The Best Books I Read in 2019 (and 2018)

by eric

Previous editions: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

New job, new city, new kid…  I didn’t read much for a while there.  Thankfully I found Libby!

This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm
Ted Genoways
Follows a Nebraska family as they farm corn, beans, and cattle, fighting the constant worries of weather and markets while figuring out how to pass on the business to the next generation–even as uncertainty about the future crowds in.

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
Robert Putnam
A sobering study of the ever-growing chasm between the environments of kids growing up in households with and without college-educated parents in America.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
A gripping, engrossing account of the 1936 University of Washington crew which won Olympic gold in Hitler’s Germany.  Richly renders Depression-era Seattle.

Robert Caro
One of the world’s greatest historians explains his craft.

Born a Crime
Trevor Noah
The South African comedian describes a childhood growing up mixed race in (post-) apartheid South Africa with humor and perception.

Digital Minimalism
Cal Newport
Digital disconnection is a luxury–but this book still offers lots of thoughtful, actionable advice about improving the quality of your life.  This blog post only exists because I deleted a bunch of apps from my phone!

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Arlie Russell Hochschild
A Berkeley sociologist heads to Louisiana to try to understand and empathize with Tea Party conservatives.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
William Finnegan
An autobiography of a life well-surfed.

Some Luck
Jane Smiley
A fictional saga follows an Iowa farm family year by year from the 1920s to the 1950s.

A Terrible Country
Keith Gessen
An American with a Russian Literature PhD on the margins of academia confronts his ideals when he moves to Moscow to care for his aging grandmother.

The Undoing Project
Michael Lewis
An intellectual biography of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kanehman, the partners who developed the broad field of heuristics and biases.