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1.13.2019

What I'm Reading in 2019: Full List and Favorites

Last year, I was a reading machine. 100 books in 365 days. This year, I'm taking it down a notch. My goal is one new book per week. I figure some weeks I'll read more, some less.

I'll keep a running list of all of my 2019 reads here, but make sure I tell you a bit more about my favorites. So, let's get started:

Favorite Books of 2019:
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Every actress is going to want to play Daisy Jones. This character is wonderful, horrible, talented and tragic. I know that Reese Witherspoon has already optioned it, and even as I zipped through the book, I also can't help but anticipate how it will play out on screens. A stunning landscape of 1970's culture, particularly Hollywood and the music scene.


Daisy Jones & The Six
All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I love reading books set in places that I'm traveling while I'm there. So, when I had two weeks planned in France for World Cup, I asked friends for recommendations about books set in France. Overwhelmingly, I heard: All the Light You Cannot See. I'm not usually big on books about war, and at times this was a tough read because of the brutality. But, ultimately it's the story of a German boy and a French girl caught up in the war and how their lives intersect across miles and years. I became so engrossed in it that when I got home, I basically stayed in and read until I finished it.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
I read this book in less than 24 hours. If anyone had told me the whole book is a novel told in poems, I probably would have passed. But, the main character, Xiomara sucks you in fast. I was invested. She's coming of age as a first generation American student. Grappling with family problems, religion, falling in love for the first time, and finding her passions. I got choked up. And inspired. [NOTE: This is a great read for the young adults/teens in your life also.]
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin

I basically spent 30 chapters choked up. Listen, I'm not one for emotional, heart-wrenching reads. I like escapism and things that make me smile. I picked up Love You Hard on the recommendation of a mutual friend of the author. I remember thinking as I started, this thing that happened to them is awful and how can I endure it through to the end. But, the way that Abby tells their story... God. It's not only a tribute to her husband. It's a reality check on the precarious moments of true love that we find in life. It's a goddamned evolution... marriage, friendship, family, rebuilding and getting knocked down again, and still getting back up. A must-read for anyone going through a traumatic brain injury with a loved one, but all caregivers (and non-caregivers will relate.) And, finally, it's such a love letter to Washington, DC. Not the one on your TV, but our beloved neighborhoods, friends, teams, and community. How this city pulled together made my heart happy.

Love You Hard by Abby Maslin

Notes From a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi
Like most Washingtonians, I heard about Chef Onwuachi from his appearances on Top Chef and the controversial opening of Shaw Bijou. I had no expectations about this book and I don't know the Chef personally, so it was really eye-opening to find out the backstory of the restaurant opening. Even more so, I enjoyed getting to know the full life story... from New York City to Nigeria, Louisiana and eventually Washington, DC. I understand more what he was trying to do at Bijou and why it was destined to close (not due to the food.) And, I've certainly found myself at his Kith/Kin more often post-read. If you love food, biographies and/or black history, add this one to your list.
Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

You'll be cheering for 16-year-old aspiring rapper, Bri throughout this book - but I also found myself rooting for her mom, her brother, her aunt and her grandma. On the Come Up is listed as young adult fiction, but it's about family and chasing your long shot dream. You may need Kleenex for the second half. (I definitely did not cry happy tears on a plane.)
On the Come Up

Intercepted
by Alexa Martin

Intercepted is the kind of sweet, fun romance that you want to curl up in bed and finish in one day. Or pack in your beach reads bag. It's the story of a love triangle playing out behind the scenes on an NFL team. Alexa Martin was recommended to me by Jasmine Guillory when I was looking for other modern romances written by women of color. Stoked to say, I'm a fan and anxiously awaiting Martin's next book also.
Intercepted by Alexa Martin

Fumbled by Alexa Martin
Ok, so read Intercepted first -- because Fumbled is kind of a sequel. But, make sure you get them both. You'll be as smitten with TK & Poppy as I was. And, this is the perfect summer read for the pool or beach. Heck, it's not even summer and I finished it in 24 hours. If Jasmine Guillory was my favorite romance author discovery of 2018, Alexa Martin is my favorite of 2019. (I'm now ready to pre-order Blitzed - the third in the series. No pressure, Alexa!)
Fumbled by Alexa Martin

Full List of Books I've Read in 2019

  1. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn - Amazing, courageous story about women spies in the French resistance in WW1
  2. Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller - Frances has been sent to report on a dilapidated mansions gardens and landscapes, but her most interesting find is a peephole into the bedroom below
  3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo - Xiomara is a 15-year old first generation American living in Harlem and navigating family, religion and first loves.
  4. The Truths We Hold: An American Story by Kamala Harris - Loved getting to know this smart, charismatic presidential candidate... and learn how to properly pronounce her name. 
  5. The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir - Creepy, interesting, dark story about what happens behind the scenes of a religious reality show when the youngest daughter turns up pregnant.
  6. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward - Difficult, heartbreaking read about a family in rural Mississippi. 
  7. Tailspin by Sandra Brown - Sexy mystery about the chase for a lifesaving drug
  8. Intercepted by Alexa Martin - Such a cute, romantic story about a love triangle on an NFL franchise team (recommended by Jasmine Guillory, author of The Wedding Date and The Proposal)
  9. The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle - What would happen if you invited six people, dead or alive, to dinner... and they actually came?
  10. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Short, smart read about why it's important for both men and women to care about equality for women and girls
  11. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae - a memoir by one of my favorite actresses 
  12. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - a dystopian futuristic story about a quest to win a video game (that's based in 80's culture)
  13. G'morning, G'night. Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin Manuel Miranda - just adorable and sunshine filled "tweets" that give you a little love to start and close your day
  14. Roomies by Christina Lauren - Sexy, fun and kinda feminist romance about a subway musician and a wannabe writer colliding in New York City's Theater District
  15. Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman - near future dystopia, set in a Midwest zoo. The second half of the book moves at a breakneck pace. 
  16. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite - fun, fast read about a nurse covering up for her gorgeous, but deadly sister
  17. So Here's The Thing by Alyssa Mastromonaco - fun, fast read for aspiring lady bosses and politicos
  18. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - Godfather, but starring girls? Epic family saga centering around two childhood frenemies in rural Italy. 
  19. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Almost Famous vibes as groupie turned star, Daisy Jones, takes on the 1970's LA rock scene
  20. On the Come Up by Angie Thomas - You'll be rooting for aspiring rapper, Bri, from page one. Along for the journey, you'll also cheer for her family and friends.
  21. Diary of an Oxygen Thief by Anonymous - Ugh, what a trash character written by a trash human. Why did I read this? At least it's only 150 pages.
  22. The Matchmaker's List by Sonya Lalli - Such a sweet, fun read. First-generation woman tells her Indian grandmother that she'll let her arrange a marriage for her if she's not hitched by 30. And she's 29 and counting...
  23. An American Duchess by Karen Harper - It was cool to get to know more about American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. She was basically married off for a title at 18, despite being in love with someone else. Over her life, she became a philanthropist and feminist, fighting for women and children in America and her adopted homelands of England and France. 
  24. Radical Candor by Kim Scott - A must-read for entrepreneurs, managers and even employees. Great advice for productive conversations and relationships, at work and beyond.
  25. Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg - I'm reading the books (listening on audio so that I hear it in their own words) of the Democratic contenders for President. Loved Kamala Harris' book last year. This started a bit slow for me, but I'm enjoying hearing about his approach to government... and more so, learning to love the parts that are about being an empathetic leader.
  26.  The Hating Game by Sally Thorne - A smoking hot office romance novel about two office assistants competing for the same job at a publishing house.
  27. One Day in December by Josie Silver - Do you believe in love at first sight? This is a roller coaster of two people who see each other and are instantly smitten... and then it all goes awry for a decade. 
  28. Love You Hard by Abby Maslin - a love evolution that gutted me and inspired me
  29. Fumbled by Alexa Martin - three chapters in and I'm rooting for Poppy & TK
  30. Hate That U Give by Angie Thomas - tragic theme (young black men killed by police), love the heroine 
  31. Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi - really enjoyed getting to know the backstory of this chef based in DC 
  32. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren - such a fun romance about a maid-of-honor and best man who hate each other... and then, twist, end up taking the bride and groom's honeymoon trip together and falling in love. 
  33. The Chef by James Patterson and Max Dilallo - This books entire premise is ridiculous - a police detective who's a chef on the side... and trying to solve for a terrorist plot. I finished it because it's set in New Orleans, a city I love. But, it was just goofy. 
  34. Wine and War: The French, The Nazis and The Battle for France's Greatest Treasures by Donald Kladstrup: Fascinating historical read about the resistance in French wine country during World War Two.
  35. All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: Gutting story of a German boy and a French girl during the span of World War Two. Great read for when you're traveling in France.
So far, so good on my goal of 52 books in 52 weeks and a ratio of 50% authors of color. Leave me your recommendations in the comments or tweet me @tammy. 

Here were my top 10 favorite novels of the 100+ books I read in 2018.

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