I love these posts. I love seeing people narrow down the best of the best and attempt to distil their favourite content from everything they’ve seen, read or played throughout the year. It’s fun to look back at, and it’s great if your looking for more recommended reads or games. It’s that sort of end-of-the-year staple content that I always look forward to. And I also enjoy taking the time to go through my own year of content consumption to see what I would consider a favourite.
But I’m also a lazy woman. I could have broken this up into a few posts – one focused on my favourite books, one about my favourite games, and another for any other random favourites I’d found throughout the year. But honestly, I didn’t consume as much as I have in previous years to make for very large lists, and I thought it sounded catchier if I wrapped up 2019 with 19 favourites. So I’ve lumped ’em all together.
Anyway, enough about my process. It’s been a weird and busy year, but there were still some gems that I want to talk about. Here are 19 of my favourites from 2019.
1. Down Among the Sticks & Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire
I really love this series of novellas. Every Heart a Doorway was a great book, but Down Among the Sticks & Bones was even better. So atmospheric, and such interesting characters, and it’s so nice to see such a tight, well-written story in such a small format.
2. So You Want to Start a Podcast by Kristen Meinzer
I’m a big fan of Meinzer’s By the Book podcast which she co-hosts with Jolenta Greenberg, and when she announced that she was publishing a book about how to start a podcast, I was immediately intrigued. And it was really timely, as I’ve wanted to start a podcast for a while now and I’ve been trying to hunt down good resources. Well, this book was it. Meinzer covers everything you need to know, and brings her years of experience to the table and explains things you might not have even considered. If you want to start a podcast in 2020, you have to check this book out.
3. Rogue Protocol (Murderbot #3) by Martha Wells
I read both Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy (#4) this year, and while I loved both, I didn’t want to have two books from the same series on this list. So I went with Rogue Protocol which I enjoyed a little more than Exit Strategy. If you like sci-fi, I really encourage you to read the Murderbot novellas. They’re fast, they’re fun, and Murderbot is snarky as heck. It’s a good time.
4. The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark
Another solid novella on this list. After playing Divinity Original Sin, I found I have an appetite for sff mystery stories, so when I learned that this was about a paranormal detective investigating a haunted tramcar in a mystical reimagining of Cairo, I knew I had to give it a read. It was a lot of fun, and it had a surprisingly powerful ending. I loved the setting and the characters, and I would love to read more like this.
5. Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women by Otegha Uwagba
I did not expect to like this as much as I did, but it’s exactly what it says it is. It’s not full of long essays full of wisdom, but it’s a reference book. It’s not something you’re going to read once and have it forever change your life. It’s something you keep with you to refer to when you need it. It’s a reminder of what you are capable of and the tools at your disposal. And I found that surprisingly powerful.
Probably my favourite game of the year. I’ve wanted to try the Fire Emblem games for a few years now, but I wasn’t sure they were my thing. I saw a streamer play a few hours of Three Houses and I was immediately hooked – the gameplay was robust and challenging, and the characters and the story were well-developed which made the stakes of the battles that much higher (when you play on classic mode, anyway). I played Awakening first, as a way to get my feet wet before I dropped almost $100 dollars on a new game (video games are very expensive here in Canada). You can really see how far they’ve progressed, and how much Three Houses has built on what Awakening started. It’s such a good game, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes tactical battles and narrative-heavy games.
Probably the most controversial game in the franchise’s 20+ year history, and not the best, in my opinion, but definitely the best of the three I played this year. The world is cool, the pokemon are unique, and pains have clearly been taken to clean up a convoluted and clunky battle system. I love the raid battles, and I still look forward to jumping in every day to play a few raids and hatch some more eggs in the quest for shiny pokemon.
8. The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
Earlier in the year, I was sick and bedridden, and desperate to occupy my brain with something. Reading was hard on my neck, and I was bored out of my mind. At the same time, I was hungry for a classic rpg. I wanted a good story, with fun characters. I wanted the cliche small town, where a tragedy strikes and our young heroes are forced on an epic adventure. I wanted to complete side quests and grind for boss battles. Trails in the Sky delivered. My sister had already finished said game and wanted me to try it, so I did and it was everything I wanted. Unfortunately, I stopped playing once I was all better, but I’m really eager to go back in 2020 to wrap that game up and continue the series.
9. Overcooked 2
This is the game that got my sister and I addicted to co-op games. We’ve played a few more since then, but this one is truly a gem. It’s simple, chaotic fun, and I had such a blast. I just wish it was longer.
10. By the Book
I’ve already mentioned Kristen Meinzer because I loved her book So You Want to Start a Podcast, but it was this podcast that introduced me to her in the first place. She cohosts it with her friend Jolenta Greenberg, and the two of them read self-help books and attempt to apply the lessons within to their own lives. It’s funny, inspiring, and eye-opening, and I’ve learned a lot just from hearing about the experiences of these two women. And I really like how much audience feedback they incorporate. It’s an entertaining, enlightening and authentic, and I’d recommend giving it a listen if it sounds like the sort of thing you’d like.
Definitely a more recent podcast I’ve got into, but I have absolutely loved it. Something about seeing two people start from the beginning and grapple with the hurdles of self-publishing their first book has been incredibly inspiring and motivating for me. And the two Marks are funny and have wonderful banter. It kind of feels like your listening to coworkers complaining about the job. It’s fun and I’m also learning so much more about the industry and about setting the right expectations. Definitely something worth checking out if you have any interest in publishing.
I’ve only mentioned this a dozen times at this point, but I’m self-publishing my first novel next year and as a result, I’ve been hungry for any resources I can find about editors, cover design, marketing – you name it, I’ve probably looked into it, and a ton of helpful resources have been found through this Reddit community. I cannot recommend it enough if you’re also starting out, or even if you’ve got a bit of experience. There are authors at every level on there, discussing every possible topic. It’s invaluable, and definitely one of the best resources I’ve discovered this year.
13. The Courtney Project on Youtube
I follow a lot of authors, especially self-published ones. It’s helpful for me to see what they are doing, and adapt what I learn to my own publishing journey. I’ve found a lot of great authors this year, but my favourite has to be The Courtney Project. She’s honest and shares a lot of information, but she also pulls no punches. There is no sneaky e-course or book behind her videos either. She’s a successful indie author trying to create a resource for other indies, and I absolutely love that. Her videos are informative, relatable and raw, and I’ve enjoyed all of them. She’s a refreshing personality and a great source of information for anyone who wants to publish their own book.
For a long time, I resisted using Canva, mostly because I like to make things on my own. I use photoshop, which is very powerful, but sometimes I just want something a bit faster, a bit cleaner, and a bit simpler. The past couple of months I’ve been experimenting and whipped up some eye-catching images on Canva to give my blog a more polished look and I really love how they’ve turned out. The access to templates really takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process and makes everything so much faster. And it’s totally free! I regret not using it sooner!
Will I take every opportunity from here on out to gush about my Moleskine notebook? Probably. This was an eye-opening year for me. I finished my old Moleskine and was eager to try out some new notebooks. Almost immediately I missed my Moleskine. I didn’t think it was my favourite ever notebook until I wasn’t using it anymore. They’re beautiful, well made, clean and compact. I bought a new one last month, and I’m absolutely in love with it. I can firmly say that my favourite notebook is a Moleskine.
16. Frixion Pens
After my digital notebook experiment, I really wanted to try erasable pens – I wanted the perks of a pencil with the permanence of ink, so I picked up some Frixion pens to try out. I kept my expectations low, and they’re certainly not perfect, but they have become my go-to. I love using these for planning because I can erase and move things around. I’ve even started sketching in my bullet journal, and I don’t have to worry about smearing. It’s kind of awesome, and I’m so glad I decided to try them out.
17. Fjallraven Kanken Classic Backback
This has been a year of shattered expectations, let me tell you. There were a lot of things I tried this year that I either wasn’t that interested in or didn’t expect to be as useful as they claimed to be, only to try them out and have those preconceived notions completely shattered. The kanken is a pretty popular backpack, and while I’ve heard good things I wasn’t sure that it was worth the money. But then I desperately needed a comfortable backpack for a weekend getaway and this was the first one to come to mind. I was not disappointed. It’s roomy and super comfortable. I absolutely love mine, and I love using it for longer trips. It was totally worth it and one of my favourite purchases of the year!
I never saw myself getting any sort of book subscription service, but I tried out a Scribd trial this year, and I’ve been subscribed ever since. They have a huge selection of books, especially audiobooks, and access to tons of documents besides. As someone looking to minimize my physical library, this has been invaluable, and if I can’t find it there, I can find it on Overdrive. Two thumbs up from me!
Look, I’m a clumsy human. I drop things constantly. My phone numbers among those things. And until this year, I’d never been interested in the Popsocket craze. I liked the way they looked, but I didn’t ever see myself using one. On a paranoid whim, I decided to buy one to try out because I’d grown really nervous about dropping my phone. And now I can’t imagine life without it. It’s so much more stable when it’s in my hand and when I’m taking pictures. I use it as a stand so I can prop it up to watch something or do some writing with a Bluetooth keyboard. It’s such a small thing, but it’s really changed my life in the weirdest way. I would be very sad without my Popsocket, so it’s rounding out my list of favourites for 2019!
What Are Some of Your Favourites of 2019?
I mentioned this already but I love seeing what people rate highest after an entire year. When you really think about it, we consume a lot and it’s always fun to look back on the good, the bad, and the absolute best. I’m always looking for more books to read and games to try, so comment down below with some of your favourites from 2019!
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