A year in reading, 2019
I realized, a few days after Goodreads told me that I had read 65 books this year, that I was upset that the number wasn’t lower.
Don’t get me wrong, I read some phenomenal books and I’m glad I was able to devour each one that I did, but there are books from earlier this year that I don’t really remember, and that makes me sad. I’ve always prided myself in being mindful in most things I do; mindful reading is something that I have to work on.
Next year, I will read much fewer than 65 books. I will be more mindful about what I read, and I will (hopefully, fingers crossed) try to take some notes and share my marginalia on each of the books I read in 2020.
A few stats on the 65 books I read this year:
- Fiction: 28 (43%)
- Nonfiction: 20 (30%)
- Poetry: 14 (22%)
- Graphic Novel: 3 (5%)
- Written by a female author: 42 (65%)
- Written by a BIPOC author: 38 (58%)
Favourite books of the year
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
This is not, at all, an easy book to read. At times it made me angry, at others it made me sad, at others, hopeful. Through it all, I was reminded by just how gorgeous Mr. Whitehead’s prose can be, and how even the bleakest of stories can be made beautiful through the crafting of his words.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
I have never read a book in my life that is anything like this—in structure, in tone, in theme—and after reading this, I now want every book to be like this. Part travel journal, part history book, part meditation on life, Flights is what so many other books aspire to be. What a tour de force.
There There by Tommy Orange
I scribbled down some marginalia on this book and shared it earlier this year. From my notes: “The voices of the novel are resonant: they sing and echo much after you have put the book down.”
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
I had a friend tell me last year that he was worried about talking about race because he was worried that no matter what he said, it would be wrong, or come out wrong, and he would be labeled a racist. I gave him a copy of this book and reminded him that being labeled a racist wasn’t the worst thing in the world: sitting around and watching injustice and not saying anything about it was much worse.
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
I’m a sucker for an excellent essay collection, and Ms. Tolentino’s collection brought that excellence poignantly and with aplomb: it was raw yet polished, strong yet subtle, thoughtful yet fun. It would be unfair to call this just an essay collection; it is more aptly an entry point to an incredible, important way of looking at the world.
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
There are verses in this collection that shook me so deeply that it felt like the words were carved into my skin, and that I would wear them like a tattoo for life as a reminder of just how beautifully violent and poignantly visceral Smith’s words can be. (More here.)
The Marvellous Arithmetics of Distance by Audre Lorde
I included some notes on this collection in my marginalia on poetry that I shared earlier this year. From the notes: “They are using poetry to enlighten, to incite, to create change; they do this with power, with strength, and with beauty.”
- Normal People by Sally Rooney
- Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
- Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli