2019 Reading Year in Review

The CAE Book Groups team take a look at what 2019 has brought us so far in the way of reading. We discuss our 2019 reading goals and if we’ve achieved them, why we read the way we do, memorable books, and if we’ve discovered any new favourites.



I have a strong interest in literature for young people, and this often influences my reading trajectories. My year started with the goal to read five science fiction classics over summer, and that led me to discover one of my favourite reads of the past few years, Dmitry Glukhovsky’s brilliant Metro 2033.

I then moved on to a few months reading modern children’s classics, hoping to build a definitive list of books to recommend to others that weren’t just the usual Peter Pan et al (not that I don’t love those too!). I discovered so many modern gems, some that I’ve been aware of for a while but never got around to reading, and some that were complete surprises. Highlights include Louis Sachar’s Holes, and Wendelin Van Draanen’s Flipped.

A #LoveOzYA Twitter post then inspired me to touch base with some Aussie teen fiction that has been on my radar for ages, particularly books that have won Australian literary awards, including Eleni Hale’s Stone Girl.

Since beginning at CAE Book Groups in June, I have mainly been reading for the program. I’ve discovered some real literary treasures, particularly in my favourite genre, magic realism. I can’t wait to share some of them with our groups next year. When I need a break from reading for work, I’ve found myself turning to some of my most cherished children’s classics, like The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber, and The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.



My plan for 2019 was to read a lot and read widely – so far, so good! I have added significantly to my ever-growing library of books (this was not a goal, but it just sort of happened …) and have been introduced to many great authors through working at CAE Book Groups.

My favourite books I’ve read this year (so far) are Gravity Well [B2272] by Melanie Joosten and The Yield by Tara June Winch. Gravity Well is such a beautifully written and compelling book. There are great themes of family and friendship, with threads of astronomy woven into the background (and the cover is amazing!). And The Yield grabbed me from the very first page with Winch’s exquisite prose. It’s a vital story of indigenous language and identity, and connections to home, family and land.    

A book I wouldn’t normally read that I’m currently enjoying is the 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner The Overstory by Richard Powers, a book about nine people whose lives become explicably interwoven with trees. It’s a decent-sized book, but every word is worth savouring.

I’m also looking at starting the Booker Prize shortlist, including Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments and Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. This shortlist features a delightful array of diverse authors. There’s also Lucy Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport which promises to be an intense read at 1040 pages.



Like mostly everyone in the Book Groups team, in-between reading for study and reading for work, I often struggle to find time to read for leisure. I’ve found ways to get around this, though, by reading on the train or listening to audio books while working on other projects around the house.

My main reading goal for 2019 was to read 100 books – so far I’m at 50. At the start of the year I made a list of all the types and genres of books I wanted to read, and this has helped me read widely and brought lots of great titles to my attention. Reading books for book club also helps me discover authors I otherwise would never have read – it’s also nice to just get given a book to read, rather than having to think about choosing one! Lastly, I’ve been enjoying a lot of genre fiction and crime, as they’re a great escape from study (and sometimes a distraction!) and a guaranteed quick, enjoyable read.

So far, my favourite reads of 2019 are The Whisper Man by Alex North, Educated [B2308] by Tara Westover and The Lost Man by Jane Harper.



Read something you love? Share your favourite reads of 2019 with us at bookgroups@cae.edu.au

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