It’s January 1, and according to my 2019 spreadsheet, I finished 64 books last year. That’s a huge leap from the 2018 total of 37 — a jump that I attribute to my extended illness and the increased free time I had due to not working.
Since I didn’t write up every single book I burned through last year, let’s take a broad overview of some highlights and lowlights.
I didn’t indulge in many fun, flighty books in 2019. That wasn’t intentional, but scanning through the list it’s easy to notice that I focused on some dark subject matter. From Jason Rezaian’s Prisoner to two gritty Cristina Alger thrillers, The Swallows by Lisa Lutz, She Said, Catch and Kill, Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox, Just Mercy (I really want to see the movie!) — none are for the feint of heart. Even Trick Mirror, which I’m reading now, and Unfollow—another one I’m currently working on — are dense and take some energy to read. Not that it’s a bad thing. I’m just saying a lot of the books I enjoyed took something out of me this year.
Here are a few light read recommendations:
- American Royals by Katharine McGee was a really unique book about the Washington family, a Windsor-esque dynasty that became royalty because their patriarch, George Washington, accepted the throne offered to him by the rebels when they defeated the British.
- Girl Logic by Iliza Schlesinger is probably my favorite comedic book of the year. I adore Iliza, and was thrilled to attend one of her stand-up shows in Portland, ME this summer. Her writing style is just as unpretentious and hilarious as her comedy. Although the book isn’t a new release, her storytelling abilities are timeless and she gives some insightful advice in the vein of Amy Poehler’s Yes Please!
- Also in consideration: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, Savage News by Jessica Yellin, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco, American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton, and Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner.
The subject matter for these may be tougher to handle, or they may be more dry / nonfiction / not able to be categorized as “light” reads.
- Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
- Whiskey When We’re Dry by John Larison — a stark, unique Western story, updated for modern time and utterly unforgettable.
- Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Julie Gottlieb — a therapist reflecting on her own therapy.
- Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow — I cannot stop thinking/talking about this book. His podcast is also excellent.
- Vox by Christina Dalcher — for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale
- Life Will Be The Death of Me by Chelsea Handler. Yes, she’s a comedian, but this book is completely different than anything she’s written before.
- Scrublands by Chris Hammer
- To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins
- Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen
- Anything written by Cristina Alger — I discovered her this year and her books are fantastic.
Ones to avoid
Books that, for whatever reason, didn’t work for me.
- The Rumor by Lesley Kara, Looker by Laura Sims, Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland
Happy reading! Here’s to all the great books that 2020 will bring our way 🙂