My favorite reads from 2019 look a bit different from 2018. One of my personal goals this past year was to read more good stories, so it naturally follows that most of my favorites were fiction novels and biographies. I also committed to a few longer reads this year, chipping away at the pages nightly and savoring good stories over time. This was quite rewarding (and genuinely therapeutic!), and I hope to continue reading more good stories in 2020.
As a mother of four children, two of whom I still read to regularly, I also read many excellent children’s books over the past year! I’m including a list of favorite read-alouds from 2019 at the end of this post.
Without further ado, my favorite reads for 2019:
Queen Victoria: A Personal History by Christopher Hibbert
I technically finished this biography in January of 2020, but I enjoyed it so much that I had to put it on my list of favorites! I’m no historian, but I’ve always found Queen Victoria’s life interesting. While on a recent trip to Scotland, I visited Balmoral and picked this book up in a gift shop, thinking I might entertain myself during the dark evenings of winter. It turned out to be both entertaining and highly informative. In a short time, I was drawn into the story of a remarkable woman and the culture of the Victorian era.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
When I mentioned committing to longer novels, this one certainly came to mind! I wanted to read Anna Karenina because it’s a classic, and summer seemed like a good time to dive into all 864 pages. My efforts were generously rewarded. Not only did I enjoy Tolstoy’s masterful character description throughout the novel, but I also appreciated the numerous theological themes scattered throughout the story. The final chapters were definitely worth the wait. I felt like I needed a few more days to simply reflect on what I had read. I will surely revisit many sections again in the future.
Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah
This book is a short but engaging read about a young boy’s experience living everyday life in a war zone and escaping to freedom as a refugee. In the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, I found this story to be captivating. And, as a former ESL teacher, I love the fact that the Abu Bakr al Raveeah’s ESL teacher helped him write the story. I highly recommend this book as a window into the life of a refugee family and a reminder that what we see on the news is real, everyday life in war-torn cities all around the world.
The Celtic Crusades, Books 1-3 by Stephen Lawhead
My husband and I first stumbled across Stephen Lawhead when looking for a good series to read aloud together early in our marriage. I still remember feeling silly in the juvenile section of the bookshop, asking for book recommendations similar to Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Skeptical at first, we started on the first of what would be many Stephen Lawhead trilogies. This past year, in an effort to eliminate some of the “yet unread” books on my shelf, I picked up one of his older trilogies, The Celtic Crusades. I was immediately drawn into the story through the development of its characters (one of Lawhead’s greatest strengths). However, I soon found myself asking numerous questions about the Crusades, researching several of them in an effort to differentiate between fact and historical fiction. I should note that this particular trilogy includes more violent imagery than most of Lawhead’s novels. There were times I skipped through a few paragraphs, but I did not personally find this to detract from the overall story line.
From Our House To Yours: Favorite Read-Alouds from 2019
- This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe (Our kids LOVE this book…from the 5-year-old to the 13-year-old!)
- Frog and Toad: The Complete Collection by Arnold Lobel (This version from Harper Collins is beautifully done!)
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; illustrated by Robert Ingpen (This version has wonderful illustrations!)
- Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense (Usborne Illustrated Originals) (A rollicking good time!)
- Everyone a Child Should Know by Clare Heath-Whyte and What Every Child Should Know About Prayer by Nancie Guthrie (These are excellent attempts at bringing important information down to a young child’s level—informative and engaging!)
- Illustrated Stories from Aesop by Susanna Davidson (The cover is falling off, and Mom and Dad nearly have the stories memorized…need I say more?!)
- The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood (This is an excellent series for families with children of various ages. Even parents love it! The audiobook series on Audible is also fantastic!)