the books I read

These are some of the books I most valued reading in 2019.

Anna Burns, Milkman. Confounding at first, but it can teach you how to read it. I had finished a third of it before I realized how invested I was, and maybe two thirds before I noticed its dark sense of humor. It reminded me of 1984 and Persepolis, both works about language, totalitarianism, and thought control. This one is about Northern Ireland.

Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End. This was a reread, a little dated now but I still love it. A comedic elegy to working in an ad agency around the turn of this century, written mostly in second-person plural – so we get to know individuals, but always within a "we" judging and speculating. One of my all-time favorite final paragraphs, but don't bother skipping to the end – it's about the journey.

Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Technically Wrong. Best overview I've read of technology, ethics, justice, and the trouble with algorithms. Recommended to anyone who cares.

Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus. I loved this novel so much I don't want to talk about it. Not recommended.

honorable mention

Elisabeth Åsbrink, 1947: Where Now Begins. A mosaic, both personal and historical, of a pivotal year.

Sarah Gailey, Magic for Liars. A deeply noir detective novel set at a prep school for magical teenagers. Tore right through it.

Jon McGregor, Reservoir 13. A girl's gone missing, but it's not a thriller. More concerned with the rhythm and flow of the village than the mystery.

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows. I remembered Mr. Toad and his wild ride, via Disney, but did I ever understand how besotted with nature this book is?