As 2019 ends (ended) and we’re 3 days into 2020, I have been busy writing to share the books the fall into the best of the year. Reading 111 books isn’t bad, but makes it somewhat of a challenge to narrow down my favorites into just one post, like I did last year. But when have almost 30 books in one genre to choose from (29 classics read in 2019) I thought this would be a better way to balance things out.
So let’s get started. The next in my ‘best of 2019’ series will come in installments (posts) over the next week or 2 — fiction, non-fiction and audiobooks.
THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison
“A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes.”
How I managed to read several of Morrison’s books I borrowed from my library while this one lingered on my shelf, I am almost embarrassed to admit. The Bluest Eye jump started my reading year, setting the bar high for what qualifies as memorable must reads. Morrison pierced a very deep part of my heart with this book. I plan to read the remainder of Morrison from my shelf in 2020, A Mercy, Tar Baby, and recently added, The Measure of Our Lives.
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith
“Everything struggles to live. Look at that tree growing up there out of that grating. It gets no sun, and water only when it rains. It’s growing out of sour earth. And it’s strong because its hard struggle to live is making it strong. My children will be strong that way.”
Through the eyes of Francie Nolan, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is a book I now understand why it’s beloved by many. One I didn’t read in my childhood, but one I’m glad I found on my reading journey. Aunt Sissy is also unforgettable and in my opinion, everyone wants an aunt like her.
ROOTS by Alex Haley
“What are slaves? Why are some people slaves and others not?”
February 2019 was the year for tackling this chunkster. Not to mention how to the experience is enriched when read and discussed along the way. This was my first conversation style post on the blog, something I hope to repeat in 2020. Roots begins in 1750 with the birth of Omoro and Binta Kinte’s first son, Kunta, named after his honored grandfather who is thought to have saved the village of Juffure from a famine. We follow Kunta for the majority of the book but when we are separated from him, I longed to know what happened to him.
THE BLACKER THE BERRY by Wallace Thurman
“They are human beings first and only white or black incidentally.”
The Blacker the Berry was my book pick for Our African-American Reads with blogger Melanie @ Grab the Lapels. This book made me think about what it means to live in the skin I’m born with. How living in that skin can be an issue for others, to the point that it effects us, mentally and emotionally. One might say, we’ve come a long way from the period this book was set, but examining matters through the eyes of Emma Lou Morgan, our main character, made me wonder if that’s a true statement. In 2020, I’d like to get back on track with this reading project and invite others to join.
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO by Alexandre Dumas
“For there are two distinct sorts of ideas, those that proceed from the head and those that emanate from the heart.”
The longest book of the year but a memorable experience. Did I mention paleness and falling out of chairs on my journey with the Count? Check out the letter I wrote him.
ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy
“And the candle by the light of which she had been reading that book filled with anxieties, deceptions, grief and evil, flared up brighter than ever, lit up for her all that had once been in darkness, sputtered, grew dim, and went out for ever.”- Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
Published serially from 1873 to 1877, Anna Karenina is regarded as one of Leo Tolstoy’s most notable works. In the opening pages of the book, we’re presented with the effects of betrayal, marital unfaithfulness, and disappointment. Anna Karenina is long but reads quickly, much more accessible than another book I read by Tolstoy (side eyes 🙄War and Peace). I think a full review is in order because it *might* be on my Classics Club list.