Books

2019 Book Post

By Premee Mohamed
Dec 17, 2019 · 743 words · 3 minutes

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Post art by Premee Mohamed.  

From the author: My favourite books of 2019 -- with a brand new category of award!


Another year, another spreadsheet! (I joke about being a Typical Virgo a lot, but the only thing Virgoan about me, I think, is that I do like spreadsheets. And lists. And being organized. Which my ADHD brain absolutely fails to acknowledge and implement even at the expense of superhuman effort, which in turn is like wanting to be a track star whilst you are superglued to the side of a building, however, I digress.)

As with last year, the year is almost over! (I notice I am writing this on the same day as the 2018 Book Awards, too.) And again, I don't think I'm going to be able to finish many more books — I have seven on the go right now (and the library ebook app just took back another six that were partly done and expired on the same day, wehh). There's just too much to do, too many deadlines, and I also got a blurb request (for a book I'm very excited to blurb!) due before January 10.

My columns were all the same as the ones I added late last year, and I don't think I'll be changing them for 2020 (particularly because, as I discovered, I haven't been remotely intentional about 'balancing' my reading at all). 

So, overall: 54 books started, 52 finished. Fewer than last year (66). 12 of those were re-reads, 42 new to me. Total men, 40; total women, 14 (ugh). Far worse ratio than 2018, when I began tracking. The re-reads definitely contributed to that, as all 12 were by men. 

(Also, as last year, I skimmed so many books for research that I did not add them to the list. It had to be a book I read and digested.)

Anyway! As per 2018, "In the interests of not writing a ten thousand word review for each book, I'm presenting here three sets of awards: Best Fiction I Read in 2019; Fiction I Liked Best in 2019; and Best Nonfiction of 2019. The difference between the first two categories is merely to acknowledge that there are plenty of books out there that are objectively good, or masterful in terms of craft or plot or suchlike; and sometimes these contain many individual components that I admire but didn't resonate with. The second category covers books that may or may not be objectively less 'good' but which I enjoyed more. Which is to say, the first is about judgement, and the second is about taste."

I should add, as I forgot to last year, these are not by 'first place to third place' but in the order that they were read.

There is no third award for a nonfiction book this year as I only read eight meaningfully, and the other six were just meh.

BEST FICTION I READ IN 2019

  1. 'The Goldfinch,' Donna Tartt (March)
  2. 'In Our Mad and Furious City,' Guy Gunaratne (May)
  3. 'The Mere Wife,' Maria Dahvana Headley (October)

FICTION I LIKED BEST IN 2019

  1. 'Johannes Cabal the Necromancer,' Jonathan L. Howard (March) (and sequels)
  2. 'Gnomon,' Nick Harkaway (June)
  3. 'The Siege,' Ismail Kadare (November)

BEST NONFICTION OF 2019

  1. 'Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad,' William Craig (February)
  2. 'Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, From Pointless Bones to Broken Genes,' Nathan H. Lents (February)

This year I am also honoured to present awards for 'Best Comments in the Comments Column':

  1. 'The Goldfinch,' Donna Tartt: "Oh my God I'm never going to be happy again"
  2. 'The Painted Bird,' Jerzy Kozinski: "WHAT, AND I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH, THE FUCK DID I JUST READ"
  3. 'Heretics of Dune,' Frank Herbert: "THE PROBLEM WITH RE-READING DUNE IS THAT YOU HAVE TO RE-READ HERETICS OF DUNE"

It's funny, I read fewer books this year, I certainly watched fewer movies, and virtually zero TV, and I haven't been writing as much as 2018. This begs the question: What have I been doing with my free time? (The entire year has been a blur, honestly.) All I know for sure is I'm not going to plan out my 2020 reading because I didn't stick with the plan last year or the year before, and that's probably not gonna change. See you for the awards show in 2020! :D