Books I’ve Read in 2019 (So Far)

2019 book review Rebecca Spelman

Looking for a 2019 reading list? You’ve come to the right place! Here you’ll find every book I’ve read in 2019. I’ve read everything from fantasy to business, so hopefully there’s something in here that you’ll love reading! I’m going to be updating this article after I finish each book, so make sure to check back every so often for more reviews!

1. The Year of the Hare – Arto Paasilinna

My copy of this book had been on quite a journey before it came to me, according to the stamps and scribbles inside its front cover. It’s only when I started to read did I realise how fitting this was. The Year of the Hare follows a man named Vatanen, who ends up on the side of a road with nothing but a suitcase and an injured hare. Frustrated with how his life has been until now, he decides to start again. The book follows this unlikely duo as they travel around Finland, having adventures and living life one day at a time.
★ ★ ★

2. The Oberon Anthology of Contemporary Irish Plays

I make a lot of theatre, so I’m always trying to get my hands on new plays to read. I was given this book for Christmas, and really enjoyed the opportunity to become more familiar with modern Irish theatre. The book features HEROIN by Grace Dyas; Trade by Mark O’Halloran; The Art of Swimming by Lynda Radley; Pineapple by Phillip McMahon; The Big Deal by Una McKevitt; Oedipus Loves You by Simon Doyle and Gavin Quinn; The Year of Magical Wanking by Neil Watkins; I (Heart) Alice (Heart) I by Amy Conroy. 
★ ★ ★ ★

3. Mr. Salary – Sally Rooney

I was hearing a lot of good things about Sally Rooney around this time, particularly about her latest novel, Normal People. I haven’t read that, and only ended up reading this short story of hers because someone left it in my house. I found it pretty underwhelming, to be honest. It read like bad fanfiction- a young woman who happens to be close with an older, attractive man in a way that would never happen in real life. There’s sexual tension, it builds throughout the entire story, and then suddenly they’ve slept together and the story’s over. Like I said, underwhelming.
★ ★

4. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

I read this because someone asked me if I’d read Sense and Sensibility before, I said no, and they said I absolutely must. About halfway through the first chapter, I realised I actually have read this before. That makes it sound like this book is really forgettable, but it’s actually an enjoyable classic read. The story is about two sisters, Eleanor, and Marianne. One has sense, one has sensibility. Crazy, I know! It’s what you’d expect from an Austen novel- English countryside, romance, and gossip. It doesn’t beat Pride and Prejudice in my opinion, but it’s still very enjoyable.
★ ★ ★ ★

5. The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin

The Stepford Wives is one of those books you always hear about and tell yourself you’ll read. I finally got around to it, and it was brilliant. Despite being written in the ’70s, this story of a housewife trying to figure out the strange goings-on in her strangely perfect neighbourhood is gripping and modern.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

6. The Story of Lucy Gault – William Trevor

During the Irish Civil War, some local men come to the local big house in a Cork village to scare its rich inhabitants into fleeing. The owner of the house, Captain Gault, shoots one of the men in the arm, starting a chain of events that would change the lives of the entire Gault family. The Story of Lucy Gault shows most of the 20th century in Ireland through the eyes of its protagonist, cataloguing a melancholy life that had so many opportunities to go differently. While it isn’t the most upbeat of books, the kindness of its characters makes it a touching read.
★ ★ ★ ★

7. #GIRLBOSS – Sophia Amoruso

As someone in the early stages of running my own business, this book was given to me as a source of inspiration. I’ve been a fan of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of NastyGal and Girlboss Media, for a while now. This book is half-autobiography, half-motivational guide. I’m not sure how interesting it would be to someone who isn’t familiar with Sophia Amoruso, but I found it uplifting.
★ ★ ★

8. Marketing on a Beermat – Chris West

This book was originally published in 2008 and while I’m sure it was a useful resource at the time, it’s in need of an update. Its approach to online marketing hasn’t aged well, and it mentions some resources that can’t be found any more. I understand that books like this don’t always age well, so I think all it would take is for a revised edition to be brought out. I will say though, the beermat concept the title uses is never referred to in the book.
★ ★

9. Lolita – Vladimir Nabrokov

This is a brilliant book on a horrible subject. At multiple points, I found myself feeling conflicted about whether or not I could allow myself to enjoy it because of its subject (spoiler alert: it features a lot of paedophilia). Despite that, it’s a gripping read and I would highly recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

10. A Game of Thrones – George R. R. Martin

I started reading this series when the Game of Thrones TV series met its disappointing end. I’d been a big fan of the show (season eight aside) and wanted to give the original version a go. I loved Martin’s style of writing, and his descriptions reminded me of how much I loved fantastical fiction when I was younger. It’s strange to read the first book in a series when, for the most part, you already know what’s going to happen. Surprisingly, this actually added to my enjoyment of the book. Rather than not being bothered to continue because I know where the story’s going, I’m excited to see how Martin will take me from A to B. I’m definitely going to read the second book in the series.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

11. Crushing It! – Gary Vaynerchuk

I’ve really gone back and forth on the rating I’d give this book. Gary Vaynerchuk (commonly known as Gary Vee) is a famous entrepreneur, known for his love of social media. Crushing It! is a sequel/ follow-up to his 2009 book, Crush It! I enjoyed reading this book, but I don’t think it was particularly helpful. A lot of the book was either hypothetical or stories from other entrepreneurs. This book is aimed at people who want to start and grow a business, but it’s more of a motivational tool than a practical guide to reaching your business goals.

(I wanted to give this book two and a half stars, but I couldn’t find an alt code for half a star. When it came to choosing between two and three stars, I had to go lower.)
★ ★

12. A Clash of Kings – George R. R. Martin

I have to admit that, because I’ve been reading the books in this series so close together, I can’t remember exactly where one book ends and another begins. To be honest though, I’d see this as a sign of how good these books are. As soon as I finished one, I picked up the next. There’s a lot in the books that the TV show never mentions, and these characters and subplots add intrigue as I try to figure out how they fit into the story I already know. The writing style is wonderful; every sentence combines information with art. I’m enjoying this series as a writer as well as a reader. Every time I read a really good book, it inspires me to write well. George R. R. Martin’s writing has made me feel more inspired than I have in quite a while.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

13. The Cargo Ship Diaries – Niall Doherty

If you’ve checked out my blog before, you might know that a dream of mine is to become a digital nomad. A digital nomad is someone who travels the world while working from their laptop; a person like Niall Doherty. The Cargo Ship Diaries was written while Niall crossed the Pacific Ocean on a cargo ship as part of a challenge to go around the world without air travel. His stories of digital nomadism are a real eye-opener, and tell you so much more about this lifestyle than your typical “working from the beach” Instagram post. I’ve read lots of books about personal stories, but they were always people I didn’t know. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Niall, and knowing the person behind the story adds a whole other level to his story. If you’re considering the digital nomad life, you should definitely read this book.
★ ★ ★ ★

14. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

This isn’t the first time I’ve read this book, and it won’t be the last. Memoirs of a Geisha is an incredible novel, following the life of Sayuri as she becomes and flourishes as a geisha in mid-20th century Kyoto. At points, I felt the emotions so intensely that it was hard to keep reading. Embarrassment, despair, fear; whatever Sayuri felt, I felt. There has been some controversy around the accuracy of Golden’s writing, with real-life geisha arguing that their profession has been made to look almost seedy in parts of the book. I don’t know how true-to-life this book is, but it’s a fantastic story all the same.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

15. Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

It can be difficult to enjoy a book as a stand-alone piece of media when you’ve seen the film version multiple times before reading. It doesn’t happen very often, but I have to say that I did prefer the film to the book. While some people might find the writing style punchy and reflective of the narrator’s mental state, I found it unclear. If I hadn’t seen the film, it would have been harder to follow the story. The big plot twist had already been ruined for me because of the film, but that’s not the book’s fault. I have to say, I preferred the book’s ending to the film’s. I feel like the book was alright, but the ideas were really brought to life in the film. Despite that, my rating reflects how I felt about the book on its own, rather than directly comparing it to the film.
★ ★ ★

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