Michaelas Best Books of 2019

By The Book Slut

Michaelas Best Books of 2019

By The Book Slut

As we come to the close of the year and start to reflect on the months gone by the important questions looms: what were my favourite books of the year? The ones that have stuck with me throughout the year and keep playing out in my mind. As such I present to you my top ten percent of 2019. Thirteen of the books that I loved, full of characters and lessons and expressions I’m unable to let pass without commenting on, without trying to convince others to experience for themselves.

 

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A Ladder to the Sky

John Boyne

£9.99 £9.49

Boyne is a genius in my eyes. The only way to follow up The Heart’s Invisible Furies was to write a novel that is the polar opposite. Where The Heart’s Invisible Furies was tragic and touching, A Ladder to the Sky was rage inducing and brazen and it blew my mind. Maurice Swift is one of the best (worst?) characters I have encountered, so much so, I threw my book across the room in a fit of rage. A must read for fans of unlikeable characters and once again easy to read and enjoyable in the affable Boyne tone we all know and love.

Pink Mountain on Locust Island

Jamie Marina Lau

£13.99 £13.29

Unless you are an Australian reader, many won’t have heard of this selection from independent publisher Brow Books, which is a damn shame and something to be remedied. Pink Mountain on Locust Island is an experimental novel you will be hard pressed to define. That such a young voice can write something so mesmerising and disparate leaves me astonished and excited for the future of Australian fiction (Marina Lau was twenty one when Pink Mountain was published). Experimental literature is often inaccessible, intellectual and haughty, for only those advanced enough to understand. Pink Mountain on Locust Island takes that notion and blows it apart. Marina Lau writes a compulsive narrative unlike any other. Her protagonist, Monk, is quirky and irrepressible, a joy to inhabit. Not everything within this novel needs to be understood or explicit and, yet, an appreciation is not only attainable but effortless. Thank you for teaching me that unconventional can be approachable.

Daisy Jones and The Six: From the author of the hit TV series

Taylor Jenkins Reid

£9.99 £9.49

Daisy Jones was the surprise of the year for me that shouldn’t be dismissed as frivolous fiction. Sure the 1970s setting of rock and roll, of sex and drugs and addiction, is not particularly groundbreaking but that is not all that it is. Jenkins Reed gives the reader plenty more to work with. I loved the way she played with form and while I initially disliked the format, once I had read a few more pages I realised it adds much to the storytelling of this novel. The format flirts with the idea that first person narrators are all ultimately unreliable. It is a truth that is central to this novel and that is constantly pushed and prodded to give the reader their story. The reader is also given three strong women as central characters. Each of them are uniquely so. All with their own flaws, some more evident than others, but each powerful in finding their own truths and grasping their own destiny. Honestly, most of the male characters pale in the background, though that’s not to say they aren’t interesting, endearing or frustrating in their own ways. I’m not trying to further hype this or portray it as something that it’s not but I do want to pay my respects to this quietly intelligent novel.

Freshwater

Akwaeke Emezi

£9.99 £9.49

Freshwater was compelling and addictive; I found the writing is so otherworldly and unique. The perspectives and turns of phrase make you stop and observe the world in a completely different light. A story of a girl born with a fractured soul, as an ogbanjie, inhabited by spirits which develop distinct selves. Once you learn a little more about Emezi it is clear that some aspects are loosely autobiographical and related to her own experiences, which made the story even more fascinating. This is a distinctly written and layered piece of fiction that left me awestruck and is a story I still mull over whenever it comes to mind. Emezi is one to watch for the future with another novel set for release in the new year.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf: Dark Star Trilogy Book 1

Marlon James

£9.99 £9.49

I worship at the altar of Marlon James. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is an ambitious beginning to an epic fantasy trilogy imbued with violence, African mythology and queer, diverse characters. In true James style the writing is delicious and meaty, so substantial that gorging on it is impossible, instead one must savour each page and digest it fully before progressing. Not for the faint-hearted this one is complex and meandering and did I say violent? Though violence is rife, it is never voyeuristic, nor feels excessive. Just to further explain the scope and complexity of this writing the two following books are not a chronological continuation, but the same epic adventure from different perspectives of characters we meet within the page

The Queen of the Night

Alexander Chee

£12.99 £12.34

The Queen of the Night was the historical fiction I never knew I needed until I was deep within its pages. Who knew opera in Paris was so compelling? I picked this after finding myself drawn to shorter novels that satisfy upon timely completion. I had forgotten the completely different gratification that comes with longer fiction, the epic plots, the slower build, the layering that comes with hundreds and hundreds of pages. I found The Queen of the Night whimsical and melodramatic, indulgent and epic in scope. The perfect novel to lose yourself in.

Supper Club

Lara Williams

£9.99 £9.49

A novel about a secret women’s club who meet at night to eat and drink until they can’t eat anymore in a bacchanalian ceremony designed for women to take up more space. What about that doesn’t sound appealing? Supper Club is another addition to the genre of novels designed to appeal to millenials and in my opinion absolutely nails it. I found myself relating to so many aspects of this novel. One particular passage that stands out months later is simply our protagonist waiting in line to order coffee and rehearsing the most efficient way of asking for what she wants. Williams seems to have a way of making the reader feel known and understood. I would highly recommend picking up this angry little feminist novel about pushing back and making space.

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