others can't.

  3. Shackleton's sounds awesome, I love learning more about stories like that. It's amazing to me how people can persevere through some things in spite of the odds. I bet it's fascinating.

    Happy New Year!

    1. It really is! It was surprisingly gripping and honestly pretty inspirational in ways.