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  • Writer's pictureAlan Shoebridge

2019: My year in books

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

A few of my 2019 recommended reads.

Although I’ve had a life-long love of reading, I often can’t remember the specific books I’ve read from year to year – with a few notable exceptions. So, I've started to keep yearly lists to remind myself which books are essential, just for fun and not worth a second chance. If your taste in reading is like mine, you might enjoy some of these or at least avoid investing your time in a few I didn’t think measured up. As always, I also hope you will consider purchasing any of these that interest you through an independent bookstore like Powell’s in Portland, Vroman’s in Pasadena or Bookworks in my current home base.

Essential reading

  1. There There by Tommy Orange - Almost won a Pulitzer Prize and probably should have. Touching and sad, but wonderful.

  2. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez - Powerful and engaging tale of immigration in this country.

  3. Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder - Part cautionary tale and part expose about the country's new workforce made up of transient older adults.

  4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - Pulitzer Prize winner. The story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive World War II.

  5. How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future by Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt - If you read one political book in 2020, make it this one.

  6. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein - My favorite business/professional book of 2019. Read my full review here.

4-star mysteries



Disappointing, skip them

  • Blue Moon (Jack Reacher #24) by Lee Child - I've read most of the series and this was the first total miss for me. A really convoluted story and an almost comical, yet disturbing, level of violence.

  • The Most Defining Moments in Black History According to Dick Gregory by Dick Gregory - Some interesting observations and opinions, but a lot of weird ones as well.

  • Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco - The author is interesting on podcasts, but the book is really slow.

  • The Great Crash of 1929 by John Kenneth Galbraith - Sounded interesting, but slow and dull.


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