Monday, June 17, 2019

Top Ten Reads of 2019 So Far

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is "Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019" but as usual I have no idea what's going to be published in the future. We're not quite halfway through the year, but I saw there was no mid-year check-in topic scheduled for July, so why not do it now? I've had exactly ten 5-star reads so far in 2019, not counting rereads of old favorites. Here are those ten!

1. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
I could not understand exactly how two decades of correspondence between a woman in New York and a bookshop in London could make for a compelling read, but now I understand. Hanff is a hoot! The book is under 100 pages and made up entirely of letters and postcards that often don't fill a page, so you can get through it quickly. It's worth the read.

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama
I knew very little about Michelle Obama's life going into this book, so I appreciated getting a greater understanding of her family of origin, her school experiences, and her career prior to becoming First Lady. In clear, engaging prose, she helps the reader understand both why she was often made to feel "not enough" and how she had the support of many others who lifted her up and kept her going.

3. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
This book is great at both a plot level (action-packed, unpredictable, with a satisfying plot arc) and a metaphorical level, about the pointlessness of long-standing enmities, the challenges of being an outsider, and the difficulties of doing something without a role model to lead the way. I was left satisfied but still with enough questions to want to continue the trilogy!

4. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart
Although this prequel tells the story of The Mysterious Benedict Society's founder, it is essentially a standalone story, but either way it gave me the same enjoyment as the original series. Nicholas Benedict, 9-year-old orphan, must outsmart bullies and incompetent adults while following the clues of a treasure hunt.

5. Home by Nnedi Okorafor
I enjoyed this as much as Binti, although it ends with a cliffhanger. I love the way Okorafor took a real-life people (the Himba) and layered in futuristic elements like mathematical meditation and space travel.

6. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Through Gottlieb's stories of being a therapist and being in therapy herself, this is both a celebration of the power of therapy and a recognition of its limits — that all of us, therapists included, are just doing our best. But you come away feeling that if we were all willing to be a little more vulnerable and put in a little more effort to look at how our own decisions affect ourselves and others, we'd be much better off as a human race.

7. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
It's hard to follow up something as stellar as The Hate U Give, but Thomas managed to pull it off. Set in the same neighborhood, this book follows a new character, Bri, as she tries to make it as a rapper. When it seems like she's finally getting a chance to have her voice heard, she has to decide what she's willing to do, and who she's willing to lose, to make that happen.

8. Shameless by Nadia Bolz-Weber
I have loved all of Nadia Bolz-Weber's books to date, and this one is no exception. What I love most about this "sexual reformation" is that, while she illustrates how many destructive ideas about sex originate in the church, she advocates for a sexual ethic that is not separate from the Christian faith but rather deeply informed by it.

9. The Trespasser by Tana French
Tana French has finally done it — written a Dublin Murder Squad mystery that didn't make me want to throw the book across the room when I was done. Her writing is just so good and I did not want to put the book down, and this time the main narrator isn't a horrible person and justice is, more or less, served. Hooray!

10. Weird Parenting Wins by Hillary Frank
The whole first half of the book had me laugh-crying over some of the ridiculous things people (myself included) do out of desperation to get babies to sleep, toddlers to eat, and preschoolers to get out the door fully clothed. The second half of the book I did a lot of highlighting of the excellent tips for life with siblings and older kids. I definitely recommend it for all parents of young kids — if only for the laughs!

What have been your favorite reads so far this year?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Garlic and Sapphires, Inspired, and Feeling Good
Five years ago I was reading: Island Beneath the Sea and A Suitable Boy
Ten years ago I was reading: Metaphors We Live By

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