Favorite Books for 2019


As I have in recent years, I read 50 books this year. Here are my favorites:

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay. This is an impressively told story demonstrating that privilege can give a person the power to harm others while intending to help them. The setting is Bangalore and Kashmir; I came away with the knowledge that understanding what has happened in that region is hard to come by.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. The racism at work in American life is not the whole story for the characters. They come to life within that framework and have addicting stories. I loved them all.

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton. It’s the wild and woolly language that was irresistible here. A tale narrated by a teenage Australian boy running for his life who is occasionally introspective, well, it was great.

Becoming by Michelle Obama. This was my most joyful and fun read of the year. It was a wonderful book and she is an amazing woman. As our political world worsens, I will listen to her reading the audiobook as an antidote.

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park. The two strains of this book, the main character’s “now” and a slowly revealed previous event, come together in a mesmerizing story. It left me feeling uplifted and hopeful.

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. A half-true recounting of the childhood of the crime reporter/author, this is the tale of being raised by an elderly murderer, parents who dealt heroin, and an absent alcoholic father. Yet it is a full-throated expression of love for them all.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. I loved this book so much that as I read it, I was alarmed at how quickly it was speeding by. The three generations of a family came to life as the author tells the story of an ambitious young woman, undeterred from her goals by a pregnancy when she was a teenager.

Taboo by Kim Scott. Written by a Noongar man, this story is about land that had become taboo to aboriginal people because of a massacre perpetrated against them. Work by the community to return to the farm to create a Peace Park involved recounting stories and letting ancestors hear their language being spoken there again.

All God’s Dangers:  The Life of Nate Shaw by Theodore Rosengarten. My book of the year is this autobiography of a man born in 1885 who never learned to read or write. His strong spirit and wonderful story-telling are inspirational. And we must be grateful to Theodore Rosengarten who recorded hours of stories that have brought wonder to so many since 1974 when the book was published.

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