I only read 27 books last year, less than half than the previous year, none of them running books, but that’s ok. Reading is not a competition (at least not for me) and while I always strive to read more, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I still read some great book last year that I’d love to share with you. I think if I had to pick a favorite one, it would be Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’, but I gave four books 5 stars and then I am adding one of the many 4 star books here randomly (because it stands out for me in my memory. Maybe it should have been a 5 star book for that very reason).
Here are my top 5:
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
This is a story about a pianist with ALS and the havoc the disease causes for his entire family. His ex-wife, a pianist herself, steps up as his caretaker. The story beautifully written, detail-oriented (we sometimes feel like we’re in the room with him, his thoughts, and his failing body) and simultaneously explores the progression of the disease and the aftermath of his failed marriage and the regrets and hopes he has, as the end of his life is approaching.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
I loved reading about Michelle’s childhood on the Southside of Chicago and how she met Barack. It was fascinating to read some of the private in and outs of being the First Family and living in that big house on Pennsylvania Avenue, but I especially loved her candor and vulnerability when she talked about her feelings surrounding Barack’s presidency (who knew she wasn’t so thrilled about the idea?), her role as a mother and First Lady, and the backlash she had to endure. It’s amazing to me how she handled all this with so much strength and grace.
You think it, you’ll say it by Curtis Sittenfeld
This book completely surprised me. When I realized that I picked up a book of short stories, I wasn’t sure this book was going to be for me, but turns out, I loved it. Sittenfeld tackles many relevant topics — social media, class issues, gender roles, political differences, etc. I was particularly surprised by how much she made me care about the characters in just 10 to 20 pages; she did a phenomenal job of developing a story and making me feel invested in a short amount of time. I found all of the stories well executed and my only ‘complaint’ is that I wanted them to last longer and to learn more about the characters. Sittenfeld is a great writer and I highly recommend this book.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
I was a little hesitant when I realized that this book was written in free verse, but turns out, it almost read like a regular book with the freedom to condense and abbreviate otherwise elaborate parts, while still telling a beautiful, emotionally full story. It totally worked and I felt myself enamored by Woodson’s childhood memories and take-aways. I read this book in one sitting (granted, it’s a fast read!) and you should, too.
Transgenderism seems to have been such a hot-button topic last year and this book was a great resource. If a memoir about coming out as transgender isn’t enough in a climate where transgender people still face discrimination and non-acceptance, Sarah McBride takes on Washington politics as an advocate for transgender rights, while falling in love, getting married and losing her (also transgender) husband to cancer at the age of twenty-four.
I felt myself rooting for her in every aspect of her life throughout the book and hope she’ll continue to spread hope. Through her candid openness and honesty, I feel that I have a better understanding about some of the complexities and nuances of being transgender in America today.
What was your favorite book in 2019? Check out the other books I read and add me on Goodreads to keep in touch.