2019 My Year In Books

Every year I read 52 books. Some years that’s easy, some years it’s hard. This year, it was hard. Child rearing, work commitments and the siren song of the youtube video all conspired to keep me from my reading goal, but I prevailed. There’s a decent argument that my goal of 52 books a year is obsessive and sub-optimal, but whatever, I’m committed to it.

Here’s a recap of all the books and some quick thoughts on which I thought were the best.

Best Fiction

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison– I’m embarrassed to admit how little of Morrison’s work I’ve read, and unfortunately it took her passing for me to dig into it. The Bluest Eye was gorgeous, heart rending and felt close to perfect. Looking forward to reading everything else this great woman wrote.

Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison


Best Nonfiction

This one is a tie between two excellent, but very different, books — Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, a deep look at the vast expanse of history of human and Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe, a close up examination of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Despite their differences, both books blew me away and I was thinking about them long after I finished them

Book That Surprised The Heck Out Of Me With How Good It Was

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up In Love With the World by Yongey Rinpoche but what I got was a thrilling adventure story,  a primer to many of the basic tenets of Tibetan Buddhism and an incredible mediation on ego and death. This was the book I recommended more than any other this year and everyone who read it, loved it.

Version 2
Yongey Rinpoche

Best Poetry

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky is a slim volume that packs a powerful punch. When people tell me they don’t like poetry I’m going to suggest they check this out.

Ok, so below I’ve listed every book I read in 2019 along with a note of whether I recommend it for general readers, recommend it for enthusiasts in the subject matter or don’t recommend it all. I also have a monthly book review email list I’m trying desperately to maintain, sign up for that at What Are You Reading.

On to the books!


Every Single Book I Read In 2019

1. New York 2140, Kim Stanley Robinson — Recommended

2. Elephant In the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America, Tommy Tomlinson — Recommended

3. Sapien: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari — Recommended

4. Becoming Ageless: Four Secrets To Looking and Feeling Younger Than Ever, Strauss Zelnick — Not Recommended

5. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, Cal Newport— Recommended

6. The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal and the Quest for Earth’s Ultimate Trophy, Paige Williams — Recommended for the enthusiast

7. Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, David Wallace-Wells — Recommended

8. Home Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Harari –– Recommended

9. Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts, Brene Brown — Recommended for the Enthusiast

 10. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari — Recommended

11. On The Move: A Life, Oliver Sachs — Recommended

12. The Mastermind: Drug, Empire Murder Betrayal, Evan Ratliff — Recommended for the enthusiast

13. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Marlon James — Not Recommended

14. Death and the Kings Horseman, Wole Soyinka — Recommended

15. American Spy, Lauren Wilinson — Recommended

16 Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, Patrick Radden Keefe — Recommended

17. The Border, Don Winslow –Recommended

18. Magical Negro: Poems, Morgan Parker — Recommended

19. Norma Jean Baker of Troy, Anne Carson — Recommended

20. Foucault in California: A True Story Wherein the Great Philosopher Drops Acid in the Valley of Death, Simeon Wade —  Recommended for the Enthusiast

21. Range: Why Generalist Triumph in a Specialized World, David Epstein — Recommended

22. in Love With The World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying, Yongey Minguy Rinpoche — Recommended

23. Fall or Dodge in Hell, Neal Stephenson — Recommended for the Enthusiast

24. Midnight in Chernobyl, Adam Higginbotham— Recommended

25. Gironimo: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy, Tim Moore — Recommended for the Enthusiast

26. The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction, Matthew B. Crawford — Not Recommended

27. Running to the Edge: A Band of Misfits and the Guru Who Unlocked the Secrets of Speed, Matthew Futterman — Recommended for the Enthusiast

28. Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino— Recommended

29. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass — Recommended

30. The Weil Conjectures: On Math and the Pursuit of the Unknown, Karen Olsson — Recommended for the enthusiast

31. Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison  — Recommended

32. Brief Evidence of Heaven, M. Nazadi Keita — Recommended for the Enthusiast

33. Stillness Is Key, Ryan Holiday— Recommended

34. Reborn: Journals and Notebooks 1947-1963, Susan Sontag— Recommended for the Enthusiast

35. Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Lethem — Recommended

36. Felon: Poems, Reginald Dwayne Butts — Recommended

37. Who Wrote the Bible, Richard Elliott Friedman— Recommended for the Enthusiast

38.  Nada, Jean-Patrick Manchette — Recommended

39. The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band That Burned a Million Pounds, John Higgs— Recommended

40. Life 3.0 Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Max Tegmark — Recommended

41. Deaf Republic: Poems, Ilya Kaminsky— Recommended

42. Be Recorder: Poems, Carmen Gimenez Smith — Recommended for the Enthusiast

43. Three to Kill, Jean-Patrick Manchette — Recommended

44. Fatale, Jean-Patrick Manchette — Recommended

45. Misneh Torah — Talmud Torah, Maimonides — Recommended

46.  The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, Steven Greenblatt— Recommended

47. The Mad and the Bad, Jean-Patrick Manchette — Recommended

48. Ivory Pearl, Jean-Patrick Manchette— Recommended

49. Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows, Melanie Joy — Recommended for the Enthusiast

50. Prone Gunman, Jean-Patrick Manchette — Recommended

51. Arrivals and Departures, Arthur Koestler — Recommended

52. Indistractible: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life, Nir Eyal — Recommended for the Enthusiast


So that’s what I read in 2019, now tell me, what are you reading?

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