To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
When I read this in high school, it immediately became my favorite classic. This book is set in the 1930’s and is a representation of how the color of your skin dictated the outcome if you broke the law, bent the rules, or was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In TKAM, a black man is on trial for raping a white woman and, Scout (the 10 year old narrator), is front row for the events as her father defends this man. She sees the injustice and, even at her young age in that time, understood that he was just a man and that his skin color should have no bearing on how he was treated.
I grew up around prejudice people and even as young child, I never understood why the color of our skin needed to make a difference in the way you were treated. This book resonated with me then, and 25 years later, it still does.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
This is my favorite book of 2019! I listened to this on audio and immediately fell in love with Kya, better known as The Marsh Girl. As an abandoned young child, she sets her sights on survival and begins by mimicking the things she had seen her parents do and when her circumstances changed, she found another way. She learned how to take care of herself and (mostly) preferred being on her own in the marsh. Where the Crawdads Sing has murder, mystery, abuse, and romance carrying the story forward, and all the while showing the development and growth of Kya’s character.
Her life had always been difficult, even heart-breaking at times, but Kya found bits of happiness throughout her life and those moments made my heart soar for her.
The ending held surprises that I didn’t see coming, it left me speechless, heart-broken, and in tears. This book is extremely well-crafted, and the narrator read this story as if it was her personal story to tell, giving it an intimate feel. I will read everything Delia Owens ever writes; she is an auto-buy author for me
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
I absolutely adore this series! This is one of the most imaginative worlds I’ve ever entered. Who doesn’t want to enroll at Hogwarts?! I’m a Ravenclaw, by the way.
Reading about Harry’s troubled childhood is heartbreaking but it’s a magical ride watching as his life begins to change and blossom once he learns about his abilities and the truth about his parents. There’s adventure, danger, mystery, suspense, and intrigue woven into each novel in this series.
J.K. Rowling has created relatable characters, imaginative creatures, and a world full of the kind of magic that makes your heart flutter and believe as if you were a child again.
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games is another series that was impossible to choose just one book as a favorite. I was intrigued by the detailed worlds, characters, and, of course, The Hunger Games, themselves. For me, this story is strongly driven by the world in which the characters are constantly forced to react to.
Being chosen to participate in The Hunger Games is showcased to be an honor, however, each contestant is forced to fight for their lives on a brutal battlefield full of deadly creatures and the actual world itself is full of surprises. Alliances are formed and broken. All for their to be only one person to walk away with their life.
The plot moves at a steady pace, throwing in surprises and twists, holding your interest from start to finish.
Roots by Alex Haley
Roots is one of my all time favorite books. The author shares the story of his families’ history all the way back to 1767. You cannot talk about this book in terms of characters and plot, it’s a real-life, emotional retelling of human spirit and courage.
Back in his home of Juffure in The Gambia, West Africa, at 16, Kunta Kinte is abducted, chained, shipped to Maryland, and then sold to a Virginia planter. His confusion and fear jump off the page forcing the reader into a front row seat to slavery in America.
Kunta’s life is explored in these pages as he enters slavery, lives as a slave, and searches for his freedom. This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read, and I am honored to know his story.
Alex Haley traced back through many generations to find his roots and in writing this Pulitzer Prize winning book, he created a phenomenal piece of historical literature.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
I listened to this on audiobook, the narrator injected such life into each character that it was impossible not to binge this book.
The author researched the Kentucky Pack Horse library service and shared this part of history that I had never heard of, these impressive book women. These were women who gathered whatever reading materials they could from the library and set out on their specific routes to deliver them to the people who lived away from town. They bravely trekked along the Appalachias to deliver books to their customers, as well as a dose of life they would never have experienced otherwise.
The people of troublesome Creek are poor and have to scrape everything they need from nothing, to get by. Cussy, the main character, is a book woman of color, she’s blue and thought to be the last of her kind. She believes that education is key and takes her job very seriously. She teaches some to read, reads to others, and makes friends along the way; all while facing her own hardships and prejudices.
I was so captivated by this book that I had to buy a copy so I could see the pictures and reread it in physical form! The combination of story and facts makes this an unforgettable book!
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
This was my first introduction to Neil Gaiman and I was caught up in this story and its characters from the start. I loved the characters, the worlds, the magic system, and every twist and turn that was tossed in.
I listened to this on audio and found the narrator to be very entertaining. I felt as if I had entered into a journey every time I pressed play. London Above and London Below became real places as Richard Mayhew attempts to help his new friends as well as try to find a way back home.
You’ll find magic, intrigue, mystery, and adventure on every page!
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
In the description of this book, it states that you will meet the dog that teaches us how to be human, that statement could not be more accurate.
I felt all the feels while reading this book, I laughed, worried, celebrated, and I cried.
The Art of Racing in the Rain is about family, loyalty, and love. It gives you hope and allows you to see the value/spirit of a family dog as a member of the family (if you don’t see them that way to begin with). The relationship between a dog and their people is a strong bond of understanding, caring, and giving. Dogs give unconditionally. It’s what they do. And this book shows what happens when people give back.
Enzo (the dog) is the narrator and I think that aspect added a level of emotion to the book that it wouldn’t have had if it would have been told from the perspective of Denny (the human).
I understand the bond between humans and their pets (my dog is one of the best people I have ever known), they will be by your side regardless of what’s going on in your life, their love is unconditional, making their presence one of the most priceless relationships you can enter.
The End of Echoes by Dawn Hosmer
An emotional family drama that forces you into the worst nightmare imaginable for most parents, a missing child. The author created characters that are realistic in every way; their emotions, thoughts, fears, anger, confusion, etc… these are some of the most realistic characters I’ve encountered in a book in a long time.
The event rollercoaster the parents ride through this story is told with spot on emotion and intensity. If I didn’t know better, I would think the author had lived this before in order to write it so well. I felt invested in the story, as if the ending would actually have an impact on my life.
The Wife and the Widow by Christian White
“If we don’t talk about the monsters in this world, we won’t be ready for them when they jump out from under the bed.” This is a quote from the book I believe really says a lot about the plot. After reading this line, I could tie it to countless events throughout the story.
Told in a dual timeline format, one being that of a wife and the other, a widow. The author wrote from the point of view of these two strong women seamlessly. He brought their intuition and emotion into their actions and thoughts, as well as, show how women want to stand in front of their families and guard them from danger. No matter who poses the threat.
The characters were well developed and led lives that could be relatable (outside their conflict, anyway). The setting was vividly written, making me feel like I was reading about a real town and real people. The pacing was spot on, full of twists and turns, peaks and valleys, keeping my curiosity turned all the way up. Every time I felt like maybe I know who did what, something would happen that made me question everything I know.
This kind of storytelling creates lifelong readers. I could not turn the pages fast enough; I believe this is one of the first must-reads of the year and a predicted top favorite for 2020