Top Reads of 2019: Spout’s Favourite Books of 2019!

Top Reads of the Year: Skye's Favourite Books of 2019. Illustration: Sprout the Lorekeeper and Sparrow, holding a stack of sparkling books.

Your time at the Pond today begins with gentle rain.

Sprout the sparrow offering you a cup of tea.A soft evening patter accompanies you as you sit next to Sprout’s stump, your reads for the day sprawled out in front of you. The blushing sky illuminates the forest in a warm rush of golden light. As you bask in the scenery, Sprout emerges from their stump holding two cups of tea, and the air around you immediately smells of summer berries.

“This is berry hibiscus tea, friend!” Sprout informs you. “I grew the ingredients myself. Gen was a big help, but the Pond magic has made starting my own little garden here so easy.” 

You accept the tea, letting the warm sweetness suffuse your insides. It’s a curious picture—the aroma of the tea, this scenery, the glow of Sprout’s little sapling. A comfortable silence settles between the both of you as you take to your books once more.

As you both finish your tea, Sprout looks up from their book and says, “You know, friend, I never imagined I’d find a home here when I first arrived, when Xiaolong first reached out to me for help.” Their eyes are wistful. “At first, I wasn’t even sure if I belonged here, since I read so very little compared to the other Pond residents. Sometimes I just get so caught up with everything else that reading doesn’t come as naturally to me as it used to.”

Sprout the sparrow holding onto and looking down at a book.You reach out a hand to comfort the sparrow, to reassure them that they do indeed have a place at the Pond. Sprout takes your hand gratefully. “But it’s because of everyone’s kindness here that I’ve learned to forgive myself for taking things slow as well! Reading is like a garden too. Even one seed planted is a seed that can grow into flowers and fruit, even if it takes time! And they make great ingredients for tea, too.”

Bringing their book over, Sprout hops closer to you. “I also have you to thank for this lesson, friend, for helping me feel at home here! Now, let me tell you about some of my favorite stories that I did manage to read this year…”

Hello, friends! Welcome to the last of our Top Reads of 2019 posts, wherein I finally get my thoughts coherent enough to gush about my own favorite reads of the year. As you might’ve gleaned from Sprout’s story, I didn’t manage to read as much as I would’ve liked this year—I had an ambitious reading goal of 50, but so far only managed 29—and I’m learning to be okay with that! It’s a big reason of why I tweeted this last month too: 

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Top Reads of 2019: Cuddle’s Favourite Books of 2019

Top Reads of the Year: Cuddle's Favourite Books of 2019. Illustration: Cuddle the otter, wearing a pajama hat, holding a stack of sparkling books with Party the stuffed otter in her arm.

Cuddle the otter, walking and holding tupperware in one arm and Party in the other.The mist wafting through the air surrounding the Pond was light and breezy on this cool winter’s evening. Cuddle clutched Party under one arm, and carried a few Blubberware containers full of homemade food in the other towards the Pond.

“I really hope everyone likes the food I’ve brought for the Pondluck dinner party tonight!” Cuddle worried, “maybe I didn’t put enough sauce in the mushrooms, or enough water in the rice.” Party seemed to squirm a little as Cuddle tightened her squeeze anxiously.

Setting the silverware out neatly and a long picnic blanket down by the edge of the water, Cuddle thought about the books she was going to talk about at the book club/Pondluck dinner party get together tonight. It was their year end gathering, and everyone is going to talk about their favorite books and eat good food that each of them made and brought. She smiled as she remembered some of the titles she’d read including a Pride and Prejudice retelling and a great book about a girl working at her grandma’s diner.

Cuddle the Otter, hugging Party the Otter Plushie against her cheek, with a content smile. The Pond’s inhabitants waddled, flew, and traipsed in, greeting and embracing one another after asking permission. As she looked at her Pond family: Gen with a festive “ringing in the new year” hat instead of his usual, Varian being their best naked frog, and Sprout looking cute and dapper as always, and more filing in, Cuddle thought about the warmth in her heart and gave Party a tight snuggle, feeling a small snuggle back.

How nice it was to have a welcoming and safe home, with accepting, loving, and caring Pond family members. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this content, as she blinked back tears of joy at finding a place where she truly belonged.

To be totally honest, 2019 was not a great reading year for me in terms of quantity. Adjusting to having a baby in late 2019, along with managing her medical care for her diagnoses and my own postpartum mental health has been an arduous task, and reading unfortunately fell by the wayside. I didn’t log a lot of the books I did finish, and I don’t have any clue how many books I read but if I had to guess, it would probably be around 30-40. This is a far cry from the 120-150 I have been reading in the past few years.

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Top Reads of 2019: Xiaolong’s Favourite Books of 2019!

Top Reads of the Year: Xiaolong's favourite books of 2019

Friends! Can you believe it’s almost the end of the year?

2019 has been such a wonderful year of reading and diverse books. I’ve had the privilege and joy to read a myriad of brilliant diverse books this year, and I think it is only fitting if I followed what I did last year and celebrated my favourite reads of 2019!

This year, I read a total of 86 books – I’m still determined to hit my goal of reading 90 books! – but it was a fantastic year nonetheless.

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The Pond’s Most Anticipated Reads of 2019, Part I. – Eight Sequels Releasing in 2019 That Will Inevitably Destroy Me (In a Good Way)

TEXT: The Pond's Most Anticipated Reads; Eight Sequels Releasing in 2019 That Will Destroy Me; Image: Xiaolong the pink axolotl, reading a book and sitting inside a book tent and fort, surrounded by books.

You’re feeling rather excited to visit the Pond today. Before leaving the magical boundary of the Pond on your last visit, little Xiaolong had run after you and told you that she was planning something fun for everyone. “I wanted to start a tradition,” she had said. “And because you’re our good friend, I want you to be there. Make sure you visit soon, okay?”

As you cross the boundary into the Pond, you see that little blanket forts have been erected around the Pond’s edge.

Xiaolong the pink axolotl wearing an upside-down flower hat, smiling and holding up a stack of books.“Friend!” calls Xiaolong. She crawls out from one of the blanket forts – the blanket is a blue as deep as the sky with golden stars embroidered on it – holding a small stack of books. “Surprise!” she cheers, looking absolutely delighted. “I thought having a blanket fort party would be a great way to start the new year would be to have a big sleepover where we just read together and talk about the books we’re excited about. Look! I even made a tent for you.”

You turn around, following her gaze. Indeed, across from Xiaolong’s tent is your very own blanket fort – you were worried for a second that you had to squeeze into Xiaolong’s tiny one! You make yourself comfortable in your own fort, and glance around; it’s pretty cosy in here.

So what books are you excited about, Xiaolong? you ask.

A big smile grows on Xiaolong’s face at your question. She sits across from you, and holds up one of the books in her stack. And thus begins your blanket fort party, where she shares with you all the books she’s excited to read this year.

Friends, I went down the Goodreads rabbit hole. I thought to myself, okay, I’ll just put together a simple list of 8 books that I’m excited about! And so I did a lot of research. Five hours later, I found over 70 wonderful diverse books that are releasing in 2019 alone – and I’m still not finished looking. And I realised, oh dear, choosing only EIGHT BOOKS RELEASING IN 2019 is an impossible task.

So rather than agonise for hours about which eight books to choose, I decided to do a week-long feature of all the books I am excited about!

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