Top Reads for 2019

2019 was such a great reading year for me; I know this because this initial list was just over 30 book. I had a difficult time narrowing down my selection to 14 books. When you’ve read 140 books for the year, how exactly do you pick the top 10%?  Here’s why these books made the list:

  • They’ve moved my soul in a way I cannot put into words.
  • They opened my eyes to the world or to a topic I have never known about.
  • I can still remember vividly the “book hangover” I had after I completed them.
  • I still cannot shut up about it and the book brings back amazing memories.

Here are my standout reads for 2019. If you are wondering what to read in 2020, I hope a book from this list makes your “To Be Read” pile.

1. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

I read Rising Strong at the start of 2019, and it was the perfect book to get me in the frame of mind for overcoming any challenges I may face for the year. This book explores how being vulnerable leads us to live a more fulfilling life. It also, in no uncertain terms, informs us that it will hurt, and it will suck at times but if we want to live wholeheartedly, this is the process.

I have to admit, there is a lot to absorb and so much to explore with this book that at times it felt overwhelming, but the lessons that are explored are essential. I set my intention that I wanted to live a more wholehearted life in 2019, and this book was the foundation of that intention.

 

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2. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelindes

As far as psychological thrillers go, in 2019 this was by far my favorite. Alex Michaelindes’ debut novel “The Silent Patient” had me up until 1:00am on a work night because I just had to find out what happened. The writing is captivating, the characters are intense, and the final twist will leave you reeling.

Michaelindes is a new fresh voice in the thriller space, and I am here for it. If you love a great twisty novel, this is it.

 

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3. All The Rage: Mothers, Fathers and the Myth of Equal Partnership by Darcy Lockman

“…women who work outside of the home shoulder 65 percent of childcare responsibilities and their male partners 35 per cent. Those percentages have held steady since the year 2000. In the last twenty years, that figure has not budged…”

My feminist heart was enraged reading this book. After finishing the book, it reconfirmed my decision to not have kids.  It is the year 2019 and women are still shouldering 65% of childcare responsibilities. On one hand, I am not shocked because women tend to do a lot; on the other hand, it is sad that this is what is currently happening.

A lot of the women who were interviewed hold a lot of resentment towards their spouse because of their spouse’s “inability” to help out around the house or with childcare. Most of the mothers said they got little help from the fathers even though they were doing a lot already. Something to note is that the majority of these women held down full time jobs outside of the home. While some fathers held down the home and childcare responsibilities, they were few and far between.

It seems it doesn’t matter how well a partner you choose, women are left with the full time job of working outside the home and taking care of the home and the kids. If you are seriously considering settling down and having kids, I strongly suggest that you and your partner read this book.

 

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4. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

“We all deal with setbacks but in the long run, the quality of our lives often depends on the quality of our habits.”

Buy this book, read it, put into practice the steps outlined, watch your life changed for the better. James Clear really gets to the heart of what it takes to build healthy habits and what it takes to get rid of the unhealthy ones.

For me, I loved how detailed James Clear was in this book in the work that goes into forming healthy and getting rid of unhealthy habits. Clear offers practical advice on how to build these habits in ways that aren’t overwhelming. I love how feasible his suggests were, and I look forward to putting them into practice.

With the new year approaching, you are probably thinking of goals and things you would like to achieve; why not start with the small habits?

 

 

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5. Frying Plantain by Zalika Benta-Reid

Zalika Benta-Reid’s debut novel, Frying Plantain is the perfect collection of interwoven stories that deal with immigration, identity and coming of age. Set in Toronto, the story follows Kara Davis from elementary school to university. Kara Davis is a Canadian by birth, both her mother and grandmother are Jamaican. The neighborhood she lives in is a melting pot of Caribbean people and cultures.

Benta-Reid does an amazing job of exploring identity and the mother-daughter theme in a great cultural context and I loved it. Also, this is a great book to add to your Caribbean reads genre.

 

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6. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House still leaves me with all the feels months later. Ann Patchett pens the perfect family drama and I enjoyed reading every moment of it. In The Dutch House we meet Cyril Conroy, who through luck and some real estate knowledge came into great wealth. Through this newfound wealth, Cyril was able to purchase The Dutch House, which was previously owned by a Dutch family who came to ruin. Cyril purchased this sprawling mansion in the countryside of Philadelphia as a surprise for his wife – this began the downfall of the Conroy family.

If you love a great sibling story with characters who are jumping off the pages, I strongly recommend you pick up this well written novel.

 

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7. Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

I cannot begin to tell you how this book changed my outlook on life. I am someone who gets excited about starting things, but I have a hard time finishing some of them. In FINISH, Acruff explores WHY we don’t finish they projects we get started, it is called “perfection.” I am still in the process of identifying where my fall off starts happening and putting things in place to ensure I finish.

With the impending new year, this is an amazing book to read to get the year started on a finishing note.

 

 

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8. Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite writers. Her ability to write characters who will speak to your soul is why I will always read her works. In Olive Again, we meet Olive Kitteridge, a resident of Crosby, Maine who is dealing with a lot, from aging, falling in love again and dealing with a broken relationship with her son. A lot is happening in this book but it is explored in such a tender and heartfelt way.

I cannot stop talking about this book, I suggest everyone reads it.

 

 

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9. Know my Name by Chanel Miller

Formerly known as Emily Doe in the Stanford Rape case, Chanel Miller released a well written, powerful memoir about everything that happened before, during and after the case.

This is an emotionally draining and enraging, but truly necessary read. I think everyone on this planet should read this book. I cannot recommend it enough.

 

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10. I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying by Bassey Ikpi

I was so moved by Bassey Ikpi’s debut novel, I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying . Reading this collection of deeply personal essays was like picking up your best friend’s well written diary and getting genuine and utterly vulnerable look into their life. I am blown away by not only well written, utterly beautiful and moving the writing is, but how Ikpi is able to remain honest and real throughout the entire collection. This book takes guts to write, putting your truth out there takes bravery and I remain in awe at the author’s courage.

It is not every day you pick up a deeply personal collection of essays written by a Nigerian woman that details her battle with bipolar and I was here for all of it.

 

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11. Modern Love, Revised and Updated: True Stories of Love, Loss and Redemption by Daniel Jones

Before receiving a copy of this collection of love stories I was not aware that the book was based on a New York Time’s column. I read this entire collection in one sitting, and that speaks to how truly captivating the writing and real-life stories were. These writers were hilarious, vulnerable, and deeply human in how they approach and deal with love.

There is now an Amazon series on this book, but I highly suggest you give the book a read then watch the series.

 

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12. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh

I know, I know, this book actually made the list, and if you were a part of the Book of Cinz book club you might be wondering why. Eight months later I still cannot shake the impact the protagonist in this book had on me. Yes, this book spoke to white privilege, but it also really spoke to a daring woman who decided she just wanted to take the year off to just sleep and for some reason this resonated and still resonates with me. Overall, it’s a well-crafted, clever look at an unnamed woman who just wanted to rest.

 

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13. The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull

What a debut novel! I was blown away by this book and I still cannot shut up about it. An alien invasion set on a Caribbean island? Sign me up! Cadwell Turnbull’s The Lesson is a flawless look at what happens when aliens try to re-colonize an island. There are so many moving parts in this book, and they all come together in the most beautiful way.

I loved this book and I think you will too.

 

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14. The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

This book was indeed a ride, and I loved every minute of it. Robert Iger is the CEO of Disney and he gives us an inside look into Disney and the lessons he’s learned over the years. As someone who works with brands, reading about one of the most recognizable brands in the world from their CEO was a great learning experience.

I strongly suggest you pick this book up; there are so many teachable moments between these pages.

 

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There you have it, some of my favorite reads for 2019. Honestly, narrowing down my 140 reads to 14 was hard, but these books truly made an impact on me and I hope you get the chance to read at least one.

Cindy’s Bucket-List

My Year As A Caribbean Bookstagrammer