At one point last year, probably as a New Year’s Resolution, I announced that I would read 52 books in 2019 in an attempt to repair my broken brain, plus 52 seemed a neat number because I was turning that age and there were 52 weeks in a year! Ah, the promise of a new year. While I didn’t read 52, I didn’t totally fail. I reviewed a number on my blog, (and will link to those reviews) but honestly, some didn’t merit a review and there was one I forgot I read until this morning. Was it that bad or so forgettable? Who knows? A couple were books that I re-read, which I say counts. Did you know that Christopher Lee (Sauron in The Lord of the Rings) read the LOTR trilogy every year? I think re-reading books is a way to measure your evolution and there are a number I have read again and again (The Stand, A Long Way Down, His Dark Materials and American Gods, to name a few) over the years.
One book this year stood out as exceptional and that is The Overstory, by Richard Powers. His book wields the power of great novels and that is to literally change minds. I am a better person for reading this book and I may just write a longer review, but for now I need to let the story simmer.
Some of the better books I enjoyed were Pachinko (that’s a whole chapter about Korean suffering I didn’t know) The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (this was his first foray into fiction and it didn’t disappoint), Killers of the Flower Moon (damn, we’ve treated Native Americans like shit), Dark Money (I think I deserve some sort of grad degree in Econ/Pub Policy for finishing it!) and The Uninhabitable Earth (we’re so fucked, but we can change the ending if we take this story seriously)
Do I have reading goals for 2020? I think I can read 20 books, but I’d like to stretch and read 24–two a month–which will allow me to go for quality over quantity.
So here it is, the 30 books that helped form my year.
1)Pachinko-Min Jin Lee
4)Chasing Hillary-Amy Chozick
5)There There-Tommy Orange
8)The Undoing Project-Michael Lewis
9)So you Want to Talk About Race-Ijeoma Oluo
10)Dark Money-Jane Mayer
11)The Storyteller’s Secret-Carmine Gallo
12)The Uninhabitable Earth-David Wallace Wells
13)The Female Persuasion-Meg Wolitzer
14)Modern Tarot-Michelle Tea
15)Big Magic-Elizabeth Gilbert
16)Killers of the Flower Moon-David Grann
17)Where the Crawdads Sing-Delia Owens
18)The Nickel Boys-Colson Whitehead
19)The Water Dancer-Ta-Nehishi Coates
20-The Ideas: The Seven Elements of a Viable Story-Erik Bork
21)Talking to Strangers-Malcolm Gladwell
22)The Testaments-Margaret Atwood
23)The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane-Lisa See
24)The Death of Truth-Michiko Kakatani
25)Okay, Fine, Whatever-Courtney Hameister
26)Old Soul’s Guidebook-Ainslee McLeod
28)Man’s Search for Meaning-Viktor Frankl
29)The Overstory-Richard Powers
30)G’Morning, G’Night-Lin Manuel Miranda