Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2019 (Plus Some Stats)

I have to begin this annual post by saying a few things:

1. I made my Goodreads goal of 72 books with about 3 hours to spare. Each year I increase it by one book, so in forty years I'm totally screwed
2. I don't count audiobooks as books read; I've talked about it before, but I don't consider it reading at that's that. If you want to fight me on it name your time and place and I'll bring some hardbacks to throw. I'm kidding. But I refuse to waiver on this definition of reading for myself, but you do you. 
3. I am eternally thankful for authors who devote their lives to creating the books we love so much- even "bad" books require so much time, energy, creativity, and hustle. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself, thank you for allowing me to escape, thank you for making me think.
4. I've been asked a lot lately about whether I speed read. I definitely do not- I do read on the faster side, but I also prioritize reading. I watch very little TV and always have a book nearby.

Alright. The important stuff! You probably already looked at the picture, but, here's a super quick rationale as to why each made the cut:

1. Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat- I'm pretty sure that this is the first cookbook to ever grace my list, but I read this one cover-to-cover and I loved every second of it. About 2/3 of it is actually cooking theory, if you will, on each of the elements in the title. She provides scientific information, anecdotes, and examples for her concepts and it reads beautifully. 

2. The Overstory by Richard Powers- I love trees so much, so although I did go in biased, Powers' writing and ability to create a complex narrative won me over entirely. His commentary on nature, humanity, and how everything is connected is beautiful. 

3. The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben- While we're talking about trees, this nonfiction primer on some of the lesser-known attributes of trees was fascinating from beginning to end. I learned so much and also loved the simplistic illustrations.

4. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo- I'm a sucker for the occasional sweeping family narrative, and boy this is it. While Lombardo is an eloquent writer, I loved how she represented the family unit and detailed the intricacies of their relationships.

5. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai- If someone was holding a gun to my head and making me choose a number one, this would probably be it. The characters, the story, the writing, the subject matter... it's just the whole package.

6. I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O'Farrell- Man, was this book wonderful. O'Farrell writes about "seventeen brushes with death," some of which are literal, some more metaphorical. I've had a few students read it and they too found so much to appreciate. 

7. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado- Hot damn is this book a firecracker! I loved this collection of short stories and loved the insertion of well-placed sci-fi/magical realism/fantasy elements throughout. It was fun, it was emotional, it was beautifully written... I can't wait to read her memoir at some point this year.

8. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy- I've had several students recommend this book to me over the years and I finally bought it. I've read a few other of his books and always really liked them; while I was reading this one I probably said "why am I not reading more McCarthy?" a dozen times. His writing is just so deliberate and his plots so precise. 

9. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami- This was another author whom I repeated the above sentiments while reading (sub McCarthy for Murakami). This was actually the first novel of his I've read, the only other work being his running memoir. I loved the pacing- it was so slow and sort of ethereal at times (like when they're out of the city). It's hard to describe, but there was just something about it that mesmerized me.

10. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson- This was one of the last books I've read this year and is a great example as to why you don't make these lists until the very end. I loved Woodson's story of class, race, and teenage pregnancy told through multiple perspectives. It was simple, but incredibly poignant. 

And now for some stats!

Out of the 72 books I read...

30 were nonfiction (41%)

44 were written by women (61%)

1 was a graphic novel (1%)

7 were (what I'd consider) classics (9%)

80 pages: The shortest book (The Metamorphosis)

532 pages: The longest book (The Most Fun We Ever Had)

20,892 pages: my total for the year (according to GR)

57 pages: how many pages I read on average a day 

17: the amount of 5-star reviews I'd give if I rated books on GR

What did you read? 

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on a year of great reading and thanks for sharing your recommendations.

    Happy New Year 🥳