As we begin the new year, we always enjoy looking back at our favorite books picks from the last year. There were lots of great stories in a variety of genres, but a few books stood out in particular--we're excited to announce that starting this year, we'll be honoring our very favorites reads from the past year as RapunzelReads Books of the Year! It was hard to decide, but here are our 2019 winners:
Fantasy/Sci-Fi: City of Islands by Kali Wallace
What it's about: Mara lives in the City of Islands, a cluster of rocky isles raised from the sea long ago by the songs of the founders. She has always dreamed of mastering spell-songs and becoming a mage, but her circumstances prohibit that; she is an orphan without a home who struggles to keep herself alive. But when she discovers a cache of ancient bones on the ocean floor, Mara realizes they lead to a mystery even larger than she imagined--a mystery someone very powerful would do anything to keep hidden before the time is right. To read our full review, click here!
Why we chose it: City of Islands is a well-written, excellently plotted, with one of the most unique and interesting worlds of any book we reviewed last year. Mara is a strong main character who was realistic and flawed without becoming annoying, and the supporting cast was diverse and interesting. The plot continually surprised me, in a way few books do, but even more did I notice the worldbuilding. Few books have
Realistic & Historical Fiction: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
What it's about: In Brown Girl Dreaming, author Jacqueline Woodson narrates the story of her childhood as an African-American girl growing up in the south. As she travels from Ohio to South Carolina to New York, she's taught to stand by her beliefs and learn who she truly is. To read our full review, click here!
Why we chose it: Brown Girl Dreaming is a powerful book with deep messages that can be applied on and off of the page. The narrative style of free verse poetry deepens the emotions presented in it, yet it reads not like an autobiography, like most such books would, but like a story. In this way, Brown Girl Dreaming gives readers a deep sense of what Woodson's childhood--and that of countless others--was like, in an engrossing and unusual format. Although we have reviewed a number of books over the past year which discuss similar issues, we have chosen Brown Girl Dreaming as our Historical Fiction Book of the Year because of the deepness of how they are communicated.
Nonfiction: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
What it's about: I am Malala is an autobiographical account of Malala Yousafzai's incredible journey, from a young girl in Pakistan who loved learning to a world famous speaker and girl's education activist. Her story is harrowing yet hopeful, and the book combines personal memories and experiences with an intriguing look at Pakistan's politics. I am Malala is available in both adult and young reader editions. To read our full review, click here!
Why we chose it: Powerful, moving, and inspiring, this book completely lived up to my high expectations. Malala’s determination and courage shine through as she writes, exploring the complex politics and history of her native country. From the strength and courage of Malala's writing, it's easy to see why she's made such a global impact! I read quite a bit of nonfiction this year, but out of all of those books, none touched me quite as deeply as this one, and for that reason we have selected it as our Nonfiction Book of the Year.
What were your favorite books you read this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or send us a review!