Saturday, January 4, 2020

Favorite books read in 2019

Here's my list of favorite books I read in 2019.  As I don't read a lot of new releases, most of these will be older, in some cases quite a bit older, than what you typically find in these lists...

  1. The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt, something I tracked down expressly because of one of those wildly premature "best of the century so far" lists that began appearing within the last year or so.  And I was pleasantly surprised to really love it!  
  2. Distant Star by Roberto Bolano, part of my push last year to collect and read all the remaining books from the late author I hadn't yet gotten around to.  This one focused on the little-explored legacy of Nazis who fled to South America following WWII, not merely from the spectacular reclamations for later trials, but the effects they had on the native populations, part of the youth that greatly affected Bolano's life.
  3. Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, which presents the imaginative response from another native perspective, this time as part of the Iraq War, a book I found at an airport.  (I recently bought a few more from another trip, and hope the results are even half as good.)
  4. Don Quixote by Cervantes, a first-time read of a classic, and hugely illuminating.
  5. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway, another first-time read of a classic, and by far the best book I've read in my recent push to finally read Papa.
  6. The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald, the first time I've read it since high school, and I'm pretty sure I got more out of it this time, and a greater appreciation.
  7. Heroes in Crisis by Tom King, a controversial graphic novel for some, but the next great piece of writing from my current favorite in the medium.
  8. Quichotte by Salman Rushdie, coincidentally released the same year I read the book on which it's mostly based.
  9. The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King by Jerome Charyn, a book based on Teddy Roosevelt by one of my favorite authors.
  10. Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry, the latest from one of my favorite writers, slowly working his way past strict humor.
I spend all year writing extensive reviews over at Goodreads, and then I write the bare minimum here...At least I know about as many people are likely to care one way or the other!


  1. I get your Goodreads posts via e-mail along with a couple of others and I read most of them.

  2. I haven't read Heroes in Crisis yet. Once the trade is on sale I'll buy it. I've read Don Quixote and Gatsby and I think For Whom the Bell Tolls.


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