I have two reading goals, one of which is official and one of which is not.
My unofficial goal is to read at least 20 books a year—last year I read 20, so far this year I’m up to 26 (I blame being in a show hole since Daredevil ended).
My official goal is that of all the books I read, half are written by women and/or POC. The literary canon is dominated by white male voices, and while these authors are objectively great, they offer a limited perspective and limited representation to culture/society as a whole.
But I digress. The long and short of it is that I love to read, and I love to read voices that differ from my own. I’m taking the time to reflect on some of the great books I’ve read so far in 2019.
“Sing, Unburied, Sing”
– Jesmyn Ward
I also read “Salvage the Bones” by new-ish author Jesmyn Ward this year. Both books were brilliant, but SUS was my favorite. Ward reads like a modernized Toni Morrison (RIP 😭), but her storytelling is so unique and original that it stands well on its own. SUS is a Southern ghost story come to life, but it’s more haunting than scary. I can’t wait to see what Ward continues to write.
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The fact that Lupita Nyong’o has bought the rights to make this a movie tells you all you need to know. “Americanah” is the tale of star-crossed and ocean-crossed lovers, set in the backdrop of a hair braiding studio on the East coast. It addresses what it means to be black and African in the US and in England, and I honestly can’t recommend it enough.
“The Gifts of Imperfection”
– Brené Brown
I could go on for days about Brené Brown, but this book in particular honestly changed my life. I’ve never been big on nonfiction or self-help books; “The Gifts of Imperfection” turned me 180° in the best way possible. I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t benefit from remembering or learning how to be vulnerable and to own one’s imperfections.
– Cal Newport
Another example of me branching away from the fiction tree that has always ruled my life, “Digital Minimalism” is yet another nonfiction wonder. More than that, it’s just a wonderful book, period. It challenges us to put down the phones and replace them with our true passions and hobbies. I also liked how it encourages us to lean into boredom, rather than try to numb it.
“Where the Crawdads Sing”
– Delia Owens
Everyone has talked about this book, so I’ll just quickly say this: I read it in less than 24 hours and shirked all responsibility for a day to do so.
– Michael Crichton
One of my favorite movies, I wanted to read the book for a long time. It was awesome. I hadn’t read anything by Michael Crichton previously. I was delighted to learn that he is an inspiring fictional writer who makes very technical, scientific knowledge easy to comprehend, which is such a skill. I’m finishing the Dark Tower series (Stephen King) first, but after that I want to dive back into more of his works.
“The Secret Life of Bees”
– Sue Monk Kidd
I’m mentioning this one because I’ve read it close to 20 times, maybe more, in the past 15 years or so, and it still holds up. It’s one of my favorite books. I’ve tried a different book by Sue Monk Kidd and wasn’t into it, but my copy of TSLoB is tattered in a way that would make any author proud. A classic coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement that celebrates the power of female relationships, “The Secret Life of Bees” has everything—even after all these years.
2019 Book List (so far)
*italicized books are rereads, I’m a big rereader
An Untamed State
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
Salvage the Bones
Where the Crawdads Sing
Sing, Unburied, Sing
The Secret Life of Bees
A Monster Calls
The Gunslinger (part of the Dark Tower series)
Medicine of the Old West
The Drawing of the Three (part of the Dark Tower series)
A Farewell to Arms
The Waste Lands (part of the Dark Tower series)
An American Marriage
Wizard and Glass (part of the Dark Tower series)
This Is How You Lose Her