Books, How's This Book?

The Best Books I Read in 2019

When I started the ‘How’s This Book?’ review series, I had one simple goal in mind: get in the habit of reading books again. I like to think I succeeded! Sure, I sort of took a short-cut by listening to audiobooks. But modern problems require modern solutions! I’m already busy enough as it is!

Typically, I’d rank the books that I read that also came out this year. That’s what I did for the movies, games, and anime sections. But the problem is that I kind of… can’t do that. Because I haven’t paid any mind to when the books I’ve read/listened to came out.

When it comes to literature, I am extremely picky. If it doesn’t grab my interest, then I won’t bother with it. Doesn’t matter when or where it came out. If it’s good, I’ll read it.

This list is much less of a ‘hey, this year was great for books’ and more of an ‘I read these and I liked them a lot’ list. Sort of like stacking each of the books I’ve reviewed so far against one-another. I’m pretty much just picking favorites and gushing about them. Y’know. More than I already have.

I want to talk about all of them. I’d love nothing more than to go over every single book I reviewed and give them another shakedown. Unfortunately, I’m not made of time. So I’ll pick a few of my favorites, then give you my absolute favorite.

The first and most obvious pick would be one of the Stormlight Archive books. But, as tempting as it is to put all three here, I do feel the need to pick one. Sure, the whole series makes the top ten. But which of them was my favorite?

The answer to that question will change depending on the day you ask me. But as of me writing this post, I’d have to give it to book number three: Oathbringer.

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That sword is ridiculous and I love it!

Both The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance were fantastic stories in their own right. But both of them felt like they were building up to something bigger. Oathbringer, while it still does do some setting up for the future, feels like that something. It truly does feel like the big event that the whole series has been building up to!

Or a big series of events. There are a lot of them. This book is really fucking long. But at no point does it become boring! That is an accomplishment, people!

This is also the most interesting point in the story for the characters in my mind. Dalanar has to face his past, Shalan suffers a huge identity crisis, Kaladin struggles under the burden of protecting people, Szeth makes a turn for good, so on and so forth! It’s incredibly engaging as we watch each character face their greatest challenge yet, one it seems impossible to overcome!

Oathbringer is amazing, and I cannot wait for the next one. Unfortunately, it seems that it will be a while before we get more. Which will be a spiritually taxing wait.

Now, the next obvious choice would be a Neil Gaiman book. I did review three of those this year. But if I had to choose one, which I do, it would have to be Good Omens.

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Good Omens is easily one of the most entertaining books I listened to this year! It was a delight from start to end! Each character was fun and memorable, each gag can still give me a chuckle, and the story is one-of-a-kind! I loved this thing from start to end!

This book has my favorite kind of humor: the kind that will make certain people, specifically hyper religious old ladies, super mad! It takes all these religious images, angels and demons and the Four Horsemen and shit, and completely takes the wind out of them! What if the angel and demon were totally incompetent best buddies? What if the Four Horsemen were tailed by a biker gang that wanted to join? What if the anti-Christ’s hellhound turned into a regular-ass dog? All of these questions are applied to add the humor to Good Omens, and the answer to each one is hilarious!

Not to say that this book is only comedy. It has plenty of more grounded and serious moments to help the pacing and give the story genuine stakes. At no point does the comedy take the wind out of the apocalypse. The book is just serious enough to be engaging and funny enough as to avoid being a drag.

I love Good Omens. Though I still need to watch the Amazon show. Maybe I’ll get to that next year.

The next one was a bit tricky for me. I mean, there were a fair number to choose from. But one story that peaked my interest and managed to maintain is was based entirely off of real events. God knows what that says about me.

My next pick is my best-performing review yet. I’m talking about The Demon Next Door.

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There is no joking when it comes to this book. Considering how many people were effected by the events recorded within it, as well as the gravity of those events, that would be too disrespectful.

The Demon Next Door is an interesting and disturbing story. It tells the tale of a burdgeoning serial killer, going over his entire history leading up to his execution. But the goal of the book isn’t to simply inform the audience about a murdering rapist who was caught and executed. Rather, it posits a pair of questions: how could such a terrible person and series of events be forgotten, and should things like this be forgotten by all those involved? It’s an interesting question, one with no right or wrong answer and one that could leave a reader thinking for quite some time.

This is a deeply interesting and disturbing story. It isn’t for the faint of heart. But if these sort of things interest you, then I’d recommend checking it out.

And now, we come to the number one. Which book, of all the books I’ve reviewed this last year, was my favorite? I rolled the question around in my head. Was it one of the Sherlock Holmes stories? Perhaps it was Murder on the Orient Express? Or maybe I could sow some chaos and say it was Minecraft: The Island? I thought and thought, searching for the answer.

And then I realized that the answer was obvious. It was The Silmarillion.

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I adore J.R.R. Tolkien! He’s easily my favorite author of all time and my biggest inspiration! The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings both rank among my favorite books of all time, both being books (a series, in the case of LOTR) that I could go back to and read over and over again! But before this year, I hadn’t taken the dive into Middle-Earth’s history that other fans had.

But then I read The Silmarillion. And I can safely say that it was totally worth it!

This book goes deep into the history of Middle-Earth! So much so that you wouldn’t be blamed for believing it was a real place! Each story feels like a legend you’d hear from your grandfather around the fire at Christmas! They’re each worthy of their own stand-alone story, with characters I was left wanting more of and stories that I desperately wanted to see expanded!

Better yet, it answered some lingering questions left by LOTR! What are the Balrogs? Where did Sheelob come from? How did Sauron rise to power in the first place? None of these questions needed answering, but the answers we got were so satisfying that I don’t care!

This book is absolutely amazing! It’s a must-read for any Tolkien fan! Though I would caution staying away from the audio version. It isn’t bad, but you will be completely lost if you get distracted even for a second!

That’s it. Those are my favorite books of this year. Those are all the ones that I’ll more than likely revisit time and again for years to come. Hell, I might revisit some in 2020!

I’m not going to bother with the whole ‘best books of the decade’ thing, like I am with the other major categories. Like I said, I haven’t payed any attention to when these books come out! But I do have plans for closing this year out!

Our final ‘How’s This Book?’ is set to release on Christmas. And I know just the story to review!