Top Five Books Read in 2019

Most of the books I read in 2019 were unremarkable or just plain bad. I don’t even remember reading the first 10 or so because I was in and out of the hospital with my son and going through the postpartum haze. But there were a few notable ones (in no particular order):

  1. The Three and Day Four by Sarah Lotz. I cheated a little bit because these are two books in the same series, so I’m counting them as one. They were so absorbingly creepy, and the author had a different sort of writing style that sucked me in. I already wrote about them here and here.
  2. The Dogs of March by Ernest Hebert. I already wrote about it here. What else can I say? It’s a classic.
  3. Donnie Brasco by Joseph Pistone. This is a real-life account of an FBI agent’s undercover years as a member of the Italian Mafia. Yes, there’s a movie, but I highly doubt I ever see it. The book was fascinating from a psychological perspective. Pistone has balls of steel. Read the book to find out why!
  4. The First Confessor by Terry Goodkind. This one had its faults, but overall, it was a good solid fantasy novel. It is part of a series, but you don’t have to read the other books to understand what’s going on. Goodkind always gets hate from fantasy fans, and I’m not sure why. His worldbuilding makes a lot more sense, and his stories (to me) are much easier to get into.
  5. The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak. Set in the South in the 1950s, this book was about a woman who works for a prison, preparing meals for the inmates. She’s got some crazy stuff in her backstory, but everything is resolved neatly and poignantly at the end. I can’t say exactly why I liked this book; it was just a good, entertaining story. The recipes and descriptions of food throughout will make you hungry, too.

Saturday Shout-Outs

I spend a lot of time talking about myself, so here’s a post in which I talk about my favorite blogs and the awesome people who write them instead. (These are all in my “I Endorse These Blogs” list.) I try to keep my favorite blog list current, so I have a bunch of favorites that aren’t on the list only because their owners have not updated them. I keep hoping they’ll come back!

Anthony Lee Collins

Anthony writes about a variety of subjects (movies, music, writing, etc.) and is posting a story called “the town hall mystery.” Always something good and interesting to be found here.

Blessed Is She

A lifestyle blog geared toward Catholic women. The Blessed Is She company also sells some very nice (but I’ll admit, very expensive) liturgical planners.

Conversational Italian! and Learn Travel Italian

These two sites are owned by my cousin, who is the Italian guru in the family. If you want to learn how to speak Italian, look no further! There are also recipes and cooking tips for those of you who love Italian cuisine. If you don’t want to refer to a blog and would rather look at a book, you can also purchase a handy guide (or two) to the Italian language.

Cover Critics

Similar to the Lousy Book Covers site I talk about below, but the authors of this blog critique book covers and give suggestions for improvement. Very useful to self-published authors who need a good idea of what to do and what not to do when creating a cover.

Dominus Pars Haereditatis Meae

This blog belongs to Fr. Angel, a Roman Catholic priest. It’s mostly a Q&A blog, where the confused masses of Tumblr ask him for advice on all kinds of matters. He gives fair, honest answers that are in line with church teaching.

Fantasy Novels by Bridgett

Bridgett posts her fantasy novels on her blog, as well as writing updates. She is persistent and talented; her stuff is well worth checking out.

Florence in Print

I’ve been following Florence for a long time, and her posts make me happy because they are so aesthetically pleasing. She does book and movie reviews and posts about writing advice. Highly recommended.

Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Kristen’s blog is very popular because it’s filled with humorous advice on the writing and publishing world. She tells it like it is, and she speaks from experience, having published books of her own.

Look to Him and Be Radiant

This is one of the best Catholic blogs out there, and it was a huge help to me back when I taught third and fourth grade religious education. The blog’s owner, Katie, teaches at a Catholic school and has a ton of great resources. Her stuff is gorgeous, and there’s lots of Fulton Sheen fangirling. 🙂

Lousy Book Covers

Honestly, I keep this site on my list because it’s hilarious to look through when you’re bored and want a reminder of what the cover of your self-published book should NOT look like.

Michael Edits

Need an expert editor? Michael is your man. This isn’t a blog per se, but I keep it on my list because I admire Michael’s mad skills.

On the Catholic Priesthood

A Catholic blog dedicated to St. John Vianney, patron saint of Catholic priests. I wrote about him here, when his relics were in town. Most of the blog is material from other sources, so I keep it on my list for my own reference.

Rachel Poli

I love Rachel’s writing blog because it is so well organized. She puts a lot of work into keeping it running and having a consistent flow of content. She recently published her book of short stories on Amazon as well.

Rod Dreher

Rod is the author of The Benedict Option (highly recommended), and his blog can sometimes be controversial because much of it is pointing out the crazy stuff the left side of the political world (and sometimes the Trump side) is doing these days.

Simcha Fisher

Simcha literally wrote the book on NFP, and she writes about that and many other topics (Catholic related) on her blog. I like her style because she is realistic and tells the truth without sugar-coating or being condescending.

Sushi Writes About Things

Sushi is a ridiculously prolific NaNoWriMo guru and something of a celebrity in the NaNo-verse. She’s always writing (or Tweeting) about something interesting.

Test Everything

A Catholic blog run by an old friend of my husband’s. Deacon Matthew is insightful, informative, and wise beyond his years. He posts homilies, musings on being a deacon, and some very good apologetics.

The Office of Letters and Light

The official NaNoWriMo blog! A must-follow if you’re into NaNo. Here you can find writing tips and pep talks galore.

Used Books

I have been a fan of Vickie since way back in the 90s when she kept websites related to the old computer game series Petz. This link is to her DeviantArt page, where she posts a well-drawn comic called Used Books and some adorable pictures of her pet rats.

Victoria Writes

Victoria is a published author from England. She posts about the books she has read and of course, her own books. I like her blog because the pictures she publishes with her posts make me happy.

Writers in the Storm

Great writing advice, and one of the blogs I’ve been following for the longest time (actually since I joined WordPress). Always good content, and it’s kept current, which is rare to find.

If It Brings Joy

In general, I don’t like “stuff.” Clothes shopping is a rare occasion for me. I can’t remember the last time I bought jewelry, knickknacks, or something that was a want and not a need.

So you’d think I’d be an adherent to Marie Kondo’s philosophy of getting rid of things that don’t bring joy. In an ideal world in which I live in my own neat little bubble, I would be, but it’s hard when I have a husband who is a pack rat and a baby who will naturally accumulate tons of clothes, bottles, books, toys, and other accessories. (I’m dreading the days when I have to avoid stepping on Legos and K’nex!)

Books are probably the physical object I love the most, if I had to pick something. Not only are they useful, they are decorative. Little is more aesthetically pleasing to me than an organized bookshelf. Notebooks and journals are also difficult to part with, even if they’ve never been written in. They are essentially books and have that same pleasing aesthetic quality.

But the sad fact remains that books take up space, which is a precious and rare commodity in our apartment. So I pared my book collection down to only 30. To be honest, it wasn’t all that difficult. Every reader has books in his collection that are destined to be sitting on the shelf for years, never read and never touched. Probably 90% of my books fell into that category.

Every reader also has books that, for whatever reason, he will never part with and would probably be buried with, if given the opportunity. Those were the 30 books I kept. Only two were fiction (both by William Faulkner). The others were writing related and other nonfiction. Religious books didn’t count because my husband wanted to keep most of them; I think if I had included religious books in my 30, it would have been a lot harder to choose only 30. I did cheat a little by keeping two “keepsake” books and another written by a friend, but all three are pretty small and won’t take up much room. 🙂

Is it easy or hard for you to part with physical things?