My favourite books of 2019!

With just two days left of 2019 I’m taking a look back on my reading year.

I had a great start to the year, a fantastic March – with a really successful Reading Ireland Month – and an even better summer, where I completed my 20 Books of Summer challenge and loads of you joined in! It all went a bit downhill from there and some health issues meant that I really didn’t blog much in the last few months.

Thankfully though, my reading was pretty consistent all year.  I had set a target of 100 books on Goodreads and have, up to today, read 104, which I am really pleased with.

I didn’t have too much trouble reading 100 books (I thought I might) so I’ll set that as my target again for the coming year.

As I don’t read just newly published books, I’ve broken my end of year list down into three sections: best newly published books, best from the 746 and best books by Irish authors.

Which is just a cheeky way of having a Top 15 Books of the Year, rather than a Top 10, but that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

So, here are the books I’ve enjoyed most this year, with links in the titles to either my reviews or their Goodreads descriptions.

Top Five Books published in 2019


This Young Monster by Charlie Fox

Flames by Robbie Arnott

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Red Word by Sarah Henstra


Top Five Books from the 746

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky

Night Waking by Sarah Moss

Are You Somebody? by Nuala O’Faolain

Hangover Square  by Patrick Hamilton

Amongst Women by John McGahern


Top Six Irish Books (cheating slightly!)


Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry

Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor

Constellations by Sinead Gleeson

The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey

The Jewel by Neil Hegarty


Special Mention


Special mention must also go to All the Devils are Here by David Seabrook, which I just finished yesterday and which doesn’t fit into any of these categories, but which was one of the books I was most intrigued by this year. Part memoir, part literary history of Kent, this was a book that defied categorisation and was completely unlike anything I’ve ever read. It also has, hands down, the best cover art of the year!

2020 Plans!

Looking forward to 2020, I feel like I need to reset and keep my plans relatively straightforward. I feel like I have found a good balance in the first half of this 2019 and really enjoyed the structure of new features such as Northern Exposure, focusing on literature from Northern Ireland and my Monthly Miscellany round ups. Both of these will continue into 2020.

I plan to take part in The 1920 Club in April, organised by Simon of Stuck in a Book and Karen of Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, the Japanese Literature Challenge hosted by Dolce Belleza and the RIP Challenge & Non-Fiction November later in the year.

In terms of my own challenges, Reading Ireland Month will return in March along with 20 Books of Summer in June.

Last year I set myself a challenge to get the 746 down into the 400s. I didn’t quite make it, but I was close, so I hope to focus more on reading from my TBR again in 2020.

As I enter my seventh year of blogging (7 years!) I am looking forward to seeing what 2020 brings.

Are you taking part in any interesting reading challenges that I haven’t heard about yet? Will anyone be participating in Reading Ireland Month or 20 Books of Summer?

I do look forward to reading along with you all in the coming year.

Happy New Year!

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Ireland Month The 746

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

68 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Without your recommendations and spur to read the books you mention, I’d have much more time to do other things, like shopping, walking, watch television and be up to date with what’s happening. My shelves are laden with books I buy that you spur me to read, a long list of books to borrow from the library, bedside books toppling to the floor, and a constant feeling that I am running to keep up. The answer is to stop reading your blogs, but of course, I can’t do that. How can I make more time in the day? How do you manage so many books, a blog and a life?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 104 is amazing! I had a slower than usual year, but still full of great books!
    I read The Red Word last year and found it really thought-provoking. It also made me really glad that my kids won’t be going to university in the US!

    Happy New Year!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats on hitting your target of reading 100 books this year, Cathy – that’s great. It looks as if you’ve read some belters this too – quality as well as quantity, always a bonus. Lovely to see Hangover Square on your list, one of my personal favourites and a true 20th century classic. (I don’t think I’ll ever encounter a character quite like George Harvey Bone again!) Of the others in your selection, the John MacGahern really appeals, as does Sinead Gleeson’s memoir. I’ve been reading a little more non-fiction recently, so we’ll see. Maybe I’ll get a chance to read it next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Looking forward to seeing what comes of the Japanese challenge, I love Japanese and Korean literature. Seven years is good going, congratulations, that takes a lot of staying power. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great reads all and I will have Girl, Woman, Other in my top 10 I am pretty sure. I am still reading two books so not doing my best of until 1 Jan – however Christmas Incomings post is coming!

    I will be doing 20 Books of Summer of COURSE. Apart from that, my own Paul Magrsathon, got the first book ready to go and have done my pre-read for that. Then I will try to do Reading Ireland if I have anything on the TBR for it, I know I can do Australia Month as I have an Aussie book I bought this month (naughtily and dangerously but I couldn’t leave it there), and I will be doing Ali’s Daphne du Maurier readalong as I have both the Rebecca I won from her and a Jamaica Inn I was given in a secret santa. Will try to do Kaggsy and Simon’s Years, again, if I have the books on the TBR. Good girl.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Happy New Year, Cathy and well done for reading over a 100 books! That’s amazing! I wish you more great reading in 2020 and good luck with the challenges you will be taking part in. Next year, I am looking forward to continuing with my Classics Club list, and to taking part in 10 Books of Summer, Nonfiction November and What’s in a Name. I am also contemplating trying out Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for the first time. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well done on completing your GR challenge, looks like I will miss mine by 2. Girl, Woman other by Bernardine Evaristo is a fantastic book, and is a contender for my own list, I am finalising and writing it tomorrow. My 2020 reading plans will also be fairly straightforward. I feel like I need to read more, I just have so many books.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Happy New Year Cathy. My reading hasn’t overlapped much with yours. Maybe I’m too far away. Re Irish authors, i read McGahern’s Amongst Women a few years back. Gosh wasn’t he a wonderful writer? I also loved the Booker prize winning “Milkman”, and for Christmas have been given Mary Costello’s “The River Capture” I’m in burning OZ and looking forward to the second book by a very new author, Sarah Clutton which is due out in a few days. Very best wishes for 2020, the kind of vision needed for readers!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been setting my GR goal at 100 books for a couple of years now: I find it easy enough to achieve and then I forget about it which is a good thing. (I”m not quite blasé enough to ignore the GR Challenge completely, which is daft, I know. But for me, it’s the challenge I do when I’m not doing any challenges).
    Happy reading for 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congrats on making – and exceeding – your reading goal. That’s a good feeling! And I can see where you’d need to cheat a little on the Irish books category. When one reads so widely in a given vein, it’s much harder to pick and choose (especially when you’re also aware of the desire to draw attention to the writers in a corner of the world that is sometimes overlooked!). I like the combo of looking back and looking ahead too – it’s like that for voracious readers.


  11. I just added you on Goodreads – how were we not friends on there?!
    This is such a brilliant list! Obviously The Fire Starters and Constellations made mine as well and I see so many that I’m dying to read soon (Girl Woman Other, Visitation, The Red Word, Amongst Women).
    I’m already making plans for Reading Ireland Month!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I haven’t read most of these but I really loved The Dutch House, and I also loved Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss so I really want to read more by her. One of my absolute favorite books this year was Irish, Asking for It by Louise O’Neill. Wishing you a happy 2020!


  13. Looks like you’ve had a terrific, varied reading year Cathy.
    For the first time I broke the 100 books (I think I got to 106) – I almost set 100 as my target on Goodreads for 2020 but decided against it on the basis that I had an unusual amount of spare time in 2019 (finished study and was looking for a job for part of the year) – my circumstances have changed now, so I’ll stick with my target of 77.
    I’m about to start The Dutch House (I’ve been saving it for my week off work!).

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Happy New Year!
    Girl, Woman, Other is on my list to read this year, so I’m glad to see it made your top 5!
    I’m impressed with your 100 books! I’ve set my goal for 50 this year, and read 55 last year. A new reading year is always so exciting, isn’t it? I don’t care much for all of the New Year commotion, but I love starting afresh when it comes to reading. I hope we both have a great year!


  15. Such an enjoyable post, Cathy. Happy New Year!

    I certainly hope to be joining 10/15/20 Books of Summer again this this year. The Reading Irish challenge looks interesting and I took a look at your list of Irish women authors. I’ve thought of reading Maggie O’Farrell before but not got around to doing so. Well you spurred me on and I have bought ‘The Hand That First Held Mine’ and ’I Am, I Am, I Am’. So whether I do that challenge, or not, at least I’m with you in spirit!

    Congrats on your GR reading – I could only dream of reading 100+ ! Last year my target was 50 and I read 65, which was pretty amazing for me. This year I have put the minimal target of 1 as I really want to use it to keep a record of my reading more than anything. I’ve been considering the Classics Club and am gathering books from my shelves to see what I might read for that, it needs a bit more work yet. So I may just sneak in the 1920s challenge in April as a pre-cursor. I have a few commitments up to April so it may work out just right.

    Thank you for your interesting post, it’s given some food for thought!

    Hope you are in better health now and that 2020 brings you joy.


  16. Great list of top 15, though I’ve only read the Nuala O’Faolain. I should read Flames.

    And no, so special challenges for me this year, just, really, the AWW Challenge, and Lisa’s and Bill’s special weeks. I can’t manage anything more, and am impressed at all you bloggers who can!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love finding a loophole in everything, so I appreciate your top 15 list. I will be participating in the 2020 A to Z reading challenge and South Asian Reading challenge this year. Happy new year!


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