Leslie’s 2019 Reading Round-Up: From memoir to speculative fiction, you’ll find all of my favorite reads right here


By Leslie Lindsay

man reading book beside woman reading book
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year again–I start reflecting on my favorite reads. For the last several years, I’ve set pretty ambitious reading goals for myself. Fifty books? Sure. Seventy-five? Bring it! Eighty? Okay. Eighty-five? Yep. Once I thought I could eek out ninety books in one year, and no. That cannot be done. Not with a busy writing and reviewing schedule.

I’m so very grateful for all of the wonderful books I’ve had the opportunity–the privilege–to read, review, and often, host their authors right here on my Wednesdays with Writers Author Interview Series.

I could list every book I read this year here–because they ALL have merit. But a few absolutely stand out, for various reasons.

Here are those reasons: 

  • It makes me want to talk about it with someone who is not reading it. My husband knows it’s an ‘it’ book when I say, “Babe, I gotta tell you about this book I’m reading.”
  • It makes me *want* to write.
  • It makes me fly through the pages at lightening speed. Because, OMG!
  • It makes me savor those pages because OMG–the prose–and I don’t want it to end.
  • It makes me sit up and take notice of a bigger event, circumstance, issue. And then it makes me want to *do* something instead of just read about it.
  • It makes me think, “I’ve never read anything like this before in my life and–wow!”
  • It makes me a little jealous that I didn’t write that book.

Leslie’s Top Reads of 2019*

*Most of these books were released in 2019, a couple are older titles, but a first-time read in 2019 for me.

AN ANONYMOUS GIRL | Greer Hendriks & Sarah Pekkanen

An Anonymous GirlWhy I loved it:

Propulsive, consuming. Dark. Twisted. Smart. Couldn’t. Stop. Reading.

Read my interview with the authors.

See my GoodReads Review. 

Get a copy. 

“Hendricks and Pekkanen are at the top of their game – you won’t see the final twist coming.”

People magazine’s Book of the Week


ASK AGAIN, YES | Mary Beth Keane

IMG_2877

Why I loved it:

The lush writing. Restrained yet so authentic. The time period(s). The cover! The conflicts. The characters. How it resonated on so many levels. Love and discontents. Mental illness. Such a fabulous book for discussion.

Read my interview with Mary Beth Keane here.

See my GoodReads Review.

GET A COPY!

“Mary Beth Keane takes on one of the most difficult problems in fiction – how to write about human decency. In Ask Again, Yes, Keane makes a compelling case for compassion over blame, understanding over grudge, and the resilience of hearts that can accept the contradictions of love.”

– Louise Erdrich, winner of The National Book Award for Fiction


THE BOBCAT|DEBUT!|Katherine Forbes Riley 

Why I loved it:

Consuming. Completely unique. Gorgeous writing. Medicine meets art meets nature. Made me want to write. Hypnotic. Languid. Tranquil but also traumatic. Had to talk with someone about this book as I was reading it because it was just so good–and different and mesmerizing.

  • Read my interview with Katherine Forbes Riley
  • See my GoodReads Review
  • Plus! Katherine shares a fabulous reading list.

GET A COPY! 

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This novel is mesmerizing! Completely unpredictable and engaging. I loved the sentences and the descriptions and the characters.

~Sarah Blake, Author of NAAMAH


THE BUTTERFLY GIRL| Rene Denfeld 

IMG_2808Why I loved it:

Lush, lyrical. Heartbreaking  but redemptive. Made me sit up and take notice of a bigger issue(s). Inspired by true events.

Read my interview with Rene.

See my GoodReads review.

GET A COPY!

“A heart-breaking, finger gnawing and yet ultimately hopeful novel by the amazing Rene Denfeld.”

—Margaret Atwood


ELLIE AND THE HARPMAKER| DEBUT!| Hazel Prior

IMG_3034 (1)Why I loved it:

Sweet. Thoughtful. Intelligent. Full range of emotions. The characters! And a pet pheasant. Plus, I wanted to talk about this book–and found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn’t reading.

Read my interview with Hazel Prior

See my GoodReads review.

GET A COPY!

“How I loved this book! An uncommonly lovely story told with elegance, insight, and so much heart. Hazel Prior’s brilliant debut will delight.”

—Kristan Higgins, New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck With That


THE DEARLY BELOVED|DEBUT!| Cara Wall 

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WHY I LOVED IT:

Oh the writing! The story! The backstories. Friendship. Faith. Marriage. Near-historical. Great for book clubs!

Read my interview with Cara

See my GoodReads review

GET A COPY!

Today show “Read with Jenna” Book Club Selection***

“A moving portrait of love and friendship set against a backdrop of social change.”

The New York Times Book Review (Editor’s Choice)

Entertainment Weekly calls The Dearly Beloved “the best book about faith in recent memory.”


HOUSEBREAKING|Dan Pope

WHY LOVED IT:

Suburbia gone awry. Houses and homes. Disturbing at times but so authentic. Multiple generations. Powerful and provocative. Great for book clubs–plenty to discuss!

Read my GoodReads review. 9781476745916_p0_v2_s600x595

Desire, discontentment and unrealized dreams propel the likable lost souls in this empathetic cut-to-the-bone look at multigenerational suburban malaise.”

–Family Circle

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Aristic photo of book cover designed and photographed by me, L. Lindsay. Please follow on Instagram from more like this


INHERITANCE|Dani Shapiro 

Why I loved it:

I’m a sucker for a well-written, lyrical memoir. And this one resonated personally on several levels. Family. Paternity. Soul-searching. Genetics and biology.

Shapiro_Inheritance_NYTBR_Sticker-aspect-ratio-5x2Read my interview with Dani Shapiro

See my GoodReads review.

GET A COPY! 


MRS. EVERYTHING| Jennifer Weiner 

                                                                         Why I loved it: 

DCACA1ED-48AD-4841-B0FB-22DF98EA7DD7A slight diversion from Weiner’s typcial style and she rocked it. Near-historical, spanning several decades and touching on several big issues as well as historical events from hippies and communes to divorce and #metoo. Great for book clubs. So much to discuss. So many layers.

GET A COPY!

Named a Best Book of Summer by:

 

 

Entertainment Weekly, 

Cosmopolitan

Woman’s Day

 PopSugar

HelloGiggles

Refinery29 

“A multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant.”

People


MY LOVELY WIFE | DEBUT!| Samantha Downing   

WHY I LOVED IT:

Deliciously dark. So compelling. Jaw-dropping. Couldn’t Stop. Reading. And that ending…

IMG_2342Read my interview with Samantha Downing

See my GoodReads review.

“Wow! My Lovely Wife is a stunner – full of twists, well-drawn characters, and riveting suspense.”

-Harlan Coben

#1 New York Times Bestseller

GET A COPY!

 

All artistic book photos designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. You can follow me at leslielindsay1 on Instagram. I hope you do!


NAAMAH| DEBUT!| Sarah Blake

image001 (1)

WHY I LOVE IT:

So compelling. So unique. Speculative fiction. Gorgeous, poetic writing. A modern take on a historical tale. Some scenes might be a little disturbing, but this book will make you think.

“Comprised of mesmerizing prose poem-esque sections, the novel explores themes of sexuality, purpose, loss, love, and faith. A poetic debut of biblical proportions.”

 —KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review

Read my interview with Sarah Blake

See my GoodReads review

GET A COPY!


THE NEED|HELEN PHILLIPS

WHY I LOVE IT:

Dreamy, hypnotic. Made me fear small things. Nature and the environment. Motherhood and madness. Speculative fiction. And the writing. Perplexing and disturbing.

Read my interview with Helen Phillips

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See my GoodReads review.

Get a copy! 

“An enthralling book. With its short chapters, unsettling prose, and riveting suspense, it feels designed for binge-reading.”

-The Economist

 

 


SOMEONE WE KNOW| SHARI LAPENA

INSTANT UK SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

NOTABLE BARNES & NOBLE JULY 2019 PICK

image001 (7)Why I love it:

Relatable because: suburbs and neighbors. Relentless pacing. Gripping. Twitsy. Plenty of theories. Great for discussing with your book club!

Read my interview with Shari Lapena

See my GoodReads Review

GET A COPY!

“Slyly plotted . . . Lapena skillfully maximizes suspense with her dual story lines that eventually collide, as well as some deft misdirection . . . many fans of domestic suspense will be satisfied.”

Publishers Weekly


THAT TIME I LOVED YOU| Carrianne Leung 

Winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award 

(Writers’ Union of Canada)

 An Amazon Best Book of the Month 

(Literature & Fiction)

WHY I LOVED IT:

Such delightful–but dark–writing. Again, houses and homes and suburbia–this is clearly a theme. ; ) Interlinked stories that tell a bigger truth. Mental health, families, coming-of-age. Slight-historical (1970s-1980s).

Read my interview with Carrianne Leung

See my GoodReads review

All artistic book photos designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. You can follow me at leslielindsay1 on Instagram. I hope you do!

IMG_4736 (1)

GET A COPY!

“Heartbreaking…. Leung’s stories lift the veiled curtain of late 1970s suburbia to reveal the sadness and isolation of its residents…. Written in the tradition of Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri, Leung’s debut story collection marks the career of a writer to watch.”
– Kirkus Reviews [starred review]


THE PERFECT LIAR|Thomas Christopher Greene 

WHY I LOVED IT: 

Such a gorgeously told story. The atmosphere! The layers! The backstory! Deceit and secrets and much more. Plus, it got me itching to write.

Read my interview with Thomas Christopher Green

See my GoodReads review

img_1171

“Beautifully written and sharply insightful, The Perfect Liar is a captivating, stay-up-late thriller about dark secrets, dangerous passions, and the perilous pursuit of a picture-perfect life.”

–Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia and Where They Found Her


THE WARTIME SISTERS|LYNDA COHEN LOIGMAN

WHY I LOVED IT: 

Deeply moving exploration of sisters, a dysfunctional family in historical times, children, marriage, plenty to discuss, fabulous backstories.

Read my interview with Lynda Cohen Loigman

See my GoodReads Review

GET A COPY!

img_2087

“A riveting tale of sibling rivalry and the magnetic dissonance of family, filled with heart-stopping truths that are both tender and wise. One of my favorite books of the year.”

—Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Masterpiece

All artistic book photos designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. You can follow me at leslielindsay1 on Instagram. I hope you do!

WHEREVER SHE GOES| KElley Armstrong

WHy I loved it: 

IMG_3027Oh my gosh! The pacing! Relentless! Had to read on soccer sidelines instead of watching my daughter play. I mean, REALLY. Characters doing stupid things. You can’t help but want find out why.

This fast-paced standalone thriller from Armstrong unfolds to reveal complex truths, not only about the boy’s disappearance but about Aubrey’s past.” 

—Booklist

Read my interview with Kelley Armstrong

See my GoodReads review

GET A COPY! 


WILD GAME| DEBUT!| Adrienne Brodeur6C60F82A-CB3D-40EF-91D9-6944B6E356AD

WHY I LOVED IT:

Fabulous writing. Disturbing at times. Outrageous unfolding of events. Mothers and daughters. Narcissism. Vowing to do things differently. Resonated on many levels. Family dysfunction.

See my spotlight 

Read my GoodReads Review

GET A COPY! 

“Shocking, poignant, unputdownable.”

— PEOPLE MAGAZINE

 

 


WITHOUT A MAP| Debut!|Meredith Hall 

9780807072738.jpgWHY I LOVED IT:

Lush, poetic, but no-nonsense writing. Empathy and worry for the characters. Just so darn good. Resonate and relatable events that go beyond the obvious.

Read my GoodReads review.

GET A COPY!

Hall’s memoir is a sobering portrayal of how punitive her close-knit New Hampshire community was in 1965 when, at the age of 16, she became pregnant in the course of a casual summer romance . . . Hall offers a testament to the importance of understanding and even forgiving the people who, however unconscious or unkind, have made us who we are.”

—Francine Prose, O Magazine

…AND THAT’S A WRAP!

It’s been my pleasure–and privilege–to bring these titles to you. Hope 2020 brings you joy and plenty of reading time.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

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#fiction #memoir #2019roundup #literaryfiction #favoritebooks #goodreads 

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