This post contains affiliate links.
In 2019, I set a goal to read 26 books. I surprised myself by reading 32 books. This year I decided to do something different and recap my favorites on the blog. I was surprised that my top three weren’t books about WWII (my favorite historical period to read about), but don’t worry, the last five are in that time period. Here are the 8 best books I read this year.
#1 – The Silent Patient
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is outside of my normal reading, but I can’t recommend this psychological, suspense thriller highly enough. A woman kills her husband, and her psychiatrist is obsessed with her and finding out why she did what she did. The end will shock you, and you likely won’t see it coming. I didn’t!
#2 – Purple Hibiscus
I likely wouldn’t have picked up Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on my own, so I’m glad Bookworm’s class assigned it and that I chose to read it, too. Set in Kenya, the story is about a family who is very successful on the outside, but struggles mightily in private, especially since the father is abusive. This book, which taught me about Kenya, was painful to read and yet so inspiring in the end.
#3 – Educated by Tara Westover
Wow. I had heard about Educated by Tara Westover, but it was really nothing like I expected. Survivalists “Gene” and “Faye” have seven children; Westover is the youngest. Her father clearly suffers from mental illness and her abusive brother seems to, too. Yet against these odds, Westover goes on to earn a prestigious college education and become an academic.
#4 – Cilka’s Journey
Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris tells the fictionalized story of Cilka, a woman who survived three years in Auschwitz only to be deemed an enemy of the Soviet Union and put in a Siberian work camp. Cilka’s story is a remarkable one.
#5 – White Chrysanthemum
How We Disappeared (#7) inspired me to read White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht, a book about a Korean woman, Hana, who is kidnapped to become a comfort woman. This story doesn’t just focus on Hana’s experience, but also her younger sister, Emi. Thanks to Hana’s bravery, the men who kidnap Hana do not kidnap Emi. Emi lives with the guilt for the rest of her life.
#6 – Claiming My Place by Planaira Price
Claiming My Place tells the story of Gucia Gomolinska, a Jewish girl who lives in Poland in 1939. When Germany invades Poland and the restriction tighten on Jews, Gucia decides to become Danuta Barbara Tanska, a Catholic Pole. Amazingly, for 3.5 years Gucia is able to continue this ruse, even working in Germany at one point in time! This story is one of hope and determination and is inspirational.
#7 – How We Disappeared
How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee told a side of WWII that I never knew about. The main character, Wang Di is living in Singapore during the Japanese occupation. While she lived a comfortable, sheltered life, at 17, the Japanese kidnapped her to become a “comfort woman”, which is a nice name for a horrible existence. I loved, loved, loved this book. It would be my favorite for the entire year except that I was highly dissatisfied with the ending.
#8 – Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Henry in Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, is a 12 year old Chinese boy who falls for his Japanese classmate, Keiko. Normally, this would be a sweet part of his childhood. However, he is living in San Francisco during WWII, and California had branded all Japanese Americans the enemy. Despite the odds, Henry stays loyal to Keiko.
What was the best book you read this year?