Like clockwork, the anticipation of the New Year encourages me to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments as they influence the next year’s intentions. When I review what I read in 2019, it’s easy to recognize there were a few novels I truly loved, while the rest I have already forgotten. I made a dedicated effort to experiment with first-time authors and focused a lot more attention on nonfiction picks than I typically would. It was refreshing to mix things up this year, but this likely factored into my lukewarm feelings about most of what I read. As for my intentions for 2020 books, I still plan to get exposure to new (or, new to me) authors, but hope to take pleasure in their works more than I did this year.
I really enjoy scrolling through “the best of 2019” book lists at this time of year and building my future reading list from it, so I’ve selected my own favorites to help you discover material you might have never tried otherwise. And, because I’m also an avid podcast fan and discovered some really inspiring new content this year, I’ve listed some podcasts as a bonus!
Top Book Picks
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grimes (2019, Ecco Press)
I wrote about this book before, a clue that it has stuck with me. Grimes is a debut author and worthy of acclaim, in my view, for this engaging tale of an Italian-American family’s triumphs and pitfalls. She has created a protagonist, Stella, who you will easily admire, pity, and wish to befriend. I can readily recall how I felt when I clutched my heart after finishing this book.
Inconspicuous Consumption by Tatianna Schlossberg (2019, Grand Central Publishing)
I have also written about this book because it demands more attention. Schlossberg was an environmental reporter for the New York Times, and her book aptly dissects some of the most adverse environmental challenges the world faces today in an accessible way. It is not exactly uplifting (it should come with a warning label for potentially making you reconsider all of your grocery store purchases, ever), but written by a dedicated environmental advocate and packed with material to make you feel prepared to be a better resident of the planet.
Top Podcast Picks
You’re Wrong About… (available on Stitcher and iTunes)
It’s no surprise that I’ve praised this podcast before. (I guess what I’m inspired to write about during the year is a good indication that it’ll be my overall favorite). The subject matter can best be described, as the hosts Michael and Sarah put it, as “set[ting] right what we once got wrong.” With witty hosts and a wide variety of content (the episodes on the Obesity Epidemic and D.A.R.E. program are among my favorites), this is a great podcast to add to your queue.
The Dream (available on Stitcher and Apple Podcasts)
Over the past few years, multi-level marketing (MLM) and pyramid schemes have increasingly crept into cultural and comedic references. Not sure what a pyramid scheme is? Let host Jane Marie break it down for you. If you are sure what an MLM is, prepare to be flummoxed and outraged (and possibly every emotion in between) by the history lesson Jane presents you in season one. This podcast has dutifully inspired conversations with friends in which I try to relay information myself, then break down and tell them they must listen to it on their own.
[I am not paid for my honest review; I am just a fan]