My 2019 and 2020 reading list – with wine pairings!

I was a voracious reader as a child. When I started working I struggled to get back into reading which frustrated me. This year I’ve decided it to make it more fun for myself – I’m pairing books from my reading list with wine! I don’t really need to make reading more fun for myself – but it is easier to get back into the habit doing it paired with something you love. As I learned a lot more about wine last year, I figured this would be the perfect pairing!

Below is my reading list for 2019 and 2020, containing my favorite books I read in 2019, my TBR for 2020, and what I think would be great wine pairings depending on the story. I hope you enjoy the books as much as I do!

The books & wines I loved in 2019

In 2019 I really took up the Goodreads challenge and set my target at 30 books. This sounded as too many at the beginning (2.5 books per month), but I was able to read more than expected. Time for myself often includes a good or fun book and a nice glass of wine, bundled up on my couch. It feels like a small luxurious moment, especially when I get to pick out the wine! Below is part of my 2019 reading list with my favorite wine pairings.

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood

If you love ‘crime’ books and haven’t read this yet, do! It is essentially the unfolding of a murder story, through the story of Grace and her psychologist. However, this is a step-up from the average murder mystery with beautiful imagery and stellar writing by Margaret Atwood. Based on a true story and one of the most notorious women of the 1840s, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Sometimes I whisper it over to myself: Murderess. Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt along the floor.

  • Buy it here: Bookdepository | Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Wine pairing: it took me a long time to cross this off my reading list, but some time with a smooth red wine helped me through the story. I’d recommend a smooth red wine such as a Syrah to comfort you through Grace Marks’ journey to Canada. Australia, Rhône (France) or Southern France are my faves.

Daisy Jones & the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

The moment I read about this book, I knew I wanted to read it. It was described as being influenced by the story of the band Fleetwood Mac. Since this is one of my favorite bands from the 70s, I quickly downloaded the book onto my kindle as soon as it was available and read it in three days. It’s written in the style of an interview with a fictional band. All the different band members take you through the story from being discovered to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world.

Sex, drugs & rock and roll is what you expect. However, I loved that the focus was often on the experiences and lens of the female characters in the book. That gave it a refreshing twist beyond the usual drugs & groupies viewpoint. I tore through it with the same greed you get when you júst have to finish a TV series on the same day.

“I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse.

I am not a muse.

I am the somebody.

End of fucking story.”

  • Buy it here: Bookdepository | Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Wine pairing: put on some Fleetwood Mac and settle in with a Pinot Noir (Oregon – or try a German Spätburgunder). This story moves fast, so something light-bodied and red to keep up with the story and not slow you down.

My sister the serial killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

Another book I finished in a few days last year! Sharp, funny, captivating and made me have so much empathy for the protagonist. The story centers around Korede, a nurse that has to decide between the life of her sister or the doctor she is in love with. The story goes darker than expected, and the main character has a certain detached emotional way of dealing with her sister being a serial killer. I personally liked it, it gave an extra edge to the dark humor used. A short, but very enjoyable book!

It takes a whole lot longer to dispose of a body than to dispose of a soul, especially if you don’t want to leave any evidence of foul play.

  • Buy it here: Bookdepository | Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Wine pairing: This book gets dark and a bit heavy at times, so I think something light and crispy is the perfect pairing to balance that out! What about a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand? High acidity (crispy!), with lovely notes of apple and tropical fruits!

Bad Blood – John Carreyrou

My favorite non-fiction book from 2019. The story of Theranos is one that I followed first through the podcast (The Dropout). After a few episodes, I wanted to know more about the rise and fall of multi-billion dollar start-up company Theranos and it’s mysterious founder Elizabeth Holmes. I love stories about how CEOs with sociopathic tendencies create and subsequently burn their companies. If you do too – I highly recommend the book by John Carreyrou, the journalist that first broke this story.

“A sociopath is often described as someone with little or no conscience. I’ll leave it to the psychologists to decide whether Holmes fits the clinical profile, but there’s no question that her moral compass was badly askew.”

  • Buy it here: Bookdepository | Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Wine pairing: This is one juicy story and therefore deserves a juicy wine! As it all plays out in Silicon Valley (near Napa!), I’d recommend pairing this read with a smooth, fresh dark fruits Merlot or a Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot) from Napa.

My 2020 reading list and the wines I’m drinking reading them!

My Favorite Manson Girl – Alison Umminger

I read about this book on Kate Lavie’s blog, and immediately added it to my reading list. As some of you may know I have an interest in true crime, and especially in cults. This Young Adult (YA) books touches upon the Manson cult and explores the seedier underbelly of LA, and what it means to be part of the B-list part of the population as a young, lost woman.

“Never underestimate the power of youth – not in Los Angeles, at any rate. You can never be too young or too dumb.”

  • Buy it here: Bookdepository | Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Wine pairing: I’m going to accompany this with a crisp Albariño. A wine from Northern Spain known for its slight saltiness, refreshing citrus, and notes of grapefruit and melon, I expect this wine will keep me happy and make sure I don’t get too sucked into the seedy feeling explored in the book.

Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata 

I finished the sample from Amazon in two hours, and cannot get back to finishing this book! The story is about Keiko, who is 36 years old and has never had a boyfriend. She’s been working in the same convenience store for eighteen years. Keiko’s family wishes she’d get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won’t get married. But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she’s not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store. That is until a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store…

“People who are considered normal enjoy putting those who aren’t on trial, you know.”

  • Buy it here: Bookdepository | Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Wine pairing: This story sounds like it might have a surprisingly sweet ending… so I’m thinking prosecco! Prosecco tends to taste sweeter than other sparkling wines due to its fresh apple, pear, lemon and honeysuckle notes. Easily drinkable, I think it will make an excellent accompaniment for this book. For higher quality, look for Prosecco from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene or Asolo DOCG regions!

Bone in the Throat – Anthony Bourdain

I still get a bit emotional when I think of Anthony Bourdain. I’ve always loved the passion that he has for telling stories about people – and using food & drink as a medium to connect. Few people know he also wrote some fiction, this murder mystery being one of them! I found it in possibly the best (second hand) book store I’ve ever been to, in Chicago. It’s a treasure in my book collection!

“And when somebody Tommy knew would disappear – when somebody went missing only to reappear as a grainy newspaper photograph of a zippered body bag – it didn’t seem romantic at all. The life didn’t even seem dangerous anymore.”


The Missing American – Kwei Quartey

A new detective series… placed in Ghana… with a fiery, strong female lead? Please download it to my kindle right away! This new detective series from Kwei Quartey centers around young 26-year-old Emma Djan, a once hopeful in Accra’s police force. Being forced out, she starts work for a private detective agency that tracks down missing persons, thefts, and infidelities. This book promises stories of sakawa scams, fetish priests, and those willing to keep things secret through death *excited*!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a quote from the book yet as it was just released. Once I read it, I’ll share my favorite. (Btw, I’ve also heard good things about his Darko Dawson series).

  • Buy it here: Bookdepository | Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Wine pairing: I’m going to treat myself to a delicious South African Chenin Blanc when I start this book – and I suggest you do the same! Known for their excellent acidity, and notes of lemon, apple, and tropical fruits, it’s a great pairing for an exciting book! It’s also known as Steen in South Africa. Search for regions such as Stellenbosch (Blaauwklippen River Valley, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch or Banghoek), Swartland, and Paarl.
  • books reading list 2020
  • books reading list 2020
  • books reading list 2020
  • books reading list 2020

Goodreads

For the last few years, I have participated in the Goodreads yearly challenge. It allows you to set a number of books to read that year and keep track of the books you’ve read. For me, it’s not about the ‘number’ or achieving the target but about challenging myself in something I enjoy doing. I also use Goodreads to track which books I loved and build my reading list for 2020!

In case you want to follow along on Goodreads just click on the image below!

books reading list 2020

Disclaimer: All opinions stated above are all my own! However, this post does contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase a book through the link, I may earn a small commission. Enough maybe for an ice cream this summer 😊.

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