Karla's Best Books OF 2019


This year was a great reading year. Even though I didn’t meet the goal I had set for myself at the start of the year, the books I did get to read I thoroughly enjoyed and some I can not wait to reread. The books I chose as my favorites of the year are the ones that really resonated with me. They are the books that I couldn’t stop thinking about long after I’d finished them. Most of them were new reads, while one is the book I always find myself going back to. Some of the books introduced me to new authors whose other work I am looking forward to reading, while some are from favorite authors. After this successful reading year, I can’t wait to see what next year looks like.




The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, 1999


This book is what I would consider my favorite book. I reread it this year for the first time in years. It brought back memories of when I used to read it over and over again while in high school and college. Even all these years later, this book still holds such a special place in my heart and has remained such a vital part of my reading life. Jeffrey Eugenides’ writing in this book has a masterful, rhythmic poetic flow. Eugenides is able to take the reader inside the lives of the teenage girls who dominated the attention of the young men in their class and changed their lives. The way in which he writes about youth and how fleeting and difficult it can be is so honest.


Buy it here.





Run River by Joan Didion, 1963


I will read anything Didion writes because she is just a genius. This was her first work of fiction and after having read Play It As it Lays last year, I could see the similarities between the two and themes that she would go on to explore further in her future novels. Didion is the best at writing about Californian life and the deteriorating relationships that are set against that landscape. Anytime I read Didion, I find myself wanting to read all her work until I’ve made my way through her entire bibliography and this was no different.


Buy it here.




Pet Sematary by Stephen King, 1983


I read a lot Stephen King a few years ago as I was making my way through all his novels. I stopped when I scared myself after reading Salem’s Lot while living in Maine. This year I buddy read Pet Sematary for October and I’m so glad. I was terrified, but at least I was terrified with someone else—I had missed reading King’s work. This book in particular is one of my favorites that I’ve read from him. He explores a parent’s love, just how far a parent would go to protect their child, and what they’re capable of doing when their child is hurt.


Buy it here.




The Deeper the Water, the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina, 2018


It should come as no surprise that this book has made it on to my Best Books of 2019 list. I’ve been talking about this book nonstop since I read it in September and I don’t think I’ll be stopping anytime soon. If you’re interested in reading my thoughts on this book, check out my review!


Buy it here.




White Oleander by Janet Fitch, 2002


I think this year had a theme because this was one of many books I read that dealt with mother-daughter relationships and the powerful hold and influence a mother can have on her daughter. White Oleander deals with a daughter who finds herself separated from her mother and has to deal with what that means for the first time in her life. She is trying to deal with the consequences of her mother’s actions while trying to find who she is as her own person.


Buy it here.




Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, 2014


Everyone should read this. Part love story and part study on what it is like to experience being black for the first time in a foreign country. I particularly enjoyed reading about Ifemelu’s experience being a student in the US and having to navigate her way through racism, a somewhat new concept for her. Having been raised in Nigeria, it wasn’t really something she had to deal with. Once she moved overseas to attend university, she had to grapple with being black, but not African American, the importance of a black women’s hair, and interracial relationships. To me, Ngozi Adiche presented something that I don’t think is really discussed too much and that it is, how does it feel to be an individual from African who has just moved to the states? What is their experience?


Buy it here.



Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, 2011


I read this book after experiencing two active hurricane seasons which made reading this book a little emotional at times. The love that Esch and her brothers have for each other is so strong and really shows when they’re trying to survive Hurricane Katrina. From the family’s financial troubles, to Esch’s pregnancy, to Skeetah’s new litter of puppies and the incoming storm, it felt like such an honest telling of a family’s perseverance in the face of adversity.


Buy it here.




Sula by Toni Morrison, 1973


Toni Morrison—like Joan Didion—is another author that I will read anything she has written. Sula was such an eye-opening read and unlike anything I’d read before. In Sula, Morrison presents what it means and feels like to be a black woman and how every decision you make is scrutinized. She explores what it means to be a black mother and the sacrifices you make for your children.


Buy it here.




If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin, 1974


Undoubtedly, one of my favorite books not just for this year, but of all time. To repeat myself again, Baldwin ranks among Didion and Morrison as an author whose work I want and need to read in its entirety. A love story told in a non-linear form that took me from the present to the past and back again. At times this was a little hard to keep up with, but that allowed me to go back and reread portions. I found this to be a beautiful story while also being incredibly heartbreaking. The love not only between the two main characters of the book, but between the members of Tish’s family was so powerful. Their need to be there for their loved ones and to do anything to protect and save them is something that so many can relate to. Baldwin also explores what it means to be a black man and the failure of the criminal justice system to treat everyone equal, something that hasn’t changed much since this book was published. That is one of the main reasons I find myself coming back to Baldwin’s work - he wrote and published much of his work between the 1960s to the 1980s all of which deal with race, sexuality, and class, and the issues in his books are ones that are still prevalent today.


Buy it here.




Marlena by Julie Buntin, 2017


This book made me want to hug all my girlfriends and tell them how much I love and appreciate them. So many of us can relate to meeting a new friend and finding ourselves pulled into their web, wanting to spend everyday with them. Julie Buntin weaved a story of love, loss, and friendship that pulled me in and kept me turning the pages late into the night.


Buy it here.




Indelible in the Hippocampus: Writings from the MeToo Movement, edited by Shelly Oria, 2019


My copy of this has so many sticky notes in it. I’ve read a lot of non-fiction that is focused on women’s issues and rights and a lot about the MeToo movement, but this is the first book I’ve read that focuses solely on the stories from writers that are Black, Latino, Asian, queer, and transgender. I found myself becoming upset, angry, saddened with every page I read. The stories that I found within the pages of this book were ones that I didn’t think would ever be compiled into a book, but I’m so happy they have been. They are the ones that you rarely ever hear about, but are so important to read.


Buy it here.