Top 5 Books of 2019

When I’m not dancing, one of my favorite pastimes is reading, and I’ve read 28 books this year!  If you have some down time over the holidays and are looking to pick up a good book, here are my recommendations.  I gave all of them a 5-star rating in Goodreads (and I’m a pretty tough grader):

  • Best nonfiction – Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates. This book is great for anyone who wants to make a positive impact on the world or considers themselves an advocate for gender equality. This book illustrates how difficult it can be to solve an issue in isolation. For example, in order to decrease the poverty rate in poor countries, you need girls to stay in school longer.  Most girls enjoy going to school, but you have to convince village elders that educated girls will not pose a threat to their social order, but will actually lead to healthier families and a stronger community.  Very well written and engaging, Melinda uses personal stories and data to back her point – that if you want lift a society up, you must invest in women.
  • Best dystopian – The Circle by Dave Eggers. This book is about a company called The Circle which is kind of like if Facebook and Google merged into one giant, mega-powerful company.  At first Mae is thrilled to be hired there, she gets to enjoy fabulous perks like free top-tier medical care, including for her sick father, free meals, and even cozy dorms if she needs to work late and spend the night on campus.  But the longer she stays there the more the company changes Mae turning her into someone her parents fear.  The book is suspenseful and raises questions about data privacy and the perils of super powerful companies.
  • Best chick-lit – Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center. If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks, you’ll also like Katherine Center’s books.  This story is about a female firefighter, Cassie, who has to uproot her life to care for her mother. After a difficult past Cassie doesn’t believe in love anymore and she thinks life is easier that way, until she finds herself falling for a fireman at her new station. It’s a beautiful love story.
  • Best tough topic – The Girls at 17 Swann Street. I couldn’t put this book down even though it was tough to read at times.  Despite being fiction you get a very realistic view at what it’s like to suffer from an eating disorder and need to go to a live-in recovery center.  You see the slippery slope from saying no to baked goods to only eating one apple a day. As someone who had a friend go to an eating disorder recovery center this was eye-opening and sobering. Please read this, you’ll have more compassion and understanding for people who suffer from eating disorders.
  • Best historical fiction – Circling the Sun by Paula McLain. Circling the Sun tells the remarkable story of Beryl Markham, an Englishwoman who was brought to Kenya as a child and raised by her father and the Kipsigis tribe. Her unconventional upbringing turns Beryl into a bold young woman who challenges gender norms by becoming the first female horse trainer in Africa, and then learning to fly.  Set in Kenya in the 1920s, the writing is riveting and Beryl’s courage inspiring.

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