Today is the final day of 2019, and I imagine you’re growing tired of “best of” lists. Best of the year. Best of the decade. But aren’t these lists important? I mean, how can one be expected to grow without reflection and resolution?
When I look back at my 2019 reading life, I see that I read 62 books, probably abandoned even more, listened to 13 audio books, analyzed more poetry than I’ve ever read before in my life, and interviewed 35 authors for Marginalia.
I recently sat down with Suzanne Tobias, opinion writer at The Wichita Eagle and our book reviewer here at KMUW. We were each armed with a list of our top 10 reads for the year. Not published in 2019, but read in 2019. My list surprised even me. Only four were books of my choosing, by authors interviewed for the Marginalia podcast. Four favorites were forced upon me as texts for my English Lit classes. And two stemmed from a reading challenge.
That was also new for me: reading challenges. As in plural. I’ve been participating in The Wichita Eagle/Wichita Public Library #ReadICT challenge since its inception 3 years ago. But — a direct result of that reflection/resolution dynamic — 2019 brought with it an additional self-imposed, and self-monitored, reading challenge: James Mustich’s 1000 Books to Read Before You Die.
2019 introduced me to Wichita’s newest literary magazine, Vautrin. And, if I think about it, the year ended with a shorter “books I’ve read” list, but a longer “books I can’t stop thinking about” list.
Now, asking me about my favorite books of the decade? That’s just not nice. Even though I’ve kept a record of my reading since 2004, can I really compare a book read in 2010 to one read in 2018? I was not the same person in 2019 as I was in 2010. See? It’s just not fair.
When I met with Suzanne, we opened up the microphone and recorded our conversation for the Marginalia podcast. In addition to our favorite reads of the year, we discussed possible titles for the 2020 #ReadICT Challenge categories. So if, upon reflection, reading more is one of your resolutions, I hope that some of our favorites might also become some of yours.
Here's our conversation:
And if you listened on-air, here's the commentary you heard:
- Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper
- City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
- My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
- The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
- Stoner by John Williams
- The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
- Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
- Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
- The Iliad by Homer
- Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
- Confessions of an Innocent Man by David R. Dow
- The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
- Two Years, Eight Months, Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie
- Bunny by Mona Awad
- Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
- Death of My Aunt by C.H.B. Kitchin
- Persuasion by Jane Austen
Marginalia was produced at KMUW Wichita. If you like this podcast, please consider leaving a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.
Engineers: Mark Statzer and Torin Andersen
Editors: Lu Anne Stephens and Haley Crowson
Producer: Beth Golay
Follow Beth Golay on Twitter @BethGolay.
Follow Suzanne Tobias on Twitter @SuzanneTobias.https://twitter.com/suzannetobias