It’s time for my annual (third one this year!) book list/reviews of everything I read last in 2019. My goal for each year is to read the number of the year – so, in 2019, I had a goal of reading 19 books. This year, it will be 20.
I’m super excited to share that I read 26 books in 2019!
Another one of my goals for 2019 was to read more books by authors of color. 7 of those books were by authors of color. This year, my goal is for that number to be half of the books I read.
One last thing I’m proud of for the books I read in 2019 – ALL of them were either from the library that I checked out, or were ones that I found at a nearby little free library. I spent $0 on books last year!
For each book, I do link to Amazon. I know, Amazon is a terrible company, specifically when it comes to employee well being. However, I also sympathize with those that don’t have a lot of accessibility or resources in their area, and Amazon fills that void. Here’s what I recommend:
If you’re looking for any of these books, check your library first. Many libraries not only have hard copies, but also e-books and audio books.
Ask friends and family if they have a copy you can borrow. If not? Buy Used. Ebay is a great place to find books if you want something shipped, otherwise, try and find a local secondhand book store or even see if your local library has a used book sale. If all else fails, buy new from a local bookstore, and if you really can’t find it at that point, go with Amazon. Amazon does have an option to buy used, which if I have to buy from them, I go that route.
Just my two cents.
For this list, I broke them up into categories in case you’re looking for a book on a specific topic. But note that reduction-based living (mindfulness, minimalism, anxiety management, and zero waste living) can all cross over into each other (hence, the overarching title of reduction-based living.)
So, without further ado, here are all the books I read in 2019, and my review of each one.
Mindfulness Book Recommendations
I read a couple of books on forest bathing because I wanted to learn as much as I could about the practice. Science is clear on the benefits of being in nature, and this book talks about those benefits. Additionally, the author goes into detail about her experience with forest bathing, and includes tips on how to start your own practice.
Perfect for: anyone interested in learning about forest bathing, and how to start their own practice.
Your Guide to Forest Bathing by M Amos Clifford
This book, like the book above, shares benefits of forest bathing and talks about how to start your own practice. What I liked about this book, was that the author talked about how you can ‘forest bathe’ anywhere you are located. If you’re deciding between the two, I would recommend this one over the above.
Perfect for: anyone interested in learning about forest bathing, and how to start their own practice.
Minimalism Book Recommendations
Off: Your Digital Detox for A Better Life by Tanya Goodin
Minimalism doesn’t just mean getting rid of physical clutter. Mental clutter is just as important to be mindful of as well! This book was a quick read, but still packed with lots of information. Goodin shares lots of tips for detoxing from digital devices. One thing I really appreciated was that the tips were reasonable – she didn’t advise to avoid technology at all costs.
Perfect for: anyone looking for easy-to-implement ways to separate from your devices without having to give them up. Plus, since it’s a quick and short read, it’s great for anyone who doesn’t feel they have a lot of extra time to tackle a book.
Lindsay is the blogger behind ‘Treading my Own Path’ – a huge simple living blog. Her book was an expansion of the things she talks about on her blog – and more specifically, all things reduction-based living (the topics covered on this blog.) Specifically, she talks about decluttering the eco-friendly way to clear up physical and mental space. As I was reading, I kept finding so many inspiring and ‘aha moment’ quotes. The book was also filled with tons of tips.
Perfect for: anyone who loves learning about decluttering and zero waste – and how to do the two together in order to create space and a simpler life.
Related post: 11 Ways Minimalism and Zero Waste Living Are The Same
Anxiety Book Recommendations
First, we make the beast beautiful by Sarah Wilson
If you’re looking for a book with first hand, raw, and honest talk about dealing with anxiety, this book is it. I found myself nodding along with much of what Wilson was saying and describing as she navigates through her own anxiety journey. Not only is the book relatable, the author provides many resources that she has found to work for her in managing anxiety. I found myself also relating to many of those, because they were things I’ve discovered for myself.
Perfect for: Anyone who deals with anxiety and is looking for a firsthand account of the journey, AND, anyone looking for ways to help manage and be proactive in their own journey.
Related post: 10 Unexpected Things That May be Triggering Your Anxiety
Zero Waste Living / Sustainable Living Book Recommendations
My Zero Waste Kitchen by Kate Turner
Got food waste? This book has TONS of ‘reduce food waste’ tips and a few recipes to help you navigate through your kitchen and help you reduce any food waste (and thus reduce waste and save money). I really enjoyed this book and found it to be an easy read.
Perfect for: anyone looking to reduce food waste in their home.
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
Known as one of the founders of the zero waste movement, I knew I had to take a peek at Bea Johnson’s book. It’s packed with a lot of information, tips, and recipes, but I personally found some of the advice and tips to be a little unrealistic and unrelatable for my family (at least at this time.)
She talks a lot about ‘refusing’ things so waste doesn’t come into her home. In theory, that sounds great. And I’m all about refusing. However, some of the things she talks about refusing would’ve still ended up in the trash – just not hers. Additionally, she talked about having her kids refuse party favors or other treats and items from functions. At four, I don’t know if my son would understand, nor do I want him to miss out. We’re just not at a point where I feel like pushing him to do that. Overall, for a beginning zero waste book, I would recommend the next book versus this one.
Perfect for: anyone looking to start a zero waste journey and looking for specific examples from someone who has lived it.
101 Ways to go Zero Waste by Kathryn Kellogg
Another beginner zero waste journey book I read was this one by blogger Kathryn Kellogg of ‘Going Zero Waste.’ Compared to the one by Bea Johnson above, I much preferred this one. The books was broken up in a really easy to read and follow format. She also included a ton of recipes for DIY body products, cleaning materials, food, and more. As someone who had been on the journey for a couple of years when I read this book, I still learned some tips I can implement in my life.
Additionally, Kellogg included a section on moving your zero waste journey out into your community, which I really liked.
Perfect for: anyone interested in an all-around guide to living a zero waste life that’s laid out in an organized format, with tons of resources and tips.
Kiss the Ground: How the Food You Eat Can Reverse Climate Change, Heal Your Body & Ultimately Save Our World by Josh Tickell and Terry Tamminen
I had been wanting to read about regenerative agriculture for a long time, and this book was one that kept coming up when I would search for resources. It didn’t disappoint. While it is a long book, it was stuffed full of research and data behind the benefits of regenerative agriculture and how it can help us tackle the climate crisis, and improve the quality of our food.
Additionally, the book talks about our current farming process, and how and why we got to where we are. It truly answers the question as to ‘why aren’t all farmers just doing regenerative agriculture’ (hint: it’s part of the overall system.)
The book also convinced me to seek out and support farmers in my local area participating in regenerative farming practices because I truly believe it can, as the title says, save the world.
Perfect for: anyone interested in learning about the regenerative farming practice, anyone who is curious about how our food grows and how it can be grown to be more beneficial to the planet, and the history behind how systems got put in place that are still relevant today.
This short read was incredibly inspiring and one that, to be honest, I am interested in reading again. The book is filled with multiple short, real life stories, of regular, everyday people like you and me that stepped up to fill a need in their community in order to make it a better place. In a day and age where we mostly seem to hear terrible news, this book was refreshing and one I would highly recommend.
Perfect for: anyone looking for an uplifting read, or someone who wants some inspiration and motivation to get more involved within their own community.
Related post: 3 Ways to Reduce Waste in 2020 (that you must do)
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This book probably doesn’t need much introduction. It’s Michelle Obama – what can I say? This book was everything you’d hope it would be. It talks about how she grew up, when she met Barack, how she and her family navigated the white house, and even gave her insight on the current administration (at the time of this posting.) A very inspiring book.
Perfect for: anyone looking for a good biography from a first lady that is also equally inspiring and motivating.
Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland
As a former dancer and lover of biographies, Misty Copeland’s biography was appealing to me. For those that don’t know, Copeland was the first black principal lead ballerina in a major dance company – a space exclusively held by white women. This book was incredibly motivating and I really enjoyed reading how she got to where she is today – a story which is very inspiring.
Additionally, I learned a lot about how she gives back to the Boys and Girls club – a very prominent organization for her growing up.
Perfect for: anyone looking for an inspiring read, whether or not you are into dance/ballet about someone who overcame all obstacles to break major barriers.
Naturally Tan by Tan France
Like many who first watched the new ‘Queer Eye’ on Netflix, I fell in love with all of the guys. So when I heard about Tan’s book being released, I knew I had to read it.
The book was very entertaining, and I really appreciated that he shared what it was like growing up Indian without any representation on TV – an issue that is very common for BIPOC. He also shared what it was like becoming that representation for others after getting the spot on the show.
Overall, while I enjoyed the book and would recommend it, it was about what you would expect for someone who is a TV star versus a writer.
Perfect for: anyone who is a Queer Eye fan, and/or wants to learn more about what it was like growing up gay in a conservative community, and the importance of representation.
Related post: 8 Lies my Anxiety Tells me and How to Move Past Them
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
This is a story that shows through fictional characters the impact of tourism on island life (Jamaica in this case) and culture. Dennis-Benn tells the story through three characters trying to make ends meet – a mom and two sisters – all of which offer a very different view point and experience the threats to their island in many different ways.
This book has won a ton of awards, and I personally thoroughly enjoyed it. The author did a good job of talking through tough topics without it weighing me down (which I sometimes struggle with dealing with anxiety.) That is not to say she sugarcoats anything – just writes in such a way that balances the two.
Trigger warning: sexual assault.
Perfect for: anyone looking for a good fiction read that shows a glimpse into a life we may not have any experience in.
The Friends we Keep by Jane Green
Whenever I need a book that is an easy read and that I can just get lost in, Jane Green is one of my go-to authors. This book was no exception to that desire. Green introduces three friends who lose track of each other, and then reconnect for a college reunion. There are twists and turns throughout the book which make it a really fun read.
Perfect for: anyone looking for a relaxing and easy-going read about the importance of friendship.
The Pearl the Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
This book probably takes the cake as my favorite read of 2019. The story follows two girls – one in the present century, and the other, her great-great grandma a century earlier in Afghanistan. Hashimi does a beautiful job of weaving the two stories together, often showing similarities between the two girl’s lives as they both pretend to be boys in order to have a better chance at opportunities such as going to school.
The story at times was difficult to read; Hashimi talks about many of the struggles girls’ and women deal with on a day-to-day basis. But I would highly recommend the read.
Trigger warning: sexual assault and child loss.
Perfect for: anyone in need of a GOOD realistic fiction read. And to be honest, really, anyone. It’s a great book.
Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
I found this book in a local little free library, and I am so glad I did. This book provides an in-depth look at what it is like growing up Muslim in America – during a time of terroist attacks – and the aftermath of those attacks from the point of view of a teenage girl.
Ahmed also talks about the struggles of growing up in a family where arranged marriages were still common, as were going to specific schools and majoring in specific majors.
Perfect for: anyone who struggles with figuring out where they belong, and anyone looking for a good realistic fiction book.
The Bachelorette Party by Karen McCullah Lutz
Another one I found at a local little free library, I would deem this a ‘beach read.’ It was a very easy read about a woman who gets dumped by her fiance – a soap opera star. She gets invited to a bachelorette party where things get crazy. It was a fun read, but not one I’d feel the desire to read again.
Perfect for: a vacation read, or something to read when you’re feeling distracted or in need of an escape from the real world.
Gardening Book Recommendations
Edible Spots and Pots by Stacey Hirvela
This book is packed full with information on how to start growing your own fruit and vegetables in pots. If you’re looking for a one stop shop on what pots, soil, equipment, seeds, plants, etc you’ll need, this book is it. There are even ‘recipes’ that show how to make any sized garden using containers.
One thing I wished it had was a little bit more photos – as I’m a pretty visual person. But I definitely learned a lot!
Perfect for: anyone looking to start growing fruits/vegetables in pots!
Grow Your Own in Pots by Kay McGuire
This book has similar contents as the book above, but this one also talks a lot about companion planting which is where you place plants together that benefit each other (or equally as important, keeping ones that hinder growth away from each other.)
This book has more photos which I appreciate as a visual learner, but think I would have a hard time choosing between the two (the one above or this one.) Both are great resources!
Perfect for: anyone looking to start growing fruits/vegetables in pots but also interested in some permaculture components such as companion planting.
Quarter Acre Farm by Spring Warren
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s about a woman and her family who live in suburbia. She, the author, gets the idea that she wants to create a large garden in order to feed her family a certain percentage of their food ONLY from the garden.
I really appreciated learning about how this woman and her family created a garden in an area where there wasn’t a lot of land. I appreciated learning about her mistakes and things she learned. It was not only just a fun read, but also an educational tool.
Perfect for: anyone interested in gardening, feeding their family with food they grew themselves, and for a fun read.
Interested in gardening but worried you don’t have enough space! This book will provide you with tons of ways to be created with limited space in order to grow yummy food for you and your family. I’m lucky enough to have a yard to grow food in, but am looking for ways to expand the garden, not only for extra food for my family in the winter, but also to be able to share within my community. This book provided a lot of great ideas.
Perfect for: anyone who wants to grow food (however much that is) but feels they don’t have enough (or any) space.
Wellness / Self Help Book Recommendations
Woman Code by Alisa Vitti
In this book, Alisa Vitti, a holistic health coach, talks about ways people who menstruate can use their cycles to benefit their lives instead of viewing it as a hindrance. She talks about the different stages of our cycles, what’s happening during each of them, and how that affects our day to day living.
Additionally, she talks about certain foods to eat during each phase of your cycle in order to further support it.
While I enjoyed learning about the different cycle phases and how to support hormones during these times, I felt a little overwhelmed by the suggested foods to eat and felt that wasn’t super realistic for me at this time.
Overall, an interesting book.
Perfect for: anyone looking to learn more about their cycles, how we can use the different phases of each cycle to support us each day, and how to ‘heal’ your hormones if they’re out of wack.
This book by Lara Briden talks about using natural ways to get your body on track for a ‘normal’ period. Briden talks in depth about what a period should look like, including going through the different phases of a cycle. She also gives tons of tips on how to support your body for a regular period, and if you’re not having one, how to talk to your doctor (especially if they just want to put you on medication and you’re not feeling that.)
Perfect for: anyone with a period-related illness (ex. PCOS) and wants to heal themselves in a way other than hormonal birth control, or anyone who wants to learn what a period is supposed to be like and how to get theirs back on track (ex. Irregular periods.)
It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine
After losing her partner in a tragic accident, author Megan Devine went through (and still deals with) horrible grief. In this book, she shares navigating through that grief, and how society and her community treated her while she was grieving. She talks about how our society is afraid of grief, and how we want people to get over it so those who aren’t don’t have to deal with it or feel uncomfortable by it. She talks about how there is no ‘normal’ way to grieve, and talks about things you can expect.
She also talks about helpful ways that you can support someone grieving, including things to not say or do.
Trigger warning: loss, death, and grief
Perfect for: anyone who is grieving, who wants to learn that it’s ok to not be ok (no matter what the circumstance is), to learn more about how society deals (or doesn’t) with death and grieving, and how to support someone grieving.
You are a Badass Every Day by Jen Sincero
The third book in the ‘You are a Badass’ series, this book is very similar to the first two (You are a Badass and You are a Badass with Money.) I would describe this book less as a guide book and more as a quick reference book for any time you need a quick realignment or to help you get back on track.
This book offers tons of short exercises to help you throughout your day.
I love the first two books and learned a lot from them, but felt less connected to this one. If you are a fan of the series though, it is still a good read.
Perfect for: anyone looking for ways to stay on track with goal setting, being aligned to your inner guide, and just rocking life.
Looking for more book recommendations? Check out 17 Inspiring, Motivational, Intentional, Mindful and Fun Books I Read in 2017
Have you read any of these books? What was your favorite book from 2019?