What I Read in 2019

Unforgettable last read of the year The older I get, the more I give myself permission to abandon books that don’t capture me by 50 pages. Sometimes, I still consider it a personal failing (e.g. why am I the only person who couldn’t finish the highly lauded Where the Crawdads Sing) but mostly I now blame it on the book’s shortcomings! I’m also learning to skip lightweight books recommended by my bookclub that make me feel icky.

In 2020, I plan to read even more books to avoid the media deluge of election year coverage and the time suck of mindless internetting. Here’s how I closed out this decade in books:

2019 books

Warlight by Michael Ondaage.  This book still lingers. Gorgeous, inventive storytelling of wartime London. Top 5

Autumn by  Monica Ali.  I can’t remember what this one is about so that may tell you something.

Alice Project by Kate Quinn.  My year of reading about history’s unsung women. Powerful novel of  WW11

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate. I loved and was deeply moved by this historically based story.

Rooster Bar by John Grisham. A fun, light read about a motley group of lawyers.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Yup, this is the one that got away. I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I’ll revisit in 2020.

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar Goshen.   Scorching, disturbing and memorable story that takes place in the Negev.

Becoming by Michelle Obama.  Listening to this one was like hanging with a wise but down to earth friend. Loved spending time with Michelle.

It Ends With Us by Lisa Wingate. Dreary “soft porn ” story of abusive relationship. Young adult level. Skip it!

Calypso by David Sedaris. Laughed my ass off. Highly recommend.

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday. Can’t remember much about this but I think I liked it. Maybe not.

Pachinko  by Min Jin Lee. Loved this historical novel that explores the Korean experience with Japan over two wars. Top 5

Tin Man by Sarah Winman.   Odd story that I can’t remember.

Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl.  I love everything Ruth writes. She is a master of description in a life devoted to elevating food and food writing.

Still Lives by Maria Hummel. Murder mystery, tortured women artists, trendy times, celebrity endorsement. Skip it!

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.  LIghtweight historically-based multi-generational love story in Cuba before and after Castro.

On the beach.  I disliked several “soft porn YA” books recommended by my book club but this was a summer read and I succumbed to its sexy castaway plot.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Fabulous storytelling, wonderful plot and insight into the single lives of our mothers in mid century. Top 5

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. Outstanding, lyrical refugee story. Top 5

Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates.  Evolution of a philanthropists and an inspiration to all women to step outside their comfort zones

On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous.  Abandoned this one and feel only slightly guilty.

Sapiens  by Yuval Hariri. Abandoned after a few chapters as I got the gist of our pre-human history and then it’s just details.

House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I read this years ago….but this time I read it in Spanish for my class. Masterful vignettes of growing up

The New Girl by Daniel DeSilva.   De Silva is my go to author for page turning thrillers when flying long distances. He still delivers!

The People of Forever Are Not Afraid.  What do young Israeli womebn in the army really think about. Kinda disturbing novel but worth reading

Night Tiger  by Yangsee Choo. Spectacular, mysterious and mystical novel that takes place in Malaysia.  In my top 5.

The Library Book by Susan Orleans. I love libraries. I love the Los Angeles Public Library. And I loved this book and all its minutia

Lost Girl of Paris by Pam Jenoff. Another historical novel of unheralded women who spied for England during WW11. Excellent

Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I’m a Patchett fan and this is a stirring novel of how we make, destroy and repair families. Thanks Lisa for recommending!

Homegoing by Yaa Gyassi.  My last read of the year. Unputdownable, multi-generational novel of the slavery experience on the African tribes who collaborated or were conquered. Brilliant.

Happy Reading!



  1. In my list I forgot to mention Joyce Carol Oates’s The Gravedigger’s Daughter, another of her works focusing on violence directed against women. She does that subject better than anyone else.

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Eek. I just wrote a long response and inadvertently hit the erase key. I never keep a list, just read and then recommend or discard books. (And its 11pm on NYE, adding to the difficulty.) in the next few days I’ll try to cobble together a reasonable list, although, I must admit, this year I read more non-fiction than usual.

    Sent from my iPad



  3. Ditto on Alice Project, Before We Were Yours, Becoming, and the New Girl! I thought I was the only one who did like Where the Crawdads – glad I’m not alone. Lost Girl of Paris is next on my “to read” list and you’re the third person to recommend Pachinko so I MUST get to it in 2020. May I suggest The Sewing Machine, the Invisible Bridge, The Tubman Comman, The FLight Portfolio, and Great Believers for your 2020 list. ENJOY!


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