Year 2019 In Review: What I read
So 2019 was not a banner year for reading like in previous years, but I did nevertheless, read quite a few books and discovered a few new authors for fiction I really enjoy.
I am only going to list what I actually liked reading, not any of the books I couldn’t finish, nor the ones I read to the end but felt unsatisfied with.
There’s no point in listing books I hate, so that is all to say that I did read slightly more than what is listed here, but I omitted a good 5 to 6 books I wouldn’t recommend.
Books to Improve Your Life
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – How to gain control over your life, tasks and day
- They left us everything – Surprisingly, a book on minimalism and thinking about your life after death
- Hygge – Pronounced “Hoo Gah”, this is a nice, fluffy read about how to develop this cosy sense of community with a fk ton of candles and warm knitted blankets. Honestly, not a page turner in my opinion, but I liked reading about the cultural aspect of Danes
- Messy – The power of disorder to transform our lives – I LOVED THIS BOOK. I am naturally a ‘messy’ person in my brain and even on my desk. I don’t really get hung up like my partner on being OCD about having everything at right angles and back in place. He does though, and I feel like that lack of messiness in his brain circuits, is what doesn’t contribute to him being imaginative or creative, you know? My brain goes from one topic to another to another even in a span of a minute (it drives my partner BONKERS) and it is partly why I can come up with so many blog posts/ideas!
- The Charisma Myth – I am already charismatic and charming and I worked on this since I was a child who was the complete opposite of that, awkward, chubby and not at all who I am today. This book teaches you how to master that magnetism, and helped explain or helped me understand anyway, why I do what I do to be charismatic (eye contact, pauses, active listening) and helped me improve my skills in it as well. What also helped me to be charming versus the way I was naturally born/raised, is superficially enough, my appearance — from the way I physically look to what I wear and how I dress. Say what you will but it really does make a difference.
Books about Money
- Irrational exuberance – If you want to be scared about the stock market, read this book.
- The Index Card – A good personal finance/money book refresher. I already know all of these concepts, I just like reading about money. Helps keep me in check.
- Happy Money – Science of happier spending – I LOVE soft money books like this, because it helps keep me in check but also brings another perspective of how I can improve my life with money. A great read.
Books on Business/Life
- American Dreamer – Is this style? Is this business? I loved this memoir on how he built his empire. It was a fascinating read and a very good business memoir.
- The Logic of Life – This is a book on economics but DOES NOT feel like that at all. It talks about policies, how people live, what drives them, and using economics to illustrate it (which I hated in school but love in this book). Very highly recommended.
Books on Food
- Alone in a kitchen with an eggplant – Stories about eating alone. Oddly comforting, as I do enjoy eating alone on occasion.
- Table Manners – All about .. well, politeness and table manners!
- Yes, Chef – Marcus Samuelsson is a chef I did not love on Top Chef Masters initially, but as I grew to hear him speak and watch him cook, I have more respect for his story especially after reading his biography. I also ate at his restaurant Marcus here in Montreal and very much enjoyed the entire meal. His story is quite incredible, an Ethiopian boy, adopted with his sister by Swedish parents, growing up in Sweden and feeling unmoored — not Ethiopian, and not Swedish either, sort of caught in between two worlds.
- Stir – My broken brain and the meals that brought me home – Engrossing. That’s all I can say. A few recipes in there, but basically she was unable to remember much due to some massive brain surgery and food is what brought her back.
Books on Parenting
I don’t read many of these, unless I see something interesting that I think I may benefit from.
My other list of Parenting Books for new parents here… that I actually liked from various years of reading.
- The Happiest Kids in the World: How Dutch Parents Help Their Kids by Doing Less – Do LESS? Sign me up. I did enjoy this book however, and it helped me re-affirm my common sense that I am doing the right thing with Little Bun.
Books that were like memoirs
- Flat Broke with Two Goats – Going through foreclosure and the overall message of a woman who totally uprooted her ‘perfect’ life to learning how to fend on her own and be independent
- Maid – One of my favourite books to date about the working poor and what it’s like to be a maid and struggle as a single mother. I may come off in many posts as being someone who doesn’t tolerate laziness/foolishness (and I don’t), but that isn’t to say I am heartless and I have zero compassion for those who are poor and blame everything that has happened on them. I absolutely do not. There are extenuating circumstances, and reading this book helped bring out those nuances we don’t see if we are already privileged and not part of the working poor so we cannot even comprehend what she is saying.
- Nickel and Dimed – It is very much like Maid, although this one is just stories of the working poor, not necessarily a memoir. Another good read. Take everything with a grain of salt, of course.
Books of a mysterious nature
- The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – You need to have a solid night’s sleep and a clear brain to read this book because it is a murder mystery but unlike any I have ever read before in terms of plot. It twists and turns like crazy. It is very well done, but… you need sleep.
Books of a Chick-Lit Nature
Note on why I love chicklit
I love chick-lit and am not embarrassed to say I read it. I know women out there who feel like it is an embarrassing thing to admit, and think it’s stupid because they should enjoy non-fiction books instead, but I see these books as dessert. I read a few vegetables, and then I have dessert.
I enjoy it greatly amongst other styles/topics of books and don’t really think that anyone has the right to judge people who read this genre, because reading is about escapism.
Whether I read fiction or non-fiction, and of what nature, telling women that chick-lit is a “stupid” book to read is akin to telling me I am a dumbass for liking to eat at gastronomic restaurants (“what a waste of money!”), or wearing designer (albeit secondhand) clothes.
It actually bothers me to a certain extent because it is okay for people to read science or fantasy fiction, but head over into a genre of fantasy fiction that women-centric and suddenly it is “a stupid brainless pursuit and waste of time”? PLEASE. STFU.
- Tasmina Perry – Gold Diggers, Daddy’s Girls and Original Sin – Like in all books there is good and bad, and this is GOOD chicklit with great page-turning. After reading them, I will say a benefit I got is that I was completely turned off consumerism. It felt excessive and going into their minds made me want to go the opposite direction in my own life. I really enjoyed the themes in this book (gold digging is one, obviously), and I highly recommend the trio to help anyone have a stronger mindset/will towards financial independence, strangely enough.
- The rise and fall of Becky Sharp – One of the best books I have read in a long time, a modern retelling of Vanity Fair and a very VERY good read
Books of Science Fiction
- The Humans – A very unusual, interesting book that you’d think would be way more sci-fi, but ends up being about human natures, human emotions and an objective, strange, 3rd-party look at us as beings. I liked it intellectually.
Books of Fantasy Fiction
I don’t really like sci-fi (as evidenced by my lack of reading in this area). I have read books in that genre like the Ender series, and enjoyed it, but I really don’t enjoy those worlds. What I like are fantasy worlds with dragons and mages, magic, elves and the like.
I think it is a holdover from when I was younger and my brother got me hooked on anything David & Leigh Eddings wrote.
Ever since then? I may have secretly dreamed of being a sorceress. I am also very into storylines or themes where there are powerful women leads and characters (even ruthless villains), and I don’t like stories where the woman seems to be the victim or the helpless maiden all the time.
I was very pleased to discover this new author – Sarah J. Maas, and I basically devoured all of her fiction.
- Court Series – I will warn you the lead character slightly annoys me. She is very helpless in a sense, and while I VERY MUCH enjoyed the books, I felt she wasn’t as finished as she should have been. I only put the first book – Court of Thorns and Roses but there are 4.
- Lake Silence – Anne Bishop is one of my OG favourite fantasty fiction writers and she did not disappoint in this book
- Rylee Adamson Series – I read all of these books in this interminably long saga. I think all sagas should die after the 4th book because TEN BOOKS IS TOO F*KING MUCH. I only put the first book Priceless, but there are TEN. TEN DAMN BOOKS. They are good reads, but I was so mentally fatigued at the end.
- Throne of Glass Series – Another Maas book but this one is MUCH BETTER. This series was incredible with a strong lead female, a badass and well worth the read. The saga is also quite long, but I wasn’t fatigued by the end. It was SO WELL DONE.
- Assassins Series – Another solid saga from Maas, and I really enjoyed reading about this strong female character who is as predicted by the title, an assassin.
Books that were Generally Fictiticious
- What Alice Forgot – General fiction is a hit and miss for me. Even “critically acclaimed” books aren’t surefire hits for me, and I like maybe 2 out of 10 of the recommendations. This was one of them, and I actually liked how this woman goes through losing her memory from the past 20 years ago. It was quite an interesting read.
- Family Trust – I loved Wang’s book and take on family and culture. It was quite a good read, and as an immigrant, I related to a lot of that story. I’d liken it more to Joy Luck Club than Crazy Rich Asians but then I am just being f*cing stereotypical trying to match it up to other “Asian-esque” books. Sorry.
- The Female Persuasion – About coming of age, and I liked it. The writing is great. I just can’t deal with the plot and themes. I personally finished it, but felt very unsettled in my core. It deals with bullying and being on the fringe of cliques, and just reading about that opened up a lot inside of me as I went through some mild bullying when I was a child. It was depressing, but a vivid read.
- This is how it always is – As a mother of a little boy, this book made me cry. It was an excellent, MUST READ in my opinion, but the pain coming through these pages, is palpable. To be so different and to know it… I really liked it.
- All we ever wanted – Giffin is normally a chicklit writer and that was what I was expecting in this book but it was the opposite. It is a hard-hitting fiction on rape and entitlement from the perspective of parents.
Books on Style and Fashion
- Closet Essentials: 60 Core Pieces – Books that show examples of outfits and how to wear it different ways? COUNT ME IN. I am even thinking of buying it, that’s how much I liked it. To flip through and get inspiration.
- Women from the Ankle Down – A story of shoes and how they define it. Exactly as it says.
- How to accessorize – Get this book in print instead. It is full of great pictures, and a better read than on a ebook reader.
- American Dreamer – Is this style? Is this business? I loved this memoir on how he built his empire. It was a fascinating read.
- The Art of Stripes & The Art of Denim – Two excellent books on how to wear two style staples. I loved flipping through them.
- Megan Hess – The Dress, Paris & New York – These three books are great illustrated coffee table books. I really liked them a lot as they went into fashion and style with pretty photos. All of her work is beautiful.
Here are all of my other What I read posts.