The adventures, thoughts, and general scrawlings of a classical pianist

2019 in Books

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions (my philosophy being that if you want to improve something about yourself, you just start doing it no matter what day it is) but one of my sort-of goals this year was to write more and to publish maybe one blog post a month.

There are twelve months in a year. I ended up publishing…two posts. The first one was mostly written back in December 2018 so I don’t know if it even counts.

I recently logged into my blog dashboard for the first time in months and was faced with this list of recent drafts, the dates for which at least back up the fact that I tried.

(To be fair, I did record and release an EP this year, so.)

One 2019 goal that I did achieve was my resolution to read 52 new books—one for each week of the year. I pretty much stopped reading once mid-November hit (the end-of-year struggle is REAL) and I still got to 64.

I love reading other people’s book lists, so I thought I would post mine. A couple of notes:

  1. This is only a list of the new books in English I read this year. I don’t log re-reads of books I’ve already read, and I also don’t count books I’ve read in other languages.
  2. I only log books I’ve finished. There were a handful of books I started and disliked so much I just stopped reading them—they’re not counted in my total.
  3. I’ve marked standout books with the star emoji (⭐️). A standout book, to me, is a book that I would want to own in order to read it again and again, as well as one I would recommend wholeheartedly to other people. If you’re looking for book recommendations here, start with the standouts.
  4. There are a few books I read this year that I truly hated, and I’ve opted not to share them here, because 1) taste is subjective and I don’t want to discourage people from reading a book they might otherwise enjoy and 2) I don’t want the authors to go all Sarah Dessen on me.
  5. This year, I started writing on Patreon, and every week I publish a post in which, among other things, I recommend a book of the week with a short summary of the themes and what I got out of it. Links on the list go to the corresponding Patreon post.

The New Books I Read in 2019

  1. Sayako Murata, Convenience Store Woman
  2. Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer ⭐️
  3. Min Jin Lee, Pachinko ⭐️
  4. R.O. Kwon, The Incendiaries
  5. Mary Beard, Women and Power
  6. Leila Slimani, Lullaby
  7. Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties
  8. Min Jin Lee, Free Food for Millionaires ⭐️
  9. Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow ⭐️
  10. [REDACTED] ❌
  11. Shawna Yang Ryan, Green Island ⭐️
  12. Catherine Chung, Forgotten Country
  13. Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones
  14. Anna Burns, Milkman
  15. Lisa Ko, The Leavers
  16. David Sedaris, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
  17. Elif Batuman, The Idiot
  18. Ling Ma, Severance ⭐️
  19. Anissa Gray, The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
  20. Leila Slimani, Adele
  21. Helen Oyeyemi, Gingerbread
  22. Bryan Washington, Lot
  23. Namwali Serpell, The Old Drift
  24. Laila Lalami, The Other Americans ⭐️
  25. Susan Choi, Trust Exercise
  26. Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry
  27. Angie Kim, Miracle Creek ⭐️
  28. Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers ⭐️
  29. Helen Hoang, The Bride Test
  30. Sally Rooney, Normal People ⭐️
  31. Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
  32. Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous 
  33. Catherine Chung, The Tenth Muse ⭐️
  34. Gary Shteyngart, Lake Success
  35. Rachel Khong, Goodbye, Vitamin
  36. Wednesday Martin, Primates of Park Avenue
  37. Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night
  38. Elana K. Arnold, Damsel
  39. David Sedaris, Calypso
  40. Sue Burke, Semiosis
  41. [REDACTED] ❌
  42. [REDACTED] ❌
  43. Marina Warner, Once Upon a Time
  44. Lisa Rowe Fraustino, I Walk in Dread (Dear America)
  45. Jasmine Guillory, The Wedding Party
  46. Kristiana Gregory, Cannons at Dawn (Dear America)
  47. Kirby Larson, The Fences Between Us (Dear America) ⭐️
  48. Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others ⭐️
  49. Julie Otsuka, The Buddha in the Attic ⭐️
  50. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
  51. Mira T. Lee, Everything Here is Beautiful
  52. Amitava Kumar, Immigrant, Montana
  53. Madeline Miller, Circe
  54. Meg Jay, The Defining Decade
  55. Yangsze Choo, Night Tiger
  56. Sally Rooney, Conversations With Friends
  57. Yoko Ogawa, The Memory Police
  58. Mike Isaac, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber ⭐️
  59. Chanel Miller, Know My Name ⭐️
  60. Sherry Thomas, A Study in Scarlet Women
  61. Gretchen McCulloch, Because Internet ⭐️
  62. Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles ⭐️
  63. Amor Towles, Rules of Civility
  64. Ali Wong, Dear Girls ⭐️

Yes, I hadn’t read Pride and Prejudice before this year, and yes I got on a little of a Dear America kick in the 40s. I contain multitudes, okay??

My goal for 2020 is to read more new books than I read in 2019. I’m looking forward to mining other people’s 2019 reading lists for recommendations; feel free to plunder (and potentially judge) mine. Happy reading!

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