How was your reading year? I read 58 books overall, which was not as many as I’d hoped, but still about one a week, which is OK for me. It was a busy year in many ways, and I didn’t always have much time for reading, but I still read some excellent books.
Here’s a quick rundown of the best books I read this year, followed by a breakdown of my reading by gender, publication year, genre, length, rating, etc.
The Great Passage by Shion Miura
My year started back in January with a surprising hit in the form of a Japanese novel about compiling a dictionary. Read my review of The Great Passage here.
How Fiction Works by James Wood
As I wrote in my February reading roundup, this is a “great read both for writers and for keen readers”. New Yorker critic James Wood goes into real detail about what works and what doesn’t work in fiction, with lots of wonderful examples to back up his points.
Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany by Hans J. Massaquoi
This was a more recent read, a wonderful memoir by Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi, a German-American journalist of African ancestry. It’s full of amazing stories about being a black kid in Nazi Germany, surviving under a regime built on racism. I want to write more about this book if I have time.
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak
OK, it’s not the catchiest title you’ll ever come across, but this new novel by Turkish writer Elif Shafak is definitely worth reading. A moving account of the life and death of Istanbul sex worker Tequila Leila and of the friends who battle against institutional contempt and try to give her the send-off she deserves. I covered this one in my October reading roundup.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Why do so many white people get that familiar look of frozen terror every time the subject of race comes up? How can we get beyond defensiveness, guilt and discomfort and begin to dismantle a system that harms us all? Find out in this fresh, hard-hitting book, which I first mentioned in my March reading roundup.
Analysis of My 2019 Reading Habits
Although I haven’t been reviewing books on here as much as I’d like, I have kept a list of all the books I read this year, and I just crunched the numbers to see what it reveals about my reading habits. Here we go…
The books I read in 2019 were pretty much evenly split between those written by men and those written by women. I’m happy with that because I know that in previous years I’ve had more of a male bias. The “mixed” part of the chart refers to books with multiple authors.
Again, a very even split here, which surprises me because I don’t really plan my reading, and I’d have expected more fiction than non-fiction, but it came out exactly the same. I didn’t split “novels” out by genre, but they would be almost all literary fiction.
This part reflects the way I live, constantly travelling from place to place. So by necessity I read lots of ebooks on my Kindle and listen to audiobooks on those eight-hour drives, whereas my preference is always to read good old-fashioned books made of paper.
Not at all happy with the UK/US bias here. I’d like to read more books by authors from around the world, especially the places I’m travelling in.
I apply a simple 1 to 5 rating to remind me roughly how I responded to each book. Overall, it’s skewed towards the top end of the scale, which is how I like it. A few duds are unavoidable, I suppose.
This one surprised me: much more heavily skewed to contemporary literature than I had expected. Maybe I’ll try to read more classics next year.
Last but not least, page count. Mostly medium length, 200 to 400 pages, which doesn’t surprise me much.
How Was Your Reading Year?
So that was my reading year in 2019. If you’d like to know more about the books I read this year, you can read my book reviews section—or if you’re really keen, you can check out a list of all the books I’ve reviewed in over ten years of blogging. And why not sign up to my newsletter for regular updates?
What were your favourite books of the year? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your highlights and recommendations.