Last year was a big year for my reading life. After reading a few phenomenal short story collections, and because I dared to try writing fiction, I wanted to study short stories. I subscribed to The New Yorker for a weekly dose of curated short fiction. I started with a 12-issue trial, and when in the 10th issue of my trial there was a new Olive Kitteridge story from Elizabeth Strout, I bought a 6-month subscription. Each week when a new issue arrives, and my husband deposits the mail on the kitchen table, I say “ooh!”, pick up the magazine, and flip to the page 2 table of contents to see who the fiction author will be. Sometimes I even read other parts of the magazine, and I have been delighted to come across surprises like personal essays from David Sedaris or Anthony Lane’s “The Intoxicating History of Gin,” which honest-to-god used the word “recharché.”
I also subscribed to a quarterly magazine called Offscreen. It’s beautifully designed, independent, and takes an unvarnished, thoughtful view of technology with the hopes of helping us steer it in humane directions. I enjoy quiet time away from a screen reading and thinking about the tech world we live and work in.
Those subscriptions are novelties in my reading life, and I enjoy their fresh differentness compared to my usual long-form reading. But by far the most significant reading I did in 2019 was to complete my Andrea Reads America project (with a few detours). Oh! And I read two Tolstoy novels! After six years of American literature, I now get to move into the wide open world of reading without rules. If my tracking in Goodreads is to be trusted, I read 60 books in 2019:
- The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
- Wildwood by Colin Meloy
- Mink River by Brian Doyle
- Oreo by Fran Ross
- The Mysteries of Pittsburg by Michael Chabon ♥
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
- The Prince of Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Short Stories edited by Radmila J. Gorup and Nadežda Obradović
- The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
- Buck: A Memoir by M.K. Asante
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky ♥
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy ♥
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
- Animal Farm by George Orwell ♥
- Clover by Dori Sanders
- The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
- Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman ♥
- The Feminine Revolution by Amy Stanton and Catherine Connors
- Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris
- The Soul of the Indian by Charles Alexander Eastman
- Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- This Side of Eternity by Rosalyn McMillan
- Kaya, Belgrade, and The Good American by Mirjana Đurđević, Alice Copple-Tošić (Translator)
- Bloodroot by Amy Greene
- A Death in the Family by James Agee
- Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa
- The Old Order: Stories of the South by Katherine Anne Porter ♥
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert ♥
- When the Emperoror Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
- The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
- My Garden by Jamaica Kincaid
- Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
- Secrets of Six-Figure Women by Barbara Stanny
- The Last Cowgirl by Jana Richman
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King ♥
- Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
- Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
- The Known World by Edward P. Jones
- Bread Alone by Judi Hendricks ♥
- The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie ♥
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ♥
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- John Henry Days by Colson Whitehead
- Strange As This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake
- Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work That Matters by Ryan Singer (Basecamp)
- Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr
- The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry
- The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach ♥
- Cowboys and East Indians by Nina McConigley
- The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains by Owen Wister
- Open Season by C.J. Box
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
- Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva ♥
- I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson ♥
- The Patterns of Paper Monsters by Emma Rathbone
Thanks to Matt Mullenweg whose 29 Books in 2019 post inspired me to reflect on my reading life in 2019. I was particularly struck by his comment about how little books cost for how much they give. Looking through my list above, I think I purchased fewer than 5 of them; the rest I was able to borrow from the library.
5 thoughts on “Reading in 2019”
Great job. I planned to read 12 books. but other things got in the way. I still did a lot of reading but it was more educational purposes rather than recreational. Won’t set any goal this year but I plan to read more books than I did last year.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think I’ve read about six of these books. I am pleased there is so much overlap! I feel smart!
LikeLiked by 1 person
There will be even more in 2020 when I start reading your recommendations 😀
I haven’t read the Chabon you mention, but I’ve read a few of his and liked a couple quite a bit. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was a particular favorite. I’ve added this one to my to-read list.
I read The Art of Fielding and thought I remembered liking it a lot, but on looking back at my review, I’m reminded that I felt more meh about it — it was a good book that to me fell short of being the great book it had the promise to be.
You’ve piqued my interest in the Dickens book, but I’m a little iffy, as the sort of whimsical fictionalization of a public figure that it sounds like tends to fall flat for me.
I liked John Henry Days a lot and like Whitehead a lot (though he’s a bit uneven). The Underground Railroad is well worth a read if you’re not turned off to his work.
My senior high school English teacher, who I reconnected with 20 years later through an unlikely late connection via my Dad, recommended Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and I liked it but didn’t love it. I sort of suspect it’s a better movie than it was a book.
I’ve been an on-again-off-again subscriber to Harper’s in part for the monthly short story and in part for the current events and longer thoughtful articles and in part for the book reviews. I always wind up feeling guilty for not reading it cover to cover every month and let it lapse, though. I can’t imagine confronting a fancy magazine like The New Yorker weekly!
LikeLiked by 1 person
> I can’t imagine confronting a fancy magazine like The New Yorker weekly!
But the font is so pretty! I just like to gaze at that even if I don’t read the words.
I don’t think you’d like the Dickens book. It’s whimsical and takes a lot of liberties, I think you’d probably roll your eyes a lot.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Comments are closed.