My Year 2019 in Books

As a devoted and diligent Goodreads-User, I participated in the 2019 Reading Challenge. I was very happy when I saw that I read 44 books out of 40, which was my primary goal. Unfortunately, I was not able to write as many reviews and blog posts as planned, but one of my resolutions for 2020 is to work on that. Nevertheless, I do not want all the lovely books I read last year go unnoticed. They do deserve some recognition. I decided to steal Goodread’s 2019 Recap (which I love so dearly) to mention some of them. There is no better way to say good-bye to the past year, is there? When I look at the list of books I read, I dive back into the season in which I read it, connecting it with memories of 2019. I remember reading Beowulf in the laundry room at university in February, or Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot on the bench in front of the canteen feeling the first sunbeams of spring on my skin, or reading Slaughterhouse- Five during my internship at the best bookshop in the world, sweating on the beach in Croatia while following the plot of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, reading Jane Austen’s Emma in the mountains of North Italy, or Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on the tube to work back in London. Okay enough with the sentimentalities. Let’s get this over with. A new Reading Challenge is waiting.

In 2019, I read 13,594 pages across 44 books.

The shortest book was Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market (64 pages) one of the cute little Penguin Classics Editions. The poem of the young sisters who are tempted by the goblins to eat their delicious fruits allegorises the expectations of the chaste woman in Victorian England. I ended up including it in an essay for one of my modules in spring.

The longest book I read last year was Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (867 pages). My first Donna Tartt and I was so proud of this one. I read it in June-July, and I remember lying on the terrace, trying desperately to get a tan, but all I did was sweat uncontrollably. Let’s come back to the actual book. The Goldfinch was painful for me because I was completely entangled in the story. Growing up with Theo, I suffered when I read about the loss of his mother. I was hurting when Theo’s dad and his drug-taking girlfriend drag him to Las Vegas but found hope when he met Boris. I couldn’t believe that he escapes the desert to return to Hobie’s antique furniture store in New York. I felt Theo’s longing in the descriptions of his boundless love for Pippa, but I was heartbroken once I found out about his drug problem. Boris’ return and the trip to Amsterdam were physically painful for me. I won’t go into details concerning the ending, but it escalated quickly. The painting “The Goldfinch”, once exhibited in the museum in which his mother died, follows Theo through his whole life. Every little moment in his life is influenced by his decision to take the painting with him, determining his fate. The predetermination of his fate was what made the novel so painful for me. I wanted Theo to get better, but reading Tartt’s novel felt as if it was all meant to go down from the beginning. Maybe that’s what it is all about. Maybe I was too hopeful. All I can say is: Donna Tartt made me feel all kinds of emotions, and I will definitely read The Secret History soon.

The most popular novel I read this year (according to Goodreads) was The Great Gatsby, and I am very proud that I am finally in the position to get most of the literary memes on Instagram. In contrast to that, John Lyly’s Galatea was the least popular text I read. It’s a play which was part of the reading list of the university module “The Literary Renaissance”, in which we read Shakespeare, talked about Early Modern England, and looked at sonnets by Wyatt and Spenser for example. I read it in one day- until now one of my favourite plays ever!

The novel with the highest rating on Goodreads was Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give. I was not sure in the beginning, as I usually read YA Adult Novels with a romantic or fantastic side. However, the book convinced me as I was confronted with racial issues I was not aware of before. It made me understand the importance of socially committed writing, especially for young readers. I obviously cannot talk about 44 books like this, so here is a list with ratings:

  1. Turtles All The Way Down by John Green: 4/5
  2. Dead Poets Society by N.H. Kleinbaum: 4/5
  3. Beowulf: 5/5
  4. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer: 4/5
  5. The Turkish Embassy Letters by Mary Wortley Montagu: 1/5
  6. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg: 3/5
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: 5/5
  8. Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti: 3/5
  9. Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson: 4/5
  10. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides: 1/5
  11. Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield: 2/5
  12. Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser by E.H. Gombrich: 4/5
  13. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft: 2/5
  14. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut: 5/5
  15. After by Anna Todd: 2/5
  16. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi: 2/5
  17. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy: 5/5
  18. Atonement by Ian McEwan: 5/5
  19. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: 4/5
  20. Tage wie diese by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle: 3/5
  21. Normal People by Sally Rooney: 4/5
  22. Weltgeschichte To Go by Alexander von Schönburg: 3/5
  23. The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman: 3/5
  24. Emma by Jane Austen: 3/5
  25. Amy on the Summer Road by Morgan Matson: 4/5
  26. The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell: 3/5
  27. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: 3/5
  28. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: 5/5
  29. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman: 4/5
  30. Daisy Miller by Henry James: 3/5
  31. Galatea by John Lyly: 4/5
  32. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming: 3/5
  33. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: 4/5
  34. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson: 5/5
  35. Concrete Island by J.G. Ballard: 2/5
  36. William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: 5/5
  37. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: 3/5
  38. Watchmen by Alan Moore: 4/5
  39. The Awakening by Kate Chopin: 5/5
  40. The Duchess of Malfi by John Webster: 2/5
  41. William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice: 3/5
  42. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton: 4/5
  43. My Ántonia by Willa Cather: 4/5
  44. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: 3/5

Enough of 2019! In 2020 I want to read 50 books. Here we go!

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