2019 in Books

January 5th, 2020

In 2019, I read 36 books, with the breakdown as follows:

Picture books: 1 (the delightful Fireboat by Maira Kalman, which I should have gotten around to sooner).

Middle-grade and YA: 10. Highlights: re-reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, which I love as much as ever. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, which combines regular high school stuff with bigger issues in a way I thought worked really well.

Fiction for grown-ups: 18. Interestingly, I only read one translated work of fiction for grown-ups this year, and it was a graphic novel—I feel like I usually read more fictional works in translation than that. Highlights: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, which just hit so many sweet spots for me in terms of style and details. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, which was totally engrossing to me and great to read while I was on jury duty. Fox 8 by George Saunders, which was smart and funny and moving and made me want to read more by him. Spring by Ali Smith, because she’s my favorite. Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney, because it’s so smart and so readable and so good. Crudo by Olivia Laing, for the same reasons.

Non-fiction: 6 (of which three were translated from other languages). None of the nonfiction books I read in 2019 totally blew me away, but I liked them all. If I’m picking highlights, I think I’d say The Philosopher in the Kitchen by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, which had some very interesting and very funny bits, even if I didn’t love all of it, and Walking by Erling Kagge, because I like walking and I like reading about it and I really liked the parts where Kagge talks about his own more offbeat walking experiences, like walking in LA or walking through sewer tunnels in New York with an urban explorer.

Plays: 1 (the excellent The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe, which I read one weekend morning).

I don’t really have specific 2020 reading goals, though there are some kids’ series I’ve never finished reading that I’d like to pick up where I left off (the Anastasia Krupnik books and the Dido Twite books come to mind) and also some books I’ve been gifted that I want to read (including Normal People by Sally Rooney and Black Wave by Michelle Tea).

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