Year in Reading 2019

I read a lot, sometimes a book a week if I have the time and energy. Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

Catch and Kill. Ronan Farrow. Fast-paced and deep look into investigations of the #MeToo movement and its impact on the author.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion. Jia Tolentino. These essays analyze modern and internet culture and how it has changed society, how we find and define our place in it, and how we view ourselves in these new and changing contexts.

Lot: Stories. Bryan Washington. I really loved these interconnected vignettes that formed a narrative around the life of a Houston boy and his family as he grew to adulthood and the neighborhood evolved around him.

American Predator. Maureen Callahan. This book was really scary. I read a lot of true crime, and this one was the first in a long time that truly unsettled me.

Working. Robert Caro. I’m late to Robert Caro, but after reading this I immediately reserved two of his other books through my library system. His writes clearly, but beautifully and humanizes his subjects without pulling punches.

Henri Nouwen. Discernment. I NEEDED to read this book when I read it. Truly life-changing for me. I downloaded some of his other books, and they were good, but I truly found this one at the right time. (Or perhaps it found me, if you are into that sort of thing.)

Calypso. David Sedaris. The best of the best at his best. Sedaris takes universal challenges (aging ourselves, caring for aging parents) and makes them both poignant and hilarious.

Heart of the Sea : The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. Nathaniel Philbrick. I read this as I was missing and reminiscing on The Terror: Season One, and had already read the book on which that show had been based. I was looking for a true seafaring adventure and this did not disappoint. It was heartbreaking at times, and the descriptions of historic Nantucket as a place bound so tightly to the whaling industry were interesting as well.

Wave. Sonali Deraniyagala. Heartbreaking and beautifully written, this first-person account of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lank is told by a woman who lost her husband, two children and parents to the wave. It is a short book, spare in language but not without depth, emotion and even beauty.

Book of Night Women. Marlon James. This author has had a few big publications since this book was published in 2010, but this one is no less strong than his more recent works. It tells the story of a gifted young woman in Jamaica coming of age at the time of a slave revolt on the sugar plantation where she lives. It is hard to read in some parts, but also hard to look away from because the story is so compelling, and James’s gifted prose gives each scene the importance and gravity it rightfully deserves.