2019: The Year in Books

Twenty-nineteen certainly was the year of books for me. Even though I did not read during the two months of my AZT thru-hike, I still read 21 more books than last year. I was unemployed until mid-November this year, though, so it makes sense that I spent more time reading. That said, while grieving, I did notice my pace get too fast, blasting through merely so the book would be complete, so there would be some ease/relief of being finished. So, I’ve been trying to slow it back down in 2020.

Below are the books from 2019 that have stayed with me, and that I’m most excited to recommend. There are plenty of books I enjoyed this year which aren’t listed below, so here’s the full list if you’re interested.


“Priestdaddy” by Patricia Lockwood

I’m definitely going to reread this one; it was such a treat to read. Such. A. Treat. I immensely enjoyed Lockwood’s writing style, highlighting phrase after phrase and passage after passage of creative, beautiful, witty writing and metaphors. Not to mention I chuckled to myself every time I read. Luke, I think you’d like this one!

“Ongoingness: The End of a Diary” by Sarah Manguso

So glad I went ahead and bought my own copy of this book before reading it, as I’ve referenced it several times since. In fact, I’m currently in the middle of another reread. If you like to keep some sort of record of your days, like me, you might very well resonate with this contemporary essay/memoir.

“Manguso captures the central challenge of memory, of attentiveness to life . . . A spectacularly and unsummarizably rewarding read.” -Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

“The Art of Asking: or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer

Amanda’s spotlight is on human connection, where I’ve also been drawn to the past few years—so the timing of my read was especially fitting.

“Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place” by Terry Tempest Williams

This was my first Terry Tempest Williams read, and timely to read Williams’s experience of her mother dying of cancer while I was grieving Cathleen’s death from cancer. I’m currently reading her latest book, “Erosion: Essays of Undoing,” and am excited (and calmed) by the fact that there are books upon books to read from Terry Tempest Williams.

“The Map of Enough: One Woman’s Search for Place” by Molly Caro May

I checked this book out from the library when I read a snippet in an old issue of Orion Magazine that I’d borrowed from my friend Emily. I’m so glad I did! Molly’s reflective, articulate writing was such a joy to read.

“Body Full of Stars: Female Rage and My Passage into Motherhood” by Molly Caro May

So I read her second book right away, of course, and was again blown away by Molly’s writing. Recommend!

“Body Full of Stars is one woman’s story—dark and tender, honest and corporeal—that reveals deeper truths about how disconnected many modern women are from their bodies. It is her ‘postpartum awakening.’ It is also a joyful and tenderhearted celebration of the greatest story of all time: mothers and daughters, partners and co-parents, and the feminine power surging beneath it all.” -GoodReads

“I Miss You When I Blink: Essays” by Mary Laura Philpott

I read a few books from the Steamboat Springs library when I spent four days there, and this was one of them. As someone whose attention is often on the ordinary, I appreciated a memoir about a “regular” life. Nothing extreme or newsworthy. Yet so very worthy, in my opinion.

“Small Fry” by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

I splurged on this one brand new amid a grief-wave in Colorado this fall. It was a book I escaped into, finishing in two days! I knew nothing of Steve Jobs’s personal life, so getting to read his daughter’s experience—plus a memoir from growing up in California in the 80s—was an enjoyable read.

“The Dance of the Dissident Daughter” by Sue Monk Kidd

I picked up Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Secret Life of Bees” from a thrift shop in Colorado on my drive west this fall, which primed me when I heard “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” mentioned again. I know I’ve heard the title at various times in the past, but now, amid my own “spiritual awakening,” if you will, the timing was so in sync to read this spiritual memoir in December. (So much good timing this year with my reading, I feel.)

“Three Women” by Lisa Taddeo

I was shocked (and delighted) to see this summer-2019 release sitting on the shelf at my local library here in Utah, so I gladly checked it out and got sucked into these three women’s stories.

“Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed” by Lori Gottlieb

I was equally shocked (and delighted) that there was no wait list for this NYT Bestseller, also released this year. Fantastic memoir, highly recommend.

“Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine” by Deepak Chopra

This book blew my mind over and over, reminding me of all the unknowns in our expansive Universe, as well as the unknowns in our inner universe. The body is an incredible, magical living being. Now I want to (slowly) read all the Chopra books!

“A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle

I learned of this book via Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast. I listened to her “book club” with Tolle while I was hiking the AZT. I soaked up this book over several months this fall/winter, and it resonated with me big time. I quote it several times in my zine “This Zine Isn’t Me.” If you’re interested in awareness/mindfulness, separating from ego, ending suffering/conflict throughout the world, this book is incredibly accessible, uplifting, and enlightening.


Graphic Memoirs

“Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year” by Ramsey Beyer

I browsed my Wisconsin library network for graphic memoirs and checked this one out. I loved being transported back to being an 18-year-old in college, especially living vicariously through Ramsey’s experiences at art school. I enjoyed the combination of list pages in addition to panel stories. After I read this one, I bought Ramsey’s self-published graphic memoir “Year One” to read more and support work I like.

In case anyone’s interested in graphic memoirs, the others I read this year include “Verax,” “Displacement: A Travelogue,” “The Best We Could Do,” “Un autre regard,” “Les gens heureux lisent et boivent du cafe,” and “How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.”



Like most years, I didn’t read much fiction (always taking recs, though, I want to read more of it!), but these two stayed with me:

“Tell the Wolves I’m Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt

I picked this one off the shelf at Goodwill on a whim, unfamiliar with both the author and book. I got completely sucked into this novel. It was refreshing to be in a pre-cellphone time period, and I appreciated our 14-year-old narrator’s eyes. I’d recommend going into it blind like I did; don’t read the back cover!

“A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving

Here’s a title I’d heard again and again throughout my life, but was randomly drawn to it this fall at a thrift shop in Moab. It’s a longer read, so I spent more time with these characters. With how quickly I was blasting through others at that point in time, I appreciated spending more time with these characters (both my time reading, and the characters’ lives, as they age from children to adults.) I have another John Irving on my shelf that is on-deck for my next fiction read.

Those are the books that I most resonated with this year. What about you? What has stayed with you? What have you been recommending most? Or which book(s) sucked you in?

Past Years in Books: Year (Age)