Best Books of 2019
Overall I read 139 books this year. That includes books I read with Forest—because even though they are kid books, I’m still reading! That doesn’t include books on our own shelves at home or books I’ve re-read again and again with him, mostly just library books throughout this year. I started logging his books last year so I could easily figure out what we’re reading but also books he likes and we might want to revisit later. He often finds books we’ve checked out before and grabs them again so he has a good memory for that anyway.
As for “my” books, I read 45 books out of a goal of 40. That includes a few that I abandoned. Overall, that’s a pretty good reading year I think! Here are a few of my favorites from 2019!
- Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams
I’m a latecomer to TTW but I will be reading more of her books in the future. My short write-up from my January 2019 Book Report is here but for a short synopsis, this book covers environmental history in the 1980s in and around SLC, Utah as well as coinciding events in her family history, in particular her mother’s death. TTW is a phenomenal writer and the book captivated me from the start.
- Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home by Heather “Anish” Anderson
My recent write-up in Adventure Reads II covers this book quite well. Loved it!
- Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland by Ken Ilgunas
Ken Ilgunas undertakes a walk across Canada and the US along the proposed and partially constructed routes of the Keystone XL pipeline and this book covers that adventure. Part thru-hike memoir, part environmental history/investigative journalism, this book was great for not being a typical hiking memoir.
- Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
Earlier this year I tried to read (listen) to Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy but found it too dry, rambling, and philosophical. It was never cohesive enough to grab my attention and say I liked it. Around that same time I began seeing reviews of Jia Tolentino’s book and added myself to the long queue of people in line borrow it as an e-book. Still finding myself quite down that list six months later I just requested the paper version and had it within a couple of weeks. Tolentino’s book filled the gap where Odell’s missed for me and I was quickly reading through the pages. Tolentino is a bonafide millennial whereas I find myself straddling two generations, Gen-X and millennial, and typically identify with more Gen-X tendencies than the other generation. That said, I could identify with her quite a bit, particularly her essays about her early life living in Houston as well as her early use of the internet. The book is a look at our navel gazing ways, but also the many ways we delude ourselves in the age of social media as well as the ways Big Tech has its hand in all of it. It’s hard to explain what this book really is but it is a delightful read and I highly recommend it.
- The Royal We (Royal We #1)by Heather Cocks
A spin on the Prince William and Kate story but sub an American and some other intrigue and voila you’ve got a slightly cheesy but highly addicting chick-lit romance novel. Extremely satisfying!
- Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton
A great introduction to May Sarton and her non-fiction works. This one covers her move to Nelson, NH in the mid-20th century. The way she writes about light is what grabbed me and held my attention.
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
This one seemed to slowly take off in the podcast world before I saw more people talking about it elsewhere. The premise is a therapist ends up going through a traumatic event in her life which then causes her to seek therapy and during the course of that begins sorting out some other things in her life. While all of this is going on she’s also writing about several of her own patients and how they are using therapy to sort out their own life. Great read, very insightful, definitely recommend!
- Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah
Ah, I loved this book! A field biologist working remotely studying birds for her thesis comes across a girl named Ursa in her backyard one day and attempts to talk to the girl, who says she’s an alien. It’s obvious something nefarious is going on but she can’t figure out what to do. The biologists, Joanna, befriends a neighbor down the road and then the story takes off there. A good mix of mystery, science, and a little romance, this book came in third for Goodreads’ Best Fiction of 2019.
- The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross
A historical fiction novel spanning a century, it begins with a young Irish girl escaping with her fiancé on a ship to NYC in the early 1900s. Along the way she manages to get pregnant, have her fiancé die on the ship coming over, and then find herself in a predicament of knowing just about no one in America. The book changes perspectives several times to fill in gaps in time or events where other characters aren’t seeing that perspective so you get some things fulfilled. I enjoyed the book as a whole but was sad a few things weren’t wrapped up as tidily as I would have wanted.
- Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
Late to the Mary Oliver scene, I’ve had this book on my wishlist to read for years. I finally bought it this summer with birthday money and I wasn’t disappointed. Most were natural history type essays though a few were more literary (and subsequently held my attention less) but overall this was a well-rounded introduction to Oliver.
Patrice La Vigne
I might have to put “The Latecomers” on my list. Congrats on exceeding your reading expectations!! I’m hoping to read quite a few books the next few months in Alaska. I can’t ever seem to get in a reading mode when we are moving from place to place. I don’t know why.