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My favorite books in 2019

In 2018 I set a personal goal to read a book a month. By the time April rolled around I had read nine books and was feeling burnt out. Needless to say, I didn’t read any more throughout the year and was disappointed in myself for not following through with my goal.

This year I was determined to make it happen. Even if it meant some months of not reading at all and reading multiple books in the other months.

If my Dad is reading this (Hi Dad!), he is no doubt about to keel over. When I was growing up, he would make my brother and I read every summer and I HATED it. Maybe it was because he forced us, or perhaps it was because it was summertime and my brain just wanted to be in auto pilot. Whatever the reason, it was my least favorite pastime as a child. But something happened as I got older. Maybe I learned the value of the education that goes hand-in-hand with reading, or how you could travel anywhere in the world inside the pages of a book. Whatever the reason, I fell in love with reading, exactly as my dad always wished I would.

So, I decided to pick out a book I read, one from each genre (fiction, non-fiction, young adult, thriller and biography) and tell you why I loved it. No spoilers included!

My favorites:

“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides (Thriller)

For Christmas last year I received a Book of the Month subscription and this book was my first selection. It has so many twists and turns. Just when you think you have the story figured out and know what happens, you realize you really have no idea. The basic plot line is about a famous painter who kills her husband and is found guilty of the crime. After the murder she goes silent, literally. The books picks up at a point when she has been silent for several years. Enter a criminal psychotherapist who is convinced he can get her talking. If you enjoy a book that keeps you guessing, “The Silent Patient” is a great choice!

Another great thriller – “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena

“To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (3-book series) by Jenny Han (Young Adult)

I was very late to the party on this one. Also, I am a firm believer that you are never too old to enjoy a Young Adult book series (Hello - “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games”). What I loved the most about this series is that it took me back to my high school days, where your feelings are so intense, and you love so deeply. Each book in the series is a quick and easy read. The books are about a high school girl who writes love letters (that she has no intention of sending) to all the boys she has been in love with, but somehow the letters actually get sent. I read the whole series in a week and was so disappointed when it ended.

If you aren’t much of a reader, check out the movie on Netflix based on the first book. The second and third movies (based on the subsequent books) are upcoming!

“The Summer I Turned Pretty” by Jenny Han is supposed to be another great YA series. It is definitely on my list!

“Bad Blood: Secret and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou (Non-Fiction)

I was a journalism major in college, so I am a sucker for a good non-fiction book based on strong facts. The story of this start-up is stranger than fiction, and if you are in the health care industry at all, this is a MUST read. It came highly recommended to me by my brother and I am only sorry I didn’t read it sooner. The story is about the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, the young CEO billionaire who founded a bio-tech startup that was supposed revolutionize blood testing. Holmes convinced people to invest millions in her company; a company that was based mostly on lies.

The book is 339 pages long, so if you are looking for less of a time commitment, check out The Dropout, a podcast that delivers the same great story in audio version.

“Educated” by Tara Westover (Biography)

Of all the books I have read this year, this is my favorite! It’s a tale of growing up with the chips stacked against you but managing to overcome the challenges. It teaches the value education has in a child’s life and examines the complex dynamics of a family. I had seen it on several must-read book lists throughout the past couple of years and I can promise you, it did not disappoint! It truly is a coming of age story that will make you pause and think about how you were raised.

If you are really into biographies, another great (shorter) read is “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J.D. Vance. This story looks at life and the socioeconomics of a blue-collar town in Ohio’s Rust Belt.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” – Delia Owens (Fiction)

Everyone (including my mom) raved about this book. I tried to read it in early spring, but I just couldn’t get into it. Has that ever happened to you? I have a friend who read it and told me if I could just get past the first four chapters, I would love it. And guess what, she was SO right! It’s a who-done-it and a love story all wrapped up into one. The book is about a girl who grew up in a less than ideal family situation and managed to raise herself. If you have a love of nature and enjoy stories of the south, then you will love this book! Once it picked up steam, I could not put it down!

Bonus recommendation:

“The Going to Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton (Children’s Books)

Reading to your children is such an important part of their development. Reading, even early in infancy, stimulates the part of a child’s brain that allows them to understand the meaning of language and helps build key language, literacy and social skills. Incorporating reading as a part of the bedtime routine is something I recommend to all of the families I work with. Reading the same book last each night is a great cue (even to infants) as to what is coming next – SLEEP! We have been reading Boynton’s as the last book each night since Max was an infant! It’s quick and it goes through a bedtime routine! Double score!

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