My Year in Reading-2019

**DISCLAIMER: This list is not inclusive of authors I know, or who are friends ’cause … yeah.**

I think I read about 55 books in 2019. I enjoyed most of them, but these were my standouts ranked in order. If you want to buy them, the titles are hyperlinked.

1. Normal People by Sally Rooney — a truly insightful, boldly written and emotionally resonant book. This author is obviously all about craft and not about popular consumption. Having also read her debut, Conversations with Friends, I can safely say this author is one of the most exciting new voices I’ve read in ages. Don’t let the whimsical cover of Conversations with Friends fool you though, this is not chick lit. Her publisher should rethink their strategy for marketing her work.

2. Small, Silent Things by Robin Page — dark, and painful and unflinching about creating characters who are real with no fear of making them unlikeable. Pulls the components of trauma apart so you can really look at what it can do to a person and how it stays with them. A stark reminder that time doesn’t heal all wounds. The promotion of this book was woefully inadequate in my opinion.

3. A Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarinbest work I’ve ever read about the struggle of Black immigrants who fit neither in mainstream (i.e. white) or Black America. Behold the Dreamers did that extraordinarily well also, but this one had a certain rhythm and cadence that resonated more deeply with me for some reason.

4. The Water Dancer by Ta Nehisi Coates — poetic, beautiful writing coupled with solid analysis of the peculiar intimacy between American whites and Blacks that developed (and still hasn’t been resolved or fully understood) because of Black people’s enslavement. I was prepared to dismiss this as hype but nope, he writes fiction just as compellingly as he does social and political commentary.

5. Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent — dark, twisted and trippy AF. One of those books that you are both glad and regretful you read. I was introduced to this writer through her book Unraveling Oliver and that, too, was very dark. One critic described that book as “pitch black.” And yup. Like this one, it definitely was. I like writers who aren’t afraid of ugliness. Liz Nugent definitely isn’t.

I reviewed all these books on Goodreads, and will review all those I read in 2020.

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