The Tea and Ink Society Book Oscars Are Here!


The third annual Tea and Ink Society Book Oscars are here! This year there were nine awards. Check out which books won Best Hero, Best Vintage Novel, Best Dialogue, and more…

Top-down view of a row of books on a shelf

I like to award “Book Oscars” as part of my reflection on the reading year. This is my version of a “best of” or favourite reads list (although there are many, many good books I didn’t have room for!). I don’t always feature the same categories from year to year; I shuffle it up based on the types of books I read.

For instance, this year there’s no “Best Romantic Storyline” award. A bit unfortunate, that. Many of the books I read had hints of romance, but there were few swoon-worthy love stories à la North and South or Jane Austen. However, there were several novels that vied for Best Setting and Best Thriller; those were tough awards to choose.

I hope you enjoy Volume III of the annual Book Oscars! For previous award ceremonies, check out Volume I and Volume II.

Welcome to the Tea and Ink Society 2019 Book Oscars!

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - stack of antique books with a red ribbon

Best Heroine

This year, I really appreciated Margaret Lea from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Margaret is a smart Gothic heroine who can stand with the likes of Marian Halcombe and Mina Harker. I loved how thoroughly bookish she is, and wish I had as much time as she does to read, write, and curate books!

If you love this genre, also see my list of Classic Gothic Novels for Wild and Windswept Nights.

The Fisherman's Lady by George MacDonald - collage of fisherman with a stately home and a woman in the background

Best Hero

This award goes straight to Malcolm MacPhail of The Fisherman’s Lady by George MacDonald. Malcolm’s disposition won me over: he’s cheerful and makes the best of every situation. Also to his credit he has a sharp sense of right and wrong, he’s deeply considerate of others, a man of action, fiercely loyal, humble, takes pride in his work, and honestly I could go on and on! MacDonald seems to have created the perfect hero. Yet reading the book you also get a sense that Malcolm is still very human. He’s youthful and there’s much he doesn’t know, he can be rash and hotheaded. I’m hoping to continue his story by reading The Marquis’ Secret this year.

See this post for more books set in Scotland!

Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House - yellow background with black silhouette of a mansion and an eye superimposed on top

Best Dialogue

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson was deliciously unsettling. A large part of that was due to the dialogue, which is laced with possible double and triple meanings. There’s also a strong internal dialogue happening with Eleanor, the story’s unreliable narrator, that adds to the mystery and suspense. This is a novel I need to read multiple times to sort through…it reminds me of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw in the way it plays with your mind.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware - old window with bare branches outside

Best Setting and Descriptions

For this category I look for a book that really nailed the atmosphere, and this year The Lying Game by Ruth Ware takes the prize. Ware’s books are all physiological thrillers (thus far), but I think her settings are one of her greatest strengths as an author. This one takes place along a salty, bleak and beautiful estuary of the English Channel. I could taste, feel, smell, hear everything about the Reach and the Tide Mill house as vividly as if I was experiencing my own memories.

N. B.: Ruth Ware’s books contain plenty of language and substance abuse, so ye be warned.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace - three little girls in late Victorian dress

Best Vintage Novel

My favourite vintage novel was Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. It’s the first book in a sweet, old-fashioned series that several bookish friends had recommended to me. The books were published in the 1940s and 50s, but are set at the turn of the century–they are semi-autobiographical of Lovelace’s own growing up.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart - blurry image of teenagers swimming in the ocean

Best Young Adult Novel

Each year I mix in a few YA novels, and for 2019 E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars was the best! (It also made my list for 5 haunting summer page turners.) A lot of modern-day YA novels like to pack in fancy adjectives and similes, I’ve found. I liked We Were Liars because it didn’t overdo it; the story is tight and maintains suspense straight through to the end.

N. B.: This novel has a twist ending, and to keep that in tact you really shouldn’t read too many of the critics’ blurbs about it…or even Amazon reviews, honestly. Some people just aren’t careful with spoilers(:

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - red background with bold black lettering

Best Thriller

I had a taste for thrillers this past year. It was my pregnancy book craving; the closer I got to Baby Roo’s due date the more thrillers I read! I’m giving the prize to Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (even though the novel could also be called a sci-fi). Dark Matter was a lightning fast, stay-up-late-to-finish-it read. But I also loved that it was cerebral and extremely thought provoking. If I was the librarian at Hogwarts I’d strongly recommend this for three of the houses:

  • Hufflepuff, because it centers around a man who’s desperate to get home
  • Slytherin, because it ponders questions of ambition and fame
  • Ravenclaw, because the plot itself is a brain bender
Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh - blue background with drawing of a single seashell

Best Non-Fiction

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea wins this award, although Deep Work was a close runner-up. Of the two, I think I’m more likely to re-read Gift from the Sea. In fact, this is a book I’d love to read on an annual basis. Although the book is over 50 years old, I found Lindbergh’s essays to be very timely and thought provoking.

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller - white background, yellow and red text, with a megaphone

Best Business Book

I like mixing professional development books into my reading list–books that will make me a better blogger and entrepreneur. This year’s hit was Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. It was eye opening and exciting to see how narrative frameworks can inform my online business. If you’re a business owner, whether of a brick-and-mortar store, a website, or anything, I highly recommend this one!

These are the awards for my favourite novels and nonfiction reads of 2018.

My reading theme for the new year

I noticed a theme as I began writing out TBR titles for the coming year: new-to-me reads by authors I already love. My interest this year lies in rounding out my knowledge of familiar authors, reading their more esoteric works or their unfinished novels.

How about you? What Book Oscars would you award to last year’s reads? Do you have a reading theme for 2019?

More Book Oscars:

The Tea and Ink Society Book Oscars Are Here!

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  1. I love your list! I did an Academy Award version of my favorite reads, too. It was hard to choose! I think you are right on about Ruth Ware. Her settings always perfectly create the mood. Dark Matters is on my TBR for this year. Great post! Thanks!

    1. Oh, fun! I will go check out your post! And can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Dark Matter. I can’t imagine anyone NOT liking it, except perhaps if they didn’t like/expect some of the twists the book takes. I found it very unpredictable, but so fascinating.

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