In 2019 I read 44 books, even fewer than last year’s total of 78. Books have been pushed out a little by comics and some very good long-form journalism, so maybe I should be including those in next year’s round-up?
I tried to be a little pickier about what I read this year; but, looking back at the few books I did read, some were underwhelming. Which is not to say there weren’t some excellent books, just that picking out ten favourites was easier than it should have been. Here they are, in title order.
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
Yes, it’s another attack on social media, but this is a particularly thoughtful book. With so much time spent on these platforms, our use of them should be carefully considered.
The Future Starts Here by John Higgs
This was a great, optimistic book about the future. Doom and gloom sells well, but there’s a need for positivity about what lies ahead of us. Higgs is cynical where he needs to be, but still finds reasons to be hopeful.
The Heartland by Nathan Filer
About to be re-released as ‘This Book Will Change Your Mind About Mental Health’, The Heartland didn’t get the attention it deserved. It’s a clear, lucid and moving book about mental health.
Immediatism by Hakim Bey
Lanny by Max Porter
A slim novel, but a dense one. Porter uses typography and short paragraphs to produce an amazing chorus of voices in an English village. The book feels both mythic and timely, tapping into the currents of Brexit and folk horror. It’s also exciting to read a book which pushes the form of the physical page. I read it in a single sitting, with no electronic interruptions. This is a book that requires and justifies being read in that way.
Loose Connections by Johann Hari
Another book on mental health, and one I was very suspicious of. The book was more nuanced and important than the newspaper extracts implied. As austerity drags on into another decade, there are serious questions to be asked about how often we’re using mental health as a way to avoid facing the effects of economics.
Marvel Comics by Sean Howe
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
Then it fell apart by Moby
Yes, Moby is an appalling person. Despite that, I love the vulnerability and quietness of his prose style.