Top Books in 2019

Top Books in 2019

Top Books in 2019

Blog Post

Madeleine Hagan: The Salt Compass Blog


My list of “top books in 2019” is significantly longer than last year’s list, but that is just because I could not narrow the list down any further. Each of these titles got at least a 4-star rating from me, and if you decide to read any of them I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did. Happy reading!​

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Books For Those Who Love Books

Books For Those Who Love Books

I not only love reading books, I also love reading books about books (their pages, covers, spines, fonts, etc.) especially if authors get creative and make them magical. Because to me, of course, they are. There is immense power in story and narrative, which can be used to teach vital concepts, express ideas, share perspectives, and nourish creativity. (I wrote a post several years ago about the power of books here if you want to check it out.) While not all of these books accomplish all those things (not all of these rank as Five Stars for me), each of them does recognize a special quality about books and surrounds the reader with vivid descriptions of libraries, ancient tomes, characters, and they make me love the act of reading.

So to those who love reading books about magical books, this one is for you. It’s not a comprehensive list by any means, but it’s a few of the ones I’ve read and enjoyed that make the ordinary books lined up on my shelves seem all the more mysterious and full of magic.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke on The Salt Compass Bookshelf

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

This book comes to mind the fastest because I read it the earliest. I first read it when I was very young, and it remains to this day one of my favorite “rainy day” books because the first few pages are so beautifully vivid and draw you into the book before you even realize that the book is about that very subject. The story is about Meggie and her father Mo, who has the power to pull things (and people) out of books by reading them aloud. But the catch is, it’s an even exchange. For everything that comes out of the book world, something from this world goes into the book, and one night things go horribly wrong.

“If you take a book with you on a journey,” Mo had said when he put the first one in her box, “an odd thing happens: The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words: the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it… yes, books are like flypaper—memories cling to the printed page better than anything else.”
― Cornelia Funke, Inkheart

Inkheart a fantastic read for those who love the magic of books (particularly reading aloud). So next time the day is particularly rainy and you’re listening to thunder from your living room couch, I hope you give this book a try.

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van LeerBetween-Lines-1Between-Lines-2

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

This book is tons of fun for a number of reasons.

1) It’s about a character and a reader who fall in love.

2) There are different colored fonts for each perspective.

3) There are a few simple illustrations in some of the margins throughout the book that make it really fun plus some full page illustrations scattered throughout the entire story.

“How do you know that you are not part of a book? That someone’s not reading your story right now?”
― Jodi Picoult, Between the Lines

Delilah, the main character, has read and reread her favorite fairy tale from the library over and over and over (to the point where she won’t actually admit how many times), and then one day, Prince Oliver in the fairy tale actually speaks to her from inside the book. And the adventure begins. I consider this one to be a clean, fluffy, sweet, summer story that happens to have a magical book in it, and when I read it in high school I thought it was super cute. There’s also a sequel called Off The Page that continues the story of these characters, but I haven’t gotten around to reading that one just yet.

The Book JumperBook-Jumper-2

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser

I picked this book up off the shelf in Barnes and Noble for the cover alone which is gorgeous. There’s a girl with a dress made of book pages and a knight made entirely of book pages both standing on an open book. Yes. The story follows Amy Lennox who learns how to jump in and out of the books she reads (how cool is that?!) in a huge house on an island in Scotland. But then someone starts stealing from the books that she visits and she realizes her life might be in danger. She decides to join Will, another book jumper, and solve the mystery.  I enjoyed the moors and the sense of mystery and fairy tale in this one.

“It was full of whispered words, the lure of stories waiting to be read, a rustle of promise that hung in the air. How many adventures were hidden here in paper and ink, how many great love stories, how many epic battles?”
― Mechthild Gläser, The Book Jumper

(Mechthild Gläser has written another book called The Forgotten Book which is on my To Be Read list as well.)

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Welcome to a world of libraries and grimoires – magical books that can whisper and tend to transform into monsters when mistreated. Apprentices spend their days training to become wardens in the Great Libraries, protecting the moody grimoires. One night, death creeps through the halls of the Summershall Library, unnoticed until it’s too late. Apprentice Elisabeth Scrivener is blamed for a murderous act of sabotage she didn’t commit and handed over to the evil sorcerers who will decide her fate. Everyone knows sorcerers summon demons and commit atrocious acts, but when Elisabeth meets Nathaniel Thorn and his assistant Silas, she wonders if perhaps her lessons about sorcerers were not entirely accurate after all. As the murders continue in each of the Great Libraries, Elisabeth discovers that what is at stake is on a much grander scale, and a devastating scheme centuries in the making is finally unfolding.

“Books, too, had hearts, though they were not the same as people’s, and a book’s heart could be broken: she had seen it happen before. Grimoires that refused to open, their voices gone silent, or whose ink faded and bled across the pages like tears.”
― Margaret Rogerson, Sorcery of Thorns

With the musty smell of books, the emerald green of magic spells, and romance that blooms beneath freshly falling snow, I found Sorcery of Thorns and all of its vibrant enchantment the perfect fiction to cozy up with on a rainy weekend. (And can we just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous the cover is? Wow.)


Are there other books out there that are about magical books that you have read and enjoyed? I have several others waiting on my To Be Read list that I will get around to reading soon hopefully. Until then, happy reading!

Thanks For Stopping By The Salt Compass: Madeleine Hagan

Books About Magical Books

Other books I’ve been loving lately:

Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hansen

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak


On Reading Of Enchanted Woods

On Reading Of Enchanted Woods

“He does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods; the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted.”
― C.S. Lewis

As I write this I’m sitting in the middle of it. I finished a book this morning and returned it to its home on the library shelf hesitantly. Not wanting to let go of it just yet. There was magic within the pages and castle towers, ancient tombs, and trees swollen with corruption and madness. Bravery, deception, foolishness, and perseverance were there as well. Continue reading

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Five Star Recommendations on The Salt Compass BookshelfBridge of Clay

By Markus Zusak

Reviews for books like this always intimidate me because I feel some kind of silly pressure to do the book justice. I can’t. It’s too good. Too well-written. But I will glow about it anyway.

Within these pages you will meet the Dunbar boys. There’s five of them.

And the fourth brother’s name is Clay. Continue reading

All Things New by John Eldredge

All Things New by John Eldredge

All Things NewFive Star Recommendations on The Salt Compass Bookshelf

by John Eldredge

I have been a huge fan of John Eldredge’s books for a long time. The Sacred Romance, Beautiful Outlaw, Wild At Heart, and Captivating (which is also on the bookshelf here) among many more have all revealed so much to me about the character of God and how He intended us to live and thrive. He has a way of explaining how he sees the world and God that speaks a language I know, yet seldom hear. Continue reading

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher

Come Matter HereFive Star Recommendations on The Salt Compass Bookshelf

By Hannah Brencher

“This has definitely been the best story I’ve gotten to live so far, though I can’t place a bow on top of it and give it a happy ending or make it sound more complete than it really is. I’m not looking for that any more. This story will keep going. I’m done with thinking I will ‘arrive someday’ and that arrival will somehow fuel my completion. I’m already here.”

Continue reading

Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw

Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw

Five Star Recommendations on The Salt Compass BookshelfDawn of Wonder (The Wakening, Book #1)

By Jonathan Renshaw

This book right here: It absolutely blew me away. It’s one of the highest quality fantasy adventures I’ve read in a really long time, and this is going to be a solid 1000 words of me absolutely glowing about it. While there are so many words I could use to describe it, EPIC is at the top of the list and I would give it 6 stars if that was possible. So much ground is covered and so much story is told in these pages, and by the time you finish it you will genuinely feel like you have gone on an adventure that lasted years. Continue reading

Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

Five Star Recommendations on The Salt Compass Bookshelf

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

by John and Stasi Eldredge

I firmly believe that every girl should read this book as many times as possible in their lifetime. It completely changed the way I saw myself by showing the reader what God thinks of women, the crown of His creation, and how He designed them. Continue reading