It’s safe to say reading and books have captured the imagination of hundreds this year.
And they all said print was dying because of social media…
Bookstagram has absolutely stolen the show and it’s certainly impacted the sort of content I’m creating recently. In fact, most of my spare time is spent reading books these days, probably because nobody seems to be regularly blogging anymore. This year alone I’ve clocked up 19 titles on my list – thanks for helping me track, Goodreads! – and with holiday season approaching, I thought I’d share my top reads of 2019 so far. You can see what’s on my summer 2019 reading list too.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
I first shelved this book in 2017 and downloaded it via Kindle Unlimited as soon as I spotted it was available.
It is by far one of the best books I’ve ever read, which is a dramatic statement, but true nonetheless. Pachinko follows the story of one family through eight generations and is a masterful telling of the Japanese impact on Korea during the war.
But don’t let the historical fiction, wartime theme deter you: this is a wonderfully emotive, captivating tale that I digested within days. I’d postpone dinner, stay up late and wake up early just to get an additional dose of this glorious story. Sunja is born to a normal Korean family and through a series of events, she winds up pregnant and unable to be with her child’s father.
Pachinko follows Sunja’s journey as the struggles of the war catch up to her family, as familial secrets are revealed and as her family grows and grows in ways she’d never imagine.
What I adored most about Pachinko is that it rung so strongly with beautiful messages that’ll stay with me forever. Lee isn’t afraid to delve deep into the nuanced issues that come with navigating post-war life and isn’t afraid of exploring these themes across as many pages as required – there’s no rushed start, middle or end, just a deliciously well-written story that you’ll savour every last word of.
Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker
When Sara Tasker – Instagram extraordinaire and creator of the Instagram course, Bloom & Grow – announced she was releasing a book, I was beyond excited. I absolutely love Sara’s honest, helpful content and knew I wanted to get my hands on it, but I must admit I was a little worried that I’d be let down as so many social media creator books have previously done.
Well, friends, Hashtag Authentic is absolutely worth investing in if you share the same appetite for creativity as I do.
Whilst my content creation is, of course, primarily rooted in writing, there’s no doubt that I really enjoy shooting and editing for Instagram. I enjoyed a brilliant period of growth on there at the start of the year but it’s started to tail off and even decline, so I loved gaining Sara’s tips to enhance my creativity and make little switches to the way I approach both the app and the way I create. Totally worth investing in.
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
Murakami continues to be one of my favourite authors, so it’s no surprise that I’m about to spend the next paragraph raving about Killing Commendatore.
Reading this title was certainly a labour of love. The hardback copy is sooo heavy and it became my at-home read for nigh on four months. A surreal, almost dystopian tale of one man who’s newly divorced from his wife, the story takes you on a serenely wild ride through a world where nothing is as it seems, a well-dressed man is constantly seen looking onto the neighbourhood with binoculars, a ringing bell mysteriously sounds from the ground.
I don’t think my words can do the story justice, so take my word for it and see the full synopsis here.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I raved about Homegoing a few months ago, but it really was a standout book for me in 2019. Part of Bee’s Patreon Book Club, Homegoing took me by surprise and I instantly recommended it to everyone I knew.
Not dissimilar from Pachinko, this book tells a story across several generations, of love, loss, hope and courage. Set on the Gold Coast and beyond, it was my first real foray into African literature and it just took my breath away. There were dozens of inflections that’ll stay with me forever and it sparked a real curiosity in me to discover more books in the genre.
The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O’Neill
The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a magical, grimy story that follows two orphans as they fall into a dark underworld reality. Full of theatrics, clowns, drugs, love, heartbreak and loss throughout, the book cleverly walks a fine line between magic and realism, and kept me gripped page by page.
I’d preface any delve into this novel with trigger warnings for just about everything from abandonment to suicide to rape. O’Neill doesn’t hold back in exploring these more complex themes in a nuanced manner that felt authentic to the story throughout. However, they crop up pretty much from the get-go, so it was certainly worth me pointing out. I did feel the novel fell flat towards the end, but it didn’t take away from what is one of my favourite reads from 2019 so far.
Have you read any of these titles yet?