best of 2019: year’s end

My year-in-review post will be up Wednesday, as per usual. But first, also as usual, I want to share the list of my favorite things I read this year. (You can see past years’ best-of lists at this tag.)

The short best-of-the-best list:

Honorable mentions:

Note that these are overwhelmingly new releases, which bodes well for the publishing industry in general (and probably reflects my reading habits) (and credit to my lovely editor Dave who sends me such great books to review).

Bonus: Shelf Awareness’s Best Books of the Year is available at that link. It includes none of my choices but that’s okay – more to choose from! Bonus-bonus: their Best Children’s and Teen Books.

Hooray for good books always! What are some of the best things you read this year?

Come back Wednesday to see a further breakdown of my reading habits in 2019.

5 Responses

  1. You’re costing me a lot of money Julia, and I couldn’t be happier! I’m so pleased I stumbled upon your website. But one question: how can The Wild Boy (for example) earn a ’10’ and be beat for the best of list by books earning a ‘9’? (I know, I know: it’s all subjective! My ‘favorite’ lists are ever-evolving.) Have a wonderful 2020. I’m off to stroll the 800-mile Arizona Trail and, as usual, books are the most ponderous part of my pack. Time to devolve into an electronic reader, I think. Gack!

  2. I am so glad you are here, friend! Sorry/glad about your wallet.

    About The Wild Boy: an excellent question! The answer is that when I read & reviewed the book I felt a 10; but by the end of the year I had read a good number that I felt more strongly about (by end of year), and found more memorable. I have very rarely been known to go back and change the original rating, and maybe I should do that here. So yes, it is subjective, twice – at the original review, and at the end-of-year review. (Who can ever pick a favorite, anyway?) Thanks for calling me on it. I only sort of know what I’m doing here.

    And thank you for sharing about your trip – how wonderful!! If you come back to these comments, would you share some of the reading you’ve prioritized to haul along??

    Keep up the good work! And thanks again for being here.

  3. Thanks for the reply! I hope I’m not calling you out on this Julia! I was merely wondering aloud. I’m trying to break the habit, but I’ve been diagnosed as incurable!

    With my lists I endeavor toward as much precision as possible, despite knowing they are utterly meaningless—and they do get shuffled around a lot. Some days I like and re-rank vanilla, some days are for chocolate. Some days I hate reading much more than a few blurbs online (but never the news!), so I avoid ingesting or ranking much of anything. There’s a scene in the flick ‘Finding Forrester’ (which ranks on my movie list as borderline passable: maybe a 6 out of 10) in which the main character, who has won a Pulitzer for his literary works, is caught reading the National Enquirer. He calls it his dessert, whereas The NY Times is dinner.

    My on-trail reading will almost assuredly consist of the guidebook(!) and perhaps a couple of thin works by Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and such. I have packed and repacked my backpack a few times already, but unfortunately for me, reducing the weight on the spine is practically a medical necessity. Something’s got to give; ideally something other than my vertebrae.

    That said, I’ve wanted to dive into The Wild Boy since you first reviewed it, and I have it sitting in various online shopping carts, alongside Jon Krakauer’s newest set of essays. This trip, which ought to last three months, give or take, would be ideal for these books.

    I don’t branch out enough and tend to read (and reread) these outdoorsy, adventure-ish, environmentally-slanted books. I know when I find a great one it is deemed as so because it engenders one primary behavior: it inspires me to get out and move! Only maps can do the job better, even though I can scarcely understand them.


    PS: I thought you might appreciate this write-up:

    • Wow. Thank you, Uriah! I’m sorry it took me a little while to reply here; aside from some personal life/travel dealings, I had to read that fascinating article.

      First, your own comments. I’m glad to be called out in this way! I just meant that you asked for an explanation of an apparent contradiction, and I’m glad to give it. I’m flattered anyone is paying such close attention to my little book blog. Thank you! Indeed, re: vanilla and chocolate. None of us subsists on a diet of one flavor of ice cream (this metaphor is breaking down) alone.

      Your walkabout sounds dreamy, and your reading too… are those Steinbecks rereads, or your first encounters? Have you read Cannery Row? That’s one of my favorites. If you get into The Wild Boy, obviously I’ll be interested in your take – in fact that goes for any of them. I love Krakauer! Seriously, you know I sometimes post guest reviews here. I bet your responses to Steinbeck, Cognetti, or any of them would be a great read. Drop me a line.

      And now, the Zephyr article. Whew. I had read a little bit of Irvine’s prose (via my father) and found her style offputting. This was a much deeper dive. Early in reading Stiles, I was troubled that she approached Irvine’s book with preconceived and negative notions. Then: wow, this book indeed sounds not good. (It took me longer to realize that I’d read some Irvine myself.) I also made the mistake of reading comments, which I don’t recommend (although thank you for *yours*, Uriah, both here and over there). In the end, I guess it’s all an interesting conversation, and some of it clearly intended in the spirit of debate and thoughtfulness. I can agree with the general concepts that Ed’s work is both a) timeless and deeply important, and b) of its time and context (for better and for worse). Obviously Irvine has the right to do her own work, but this book is not for me. That said, I think I last read Desert Solitaire in high school, I’m sorry to say. I’d love to reread it; it’s been sitting on a shelf for the last few years, but you know how that goes. (Aside: thank you for being so faithful to this blog which is awfully Abbey-less these days.) So I’m in no position to say how much it rings as offensively of its time, now. But I suspect there will still be much there to admire. And I’d bet money its style beats Irvine’s 50 times a day.

      Have a wonderful trip, Uriah, if you see this in time.

  4. […] New Year, friends! The other day you saw my best of the year post, and here we are today with another traditional annual post. (You can see my past years in review […]

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