One of my 2018 New Year's resolutions was to read one book a month. I also promised myself that I would read a variety of genres. and not just my go-to murder mysteries. I finished out the year just shy of my goal - 11 books read, not 12 - but was proud of my accomplishments and read some truly spectacular novels. I'm excited to share with you my top five must read books for 2019.
I'd love to hear what books you loved in 2018 - comment below with your recommendations for me!
Historical fiction: "Burial rites" by hannah kent
After returning from Iceland (read my travel recap here!), I truly missed the cultural and the wonderful Icelandic people. I was researching Icelandic history when I stumbled upon the true story of Agnes Magnusdottir - the last woman to be executed in Iceland - and this book, "Burial Rites," which is a fictional retelling of her final days. The book was slow to start but ended magnificently in the most heart-breaking way. A must-read for the cold winter months.
Synopsis: Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.
Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.
Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?
thriller: "the couple next door" by shari lapena
I'll get right into this one - "The Couple Next Door" was the best thriller I've read in years. I devoured it in just a few days. Author Shari Lapena takes you on an emotional roller coaster with twists and turns on every page, right up until the very last sentence. I had no idea what was going to happen, and that's coming from someone who can predict the end of a horror movie in the first 20 seconds.
Synopsis: Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.
Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.
What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.
In today's turbulent political climate, it's nice to daydream about what it was like when President Obama in the office. If you miss the Obama administration, then you'll love this memoir by Beck Dorey-Stein, an Obama-era White House stenographer. You'll get a real sense of what it's like to work in the highest arena of politics and you'll miss every second of 2008-2016. Sigh...
Synopsis: In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein is working five part-time jobs and just scraping by when a posting on Craigslist lands her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate D.C. outsider, she joins the elite team who accompany the president wherever he goes, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forges friendships with a dynamic group of fellow travelers—young men and women who, like her, leave their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president.
As she learns to navigate White House protocols and more than once runs afoul of the hierarchy, Beck becomes romantically entangled with a consummate D.C. insider, and suddenly the political becomes all too personal.
Against the backdrop of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and, in the process, discovering her voice.
romance: "me before you" by jojo moyes
I know I'm about seven years late to the "Me Before You" obsession, but it's better late than never. This story got me! I felt a kindred-ship with the characters that I haven't felt in years. If you haven't read it, or are looking for a good re-read, I recommend this one for you.
Synopsis: They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
A Love Story for this generation and perfect for fans of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
"One Day in December" is a beautifully written, romantic holiday novel you won't be able to put down. You'll laugh and you'll cry (several times), but most importantly the characters and their stories will stick with you for days after you're done. I shared my copy with Mom, a harsh literary critic, who read it cover to cover without stopping. This was my favorite book of 2018.
Synopsis: Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.
Certain they're fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn't find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they "reunite" at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It's Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.
What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.
Pictures and synopses are pulled from Amazon.com.