I read more than 120 books in 2019; here’s what stood out

I started reading digitally more than 10 years ago, with Amy Gahran’s encouragement (she gave me her generation 3 Kindle).  Reading really took off in 2017 when I discovered Overdrive, the library app (thanks, Lisa Williams).  

This past year, I borrowed more than 150 books via Overdrive and the Berkeley Public Library, with maybe 20 of those cookbooks or other books you’d browse more than read cover to cover, making my reading total for completed books roughly 120.  

This feels like more than in previous years, but I’m, not sure.

Some books that stood out for me:


The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van Der Kolk.  Trauma, explained.

Dammnation Island, about NYC and the plague, by Stacy Horn;

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder, illuminating living in your camper van.

The New Jim Crow by Michele Alexander

White Frailty by Robin DiAngelo

Women Rowing North by Mary Phipher 

Other minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith


Memories of a marriage by the always sharp Louis Begeley.

Sally Rooney, Normal People, and Conversations with Friends. Just brilliant.

Severance by Ling Ma.

Scatter, Adapt, Remember by Annalee Newitz, So good. Move over Corey Doctorow.

My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent, an absolute glorious and troubling novel.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig, a brilliant writer.

Children of the new world, sobering modern stories by Alexander Weinstein

Everything by my favorite new YA visionary, Nnedi Okafor, who is one of my favorites, period.

That kind of mother by Rumaan Alan, a wonderful writer 

American war by Omar el Akkad—I need to read everything by this writer.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. Wow, she can write.

The Talented Ribkins by Ladee Hubbard

The Stone Sky by the greatest, N.K. Jemisin.

Bio and autobiography

The Men in My life, by Patricia Bosworth

Never Caught, by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Gripping account of Ona Judge, formerly enslaved by Martha and George Washington.

Educated by Tara Westover. Wow memoir.

Fashion Climbing by the late great Bill Cunningham.

Graham Nash’s autobiography

Kim Gordon’s autobiography

An autobiography of Leonard Cohen, I’m your man, by Sylvie Simmons

Three women by Lisa Taddeo

Janesville, by Amy Goldstein

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Goldstein

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

The Rules do not apply, by Ariel Levy. Great memoir.

Food, health books, and food memoirs

Savage Feast by Boris Fishman, just a treasure of a book.

Tamar Adler

Brain Maker by David Perlmutter

How to change your mind by Michael Pollan

Save me the plums by Ruth Reichl, who has it down to a science.

I’d love to hear from others who read these books, or have other recommendations.