We’re around halfway through the year, and I thought I’d do a fun post. I thought I would put together a list of the books I remember the best from 2019. These won’t always be the best books, just the ones I remember the most about.
I’m notoriously bad at forgetting what I read, probably because I read so much. Typically I only really remember the key parts of books, or the parts of books I really liked or disliked. I’m left with vague impressions a lot of the time, if I’m even left with that. The reason I reread books I love so much is because if I want to remember a book better I’m going to have to read it a few times.
So I thought it would be nice to see which ones I really truly remember. Here is what I came up with:
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
This book wrecked me, for all the right reasons. This book is two tales woven together, one where an AI is trying to fit in in a world where they aren’t really welcome, and another of a young girl desperately trying to escape a hopeless situation. So much of this book is imprinted on my mind and I’m still not quite over reading this book. It was so good and so emotional. While it is part of a series, it is standalone (though part of the emotional impact is taken away if you don’t read book one first, if that is what you’re going for). I remember book one okay, but book three is almost entirely forgotten by now.
Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb
I only read three of the 5 series last year: The Farseer Trilogy, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man. And I haven’t actually touched it for a year now. That isn’t because I don’t love it, it is because I’m an emotional wreck inside every time I think about picking up the next book and I can’t bring myself to do it yet. Because this book destroyed me. I’m actually tearing up just thinking about it now. I cannot handle reading Rainy Wild Chronicles yet.
Robin Hobb wrote absolute masterpieces. The series has some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever seen that is always making me want more. And despite this being an epic fantasy series, I don’t feel like I am ever overwhelmed with knowledge. I could pick up the next one today and fall back seamlessly into the book. Plus the series have the best characters to root for and the villains you wish would get murderfaced in the most brutal ways possible. It just also takes a piece of your SOUL with it. I’m okay with that.
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
There is a bit of a theme here: if you want me to remember your book, you’re going to have to make me cry. The Sparrow did that in spades. This is a book if you want to be absolutely crushed while reading it. And it tells you from the very, very first page how this book is going to end. It never hides it. And yet you hope anyway. The Sparrow features a Jesuit priest who travels to an alien planet with his friends to investigate where a source of singing is coming from. It doesn’t go well. It breaks you.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
This one is cheating a bit, because I actually did reread it. Yeah, I read it twice in 2019. And that is because I liked it so much, I just had to reread it. This book featuring a young woman who is taken by the Dragon (who depressingly isn’t an actual dragon, just a powerful wizard) to be his servant for a while is exactly my kind of thing. The main character does absolutely nothing the way anyone expects out of her, and she knows what she wants. I love it.
The City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
I loved this book so much because I just absolutely loved the worldbuilding. In this, Shara Thivani is investigating a death. Which sounds simple, but she is one of the best spies, investigating in a foreign land that her country brutally conquered. And that land is filled with broken magic causing odd effects after the death of the countries gods during the war. I remember book one the best, and I am not certain why. Maybe because I talked about it with friends the most? I don’t know. This series tops my list of “books I want to see as a movie”, however.
The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes
The Imaginary Corpse was just one of those books last year that I read that will stay with me for a long time. It is so cute and wholesome while also being full of fears and anxieties. It reads so well, and everything is handled with the utmost care. The book features a yellow, stuffed triceratops named Tippy who was created by his Person to become a PI. Then his Person lost the connection to Tippy, who is now alone in a world and reeling from this event. Now he has to solve a murder in a place where murder is impossible, which is dangerous and scary. The Imaginary Corpse almost reads like a book for children, but it isn’t. It is amazing and I loved it so much.
The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
I really liked the Rowan. I went into this very unsure because the first two books in the series that this book was tied to were extremely problematic. But, I really, really liked the world setup so I was willing to give it another chance. I loved it. And I remember it so well because the original series was extremely problematic, but while The Rowan still had its problems they were much more forgettable. Mostly child labor laws. I can deal with that, compared to what was a relationship between (if I recall correctly) a 12 year old and a late 20s-year old in the original series. McCaffrey has issues with children being children…
The Rowan features the human race during a period where they have both developed their psychic powers and figured out how to use them to explore space. Powerful telekinetics ship both goods and people across the galaxy. They’re so necessary for the function of their society that from a very early age they are trained to do that one job and that one job only. Finding one is a really, really big deal. And The Rowan was a foundling child. And she was so, so lonely growing up, knowing she could be friends with no one because they might have to answer to her in the future. And she was so, so lonely when she grew up and moved away from home because she had no real equal. And oh my god the romance is probably the thing I liked the most about this book. If I ever read it again, it’s going to be for the romance.
Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
I don’t remember this book because I liked it. I remember this book because it was horrifyingly problematic. And I resolved to never read another romance from the 1990s because of this horror show. I didn’t review it on the blog because at the time I wasn’t really reviewing romance (and only just starting to now).
I read it because I was going through a phase where I wanted to read books where the main character ends up pregnant. I got that, and more. The premise should have been a tip off that this was going to be horrifying, because the main character was sold off to a man who runs a circus by her father because of the debts she was in. Yeah, that should have been a giveaway. It gets so much worse, including spousal rape (which, if you’re curious to know, wasn’t considered a crime in all 50 states until 1993 and even then wasn’t considered as serious in some states), her parents giving her fake birth control, and more.
RoomHate by Penelope Ward
Roomhate got wrapped up in my reading phase where I read romances that led to pregnancy. The cover made it look extremely bad, but this was definitely one those “don’t judge a book by its cover” books. RoomHate was exactly what I was looking for, and ever since I read it I’ve been chasing more of it. It is just absolutely impossible to find another book like this, and I went through so many books to get here and so many books after. No one else seems to write a book where not only does she not know she is pregnant, she finds out, and then has the child during the book and learns to take care of the child and get the man. AND everything wasn’t all sunbeams and roses. Unbelievable, it had every story beat I was looking for.
The Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
I remember this so much because I was surprised that I never saw anyone else ever talk about it. It was so good throughout. It read just like the movie Big Fish, but instead of the main character walking through impossible situations, the book is written from the perspective of people who come to know the guy who is the center of all the impossible situations. I loved it. I wish more people would read it and talk about it. It deserves it. Also I remember this book so well because I went into it completely blind: I needed an audiobook and I chose this based off title and cover alone. The book surprised me at every turn and I was just so there for it.
Daughter from the Dark by Marina Dyachenko and Sergey Dyachenko
I never knew that someone could write a book I so perfectly wanted, even if I didn’t know I wanted it. Daughter from the Dark felt like it was written for me. It had an unsympathetic main character that you just kinda want to find his happiness. It had an adorable child-not-child who is creepy and has a plan to get exactly what she wants. It had a potentially murderous teddy bear. And it also had a “what is happening? WHAT IS HAPPENING?!” mystery. I adored this book and felt it speak to my soul. I also read Vita Nostra and similar story. These authors are now on my must read list.
Million Miles Away by Alice Bane
This was not the best book I read last year, but it is possibly the most ridiculous. I loved it. I can’t really explain why I loved it, without getting into spoiler territory. But I loved it. It was so ridiculous. I’m not certain this book was meant to be as hilarious as it was, I think the author was serious. Yet I laughed for a half hour straight once I finished reading this, I just couldn’t stop.
This is an alien romance, where the main character is being abducted by an alien to treat a condition that has left her incapable of eating (or drinking) anything but essentially vegetables. I didn’t see the twists coming. I should have. I really, really should have. This was so stupid and I loved it. It’s free on Amazon as of writing this, and I really, really wish more people would read it because I need to share it. And get book two.
Night’s Reckoning by Elizabeth Hunter
I’ll be honest with you, the only reason I remember this book so well is because I obsess over the series. I only read it once, and yet I obsess. I think about the book constantly before it is out, trying to predict what is going to happen. I think about the book constantly after I finish reading it, analysing what I read. And just really enjoying being in that story with those characters. I have done the same thing to every single book in this series, if I haven’t reread them multiple times. The new one, Dawn Caravan, just came out the other day and you guys have no idea how happy I was while reading it. I always drop everything I’m doing to read a new Elizabeth Hunter book, because she is one of my favourite authors.
Shoutout to Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, because I forgot more about this book while I was actively reading it than any other book I’ve ever read. This book throws you off the deep end and expects you to sink. It is just one of those things you have to reread to understand fully.
Also shoutout to the following books, because I remembered so little of them, I forgot I even read them. I’ve got literally no memories of these books:
-Forever with You by Jennifer L. Armentrout
-Deep by Kylie Scott
-Rome by Jay Crownover
-Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren, which I have written down in my log as “Beautiful Dumbasses” and had to search Goodreads to see which book I meant.