My Reading Year: A Recap of My 2019 Books
My 2019 Reading Challenge was so much fun. I delved into more of the vintage middle grade books I adore, a few classics, a handful of newly-published novels, and some nonfiction as well! So without further ado, here is a general overview of my 2019 reading year. I’ve organized my favorites into categories, starting off with my Ultimate Favorite Books of 2019. Happy Reading!
1. The Ansel-by-the-Sea series by Amanda Dykes (2019)
The incredibly gorgeous novel Whose Waves These Are and its different yet also compelling prequel novella Up from the Sea came out this spring, and placing this little series at the top of my list was a no-brainer! I absolutely loved the Maine setting, heartwarming stories, and lovely characters. Dykes’ rhythmic prose is a pure joy to read, and her next novel (not in this series) comes out in June! I cannot wait to read Set the Stars Alight, another dual timeline novel. You can check out my interview with the author here.
2. Listening Valley by D.E. Stevenson (1944)
I have read novels by D.E. Stevenson before, but this engaging coming-of-age story set in Scotland might just be my favorite of her books. Set prior to and during World War II, the drama surrounding the life and romance of Tonia makes for a fascinating tale. It’s also technically a sequel (or rather, a companion novel) to Celia’s House, which I read in 2016 and enjoyed immensely. It was delicious fun to reconnect with those characters!
3. These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1943)
The cozy comfort of this penultimate volume in the “Little House” series was so nice to read, and that’s why it earned its place on my list of 2019 favorites. It was such a delight to read the unfolding romance of Laura and Almanzo, and the imagery in this book is on par with L.M. Montgomery’s descriptions!
4. A Real Cinderella by Nina Rhoades (1915)
When a member of one of my vintage children’s book groups recommended the books of Nina Rhoades, I was immediately hooked. I started with A Real Cinderella, which is my favorite of her books so far with its sweet heroine and page-turning climax. Rhoades’ books for younger children are loosely connected under the title “Brick House Books,” and all the ones I have read are set in early 1900s New York City.
5. Stepmother by Gwendoline Courtney (1947)
What a fun find! I read this one very recently, having discovered it among a list of vintage books newly reprinted in England. Published in the 1940s, Stepmother starts out similar to Little Women, starring a group of four sisters who put on plays with the aid of the boy next door. But these sisters are aghast to learn that their widowed father has remarried while on a trip overseas, setting off a series of comedic events. The characters in this sweet story are amazing: levelheaded but ineffectual Alison, headstrong budding actress Elizabeth, quiet, stubborn Susan, and outspoken youngest sister Georgie.
6. Cobblers’ Knob by Eleanore M. Jewett (1958)
A story both charming and poignant, Cobblers’ Knob centers around a coastal summer community of children who are convinced that a nearby abandoned house is haunted. The bravest of these children sets out to investigate – only to discover that the mysterious occupant of the house is an orphaned girl who has claimed the place as her own.
7. Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd (1963)
An unpredictable elevator that travels through time, a treasure hunt, and a family in need of assistance all factor into this funny and clever tale of a 1960s girl who ends up in 1881 – and decides she wants to stay there. (I’m currently reading the sequel, it’s so good!)
8. Two Are Better Than One by Carol Ryrie Brink (1968)
Reminiscent of the Betsy-Tacy series, this semi-autobiographical book by the author of Caddie Woodlawn is a friendship story full of turn-of-the-century historical details, entertaining characters, and plenty of wit.
9. Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (2018)
I grew up re-reading Kate DiCamillo’s unforgettable Because of Winn-Dixie, and was even more enchanted by the adventures of Louisiana Elefante, who must forge new connections in a strange town when she learns a life-changing secret. A poetic tear-jerker with enormous heart!
10. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1952)
I had a blast reading this quirky, fast-paced story about an unusual family of “Borrowers”, a trio of very small people who attempt to navigate their dangerous life in an Edwardian mansion.
Favorite Cast of Characters
1. Stepmother by Gwendoline Courtney
2. Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink
3. Grace Coolidge: An Autobiography
4. The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery
5. The Janitor’s Girl by Frieda Friedman
6. The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser
7. Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
Favorite New (to me) Authors of 2019
1. Amanda Dykes
2. Nina Rhoades
3. Gwendoline Courtney
4. Eleanore M. Jewett
5. Edward Ormondroyd
1. Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
2. Cherry Ames: Island Nurse by Helen Wells
3. These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
4. Up from the Sea by Amanda Dykes
5. The Historic Christmas Tree Ship by Rochelle Pennington
6. The Boarded-Up House by Augusta Huiell Seaman
7. Cobblers’ Knob by Eleanore M. Jewett
8. The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton
9. Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale by Amanda Dykes
10. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
1. Louisiana (Louisiana’s Way Home)
2. Alison (Stepmother)
3. Tonia (Listening Valley)
4. Gretel (A Real Cinderella)
5. Savannah (Up from the Sea)
6. Laura (These Happy Golden Years)
Most Delightfully Funny Books
1. Pinky Pye by Eleanor Estes
2. When Patty Went to College by Jean Webster
3. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
4. Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
6. Two Are Better Than One by Carol Ryrie Brink
7. The Children on the Top Floor by Nina Rhoades
1. The Emily Series by L.M. Montgomery
2. The Painted Garden by Noel Streatfeild
3. Caldicott Place by Noel Streatfeild
4. Magic for Marigold by L.M. Montgomery
5. Friendly Gables by Hilda van Stockum
6. Trixie Belden #1 and #2 by Julie Campbell
7. The Haunted Attic (Judy Bolton #2) by Margaret Sutton
8. Two Little Women on a Holiday by Carolyn Wells
1. The Historic Christmas Tree Ship by Rochelle Pennington
2. A Name for Herself: Selected Writings by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre
3. Orange Blossoms Everywhere by Maud Hart Lovelace/Southern California Chapter of the Betsy-Tacy Society
4. Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach
5. Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson
6. The Lifegiving Home by Sally and Sarah Clarkson
My 2019 Reading Challenge
I pledged to read 75 books on Goodreads, and ended up finishing 122! I was planning to read a few longer books this year, such as Pride & Prejudice (which I found time to read) and Wives and Daughters (which I did not – maybe next year)! So that’s why I chose 75 for 2019, but I ended up reading a multitude of shorter stories instead.
My 2020 Reading Challenge
My Goodreads goal for 2020 will be to read 125 books. That will be a bit of a challenge, since I did not reach that number this year! But I think it’ll be fun to shoot a bit higher than before.
This year, I discovered several new authors, found myself enjoying nonfiction more than ever, and reread numerous old favorites that made me happy. Like in 2018, I had a fantastic book year, and I’m totally excited for 2020!
What were some books you loved in 2019? (Feel free to pass along some recommendations!