2019 was rich in great books in the genres I love most: contemporary & fantasy. I didn't step much outside this comfort zone, only for a few poetry collections, a detective story, some Sci-Fi short stories, a biography and several historical fictions. This yearly wrap-up encourages me to read more diverse books, something I started to do as soon as January.
A few statistics
If, like me, you like organizing and putting things into boxes, perhaps you keep a reading log. To this I've added a spreadsheet last year, so that I can draw a few stats.
In 2019, like the years before, I've found a balance between female and male authors: I read 32 women and 26 men. Among the 70 books I read, 37 were in French (my mothertongue) and 33 in English. A book takes in average six days for me to read: thus I managed to reach my goal, which was one book a week.
It may sound odd, but to me the best way to pick one's favourite books of the year is not to look at one's notes. Close your eyes a few minutes and ask yourself which books really stuck with you last year. Which books moved you the most, which ones made you think? Two books came to my mind when I asked these questions: the first one overwhelmed me, the second one charmed me utterly. Without further ado, here they are.
Call Me by Your Name, by André Aciman
More than six months after I closed it, I still find it hard to point what I loved so much about this book. I first discovered it through its movie adaptation by Luca Guadagnino. It haunted for weeks before I decided to read the novel. I then experienced the same emotions I had felt while watching it, though magnified by the beauty of the prose and the longer time it took me to read the story rather than watch it. I still remember the three June days when it rained almost endlessly in my corner of France. The sun didn't come out often. On the streets, passers-by had slipped sweaters over their summery outfits. Immersed in the small Italian village alongisde the two protagonists, I never felt the cold but rather the scorching rays of the sun and the clammy lethargy of never-ending days.
The Binding, by Bridget Collins
Here too, it was a visual emotion that drew me to this book. In this case, the beauty of the cover added its appeal to the recommendations I was hearing here and there. Fortunately, this book's charm wasn't broken by the first pages. Bridget Collins creates a fascinating atmosphere in the first part of her story. Action is reduced to its bare minimum, leaving room for all the sensations of her main character, Emmett, who begins an apprenticeship with a book-binder, in a world in which books are shameful objects whose stain should be avoided at all costs.
Without further ranking, here are the other titles that marked my year:
- A Middle-earth Traveller, by John Howe
- Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones (reread)
- Seasons of Magic, by Katy Who
- Ecriture créative, by Lucie Rivet
- The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery
- The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
- The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
- The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
Reviews for these books are available on my Instagram page.