Today I’m sharing some of my favorite books that I’ve read so far in 2019.

I’ve always been a big reader. My parents used to “pay” me to babysit my brother in books. I have memories of going to the bookstore with my mom to pick out books.

I got my love of reading from both of my parents. I saw them reading all the time as a kid, and it clearly rubbed off on me. When we moved from Montreal to Toronto a big selling point was that there was a branch of the library that I could ride my bike to from our new house in Toronto. I’m pretty sure I went there on a weekly basis to return books and then stock up for another week with some new ones.

For today’s post I’m going to share some of my favorite books that I’ve read so far in 2019. So far I’ve read a total of 13. My goal for 2019 is to read 24, so I’m right on track to make my goal.

Along with my thoughts of the books and why I liked them, I’m added the synopsis for each one from Good Reads.

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I first read this book about 10 years ago and I really enjoyed it. I’m a big fan of historical fiction (as you’ll notice because there’s a few historical fiction books I’m sharing today).

Pillars of the Earth (affiliate link) is the first in a trilogy of books. So far I’ve only read the first, but I want to re-read the second one too and then read the last one for the first time. They’re big, epic books, which is exactly the kind of book that I enjoy. You really get to know the characters.

“Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time the twelfth century; the place feudal England; and the subject the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude, flamboyant England of the Middle Ages in every detail. The vast forests, the walled towns, the castles, and the monasteries become a familiar landscape. 

Against this richly imagined and intricately interwoven backdrop, filled with the ravages of war and the rhythms of daily life, the master storyteller draws the reader irresistibly into the intertwined lives of his characters into their dreams, their labors, and their loves: Tom, the master builder; Aliena, the ravishingly beautiful noblewoman; Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge; Jack, the artist in stone; and Ellen, the woman of the forest who casts a terrifying curse. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, each character is brought vividly to life.

The building of the cathedral, with the almost eerie artistry of the unschooled stonemasons, is the center of the drama. Around the site of the construction, Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.”

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

As much as I enjoy reading classics, I also like reading a good chick lit book. This was a quick, easy, and fun read for me. It would be the perfect book to read on the beach while you’re on vacation. I’ve read a hew of Jennifer Weiner’s books and I’ve enjoyed them all so far.

Good in Bed (affiliate link) doesn’t just cover romantic relationships, but also grief, family relationships, and body image. Those are all things that people deal with, so the main character was someone that I could really relate to.

“For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She’s even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body. 

But the day she opens up a national women’s magazine and sees the words “Loving a Larger Woman” above her ex-boyfriend’s byline, Cannie is plunged into misery…and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.”

The Magdalen Girls by V S Alexander

Before I read The Magdalen Girls (affiliate link), I had no idea how widespread the terrible treatment of “troubled” girls and women were in Ireland. It’s hard to believe that they were treated so badly and worked in such horrible conditions.

Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man. Among them is sixteen-year-old Teagan Tiernan, sent by her family when her beauty provokes a lustful revelation from a young priest.

Teagan soon befriends Nora Craven, a new arrival who thought nothing could be worse than living in a squalid tenement flat. Stripped of their freedom and dignity, the girls are given new names and denied contact with the outside world. The Mother Superior, Sister Anne, who has secrets of her own, inflicts cruel, dehumanizing punishments—but always in the name of love. Finally, Nora and Teagan find an ally in the reclusive Lea, who helps them endure—and plot an escape. But as they will discover, the outside world has dangers too, especially for young women with soiled reputations.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

I can’t remember who recommended this book to me, but someone must have because I had it on hold at the library. I’m really glad that they did because I really enjoyed The Women in the Castle (affiliate link).

It follows the lives of three women in Germany after WWII has ended. They all had very different lives before the war, so it’s interesting to see how their lives intertwine in the aftermath of WWII.

“Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding.

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once-grand castle of her husband s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resister murdered in the failed July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin s mother, the beautiful and naive Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resister s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war each with their own unique share of challenges.”

The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

If you’re all about goal setting like I am, I highly recommend you read The Desire Map (affiliate link) by Danielle LaPorte. I had been wanting to read it for a long time, and I’m so glad that I finally did.

Danielle’s approach to goals and getting things done is a bit different than most goal setting books. Instead of focusing on the goals, The Desire Map focuses on how you feel, and the things you can do to feel how you want to feel. It took about 50 pages before I fully understood the idea she was going for, but once I figured it out, it really made sense to me.

“The Desire Map program is just that — a program.

Most life-planning tools focus on external attainment and results. Which is valuable. Getting results is what moves your life forward. Except that most goal-setting systems fail to harness the most powerful driver behind any aspiration: your preferred feelings; and they foster an uptight determination that can keep us from the vitality we crave.

The Desire Map program is changing all of that. You could call it holistic life-planning. The inner meets the outer. The spirit drives the material.”

What’s a favorite book that you’ve read lately? I love hearing other people’s recommendations.

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What I’ve Been Reading: June 2019