Now we have come to the last part of my favorites series of 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed and hopefully you’ve found something new you liked. These are in no particular order except the last one is probably my favorite book of the year.
So first on my list, I would like to give a shoutout to a few self help books I’ve found immensely helpful this year. This is coming from a person who sort of looked down on self help books thinking they were a waste of time. I was sometimes right but there’s definitely a plethora out there. It’s important to keep in mind when reading these that you just have to take some of the advice but leave others and you’re good.
Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
So 2019 was the first year I had even heard of the word self compassion but it was a concept that really stuck with me. I am someone who constantly self criticizes and this book, when applied consistently, really did help me through that self destructive behavior. I can tell the author is really passionate about this through her writing and inspired me to pick it up. She also gives out exercises in the book for you to do on your own, none of which are time consuming but are really effective if you keep an open mind. I will definitely be dipping in and out of this every now and again.
2. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris
This is another one of my holy grail books that I will be dipping in and out throughout my life. The Happiness Trap is less about why happiness as a destination is not possible but about thinking about negative thoughts differently. And it’s not about thinking positively. His main focus of the book is conveying that you can be content with your life if you live a meaningful life. Of course, a meaningful life means something different to everyone and this book helps you find that. A lot of the exercises and concepts he brings into this book is so unique than your typical self help book including concepts like diffusion. This book changed my life.
Now onto a short story.
3. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin
A very powerful short story about a utopia where everyone is happy. What’s the twist. Le Guin’s writing is so incredibly vivid.
4. Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
I know reviews of this book were kind of mixed but honestly, I thought it was much stronger than the second book especially when it came to the character development of the three sisters, Madoc and the Ghost. Of course, it also had the best parts of what makes this series so wonderful, the intense plotting, the backstabbing, and of course my favorite OTP, Cardan and Jude. Let me just say I was very satisfied with their relationship trajectory in this book :). I was also pretty impressed with the conclusion especially regarding Madoc and how the book resolved the tension that’s been building up between him and Jude throughout the series. I can’t wait to reread this book in the future and gush all over again.
5. The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang
This series impresses me to no end. This second book raised the stakes even higher and the consequences even more dire. I still wish Kuang would include more female characters but I’m so happy that this book, the equivalent of a Chinese action movie almost, has a female protagonist. That is rare in and of itself. I love the relationships that develop and Rin’s ever growing descent into her powers and corruption. The plotting is perfectly paced but the second book also improves on building the world around Rin expanding beyond the school setting of the first book. There is no way to describe this book other than epic.
6. Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
I had to briefly touch upon this series because Turner is an amazing writer. Within each book of this series, she develops creative ways of writing Eugenides, the main character, in different perspectives. She is very deft at writing concisely but each sentence means something. Eugenide’s relationships with everyone, especially the Queen, is more complex than most YA relationships written out there. Aside from that, she is a master of plot even though her books barely have any actual action. It’s a beautiful series.
7. Good Talk by Mira Jacobs
This is the only graphic novel on my list. The book is made up of conversations she has with her family, friends, husband and son about race and the America of 2016. You can tell a lot about people through the conversations they have. This is definitely true of the conversations she has with her son because her son is so young and asks questions we often don’t have answers for. The art is also very interesting; it’s drawn in a semi realistic/cartoon cutout way which simultaneously heightens the emotions behind the conversation and detaches you from it. It’s an interesting dynamic but no less powerful. It definitely made me mad about the state of American right now.
8. Normal People by Sally Rooney
I mentioned in my favorite movies of 2019 that I’m a sucker for romance. It’s a shame that so many are not written well (yes I know I sound pretentious). I’m happy to report though that this is written very well. It’s part romance, part coming of age novel set in Ireland. The author has a lot to say about gender politics and the class system through her characters. She definitely is interested in character interactions which are my favorite part of any media I consume. It’s also a very millennial book capitalizing on the struggles we face so definitely not everyone but it resonated so well with me.