redhaired woman holding a pile of books

All the Books I’ve Read This Year, Ranked from Best to Worst

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After Max was born, I basically stopped reading.

This was horrifying to me, because reading is a bit like breathing as far as I’m concerned. I mean, I did a degree in English Literature just so I could spend four years reading books and calling it ‘work’, and the idea that I might not have as much time for it any more was one of the things that terrified me most about impending parenthood, along with all the stories about how I’d basically just live in my dressing gown now because there would never be time to put on ‘real’ clothes.

“That won’t happen to me,” I said confidently (and also slightly hysterically), every time someone gently tried to suggest that I might have to make some compromises once the baby was born. “I’ll accept the dressing gown thing if I absolutely have to, but I’ll still have time to read, surely?”

But no, actually, it turned out the prophecies were true. The baby was born, and I started choosing my clothes for the day based on how comfortable they’d be to sleep in, and how easily they’d wash. I thought four hours sleep was “a pretty good night”. One day I got onto a long haul flight and realized I’d been looking forward to it almost as much as the holiday that came after it, because it was going to be the first time in months that I had nothing else to do but read, which was an almost unimaginable luxury to me by that point.

On the plus side, I’m no longer scared of flying.

On the minus side, however, the 20 books I read this year still feels like quite the achievement for me, and I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit it, especially given that a lot of them weren’t even books I picked myself, but ones Terry bought back when I started writing romance novels, and decided I should probably start reading some of them, too. You know, for research.

Anyway. Even though absolutely no one asked for a list of all the books I’ve read this year, I’m going to give you one, anyway. Before I do, though, I just quickly want to add here it was really difficult to order these, because I know whether I enjoyed a book or not, but do I know whether I’d rank it 15th or 16th, or maybe 14th? Not really, it would appear. So please take it with a huge pinch of salt, and also know that while I’ve ordered them from ‘best to worst’ the fact that a particular book is lower down the list doesn’t mean that it’s a bad book, necessarily, just that there were others I personally enjoyed more than it.

So here it is: please be aware that some of my comments may contain spoilers, so proceed at your peril…

 
redhaired woman holding a pile of books

 

1. Miss You — Kate Eberlan

When you’re meant to be together, but you just keep missing each other so it ends up taking you 16 FREAKING YEARS to meet.

“You can be different in a place where nobody knows you, can you? More yourself, somehow, or the person you’d like to be.” – Miss You

2. Really Good, Actually — Monica Heisey

When you get divorced young, and have to completely rebuild your entire life, but fortunately you’re hilarious, so you manage to do it in as entertaining a way as possible.

“It seemed impossible that I was supposed to keep loving – even revering – my body as it decomposed in slow motion. Why not give in and have low self-esteem? Maybe I could slay in that way instead.” — Really Good, Actually

 

3. The Family Upstairs — Lisa Jewell

When you inherit a mysterious old house with a dark secret and now you have to find out what the hell happened in it before you can sell the damn thing.

 

4. Malibu Rising — Taylor Jenkins Reid

When your dad’s famous, but also a bit of a dick, really.

“Our family histories are simply stories. They are myths we create about the people who came before us, in order to make sense of ourselves.” — Malibu Rising

 

5. The Island of Lost Girls — Alex Marwood

When you live on an island in the Med, but the billionaire yacht owners basically own you.

 

6. The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde — Eve Chase

When your cousin vanishes without trace, and it’s only when new people move into the (mysterious, old) house decades later that the truth starts to come out.

“Houses are never just houses. I’m quite sure of this now. We leave particles behind, dust and dreams, fingerprints buried on wallpapers, our tread in the wear of the stairs. And we take bits of the houses with us. […] We grow up. We stay the same. We move away, but we live forever where we were most alive.” — The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde

7. The Four Winds — Kristin Hannah

When the Dust Bowl becomes your Roman Empire, and you end up falling in love with a Communist.

8. The Birdcage — Eve Chase

When you have two half sisters and you’d think at least one of them would know what really happened on the day of the eclipse?

9. The Family Remains — Lisa Jewell

When you found out the secret of the mysterious old house you inherited in the previous book, but now the police are trying to figure it out, too, and that could be really bad for you.

10. Where the Crawdads Sing — Delia Owens

When you’re raised in a swamp, but it’s okay, because when you grow up you can become a rich author/illustrator. You’ll also have to read some really bad poetry and be accused of killing someone along the way, though.

“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” — Where the Crawdads Sing

11. Godmersham Park — Gill Hornby

When your rich father refuses to acknowledge you, so you’re forced to become Jane Austen’s brother’s daughter’s governess.

12. Book Lovers — Emily Henry

When you’re a city slickin’ career woman who has to go to a small town and fall in love with a man who of course owns a bookshop.

13. Everything I Know About Love — Dolly Alderton

When you don’t actually know anything about love, but you do your best to figure it out as you go along, and end up coming to some heartwarming conclusions about female friendship. Oh, and you also include a lot of recipes, for some reason.

“Morrisey once described his teenage life as ‘waiting for a bus that never came’; a feeling that’s only exacerbated when you come of age in a place that feels like an all-beige waiting room. I was bored and sad and lonely, restlessly wishing the hours of my childhood away. And then, like a gallant knight in shining armour, came AOL dial-up internet on my family’s large desktop computer.” — Everything I Know About Love

14. It Ends With Us — Colleen Hoover

When your abusive dad dies, and you end up marrying a man just like him, while your strangely-named ex waits in the wings.

15. Confessions of a 40-Something F**k Up — Alexandra Potter

When we’re all just “fuck ups” at heart, but some of us manage to make mega-successful podcasts about it, while meeting the loves of our lives in the process.

16. The Secret Life of an Uncool Mum — Serena Terry

When you’re only 35, but your teenage daughter doesn’t think you’re cool, so you dye your hair pink and flirt with a guy you repeatedly describe as “a fetus”. You also use the word ‘wee’ a lot, to prove that you are Irish.

17. The Couple at the Table — Sophie Hannah

When your ex-husband’s new wife gets murdered while you’re all on holiday at the same place, and you don’t know who did it, so you write weirdly melodramatic letters to all the suspects, even though everyone’s like, “No, Lucy, don’t do that…”

18. Archer’s Voice — Mia Sheridan

When you fall in love with a man who can’t speak, but fortunately you know sign language, so that works out quite well, really. (You also have a lot of showers, and you tell us about every single one of them, without exception.)

19. Reminders of Him — Colleen Hoover

When you accidentally kill your boyfriend while driving drunk, then have his baby while you’re in prison, but everyone eventually gets over it, because you wrote a letter explaining that you miss your dead boyfriend too, and that helps them realize that you’re the real victim here….

20. Things We Never Got Over — Lucy Score

When you run out of your own wedding and move to a small town called Knockemout, where everyone has a weird, made-up name, and there’s this REALLY annoying bar owner who you will NO WAY end up with, even when it turns out the guy literally won the lottery, and everyone loves him. NUH-UH. (Also your twin sister leaves her strangely-named daughter in your care, and you have to look after her, because your biggest flaw is that you’re just too nice.)

*

Of course, the year isn’t quite over yet, which, on the one hand is annoying, because what if I read another book and don’t get credit for it? On the other hand, though, it’s also a bit like that period of time after you post your Spotify Wrapped for the year, and know you still have a few weeks left before they start counting plays for next year, so you can listen to as much embarrassing music as you like without anyone having to know.

You will know, though, because I’ll be telling you about it in my Guide to the Week on Friday, so make sure you’re subscribed for that, and, in the meantime, please feel free to tell me what your favourite books of the year were, so I can celebrate reaching the bottom of my TBR pile by creating a whole new one…

P.S. If you'd like to hear more from me, please consider subscribing to my newsletter…

books by Amber Eve
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