My 2019 in books

Here’s how the year shook out:

The gold blocks were my favorites. They, and other superlatives, appear later in this post.

Just for comparison’s sake, below is 2018. I read 40% more this year! Moving to a new city where you know fewer people might have helped 🙂

Book list

1/2 Sabrina – Nick Drnaso
1/6 My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
1/8 Cassandra at the Wedding – Dorothy Baker
1/19 Circe – Madeline Miller
1/25 Cracking the PM Interview – Gayle Laakmann McDowell
2/3 Pavane for a Dead Princess – Park Min-gyu
2/6 Theory of Bastards – Audrey Schulman
2/19 The True Deceiver – Tove Jansson
2/24 Apartment Therapy: Complete and Happy Home – Maxwell Ryan and Janel Laban
2/27 Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure – Maxwell Ryan
3/28 Hey Ladies – Caroline Moss and Michelle Markowitz
4/06 The Power of Moments – Chip Heath and Dan Heath
4/09 Heartburn – Nora Ephron
4/10 Bad Blood – John Carreyrou
4/11 The Cost of Living – Deborah Levy
4/12 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
5/20 Mr. Fox – Helen Oyeyemi
5/21 Working – Robert Caro
5/26 Spring – Ali Smith
6/8 Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
6/16 Winners Take All – Anand Giridharadas
6/17 The Leopard – Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa
6/27 Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson
7/1 Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating – Lauren Liess
7/3 Save Me the Plums – Ruth Reichl
7/5 A Gentleman in Moscow – Amos Towles
7/8 Trillion Dollar Coach – Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
7/16 The Vegetarian – Han Kang
7/18 The Art of Gathering – Priya Parker
7/23 Reading Like a Writer – Francine Prose
8/4 A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
08/8 The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead
08/10 Good Talk – Mira Jacob
08/11 Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari
08/12 Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home – Nora Krug
8/20 The Library Book – Susan Orlean
9/2 Attached – Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
9/2 How to Change Your Mind – Michael Pollan
9/3 Very Nice – Marcy Dermansky
9/9 The Last Samurai – Helen DeWitt
9/19 Light in August – William Faulkner
9/22 Trick Mirror – Jia Tolentino
10/3 Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls – T Kira Madden
10/6 Anne of the Island – Lucy Maud Montgomery
10/7 Cozy: The Art of Arranging Yourself in the World – Isabel Gillies
10/10 Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle – Emily Nagoski
10/14 Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
10/20 Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men – Caroline Criado Perez
10/24 Thinking in Bets – Annie Duke
11/4 Make It Scream, Make It Burn – Leslie Jamison
11/10 Happiness – Aminatta Forna
11/24 Three Women – Lisa Taddeo
12/3 Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come – Jessica Pan
12/18 Maybe You Should Talk to Someone – Lori Gottlieb
12/27 Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day – Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky


books I mentioned most
My Year of Rest and Relaxation
Winners Take All
The Art of Gathering
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

[over]stuffed, ambitious, lovable novels
Midnight’s Children
The Last Samurai
vs compact, perfect stakes
My Year of Rest and Relaxation
The True Deceiver
The Vegetarian

books I most wish I’d written
The Art of Gathering
Good Talk
Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home

Just Mercy
Good Talk
The Art of Gathering
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

I was curious about something then really wish I hadn’t checked…

can anyone research if anyone wrote anything before 2007? thanks in advance!!

This really surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. Everything is geared around new! If I think about where I hear about books: podcast host recommendations, browsing bookstores, popping into the library and skimming the shelf right by the entrance, and even the library apps for audiobooks and e-books: everything defaults to new.

I read 14 books that left very little impression on me, many of which were the equivalent of an impulse candy buy near the registers. It’s not clear that this caused me any harm, but it does make me feel guilty – that’s more than many people read in a year.

Perspective check!

35/55 by women (63%, up 18% from 2018). Monster 13 book in a row tear by women in the winter

14/55 by POC (25%. Barely up, 2%, from 2018).

I know that there’s some tension between wanting these ratios to get higher, vs wanting to not read as much ultra-contemporary stuff.

Goals for 2020

Mainly, read to actually answer questions / advance my thinking on particular topics. I think I read opposite of how most people do – for most of my life, I treated reading like fancy dinners (look at what innovative techniques these authors use!) and less “what am I actually hungry for?” It blew my mind to realize that reading isn’t just abstract fun, but rather a direct way of hearing from smart people who would otherwise be removed from you.

Proxies for whether I’m achieving that:
– lower % of books published this year
– lower % of books that leave very little impression on me