Books Read in 2019

This year I read more fiction than in previous years. The actual number of titles doesn’t reflect what the pie chart of my reading time would look like, since reading fiction takes so much longer for me than non-fiction.

For much of the year, it felt like I didn’t read much at all: I spent a lot of my spare time working on a portfolio, applying for jobs, and so on, and so reading fell by the wayside until that situation was resolved.

I also devoted a couple of reading hours a week anyway to studying Latin (in the form of Lingua Latina), so that one book took up quite a bit of my time this year.

Fiction (25)

Discovering Jo Walton’s fiction was a highlight of the year. I’d known of her from her reviews, but hadn’t gotten around to checking out her books. Both of the titles on this list were great, though I think I give an edge to Lent.

The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn was much better, in my opinion, than Roadside Picnic. I’m sad to know that it’s something of an aberration in the brothers’ catalog, since I’d love to read something with the same eccentric, light, self-aware tone and relatively lucid plot.

The Alastair MacLean books were mostly consumed as audiobooks, as were the “Robert Galbraith” titles. There was a stretch of time there when I wanted a distraction. They were both fine. MacLean wrote post-war dad-thrillers.

The Jack Vance novels were part of a series: each book was short and light. Jack Vance books always have interesting ideas and dialog in them.

  • Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by McGrath, Titania
  • Ripley’s Game by Highsmith, Patricia
  • Brighton Rock by Greene, Graham
  • Kim by Kipling, Rudyard
  • Butcher’s Crossing by Williams, John
  • There Will Be Time by Anderson, Poul
  • The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Strugatsky, Arkady
  • Hawkwood by Donachie, David
  • Concrete Island by Ballard, J. G.
  • The Long War by Pratchett, Terry
  • Ice Station Zebra by MacLean, Alistair
  • Lent by Walton, Jo
  • Bear Island by MacLean, Alistair
  • Partisans by MacLean, Alistair
  • Among Others by Walton, Jo
  • When Eight Bells Toll by MacLean, Alistair
  • Lethal White by Galbraith, Robert
  • Dark Matter by Crouch, Blake
  • Career of Evil by Galbraith, Robert
  • The Pnume by Vance, Jack
  • The Dirdir by Vance, Jack
  • Servants of the Wankh by Vance, Jack
  • City of the Chasch by Vance, Jack
  • The Silkworm by Galbraith, Robert
  • The Left Hand of Darkness by Guin, Ursula K. Le

Non-Fiction (30)

This year I struggled to find non-fiction that made me want to read it. The year started off well enough, with several books by and about Montaigne, but ended with a long stretch of nothing interesting.

Northrup Frye was a high point. I wish he’d still been in fashion when I was studying English Lit, since his theory (while not totally satisfying) was still more interesting than the structuralists and postmodernists they were teaching us at the time.

Same with the Bloom: I’ve bounced off some of his books (like The Western Canon), but his death prompted me to pick up How to Read and Why on a whim, and I really enjoyed it. If it’d been the entire textbook in an introduction to western literature course, I’d still have gotten a lot out of the class.

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bryson, Bill
  • How to Read and Why by Bloom, Harold
  • What Makes This Book So Great by Walton, Jo
  • Peopleware by DeMarco, Tom
  • On Hunting by Scruton, Roger
  • Fortune is a River by Masters, Roger
  • I Wear the Black Hat by Klosterman, Chuck
  • Best. Movie. Year. Ever. by Raftery, Brian
  • The Vintage Mencken by Mencken, H. L.
  • The Big Screen by Thomson, David
  • Mysteries of the Mall by Rybczynski, Witold
  • How to Talk About Places You’ve Never Been by Bayard, Pierre
  • The Old Ways by Macfarlane, Robert
  • Anatomy of Criticism by Frye, Northrop
  • Lingua Latina per se Illustrata by Ă˜rberg, Hans H.
  • The White Darkness by Grann, David
  • The Sultan’s Istanbul on 5 Kurush a Day by FitzRoy, Charles
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Galbraith, Robert
  • Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Schreier, Jason
  • The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Luce, Edward
  • The Once and Future Liberal by Lilla, Mark
  • The Library Book by Orlean, Susan
  • The Best American Essays of the Century by Oates, Joyce Carol
  • Beating the Story by Laws, Robin D.
  • The Second Machine Age by Brynjolfsson, Erik
  • On the Future by Rees, Martin
  • The Living Thoughts of Montaigne by Gide, AndrĂ©
  • Shakespeare’s Montaigne by Montaigne, Michel de
  • Shady Characters by Houston, Keith
  • Profiles by Tynan, Kenneth

Rereads (6)

Gene Wolfe died this year, so I reread The Book of the New Sun. Sad to remember there won’t be any new Gene Wolfe novels.

Rereading Declare only a year after reading it the first time was so rewarding that I continued on to reading some other Tim Powers novels.

  • The Anubis Gates by Powers, Tim
  • On Stranger Tides by Powers, Tim
  • Declare by Powers, Tim
  • Winesburg, Ohio by Anderson, Sherwood
  • The Claw of the Conciliator by Wolfe, Gene
  • Shadow & Claw by Wolfe, Gene