New York Times top 10 books of 2019

Books read
Reaching my book goal is always a little easier after seeing all the awesomeness on this list!

As the new year is upon us, so is a new list of books to conquer for the 2020 calendar year (along with finishing up some of the 2018 books I didn’t get to in 2019 — what can I say? I’m behind!). I am thrilled with the titles included in the 2019 best books list from the New York Times. As I’ve come to learn this to be, from doing this challenge alongside my friend Brittany in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the list includes diverse books from an abundance of backgrounds, some of which I would happily have read on my own and some of which I’d never have picked up without this list. (If you’re looking for a way out of your book rut, this list is surely it!) So, without further ado, let’s talk about what’s on the list!

NYT top 10 challenge

How it works: The list comes out in December, Brittany and I have a goal to read as many as we can before the end of that calendar year. We had started by wanting to read all 10, but have since started having exceptions each year. For example, Brittany is less taken with biographies of historic figures after being scarred having to truck through Grant in 2018. I, still have yet to read Existentialist Cafe, though it sits on my Kindle awaiting the day that I will have a more open mind. Between the library and our tendency to ship books between our two states, we also don’t usually end up breaking the bank with this challenge either.

2019 best books

Disappearing Earth Julia Phillips image courtesy of New York Times
Image courtesy of New York Times

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips — I’m particularly excited about this one because I’m frequently in awe of stories that can make this rich woven story with different perspectives and details, which it seems this will be.

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner — It seems like this is a series, and I’ll be interested to see how it feels jumping in on a story that, for all intents and purposes, already began.

Exhalation by Ted Chiang — Short stories usually hold my attention a little bit less, which is both the appeal and the detriment, but I love discovering new authors this way!

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli — The tantalizing teaser in the NYT article will have you begging for more.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry — Irish gangsters, a Spanish coast setting and a cover that looks reminiscent of Ellis Island, I’m totally hooked.

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe — The subtitle is “A true story of murder and memory in Northern Ireland,” to which I say, tell me more.

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry image courtesy of New York Times
Image courtesy of New York Times

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends Who Shaped an Age by Leo Damrosch — I’ve found that the list always has a nonfiction historical novel, and I gotta tell you, I do enjoy learning more about these people and places in our history.

The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom — Another theme among the list is to have a memoir. Memoirs are particularly engrossing to me because at its core I believe that people’s stories, no matter how tragic, are beautiful. That this one traces the history of a single house in New Orleans, a city I admittedly know very little about, is pretty cool!

No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder — I think the title says it all. This might be the first one I dive into (library availability pending).

Midnight in Cherynobyl by Adam Higginbotham — Since Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for the book Voices from Chernobyl, and my subsequent need to read it, I’ve been fascinated by what happened there and what remains.

What books are you eager to read in 2020?

Comment here or email me!

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