Books I Read in 2019

Even though I maintain this site as my digital recipe box, the annual post I look forward to most is the collection of books I read throughout the year. In fact, ever since I committed to reading 52 books in 2014, I’ve kept an ongoing list in the notes app on my phone of the books I’ve read. I have a life long love of reading. I was the kid who who would sneak in extra reading by the hall light after bedtime until I could hear my parents’ footfall on the bottom of the stairs prompting me to hurriedly feign sleep. During family road trips after dusk I would read what I could of the Sweet Valley High series & later books by VC Andrews (I’m dating myself, I know!) using the beam of head lights from the cars behind us. While in school for my undergrad when reading was primarily required, I have a hazy memory of my friend Jed in my dorm room, picking up Victor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning splayed across my stomach where I’d lain it before I dozed off. He gently picked up the book, laid it on my desk, and whispered, “You’re on page 83, Ang,” & then he turned the light off, slipped out the door, & closed it quietly behind him. Those are just a few of the memories I have that involve reading. It’s safe to say when someone has memories of reading, they’re likely a bona fide bookworm. I am what I am & if you’re still reading this chances are you are too!

Without further ado, the list:

  1. Educated, Tara Westover
  2. The Last of the Stanfields, Marc Levy
  3. Evidence of the Affair, Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  5. Not Famous, Matthew Hanover
  6. Dracula, Bram Stroker
  7. Born a Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
  8. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  9. Kindred, Octavia Butler
  10. Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis
  11. The Upside of Falling Down, Rebekah Crane
  12. The Professor, Robert Bailey
  13. The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris
  14. A Curve in the Road, Julieanne Maclean
  15. Mother’s Group, Liane Moriarty
  16. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe The World, Admiral William McRaven
  17. The Eighth Sister, Robert Dugoni
  18. Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
  19. The Butterfly Garden, Dot Hutchison
  20. Pretty Girls Dancing, Kylie Brant
  21. The Short Drop, Matthew FitzSimmons
  22. The Practice House, Laura McNeal
  23. Last Summer, Kerry Lonsdale
  24. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  25. The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing, & Coming Out, William Dameron
  26. What You Did, Claire McGowan
  27. Heartland, Sarah Smarsh
  28. The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice For Making Life Decisions, Emily P. Freeman
  29. Thin Air: A Jessica Shaw Thriller, Lisa Gray
  30. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, Kelly Harms
  31. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, & Our Lives Revealed, Lori Gottlieb
  32. The Friend, Sigrid Nunez
  33. Room To Breathe, Liz Talley
  34. Toil & Trouble, Augusten Burroughs
  35. Heavy, Kiese Laymon
  36. Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don’t Know, Malcolm Gladwell
  37. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell
  38. Emily, Gone Bette Lee Crosby
  39. The Like Switch, Jack Shafer, PhD & Marvin Karline, PhD
  40. The Obesity Code, Jason Fung, MD
  41. A Spark of Light, Jodi Picoult
  42. A Beginner’s Guide To The End: Practical Advice For Living Life & Facing Death, BJ Miller, MD & Shoshana Berger

My favorites (in no particular order):

“In society we do horrible things to one another because we don’t see the person it effects. We don’t see their face; we don’t see them as people. Which was the whole reason the hood was built in the first place: to keep the victims of apartheid out of sight & mind. Because if white people ever saw black people as human they would see that slavery is unconscionable. We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them. If we could see another’s pain & empathize with one another it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”

*If you haven’t read this book, or even if you have, I urge you to listen to the Audible version. His style, accent, cadence is unprecedented. Also, you will find yourself pealing with laughter. I promise.

“Even in the best possible relationship, you’re going to get hurt sometimes & no matter how much you love somebody, you will, at times, hurt that person. Not because you want to, but because you’re human. You will inevitably hurt your partner, your parents, your children, your closest friend & they will hurt you because if you sign up for intimacy, getting hurt is part of the deal. But, what is great about a loving intimacy is that there is room for repair. Therapists call this process “rupture & repair.” And, if you had parents who acknowledged their mistakes & took responsibility for them & taught you as a child to acknowledge your mistakes & learn from them too, then your ruptures won’t feel so cataclysmic in your adult relationships. If, however, your childhood ruptures didn’t come with loving repairs, it will take some practice for you to tolerate the ruptures; to stop believing that every rupture that happens signals the end, & a trust that even if a relationship doesn’t work out, you will survive that rupture too. You will heal & self repair & sign up for another relationship full of its own ruptures & repairs. It’s not ideal, opening yourself up like this, putting your shield down, but if you want the rewards of an intimate relationship, there’s no way around it.”


“I would learn 15 years too late that asking for consent, granting consent, surviving sexual violence, being called a good dude, & never initiating sexual relationships did not incubate me from being emotionally abusive. Consent meant little to nothing if it was not fully informed. What & to whom were my partners consenting if I spent our entire relationship convincing them that a circle was not a circle, but just a really relaxed square. I’d become good at losing weight & great at convincing women they didn’t see or know what they absolutely saw & knew. Lying there on that floor, I accepted that I’d actually never been honest with myself about what carrying decades of lies did to other people’s hearts & heads.”



“This has been a book about a conundrum. We have no choice but to talk to strangers, especially in our modern, borderless world. We aren’t living in villages anymore…Yet at the most necessary of tasks we are inept. We think we can transform the stranger without cost or sacrifice into the familiar & the known & we can’t.”


A book worth mentioning:

While it wasn’t a favorite of mine, I do believe it’s an important and worthwhile book. I’ve been a hospice social worker for over 3 years now so the information outlined isn’t new to me, but for someone not in the field, this is an essential handbook to help guide people during a time when it’s often difficult to think straight.

“Only a small fraction of us, 10 – 20% maybe, will die without warning. The rest of us will have time to get to know what’s going to end our lives. As discomforting as that can be, it does afford us some time to live with this knowledge, get used to it, & respond. We do have some choice about how we orient ourselves to the inevitable: where we’ll die, maybe, or around whom. And most important, how to spend the time meanwhile.”

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