Goodreads sure makes it easy to review your reading for the year!
In 2019, I read 80 books. Just under 26,600 pages. Slightly more than 2018. Which is all meaningless information, actually. But interesting all the same. Most of the books I read in 2019 came from my local library. I read fewer audiobooks this year than usual (and I have no explanation for that) (although I'm afraid that it might be that I watched more TV). A few of the books I read in 2019 were . . . pretty mediocre. But most were quite decent and very worth reading. (My average rating was 3.9.) I wrote a review for every book I read.
After all those books and all those pages, here are the books that really stand out for me this year -- a list of my Most Memorable Reads of 2019 (not all these books were 5-star reads for me, but they were memorable all the same):
First, the book that changed my thinking more than any other book this year. White Fragility is not an easy read -- but it is an important one. It's good to shake up the way you look at the world sometimes, y'know?! I think about this book every day. Highly recommended.
Then, there's the book that changed my digital habits in a life-shifting way: Digital Minimalism. Sure, I still Google useless facts too often, and I scroll through Instagram a bit more often than I really want to, but generally . . . I'm much more aware of how and when I use technology, and I feel far less tethered to my phone.
I started the year with Milkman . . . and I'm still in awe of it. The story was powerful, and the storytelling structure was unique. I loved the fresh voice and perspective of the novel's narrator. While it's probably not a book for everyone, if you like something a bit different and you're in the mood for something to chew on, give this one a try.
I always have a hard time choosing just one favorite book of the year, but if pressed . . . I'd probably tell you it was The Topeka School. Again, probably not a book for everyone. It's brilliant -- but challenging. And so worth the effort.
Then there's The Heart's Invisible Furies. Epic, funny, poignant, and so full of heart it just . . . bursts! (I talked Tom into reading this one after me, so I had a chance to listen to/talk through the best parts all over again as he read.) If you like sprawling epics that will rip your heart out while making you laugh, this one is for you!
Oh, Lanny! You stole my heart. This quick, little read was such a magical treat!
I read Red at the Bone right at the end of the year - almost my last book of 2019. There is so much packed into this short book -- great characters, compelling story, unique storytelling style. This is one you won't want to miss!
And then there's Just Mercy -- the first book we read together, which will always make it special to me! Y'know, it's pretty . . . risky . . . to try something new. Like a bloggy book group. So it was heartening that so many of you responded positively to this new (and evolving) idea, and that you . . . read with us! Our first book was an interesting look at the criminal justice system - and particularly at death row inmates - in the US. Not an easy read, but an important one.
What to look for from me (reading-wise) in 2020?
I don't have any solid reading goals or plans in mind, and certainly not related to the number of books I plan to read. I don't think I need to read "more" and I don't think I need to read "harder," so I'll keep to my usual strategy: paying attention to the major book prizes (the Women's Prize, the Man-Booker, and the National Book Award are my favorites), checking out the recommendations from the New York Times and the New Yorker and other readers I trust, and then . . . well . . . just be open to general inspiration.
As far as very loose plans, well . . . this year, I'd like to read something by Virginia Woolf. (I never have. I think it's time.) It's probably time for me to re-read some Jane Austen. (I go on a Jane Austen binge every decade or so. . . ). I'm interested in a few memoirs right now, and I have a short stack of books on art and creativity that I'd like to tackle this year.
How about you? Do you have any reading plans this year?
I invite you to Read With Us! We're just starting in on Fever by Mary Beth Keane (available for Kindle - $1.99 now). Be sure to read Carole's promotional/introductory post about the book today. We'll be discussing Fever throughout the month of February, so you still have plenty of time to join us!
My other highly recommended (5 star) reads this year:
Olive, Again (Elizabeth Strout)
The World That We Knew (Alice Hoffman)
The Dutch House (Ann Patchett)
Grief is the Thing With Feathers (Max Porter)
Disappearing Earth (Julia Phillips)
The Murmur of Bees (Sofía Segovia)
The Nickel Boys (Colson Whitehead)
Women Talking (Miriam Toewes)
The Warmth of Other Suns (Isabel Wilkerson)
Inland (Téa Obreht)
Spring (Ali Smith)
The Great Believers (Rebecca Makkai)
Improvements (Jean Silber)
(For my reviews on Goodreads, or to follow along with what I'm reading, see my blog sidebar.)