2019 Books

2019 Books

I read at least 32 books in 2019. The high count is due primarily to burning through a bunch of mediocre thriller novels on road trips, but I also read a number of really good books in diverse categories. Here are some highlights:

(Intellectual History) At the Existentialist Cafe - Sarah Bakewell

I love wide-ranging intellectual histories, and this fits that description completely. While I am not a huge fan of existentialism as a philosophical movement, its history and personalities are fascinating, and this book does justice to all of it. I particularly enjoyed the chapters about Simone de Beauvoir, Iris Murdoch, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

(Mystery) The Infinite Blacktop - Sara Gran

I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but Sara Gran’s Claire DeWitt series is certainly one of my all-time favorites. Detective noir with a touch of magical realism. This is the latest; I recommend reading them in order. I hope there are more to come.

(Micro History) Lady on the Beach - Norah Berg

This memoir is out of print, but worth finding if you have any interest in Pacific Northwest history. Battling alcoholism during the Great Depression, the author leaves Seattle for a subsistence life of gathering and beachcombing in a tiny, remote community on the Washington Coast. My dad was born in the same area and grew up during the years Berg describes. It was fascinating to see some of the wild stories he told confirmed by Norah Berg in this book.

(Philosophy and Mind) Conscious - Annaka Harris

I’ve read a great many of the popular books on “consciousness studies” over the years, this is one of the best. It’s short, concise, and clear. This is a difficult topic and Harris explains all the major problems and proposed solutions with impressive clarity.

(History of Espionage) The Spy and the Traitor - Ben Macintyre

Fascinating Cold War history. This was recommended to me by someone who doesn’t read espionage stuff who described it as one of the best books of her year, on a subject she didn’t think would interest her. That made it an easy sell for me, since I do like espionage books. I’ve since given it to a number of people who all enjoyed it.

(Cybersecurity) Sandworm - Andy Greenberg

This is my cybersecurity pick of the year. Enough said. If you’re interested at all in the subject, read it.

(Literary History/Autobiography) The Heart to Artemis - Bryher

Bryher may be best remembered as the longtime partner of the great Imagist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), but she was a fascinating person in her own right: novelist, traveler, heiress, film critic, art patron, and more. This memoir covers her life from childhood to 1940 and her intersection with virutally all the artistic and intellectual figures of the early 20th century.

Published: December 30 2019

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