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Books I Read in 2019

Dog sniffing the yellow cover of Because Internet.

Happy new year! These are the books I read in 2019. Around this time last year I was thinking that reading 40 books in 2019 would be an excellent number and you know what? I read 48 books! Which is actually pretty surprising considering everything else that’s been keeping me busy, like renovating our house and writing a book! So, yay! 48 books! Let’s see if I can top that this year. :-D

The following list is the order in which I finished the books and with whatever notes I made about them when I finished them. Not reviews, but you might get an idea of the books anyhow. I’ve used a loose out-of-five scoring system, but a lot of the books have scored pretty high. Which probably reflects my reading ‘rule’: if I like a book I’ll finish it, if I don’t I just move on to the next one. With a few exceptions. ;-)

A couple of tips for reading more: as above, if a book is boring, stop reading it and find something else. Reading is not just a physical book/novel. Ebooks and audio books count as reading too. All kinds of genres count too of course, novels, poetry, comics, cookbooks etc etc.

Did you read anything good in 2019 that you can recommend?

January
Ajax Penumbra 1969. Robin Sloan. Short prequel to Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour book store. Very quickly read. Nice to get a bit of background story… ***

Wabi Sabi. Beth Kempton Interesting. **

The man with the lead stomach. Jean-François Parot Enjoyed very much. The language is very… precise. Just the right amount of description. ****

Sensual Home. Ilse Crawford. Skimmed. To be honest, I couldn’t read this book because the font used is not good for reading and on many pages the text blocks were impossibly wide with the lines of text set too far apart. * I took a picture of one spread; what madness is this?!

Home Is where The Heart Is? Ilse Crawford Sped through it. Mostly common sense… ** Because the typography was better than Sensual Home.

February
Company of One. Paul Jarvis. I liked it, an interesting idea that I agree with, and took a bunch of notes (library book) but it felt a wee bit repetitive. ***

The Somnambulist And The Psychic Thief. Lisa Tuttle. Very entertaining. Interesting characters, subtle world building, not trying too hard to be Victorian or whatever. ***

Book Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race on top of open notebook

March
The Curious Affair of The Witch at Wayside Cross. Lisa Tuttle. Entertaining. A bit slower than the first book in the series. ***

Dirty Vegan. Matt Pritchard. ****

Bookworm. Lucy Mangan. I liked it and I can definitely relate to being a bookworm. But, being Danish, most of the books she mentions were unknown to me so I skimmed big chunks of the book. ***

Time Song. Searching for Doggerland. Julia Blackburn. Beautiful and kinda weird. The time songs were not for me. ***

April
Cheer Up Love – Adventures in Depression with The Crab of Hate. Susan Calman. Funny and thought provoking. Made me laugh out loud. ****

Steal Like An Artist. Austin Kleon. Short but inspiring. ****

Show Your Work! Austin Kleon. Inspiring. ****

Keep Going! Austin Kleon. Really liked this one, more than the other two. ****

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race. Reni Eddo-Lodge. Not a cosy read but a very important one. ****

Craftfulness. Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin. Felt kinda like it didn’t go deep enough. Lots of quotes from crafters, which were relevant but felt distracting. And I don’t know if I liked that there were projects to try in the book. I would have liked the book as much/better if it had had no projects. **

Hello NY. Julia Rothman. Really liked it, wish it had more pages. Esp about Brooklyn. ****

Good Omens. Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett. Enjoyed it. The ending surprised me. ****

Book The Pink Suit next to a vase with a pink poppy.

May
All The Sad Songs. Summer Pierre. Not sure what I was expecting, but I liked it. ****

Dare To Sketch. Felix Scheinberger. Very good, inspiring. ****

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective. Stephanie Bower. Good! ****

Paris, Je T’Aime. Lapin. Lovely! Inspiring! ****

Then It Fell Apart. Moby. Fascinating, but some of it felt…uncomfortable to read. ***

June
Five Quarters of The Orange. Joanne Harris. Not what I was expecting. Sometimes I almost couldn’t bear to keep reading, but I did. Very good. Will have to read more books by JH. ****

The Pink Suit. Nicole Marie Kelby. Very good. If I’d had the time, I would have binged it. ****

The October Man. Ben Aaronovitch. Novella, so quite short. The protagonist is German, but it still felt like Peter Grant’s voice…***

The Stars Within. Nicole Marie Kelby. Surprising book. Kinda sad. ****

July
Tokyo on Foot. Florent Chavouet. Good! But I think I expected more, or more dense, drawings. ***

A Year of Living Danishly. Helen Russell. Mixed feelings about this. Interviews with experts sometimes feels a bit forced, her daily life feels a bit Bridget Jones’s diary. It bugs me that she gives people nicknames, like the Viking or Lego man (her husband!). The thing that bugs me the most is that it seems like she made the move to Denmark and barely did any research about her new country beforehand like a sane person would. Or maybe she’s exaggerating the…unpreparedness to make it funnier? (Which it isn’t.)**

August
Semicolon. Cecelia Watson. Not quite what I was expecting, a bit boring. **

Book Better Than Before on a quilt

September
The Sewing Machine. Natalie Fergie. Third time I’ve read it in as many years, till love it! ****

The Silver Mark. Sarah R Painter. Enjoyed it. Wish it were longer. ***

Travels with My Sketchbook. Chris Riddell. Not quite what I thought it would be but I liked it anyway. ****

The Art of Gathering. Priya Parker. Very inspiring. Never thought much about gathering – at least not in this sense. *****

October
Grave Importance. Vivian Shaw. Not quite what I was expecting! But I enjoyed hanging out with the characters from the previous two books in the series. ****

Because Internet. Gretchen McCulloch. Very interesting! ****

The Staffordshire Hoard. Kevin Leahy et al. Interesting short introduction to the finds. ***

You’re never weird on the Internet (almost). Felicia Day. Didn’t know much about her. She’s funny! ****

Becoming. Michelle Obama. Very good. Love that she doesn’t mince her words. The book reads like the impression I already had of her. ****

November
Men Explain Things to Me. Rebecca Solnit. Men are the problem, pretty much all the time. ****

The Old Ways. Robert McFarlane. Not sure what I was expecting. Enjoyed it, beautiful language. Took a while to read because I was copying out quite a few passages. ****

Book Big Magic next to dog

December
The House of Shattered Wings. Aliette de Bodard. I finished it, out of sheer stubbornness, I think. I still don’t know why I should care about any of the characters. But it’s an excellent book to fall asleep to. **

Business for Bohemians. Tom Hodgkinson. Not quite what I expected. More of a pep talk than a how to book. Bits I liked, some not. **

The Fox’s Curse. Sarah Painter. Third in the series about Lydia Crow. I like these books. Just wish they were longer! ****

The Phantom of Rue Royal. Jean-François Parot. Very good. ****

Better Than Before. Gretchen Rubin. I’ve read this book before but I’ve been thinking a lot about habits lately so it seemed like a good time to read it again. ****

Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert. A bit woo woo but on the whole some good advice for creative people. Need to read it again to properly take it in. ****

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