What has everyone been reading and loving? Dymocks gave us the answer yesterday when they released a list of the top 101 favourite books of 2019. As premature as it seems to be making this decision in March, I love a list as much as the next person, and a book list a little more.
The most popular books, as voted by 11,500 Australian booklovers were:
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
- Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (last year’s winner)
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (the 2016 and 2017 winner)
- Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
Some classics – Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Handmaid’s Tale, alongside Jane Harper’s The Dry and The Lost Man, rounded out the top 10.
Three of the top five books were by Australian authors, while women made up 54 of the top 101 books.
One thing the list tells me is that I am by no means original in my reading choices – I have read four of the top five books, and 31 from the entire list. Many others are on my tbr pile, or my mental list of books I’d love to read.
My favourites books in the list
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I really liked the winning book, more than I have liked the past two winners. Eleanor Oliphant is easy to read, tender and moving. It’s an easy book to recommend because it is hard to imagine anyone not enjoying Eleanor’s story.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Last year I read all the books in Ferrante’s Neopolitan series, and I loved them. The characters were complex and the setting of a poor area in Naples was beautifully drawn. These books proved to be a little addictive, and I was at a loss when I finished them.
Circe by Madeline Miller
This book introduced me to the ancient classics, as it is based on Homer’s Odyssey. However, Miller’s book was far more accessible than the books which inspired it, and it takes the focus from Odysseus to the witch, Circe. I loved the combination of modern sensibility with ancient myth.
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
In many ways, this was the perfect book. It tackled contemporary issues, while remaining loyal to the story of Sophocle’s Antigone, on which it was based. The story was a pleasant read until that startling ending that changed the goal posts.
Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend
This book was as readable and enjoyable for adults as it was for my 10-year-old niece. Its heroine Morrigan Crow is saved from an early death by a stranger who takes her to a magical place where she must compete for a place in the secret society. The follow up, Wundersmith is on my tbr pile.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
While its author is annoyingly young to have written such a gorgeous novel, it is hard not to love Normal People. The story follows an unlikely couple through school and university, and explores the complicated dynamics of their relationship through this awkward and important time of life. Rooney’s brilliance lies in how she captures human nature, and the ways in which relationships can twist and turn as a result of internal and external pressures and circumstances.
The Nowhere Child by Christian White
Christian White’s debut novel is set between the US and Australia, after a woman is told she was the child who was stolen from her home in America. She returns to find out what happened, and uncovers the dark secrets of the community from which she was stolen. It is an irresistible premise that is delivered expertly by White.