2019 was a complicated reading year. I read various praiseworthy novels, short story and poetry collections. In terms of genres, my reading was as varied, featuring classics, literary fiction, fantasy and myth retellings, for example. So far, I’ve read 34 books and will probably finish another one in the following days. However, I decided not to finish eight books, a number higher than ever before, if I’m not mistaken.
This was also the year when I chose to reread a book again after probably decades without doing so. Thus, I had to decide whether to include rereads in my favourite books of the year or not from now on. I decided against it. This post only includes books that I read for the first time during the year, irrespective of date of publication.
I don’t tend to rate books with five stars very often, because they need to be completely flawless for that to happen. This year I only rated one book with five stars, and it was the one that I reread – O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago. The majority of the books that I rate with four stars are still great, though. Some of the five books that I selected as my favourites of 2019 are indeed almost perfect, in my opinion. In reverse order, they are:
A gothic novel about obsession and revenge, Wuthering Heights is compelling and enthralling, strangely thanks to its despicable but believable characters. One of them is Heathcliff. Mr Earnshaw found him on the streets of Liverpool when he was just a boy and decided that he was going to live with him and his children at Wuthering Heights. While he was looked down on by Hindley, he grew very close to Catherine. An unhealthy fascination led him to embark on a long-term reprisal scheme.
The second book in the Neapolitan Novels is a compelling story, full of conflicting emotions, which delves into class, equality and social mobility. Elena and Lila’s friendship faces new challenges, as they grow up.
After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan moved in with her aunt and uncle, who owned Jamaica Inn. She soon realised that he was involved in a smuggling business. Was that his only crime? In various occasions, there is a believable dangerous atmosphere. The interactions between the characters feel truly real, particularly those between Mary and Jem Merlyn.
The first book in a fantasy series, Assassin’s Apprentice is a story of court intrigue and lust for power that amazingly depicts human emotions. It’s narrated by Fitz, who at six years old was left by his grandfather at the castle of the town where they lived in. He was the bastard son of the Crown Prince, Chivalry. Some years later, he started being trained as an assassin in secret.
Circe is a retelling of an Ancient Greek myth that reads like a fictional memoir. It believably explores the meaning of love and the fear of losing someone. Circe, the daughter of the god of sun, Helios, and the nymph Perse, was sentenced to exile after using witchcraft against her own kind. Her emotions throughout the novel are tangible.