I say this every year, but it always bears repeating. I am in no way qualified or interested in making any kind of list of the best books of 2019. But of the books I read this year, these are the ones I enjoyed the most.
First, some stats regarding my 2019 reading. I read 45 books total. Of that, 27 were print, 18 audio, 31 were fiction, 14 non-fiction, 27 women, 18 men, 4 authors of color and 3 LGBTQ+ authors (that I know of). Obviously I still have much work to do diversifying my reading lists next year. Also it should be noted, that this was the first year I kept a printed reading log instead of an electronic one to help clear as much of the static from my head as possible.
THE SWALLOWS by Lisa Lutz was everything I love about Catcher in the Rye and Megan Abbott’s work with a sly wit and heart-piercing empathy that is all her own.
There are two dudes on this list and their books were similar, so I’m lumping them together. THE WAREHOUSE by Rob Hart and WANDERERS by Chuck Wendig challenged my imaginations in ways I didn’t think were possible and I loved them for it.
LAST WOMAN STANDING by Amy Gentry was the nastiest, most fun revenge novel I read in a year with a lot of great revenge novels. It made me realize even more how terrible women have it at literally every level of society.
PIECES OF HER by Karin Slaughter absolutely wrecked me. It was brilliant and terrifying and hit every single movement with precision. It was one of the most perfectly constructed books I’ve ever read.
LADY IN THE LAKE by Laura Lippman was everything I love in books about writers, books about coming of age and books about clueless white people. If Laura was a man, this book would be a finalist for every major literary award out there.
SMALL FRY by Lisa Brennan-Jobs is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Her style is vivid and open and unnervingly observant. It was one of the most brilliant portraits of an extremely complex man I’ve read. She had a high bar to hit with this book and cleared it w/ ease.
Of all the books I read with podcasts as their core conceit, CONVICTION by Denise Mina was the best. I didn’t expect this book to be so much fun. It was like an old Bob Hope roadshow movie but with knives and murders instead of musical numbers.
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY by Steph Cha was the only book I’ve ever read that almost immediately dethroned LA Requiem as my favorite LA crime novel. It both made me wildly jealous, but also inspired me to aim higher and deeper with my work.
GOD LAND by Lyz Lenz is inspiring and frustrating and enlightening all at once. It’s the perfect book for this time in my life and our history.