Five Books of 2019

The five books I read in 2019 that I’ll think about the most in 2020.

Stillness is the Key – Ryan Holiday

I’ve read everything from Ryan Holiday. His writing points me to clear-eyed wisdom, and I often come back to his books when I need to be anchored.

Midnight at Chernobyl – Adam Higgenbotham

This is a thorough telling of a situation that was “funny uh-oh”. Though I was only twelve when Chernobyl melted down, I remember the global fear and confusion around the event. I remember not understanding why everyone was making such a big deal about something so far away. Though this book is written as a history of Chernobyl, it also serves as a lesson of how complex and fragile our systems truly are, and how little it takes to push things into disaster.

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

This post apocalyptic set of interconnecting short stories felt like a science fiction version of Raymond Carver’s Short Cuts. The fleeting connections between the stories stick with me more than the events themselves.

Medallion Status – John Hodgeman

I never would have thought when I read John Hodgeman’s book “The Area of my Expertise” ten or more years ago, that I would be reading such an honest and touching memoir of lifestyle change. Rather than dwelling on his time as a minor, but recognizable celebrity, he instead writes about the sadness of losing that status and the joys of learning the next phase in his life. As someone who’s own life has seen many disparate phases, it is easy for me to relate.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Steven King

I read this mostly in a single sitting while home from work sick on a cold day in March. Like all of King’s writing, it is clear, feels honest, and is just so damned relatable. On finishing the book, I was sure I would be able to write my own novel in two months. That was nine months ago…

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