Tuesday, January 7, 2020

2019 Reading List

Okay, here's what I read in 2019. The links will take you to a post, and in 2019, for the first time, those posts mostly include photos of the relevant pages of my hand-written Reading Journal. As I explained in my first post last January, I hoped this approach, complemented by posts on my Instagram reading account (with links to those posts included in the corresponding blogpost), would be a more manageable way to keep and share a record of the books I read. The "reviews" are sketchier than I'd like, quick impressions, a few notes that I hope will refresh my memory later.

The books outlined in green are the ones I recommend most highly. I used Yellow to point out others I think deserve attention for various reasons, but when I look through the list again, I see other titles I could highlight as well except then I'll quickly end up with the entire list highlighted, which rather defeats the purpose.

In fact, if you're looking for a mystery, most of those I've read are entertaining and well-written, although I was lukewarm about two or three and I say so in the linked posts. Ditto for the literary fiction and the memoirs. The Jemisin series is very good science fiction, if that's your genre. Neither it nor fantasy are really mine; hence I haven't highlighted.

So without further ado. . . .

1. C.J. Samson, Dissolution (historical mystery)
2. Kate Atkinson, Transcription (literary fiction)
3. Michael Robotham, Shatter (mystery/thriller)
4. Samantha Dion Baker, Draw Your Day: An Inspiring Guide to Keeping a Sketch Journal
5. N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (science fiction)
6. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard, trans. Archibald Colquhoun (literary fiction)
7. Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1  (didn't finish, although I did get to almost 500 pages) (L.F.)
8. Philippe Georget, Summertime: All The Cats Are Bored (mystery, set in France)
9. Anna Burns, Milkman **** (L.F., won the Booker 2018)
10. Térèse Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries: A Memoir
11. Jackie Kae Ellis, The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris
12. Helen Atlee, The Land Where Lemons Grow (creative Non-Fiction -- Italy, cultural history
13. Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia (Children's novel; read to my granddaughter)
14. Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road (20-year relationship told through correspondence; read to my husband, second time reading this little gem)
15. N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate (Science Fiction)
16. Guillaume Musso, Demain  (en français)
17. Glynnis MacNicol, No One Tells You This (Memoir)
18. Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman (Memoir)
19. Donna Leon, The Golden Egg (Mystery)
20. Robin Robertson, The Long Take (Noir, Literary Fiction, Told in Verse & Prose, Booker finalist, Goldsmiths winner
21. Abu Bakr Al Rabbeah and Winnie Young, Homes (Memoir, as told to)
22. Denise Mina, Still Midnight (Mystery)
23. Donna Leon, By Its Cover (Mystery)
24. Rebecca Makai, The Borrower (LF, delightful, recommend)
25. Mick Herron, Slow Horses (mystery/thriller)
26. Mick Herron, Dead Lions (mystery/thriller)
27. Philippe Georget, Les Méfaits d'Hiver (mystery, en français)
28. Denise Mina, The End of the Wasp Season (mystery)
29. Philippe Georget, Les Violents d'Automne (mystery, en français)
This might be my favourite of the three "seasons" of these mysteries by Georget. It really clarified for me, once and for all, what was what with French Algeria and independence & pieds noirs & De Gaulle, etc. . . .
30. Rachel Cusk, Outline (LF)
31. James Lee Burke, New Iberia Blues (mystery)
32. Elizabeth Hay, All Things Consoled (memoir, parental loss)
33. Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things (novel, historical fiction, botany)
34. Elly Griffiths, The Stranger Diaries (mystery)
35. Raynor Winn, The Salt Path (memoir, highly recommend)
36. Sarah Moss, The Ghost Wall (LF/mystery/thriller)
37. Marcus Tanner, Croatia, A Nation Forged in War (still in progress. . . ) (non-fiction, history)
38. Mary Gabriel, Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Joan Mitchell, and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art  Recommended, Art History, Feminist and Cultural History
39. Denise Mina, Gods and Beasts (mystery)
40. Julian Barnes, The Only Story (LF)
41. John Keahey, Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean. (armchair travel)
42. Elly Griffiths, The Stone Circle (mystery)
43. Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (LF)
44. Ian Rankin, In a House of Lies (mystery)
45. Natalie Babbitt, The Search for Delicious (children's novel/"chapter book")
46. Rae Dunn, In Pursuit of Inspiration (creativity, making)
47. Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World (LF) Liked this very much.
48. Mario Giordano, Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, translated from German by John Brownjohn (mystery)
49. Jean-Christophe Rufin, Les Sept Mariages d'Edgar et Ludmila Read en français, highly recommend if you read French
50. Tommy Orange, There There (LF, recommended)
51. Slavenka Drakulić, Cafe Europa: Life After Communism  Croatia, journalism, history
52. Kate Atkinson, Big SkyMystery
53. Sue Gee, Reading in Bed     Novel
54. Denise Mina, The Red Road  Mystery
55. Denise Mina, Blood, Salt, Water  Mystery
56. Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man  Novel, Immigration, Women's Lives
57. Cherie Dimaline, Red Rooms Linked Short Stories
58. Elizabeth Gilbert, City of Girls     Novel, New York, theatre, independent women. . . Recommend as entertaining.. . 
59. Carlo Levi, Words Are Stones, Intro. Anita Desai, Trans. Anthony Shugaar, Also here Sicily, journalism, essays, cultural history
60. Viglis Hjorth, A House in Norway. Trans. Charlotte Barslund LF
61. Nell Painter, Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over Memoir, recommended
62. Simon Armitage, Walking Home travel memoir
63. Tembi Locke, From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home Sicily, Memoir, Grief
64. Alice Zeniter, L'Art de Perdre LF (Goncourt Prix de Lycéens) France-Algeria Recommended
65. Steven Price, Lampedusa  LF, Sicily
66. Jill Ciment, The Body in Question LF
67. Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Eduard Tulane Children's "chapter book"
68. Cynthea Masson, The Amber Garden (3rd volume in The Alchemists' Council) Fantasy
69. Mick Herron, Real Tigers Mystery
70. Julie Whelan, My Oxford Year Contemporary Romance,
71. Ta-Nahesi Coates, The Water Dancer  LF, Historical fiction,
72. Melissa Harrison, All Among the Barley LF, 
73. Donna Leon, Falling in Love Mystery
74. Deborah Levy, Hot Milk LF
75. Keigo Higashino, Midsummer's Equation Mystery

76, remembered and added January 30, 2020: Flynn Berry, Under the Harrow Thriller/Mystery

Comments, questions, suggestions always welcome.  Thanks for looking through my 2019 reading list. I'm very happy to have you here, reading alongside, in 2020.


Katherine C. James said...

Wonderful resource. Thank you, Frances. Noticed you didn’t highlight Heart Berries, but did There There. Loved difficult TT. (Difficult for me, an urban Indian born of an urban Indian born of two Indians forced into a US federal Indian school. The Foreword…) Hesitated to read HB, though the Indigenous authors were school mates in Santa Fe. HB seemed too painful. I’m still curious. ADORE 84 Charing Cross Road, which I’ve read over and over. x.

materfamilias said...

Katherine: I had to think about why I highlighted some but not others that I also liked very much. I guess I highlighted ones I felt more sure that a wider swathe of readers would also enjoy. Heart Berries will appeal more to a smaller group, of whom you would definitely be one. There are "triggers" in it, and there are stylistic choices that many would have trouble with, and the content, while moving and thoughtful and illuminating, is often difficult -- gender/sexual politics and colonial history and mental illness and damaged mother-child relationships. Did you read Sherman Alexie's mother-memoir (You Don't Have to Say You Love Me)? So different in many ways and male rather than female perspective, but many overlaps.
Me too, for 84 Charing Cross Road. So fun to read again, especially aloud if one can find a listener. . . .Or even if not. . .

Anonymous said...

It is wonderful that you post your Reading list every year-great source of ideas. We don't have a lot of overlap this time-so,yay! I have to start reading something of Denise Mina finally...one day!
My greatest discoveries in 2019. were Elif Shafak and Alina Bronsky.The other highlights might have been There,There; Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers; Esy Edugyan' Washington Black; Anna Burns' Milkman ( I've started to read Bernardine Evaristo's Girl,Woman,Other and there is something, I can't say what yet , that rings a bell... maybe...),Sally Rooney Normal People....
And I've enjoyed Peter May's and WJ Burley's mysteries a lot (Thank you Sue!)

Smithposts... said...

I marvel at the number of books you read in a year, I am just 30% of what you read. Last year you inspired me to keep a list, this year I hope to keep a list with comments...now I just have to finish some books. I am currently reading "The Cartiers". It is 656 pages and may take awhile, especially because I read it on kindle just before I go to sleep. I picked up "Old in Art School" based on your list but have currently put it down to read "To Shake the Sleeping Self" about bicycling from Oregon to Patagonia. Like others who can't put down a good mystery or novel, I am captivated by adventure stories. Give me a good read about hiking across the Sahara desert or rowing the Atlantic or hiking a mountain and I can't put it down. I do love a good memoir or biography and am branching into historical fiction.

materfamilias said...

Dottoressa: I've only just discovered Elif Shafak, and I'm looking forward to reading more. And I just finished Girl, Woman, Other, so you and I are pretty coordinated. Anna Burns' Milkman was one of my favourites last year, as you can see and also There There. If you really liked The Great Believers, I'll look for that because I really enjoyed The Borrower. . . I know you're going to like Denise Mina -- isn't it great to discover a new mystlogging. ery writer, especially if there's a series to catch up on. . .

Smithposts: I do spend a lot of time reading, it's true! Been that way since about five years old, although I've only been keeping a list since I started blogging. I think you'll find it satisfying to have that list, and eventually if you just jot a few notes, it really helps refresh the memory. . . . I was just in Powells Bookstore here in Portland (my husband's working here this week; I'm mostly here for Powells ;-) and saw copies of To Shake the Sleeping Self . . . I can see why you'd find that hard to put down. A good friend of mine biked the Carterra Austral last year with her husband -- I thought that was a long bike ride! Oregon to Patagonia? Crazy!

Anonymous said...

Amazing coincidence!
I've liked The Great Believers,it is about AIDS epidemic start,loosing a whole generation of young people and how it reflected on their friends and families,poignant.....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your list, I really appreciate the time to do this. I enjoy your recommendations, titles that I would not have come across normally..

materfamilias said...

Dottoressa: It is amazing, isn't it?! Reading soulmates ;-)
Anonymous: you're very welcome -- and you're also welcome to come back and let me know what you thought of any of these titles after reading them. You could even consider doing what Dottoressa does, just above your comment. She logs in as Anonymous, but at the end of her comment, she signs herself with a pseudonym, so that she maintains anonymity (although she and I have met "in real life" and know each other as well as my two trips to Zagreb and many emails have allowed). . . . but so that readers here get to know you a bit in the conversations that build. No pressure, though, and it's absolutely fine to comment as you've done today.