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✨ books read in 2019: a thread✨
1. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Quite enjoyable, especially part 4 (the scientific revolution) and articulate. I like books that opt for breadth when covering history.

Also, the book is FINE as a vessel of knowledge I guess, but sooo many people treat it like gospel lol.
2. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. This one took a while to get used to because of the writing style, but it was SO worth it. Definitely enjoyed the second half more than the first and liked how plot surprised me in the end.
3. Vicious by V. E. Schwab. Reread this to prepare for the sequel, Vengeful. Just as dark, vivid, and brilliant as I remember it. Schwab's books are tightly plotted and her prose is so evocative. Best of all, Victor Vale is _not_ here to save the day.
4. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. So fucking good. Schwab's writing in her adult novels captivates me in a way that her YA/MG novels haven't yet. Vale is shunted aside to make room for June and Marcella, two characters I could not get enough of. Brb waiting 5 yrs for the sequel.
5. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. Leigh Bardugo's writing is so good that I will literally read anything she writes, whether it's high stakes political intrigue in Ravka and rescue missions in Fjerda or like, cereal box quizzes. (Reserving plot-related opinions for now.)
6. Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas. I enjoyed the case studies in this book (some chapters could have been shorter). I realized a few yrs ago that my environment & education reinforce capitalism and private sector initiatives as the most effective way to improve the world.
Many people, for example, simply don't have the perspective to understand what is fundamentally problematic about a private solution to a public problem like a $bigcorp funding prison education. This is a good book to provide that kind of perspective.
7. Becoming by Michelle Obama. Kind of a mixed bag. I wasn't a fan of the second half of the book (describing the presidency, campaign, etc), but the first half of the book was incredibly captivating.
Michelle's articulation of feeling like no amount of hard work could be enough and her desire for a fulfilling career and a stable home life without either "squelching" the other spoke to me. Her cautious, planned (but no less forceful) ambition to do and be better spoke to me.
Finally, I like how Barack was mostly (?) a background character in the book and thoroughly appreciated how Michelle never shied away from the painful manner in which his accomplishments stood on the shoulders of his wife, *her* mother, and his daughters.
8. Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister. Traister is one of my favourite writers and I fully expected this book to be just as insightful, eloquent, and incisive as it was. What I didn't expect was how _validating_ of my anger it would be. Read this book.
9. salt. by Nayyirah Waheed. I don't usually read poetry but I decided to read this because
@fatty_box recommended it to me. I took my time reading it and feel grateful to have read Waheed's haunting and profound work.
@fatty_box 10. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. I read Baldwin for the very first time in March (Sonny's Blues) and I knew I had to read more. This book is—there is no other word for it—beautiful. Even having said that, I can't help but wonder how much I missed due to lack of context.
Baldwin as a writer feels more foreign to me than familiar. I have to work harder to grasp the nuance in his writing because he writes about worlds, people, feelings that have no intersection with my life. But it's work that is incredibly worth doing.
11. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri's work is usually a mixed bag for me. Didn't like the titular story much, but loved A Real Durwan. Still, I never fail to enjoy her vivid, well paced, distinctive storytelling style. I will probably read anything she writes.
12. A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. I have never read a book that represented an intersection of so many of my identities and did it so well.
Identity isn't even the right word—what do you call the experience of being the eldest child, a daughter in a Muslim family whose life has been guided by meeting the expectations of that family? That's not an identity. That's a whole life. That's what I saw in this book—my life.
Everyone should read this book, but this book wasn't written for everyone.
13. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book is...devastatingly eloquent. It is a conversation between a father and his son, so intimate and profound, so full of love and hope, sorrow and anger that...reading it sometimes made me feel like I was eavesdropping?
14. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. This book reminded me of what I want from my fiction. Ng has a remarkable way of *showing* instead of *telling* that makes her storytelling so compelling and me very eager to read more of her work.
15. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. Baldwin's prose is just incredible. This story, like all of Baldwin's fiction I've read so far, is simple. But its narrative style & prose highlights little details and harsh truths and turns this book into art. Would reread again.
Not entirely sure how I feel about the plot and some of the characters (especially Frank). But Baldwin's writing is so evocative and you can see that even in a book this short. In the span of <200 pages, his prose was able to make me feel pain, despair, urgency, and so much more.
16. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (re-read). Exactly what I needed. A fluffy, easy to read, full of FEELS romancey book that isn't very tropey (even if it does involve the boy next door lol).
17. The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (re-read). Listen, objectively, this book isn't particularly spectacular, but it's the summer, I'm on vacation, and some light vampire shenanigans never hurt anyone.
18-20. The Indigo Spell, The Fiery Heart, Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead. What I wanted was a trashy vampire romance but what I actually got was a headache because these books are so bad. Like, not fun bad. BAD BAD.

Like, I am astounded at my own ability to read this much bad.
21. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. For a long, long time, I've wanted to read a book with female friendship at it's centre, and the rest—careers, romances, familes— simply revolving around them. This was exactly that book.
The depiction of Lenú's and Lila's friendship is subversive in all the best ways. It drew me in because it didn't shy away from the worst parts of female friendship. Rather than present it as uncomplicated sisterhood, Ferrante dug deeper.
I'm personally not drawn to narration heavy books like this one, so this book took a while to read, and I lost interest when the book focused on less developed characters. But I'm happy I read it.

(h/t to @alainakafkes for recommending this to me one rainy day in Montreal! )
@alainakafkes also highly recommend this interview of Ferrante: vanityfair.com/culture/2015/0…
@alainakafkes 22. Pachinko by Min Jee Lee. Another stellar @alainakafkes recommendation. In the span of 500 pages, I lived the lives of 4 generations of a family torn apart and then brought together by war, poverty, stigma, and love, and it was an incredible journey.
@alainakafkes I especially love this book for its wealth of women characters, each written with care no matter how prominent they were. I think the ending _could_ have been better, but this book is a masterpiece (it took the author decades to write!) and possibly the best I've read this year.
@alainakafkes 23. Better by Atul Gawande. Picked this up on a whim. I don't know anything about surgery so a ~deep dive into the profession was pretty interesting. I have always enjoyed Gawade's method of drawing from anecdotes + research to create his simple, captivating storytelling style.
The essays in this book were funny and poignant, but also sobering. HOWEVER. Even as he seemed to emphasize that his profession didn't exist in a vacuum, that plenty of other systems dictated it, I felt like he could have done more to drive that home.
Imo, notably missing from his analyses were how insurance/pharma/public healthcare policy can affect the daily lives of surgeons and patients, and how accountable he thinks these systems should be.
24. Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi (re-read). I like this book a lot because it's about texting. I think a lot about texting someone you don't know well irl: the parts of your life you choose to show them, the ones you don't and I finally found a book that explored this!!
I also liked the protagonists--refreshingly non-idealized and authentic if only a tad too broody. There were some glaring plot & character arc related issues that I was somehow willing to overlook because this book made me GOOFY HAPPY. Also it's extremely adaptable imho @ netflix
oooh forgot to mention that my friend @/securitanna recommended this book to me last year and the minute I saw the cover I knew I had to read it
25. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
26. Educated by Tara Westover. I heard about this book over a year ago, yet strangely resisted it because of the subject matter, which simply uninterested me. I got it really cheap at a used bookstore so I just went for it.
It was SO much better than I thought it would be. There are general themes in this book that one can relate to, such as how adulthood changes how you perceive your parents: they are no longer unfailing people with the answer to every question, but flawed humans with limitations.
But even then, the magic of the book goes beyond that. It lies in Westover's spellbinding prose, carefully and almost stoically recounting memories of love and violence, helping the reader confront a bewildering culture that she grew to defy. It's an incredible journey.
27. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (re-read). Put my nerd glasses on (jk they're always on) & dove into this old favourite! ~10 yrs after my first read the plot reads as comically textbook—there's a Wise Person, a Journey, a Dragon, and taverns and secrets. Still enjoyed myself 🤓
Also my friends group chat is in consensus that the sparkly smart and sassy blue dragon is among the better developed characters 💁‍♀️
next book he's going to go to the forest and train with the elves and he's going to get BETRAYED by an old friend who he will then meet on the battlefield with his newly forged sword. the cryptic future predicted for him by angela will come TRUE. I NEED THE NEXT BOOK 🧝‍♀️⚔️🐉🔥
28. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. I've wanted to read this book for ages because it's a ROMANCE!! I love romance. ALSO, it's a romance written by a woc. The protagonist has Asperger's (as does the author) and I'm grateful to Hoang for her portrayal of Stella.
Although I didn't love the romance as much as I did the two protagonists separately, the book was still super funny and engaging and a thoroughly enjoyable read overall. Also. This book is steamaayyyy. So. Yeah.
29. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. Read this a while ago but forgot to tweet. True story, I tried to read this book like thrice and gave up on it because the premise is SO LUDICROUS. But Roxane Gay blurbed it so I kept coming back determined to like it. I'm glad I did✨✨
30. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. I deeply appreciated this book for its characters, especially My and Khai. I loved My so much I could read 50 books about her. Didn't particularly love the romance, but Hoang's romances are so good that you can enjoy them in more ways than one.
31. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This book's subject matter is vast and its goal ambitious, but it is still somehow incredibly readable. It's not quite a page turner—I often had to put the book down just to grasp the significance of a chapter or paragraph.
Mukherjee does an excellent job of approaching the study of cancer *sociologically*. He writes a history that is fairly technical as well as personal and communicates so well the desperation, disappointment, and hubris that have accompanied this war.

One of my favorites of 2019.
32. Crashing the A-List by Summer Heacock. I've been spending a lot of my time on trains with a reliable book in hand. But today I literally ran out of books to read and desperately bought this at the station. It was painful, I did not feel the LOVE, and I want my money back.
33. Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac. I unapologetically enjoyed this highly theatrical book. The book is written in an interesting way, the third person storytelling narration + pure chaos within Uber didn't make any of it feel real. I...need to read Bad Blood.
34. Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi. The thing about Choi's writing is that it's so vivid and real. I can't think of any other author who depicts the 21st century lives of young millennials so well. I love her writing, even when I don't like the people in it.
Because in this book, I really didn't like the people in it lol. The character arcs made it really hard to care about the plot, but I kept reading anyways because have mentioned I love the way Choi writes?

Tldr. Don't regret reading it one bit, but didn't particularly enjoy it.
35. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou. 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️
A book that as @/knguyen said in his GQ review, is deliciously full of "salacious startupenfreude".
36. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. AHHH. This is EXACTLY what I was in the mood for. This book is set in the very real Yale, but Bardugo's Yale is dark, haunted, corrupt, and full of occult shenanigans that you cannot stop reading about. It is a whole delicious Halloween MOOD.
Also I love me a protagonist that I can root for, a survivor and a fighter—almost as much I as I love Bardugo's rich, vivid, luxurious prose. *Also*, it has tremendous potential for adaptation so I hope they get it right 🤞
I guess I should say that I did not love this as much as Six of Crows, but that's a tall order tbqh because I just have a very specific literary thing for a motley crew of misfits trying to steal a lot of money *shrug*
37. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Sometimes, I'll read a book that is exactly the gut punch of feelings that I crave, a book that shows that me I know nothing, flings question after question at me, dilemma after dilemma, and then informs me that there is no solution.
So this was that book. It is so beautifully written that you cannot get angry even when it's at its most frustrating, that you cannot stop reading even when you are despairing at what this world does to its characters.
I couldn't help but think about If Beale Street Could Talk as I read this. Not just because there is an overlap of subject matter, but because Jones' writing is just as gut wrenching as Baldwin's. Maybe even more so.
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