Every December, I go over my favorite reads of the year and then buy those books for my friends & family. Sometimes everyone gets the same book (last year, I bought five copies of Louise Erdrich’s LaRose). Sometimes I tailor it to what I think each person will love. Of course, some people on my list don’t like to read. So I buy them chocolate as a consolation.
Here are three of the most compelling books I read this year—the ones I’ll be pushing into the hands of my reading loved-ones this year:
The Overstory by Richard Powers: A book that will turn even the mildest of nature admirers into full-blown tree huggers. Powers interweaves short story-esque chapters to unfold a powerful narrative where trees feel like the main characters. I loved everything about it. If you’re a person swayed by accolades, it also won the Pulitzer Prize (not that that’s always a clincher—Less won last year, which seemed like a strange choice).
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro: I’m pretty sure this is Shapiro’s, like, 5th memoir—most of which center around her beloved father, whose identity comes up for question in this latest book. She’s got an incredible talent for dramatic storytelling. I couldn’t put it down.
Another Brooklyn by Jaqueline Woodson: She’s actually got a newer book out this year, Red at the Bone, which I liked, but not as well as Another Brooklyn. At under 200 pages, it’s incredibly short, so it’s perfect for people will no time to read (I’m giving it to my sister busy with grad school). A story about a girl looking back on her childhood in Brooklyn—the different trajectories her close friends took and her yearning for her lost mother. Her words are like beautiful knives that will cut you on the page. If you’re into that kind of thing. But who isn’t?
And because I can never limit myself when making book lists, here are some others I absolutely LOVED this year:
–The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Always read anything by Patchett. Always.)
–Outline by Rachel Cusk (A writer’s writer.)
–The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (A feminist/philosophical/underrated classic)
–The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (How have I only now come to know what a powerful writer Anne was?)
–Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (Middle grade but I loved it WAY more than my kids. I’m a bit of a DiCamillo groupie.)
–Pure Land: A True Story of Three Lives, Three Cultures, And the Search for Heaven on Earth by Annette McGivney (Without question the best non-fiction book I read this year. Well-researched, compassionate, heartbreaking.)
What were your favorite books read in 2019? Please comment & let me know! I’m always looking to stock my TBR list for next year…