My Reading Life in 2019 and Plans for 2020

One of my favorite year-end activities is looking back at the books I’ve read over the past 12 months, and Goodreads makes this pretty easy.

I wanted to tell you which title was my favorite, but it’s too hard, so here are my top five, in no particular order:

For more details, I invite you to check out My Year in Books. Just click on any book cover to read my reviews and ratings.

At the bottom of the page it shows that I read 45 of the 50 books I set for my 2019 Reading Challenge. I’m not disappointed, as I mainly set a goal so I can keep track how many I’ve read, but I’m not going to bother next year. One less thing to think about!

I will, however, be taking Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2020 Reading Challenge again. I’ve completed it three times and have found it a wonderful way to expand my reading horizons. Here are the categories and titles I read for 2019:

A book you’ve been meaning to read

A book in the backlist of a favorite author

Three books by the same author #1

A book about a topic that fascinates you

Recommended by someone with good taste

Three books by the same author #2

A book you chose for the cover

A book outside your (genre) comfort zone

Three books by the same author #3

A book by an author who is new to you

A book published before you were born

A book in translation

Some of the categories are repeated for 2020, but that’s definitely not a problem!

I rarely post book reviews on my blog anymore, but I intend to continue posting them on Goodreads, so feel free to follow me or add me as a friend.

What was the best book you read this year?


  1. Hazel Thornton on December 31, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Modern Mrs. Darcy! That blogger, Anne Bogel, wrote one of my favorite books that I read this year (recommended to me by Julie Bestry, and I, in turn, recommended it to my book club): I’d Rather Be Reading. Have you read it? (Too lazy to check Goodreads, lol.)

    • Janet Barclay on December 31, 2019 at 1:10 pm

      No, I haven’t read it, but I’ve just added it to my “To Read” list. Would it be a good book for a book club to read together?

      • Hazel Thornton on December 31, 2019 at 3:00 pm

        To be more specific, it was my book club pick for the year and we had a wonderful discussion about it. I asked them to take notes as they read (so they would remember what stories they wanted to tell) and we went chapter by chapter, comparing notes.

  2. Kathy Stinson on January 2, 2020 at 11:19 am

    If you liked Greenwood, you will also like The Overstory by Richard Powers. It was definitely one of my “Best Books” for 2019.
    Also in that category:
    The Heaviness of Things That Float by Jennifer Manuel
    Always Another Country by Siskonke Msimang
    No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis
    Who We Are by Elizabeth May
    I look forward to seeing where Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge leads you this year. Who knows? I may even decide to join in!

    • Janet Barclay on January 2, 2020 at 12:31 pm

      Thanks for the recommendations! The Overstory is already on my “to read” list (on your recommendation) and I’ll refer back here when I need more inspiration. Happy reading in 2020!

  3. Kathy Stinson on January 2, 2020 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks Janet. You too.

  4. Julie Bestry on January 2, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    I mostly read non-fiction. For fiction, I either reread Jane Austen or read the time travel genre. My favorite book last year was Susan Orlean’s The Library Book about the Los Angeles public library fire. It’s a mystery, a history, a sociological exploration of libraries, and so much more.

    • Janet Barclay on January 3, 2020 at 9:15 am

      I didn’t realize you read mainly non-fiction. I read some but would like to read more, so I’ll have to refer to your Goodreads list when I need some ideas!

  5. Kathy Stinson on January 3, 2020 at 9:02 am

    I’ve made note of your Book of the Year, Julie. What it’s about may fit with a talk I’m giving later this year, and if it doesn’t, it sounds like it will be a great read anyway. Glad you mentioned it here.

    • Janet Barclay on January 3, 2020 at 9:16 am

      And this, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why it’s worth commenting on blogs. You’re welcome! 😀

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