As you know I am an avid reader and I managed to read 105 books this year. So I wanted to share my absolute favourites. I did re-read...

My Best Reads 2019

Thursday, January 09, 2020 BookBairn 1 Comments

As you know I am an avid reader and I managed to read 105 books this year. So I wanted to share my absolute favourites. I did re-read The Northern Lights Trilogy and some of the Harry Potter series as well as some of my other favourites but I'm not including those as they were re-reads.

Turning the Tide on Plastic by Lucy Siegel: Having read this book at the beginning of the year, I realised that simply recycling some of the plastic that we bring into the house isn't enough anymore. We need to try to stop it crossing the threshold. And we have made big improvements, which you can read about in my blog post 'Reducing our Family's Plastic Consumption'. This book was a huge influence on how I tackled the plastic in our home and I found the way it blended fact and advice that I could learn from and put into action a really easy (though in some ways troubling) read. If you are interested in this topic this is a great book to read to get you motivated!

Fierce Fairytales by Nikita GillI was so moved by this book I got literal goosebumps whilst read, cried tears and think it is perhaps the most powerful collection of poetry and best thing I have ever read! Putting a feminist twist on fairytale characters as well as empowering poems about life. I am going to re-read this one again and again. I have downloaded the audiobook too so that I can absorb a poem every once in a while when I have five minutes here or there although I think the power of reading this was being able to sit down and read them all in one or two sittings. So perfect for a child-free indulgent morning, afternoon or evening! 

The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde: this book is probably not a book that I had particularly high expectations of but I found it fascinating and gripping! It's a Middle Grade (ages 8-12) dystopian story where the vocabulary of the population is limited to fewer and fewer words. Following an ecological disaster, the people who survived and gained entry to the 'Ark' are controlled by a enigmatic leader who sees language as a huge problem and sets out to limit words in order to limit protest, expression, and even free-thinking. And he's planning something even bigger. I loved this and found the way the story unfolded truly masterful. I enjoyed the sequel almost as much making it a worthy read too!

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport: Reading this book changed my life. Completely. It totally changed my perspective on how I use screens and technology and how I spend way to much time on my phone and how easily I let myself pick it up and waste my time on it. But only using your time to add value to your life rather than spending so much time on social media, etc. The book describes digital minimalism as "a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else." There are few sections that are a bit 'dry' that I would recommend skimming but the overall message is something that I really needed to hear and found it really helpful.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - one that I probably should have read much sooner than I actually did! After I read it I reviewed on social media saying: "I'm not sure that I'll ever recover from this one. This story has changed me somehow. Irrevocably." I'm glad I read this at the time that I did because it really resonated with me. If you haven't read this one yet it's well worth it.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria by Catherine Bruton - my lovely friend BookLoverJo sent me this for my birthday and I cannot wait to read it! An important book with a powerful message for young readers and a subject area that I find myself extremely concerned about at the moment. I found the weaving of the story, the building of the characters and the community to be masterfully done and I think that's probably the reason that I enjoyed it so much! I really felt like the characters were real and I could relate to them. I particularly enjoyed the way the author wove together the stories of the main character and her family who are Syrian refugees and the story of the ballet teacher who was a world war two refugee. I think drawing this comparison for children is a powerful connection. A similar book that I read this year was The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf but I preferred the subtlety of this story and it was a better connection for me. (This one is not pictured in the bundle as I leant it to a friend!)

Some Kids I Taught and What the Taught Me by Kate Clanchy - as a teacher-on-hiatus I am all to aware that the children I have taught have taught me many things over the years and I really enjoyed this memoir come social observational book written by an English teacher. It was so well-written and the observations so well thought-out and stories woven and connected together. The author's observations of society and how some things have changed over time were truly fascinating. I also loved some of her observations about educational changes, government cut backs and policies as well as the way society treats teachers as professionals to be spot on. A superb read for teachers (and everyone else)!

I've set myself the same overall reading goal as the previous year of 72 books - which works out as six a month but I'm hoping to read over 100 again as it seems like such a huge number to me. I'm delighted that over 60 of the books I read this year were library books (as well as some other library books that I borrowed, started and didn't enjoy so I abandoned them) and intend to do the same this year - in fact the library already have two requests waiting for me. I also cleared 15 off my To Be Read list by actually reading them, though I did get rid of others as I realised I had no intentions of actually reading them. So my plan for this year is to tackle that ever growing pile of unread books before I buy anymore. I figure it's pretty unrealistic for me to read all of them before buying any new ones but I would like to adopt a policy of reading two old books for ever new one I buy.

If you're looking for advice on how to read more books, you might like my post Finding Time to Read as a Busy Mum.

What were your favourite reads last year? And do you have a goal for this year?

Happy Reading,

BookBairn's bookshelf: read

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me
The No Spend Year: How you can spend less and live more
Wild Embers: Poems of rebellion, fire and beauty
The Amber Spyglass
The Familiars
The Book Thief
The Library of Unrequited Love
My Life in Lists
The Thirteenth Tale
The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k
Owen and the Soldier
Convenience Store Woman
A Pinch of Magic
Practical Magic
Guardians of Magic
No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference
Life after Life
No Ballet Shoes in Syria
The Librarian

BookBairn's favorite books »

Disclaimer: these are all my choices and bought with my own money or borrowed from the library. If you click on the image of the book below you will be sent to using an affiliate link.  This means that if you choose to purchase on, I will receive a small sum (around 20-90p per book) from Amazon at no extra cost to you. I understand that you may not want to use an affiliate link, but if you like reading our blog post please just think of it as a small tip for a tip-off to an awesome book. And know that your support means I can buy more books! For more information check out our For Readers Section.


1 comment:

  1. 105 books in a year! Wow! I might’ve managed 5. Good luck reaching your target for 2020.