These were my favorite reads of 2019. I narrowed it down to four, although I admit I voraciously read a number of excellent books (and some not-so-great ones, too) for the first time in many years. These books have been out for varying lengths of time, but they were all new to me. It was wonderful to discover new authors and instantly pursue reading some of their other works. The year will also go down as one of my best reading years in a long time, meaning, I actually got back into the pleasurable habit—I even finished the entire stack (plus oodles more) that I had lined up.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
UNFORGETTABLE. This was the first book in the lineup to grab my attention as I read it early in the year after watching part of the series created for TV. I stopped watching and read the book before finishing the series. The book wowed me. First, it was highly original in its format—with a technique I loved that gave me an idea for a new novel. The book's characters have also stayed with me all year. I found the plot refreshing, twisted, smacking of reality and I believe very much in the idea that people believe what they want about others without knowing what's really going on in their perfect-on-appearance lives. It made me tear through Liane Moriarty's other works, and while many were enjoyable, none lived up to this piece of sheer perfection.
The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan
DEVOURED. This thoughtful novel about two best friends who become estranged affected me deeply, playing on my own profoundly emotional experience with my first best friend. It’s also set in California (can we get any more nostalgic?) and weaves an original story that left me crying and breathless all at the same time. I also loved Summer Hours, which I purchased as soon as it came out this year. Amy Mason Doan is a deft storyteller with lovely prose that almost feels like sailing. I don’t feel manipulated, pushed or any number of techniques many authors employ to keep the pages turning. Her stories unfold in an authentic way, giving you hints of where you’re going without being able to know exactly where. Her writing speaks to me, maybe because I think similarly to her characters, or have walked in their shoes, or literally on the streets and in the settings she has chosen.
All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
INCREDIBLE. I purchased this when I heard about the controversy associated with it. I’m all in when people start throwing stones because I, too, think life is messy and lines are blurry sometimes. And this book has it in spades. I’m not a very black-and-white thinker and at times, that’s maybe not an asset but it challenges me to think harder and deeper. This author told a deft, challenging story using multiple points of view. It all worked brilliantly. I stayed in bed to finish this one! I will definitely read more by Greenwood.
The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Donner (nonfiction)
HELL TO THE YEAH. This book is f*cking great, validating what it took me a painstaking number of years to figure out on my own. I have experienced a lot of food freedom in the past couple of years and practiced self-love and self-acceptance a hell of a lot longer than that. I stumbled across this book doing research for The Self-Loathing Project, and was just amazed at all the anti-diet blogs, books and movements out there, including this one. Refreshing. Back when I used to try and diet (never very successful or motivated for long), and I punted on whatever thing I was trying, I’d tell people I’d gotten a case of the f*uck-its. Now, I realize, I could have written this book! I know, for some, the content of this book will seem like a bridge too far. Some probably run away shrieking. But dieting (even when under the guise of being a “lifestyle”) is a doomed-for-the-dieter-to-fail enterprise, often for-profit. Maybe you won’t fail right away, but eventually. It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying products, membership, a book, or reading a set of rules and guidelines. When the author of this book said she made intuitive eating a diet, I laughed out loud. Because we can take anything and make it a diet. Some of us are rule followers (but it’s still never enough, is it?) and some of us aren’t (f*ck it!). I highly recommend for everyone f*cked up about food, nutrition, diet, weight, what they eat or don’t eat, can’t or won’t eat, etc.
Please do tell me what books stood out for you this year—I'd love to add to my own list for 2020!
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