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Year in Books – 2019

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2019 was finally a year I got into reading. Reading books, learning from books, thinking about books – a year in books.

“A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return.”

Salman Rushdie

As a child, I loved reading, and I think it’s the reason I started wearing glasses early. I loved what books could do!

Books are magical, some are meant to transport you to a different destination, others teach you a new skills, and still others will show you a different perspective.

Overall, I read 20 books throughout the year, but what I think my biggest accomplishment for the year, was to get into a daily habit of reading.

My reading habit

I try to read 10 pages daily, and most days that turns into a much longer reading session. But the goal of reading 10 pages, actually forces you to read daily.

I do usually have multiple books going at one time, so I can read what I’m in the mood for!

My 2019 books by mood

If you don’t enjoy reading you probably haven’t found the right books!

Looking back at 2019, one of the things I realized was that although I read all these books, I didn’t really reflect how they made me feel or what I learned from them!

So i decided to categorize my year in books based on how they made me feel. :

  • Words that inspire – a year of books that are either real life stories or made up worlds of fiction, with words that inspired me creatively, and fuelled my soul.
  • Laugh out Loud – books I read this year that made me chuckle. These are the books we need in our lives, so we don’t take everything so seriously.
  • Out of Office – these are books I would recommend when you’re looking to turn off your brain, and just relax.
  • Change your mind(set) – these are the books you need when you just need a kick in the butt, some motivation to really get going!
  • Get things done – books that give you practical advice or a set of processes, or systems to help you achieve your goals.

Are you looking to add to your TBR list for 2020? Here is my year in books – all the books I read in 2019!

A year in books of Words that Inspire

These are the 2019 books I read that are either real life stories or made up worlds of fiction with words that inspired me creatively, and fuelled my soul.

These books are best served with a cup of coffee. Needless to say, I found myself drinking a lot of coffee as I lived my year in books!

Educated by Tara Westover

My Year in Books - Educated

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
My Rating: 5/5

Thoughts:

The real life story of a girl growing up in a Morman survivalist family, youngest of seven in Idaho. This is the story of her journey to self-discovery and breaking free of her family’s ideology. I honestly didn’t think I could relate to this book, because there are so many ideological differences between what she grew up with, and mine. But I loved how the looks inspired and made me question things we take, like modern healthcare, and access to books and education. I wrote more about it here!


Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

My Year in Books - Small Fry

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
My Rating: 4/5

Thoughts:

This is the memoir of Lisa Brennan-Jobs daughter of Steve Jobs, recounting her childhood and her difficult relationship with the eccentric, sometimes estranged Steve Jobs. The writing is compelling, and the story is heartbreaking. I would take the facts of the story with a grain of salt, as to what is real and what is embellished. But it was entertaining nevertheless.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

My Year in Books - An American Marriage

Genre: Fiction
My Rating: 5/5

Thoughts:

This book is written beautifully. It is a heart wrenching story about a newlywed young couple, whose life is turned upside down after the husband is sentenced for 12 years in prison . The characters are vividly written, and the story makes you think about the complexities of love and marriage.

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

My Year in Books

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
My Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is a collection of short stories with the underlying theme of honesty, complicated relationships, and complex emotions. They’re all based on inner feeling of things you would think twice before saying out loud. Some of the stories were better for than others, because, I could relate to the emotions more strongly. I’m going to add some of Sittenfeld’s other books to my list!

Becoming by Michelle Obama

My Year in Books - Becoming

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
My Rating: 5 /5

Thoughts: Did you even read in 2019, if you didn’t read this book? I think this was the most hyped book of the year, and it did not disappoint! I loved how candid Michelle Obama was her early life, relationship with Barack Obama and life in the White House. Loved how authentic her voice felt, just like it is in other aspects of her life.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

My Year in Books - Shoe Dog

Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
My Rating: 4 /5

Thoughts:

Phil Knight is the founder of Nike, and this is the story about the start of Nike. The book is written like a story, and the lessons of entrepreneurship and early hardship of business are woven into a story worth reading. The book will leave you ignited.

Laugh out Loud

These are the books we need in our lives, so we don’t take everything so seriously. Perfect for when you need a laugh!

These books are best served with some popcorn and a glass of wine (a la Olivia Pope, if you’re a Scandal fan!).

My Year in Books

One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

My Year in Books

Genre: Non-fiction, Essays
My Rating: 4 / 5

Thoughts:

This book is a collection of personal essays by Canadian, daughter of Indian parents growing up in Calgary, navigating life as an outsider in both the Canadian and Indian worlds, that many Immigrants face.

Scaachi’s sarcastic writing was perfect to tell her stories of her growing up, while talking about real issues, that many of us South Asians living in Canada have observed. I loved how candid she was about so many observations, and didn’t hold back!

Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office by Jen Lancaster

My Year in Books - Bitter is the New Black

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
My Rating: 4/5

Thoughts:

This was a fun, light read, the writing style was like a chick-lit, perfectly my kind of style. The comedy she saw in a dire situation made for a fun read, purely entertainment value.

It was a riches to rags (back to riches?) story, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re looking for an uplifting story about someone who comes from nothing and makes it, this book is not for you. I was often irritated since she came across as entitled, but then would find myself rooting for her anyways.

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz

My Year in Books - Laughing all the way to the Mosque

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
My Rating: 4/5

Thoughts:

I picked up this book, because 1) it’s written by a South Asian Canadian woman and 2) I loved her show Little House on the Prairie! The comedic writing, will leave you in stitches!

Out of Office

These are the books I would recommend when you’re looking to turn off your brain, and just relax. Perfect for any vacation reads, maybe by the beach.

These books are best served with a margarita in hand, feet in the sand, and a view of the beach.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

My Year in Books - Ayesha at Last

Genre: Fiction, Romance
My Rating: 4 /5

Thoughts:

Think soap opera, turned into a book. This is a romantic, feel-good, drama filled story of Ayesha, and her search for love, when she isn’t really looking. I could really relate to the nuances of being South Asian, in Canada, and navigating family life in Canada, while being from a Muslim

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

My Year in Books - Orange is the New Black

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
My Rating: 3/5

Thoughts:

The story of Piper Kerman, real life, Orange is the New Black, who was incarcerated years after she committed a crime, after she’d already changed her ways, moved on and created a “normal” life for herself.

I had higher expectations. Although it is a memoir, of her time in prison, I was very much interested in her experience of prison and her commentary of prison life, and how it is not conducive for people to rehabilitate. She framed her experience as quite “easy”, which could be because she was prepared after waiting for so many years before her surrender was sorted, or maybe it was because she had it relatively easy compared to other prisoners. There weren’t any real moments of hardship, she seemed to cope quite well to life in prison. Even her support system outside of prison was always present, and she was the recipient of many letters, and books during her time. I would have expected her to write a bit more about whether it was difficult to cope with “normal” life after she was released. Overall, an okay read. If you’ve watched the show, don’t bother with the book.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

My Year in Books - Surprise Me

Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit
My Rating: 3/5

Thoughts:

I usually love Sophie Kinsella books, from the days of the first Shopaholic books. This one left me wanting more. The book follows the story of Sylvie and Dan, who live a comfortable and happy life, but might be tethering on boredom. In their quest for more surprises to each other, they learn about scandals from the past, and secrets that could alter their relationship.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

My Year in Books - The wedding Date

Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit
My Rating: 4/5

Thoughts:

This is story about the romance of Alexa, and Drew, who meet when stuck on an elevator, and leads to Alexa becoming Drew’s plus-one to his ex’s wedding that weekend. I liked that there was diversity in the characters, with an interracial relationship, and definitely falls in the chick-lit category!

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

My Year in Books - The Proposal

Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit
My Rating: 3/5

Thoughts:

This was Part 2 of the Wedding Date, so it was written in a similar voice. I enjoyed the first book more, but this one explores the story of Carlos who we meet as Drew’s best friend in the first book. There was a lot of humour and drama, as expected, but it followed a predictable story line, and I wanted to be more surprised by the plot!

The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory

My Year in Books - The Royal Runaway

Genre: Fiction, Chick Lit
My Rating: 3/5

Thoughts

This book reminded of a Princess Diaries type situation, which attracted me to the book. It follows the story of Princess Theodora of Dreidan, who has been left at the altar. She doesn’t understand why her fiancee (Christian) did not turn up. It’s got romance, mystery, and was definitely entertaining. I wasn’t a fan of the way the story ended, too much time was spent on the middle of the plot, and not enough on the end of the story. But still a fun beach read!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
My Rating: 4/5

Thoughts

Ok, don’t let the title scare you! This was a great amazing book by another South Asian author. The story revolves around Punjabi widows who live in a very Punjabi area of London, who are basically forced by society to be perpetually mourning. There is a bit of a thriller plot, with many characters to keep track of, and commentary of community expectations of love and intimacy. There is also definitely some steamy writing, so maybe not everyone’s cup of tea!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
My Rating: 3/5 

Thoughts:

Coming of age story of two school mates unlikely friends, as they navigate their complicated relationship through high school, and college. Set in Ireland, the story explores societal norms, first love, class differences, and complicated family relationships in a intense setting. 

I wanted to like this book a lot more. It was good, but not in an addictive, I can’t put this down way. The dialogue was hard to read because there were no quotation marks. I did enjoy how precisely Sally Rooney conveys subtleties of human emotions with her writing, that you feel like you know the characters as well as yourself. 

A year in books that Change your Mind(set)

These are the books you need when you just need a kick in the butt, some motivation to really get going! These are the books that will change your attitude, for the better.

These books are best accompanied with a journal, a cup of tea, and a will to change the world.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

Genre: Nonfiction, Self-help
My Rating: 3/5 

Thoughts:

This is by no means an intellectual book. Rachel Hollis writes like she speaks. I liked the idea of the kick in the butt type book, but honestly it didn’t motivate me to do anything.

Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Genre: Nonfiction, Self-help
My Rating: 4/5 

Thoughts:

I’ve followed Marie Forleo on social media and watched her YouTube videos for a while now. So I knew what to expect. This book is really just a summary of her advice that she shares online. What I did enjoy were the exercises at the end of the chapters. If you are going to read the book, it’s only worth it if you commit to the exercises.

Get Things Done

These are the books that give you practical advice to help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be!

These books are best accompanied with a strong coffee (maybe an Americano), a notebook, without distractions!

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Genre: Non-fiction, Psychology
My rating: 4/5

Thoughts:

The Power of Habit has been on my list for a while, so I’m glad I finally got around to reading it! Although some parts of teh book were dry, and I couldn’t relate to them. The advice, written with some science was worth it to understand how to set yourself up for better habits!

Your turn

Now that you have my year in books, I’d love to hear from you!

What were your favorite books of 2019? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,

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