2019 finished as a superlative year of reading. My preoccupation with climate change influenced the list in obvious ways but the Top 10 is eclectic enough for all tastes. The first two books below received the rare accolade of a 10/10 rating, the others were 9/10. Enjoy!
Jon Gertner orchestrates a combo exploration/science history masterpiece with “The Ice at the End of the World: An Epic Journey into Greenland’s Buried Past and Our Perilous Future.” It is as vital as it is compelling. Review.
Jonathan Safran Foer weaves a classic polemic with sophisticated philosophical discussion in “We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast.” Review.
Kevin Barry is one of our most lyrical yet tough stylists. “Night Boat to Tangiers” is an unforgettable tale of Irish drug runners. Review.
Genius historian Robert Caro graces us with his craft and ethos in “Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing.” Review.
Sophie Cunningham’s “City of Trees” is near perfection, part memoir, part essayistic reflection on the earth we’re razing. Review.
“Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman is a treat and a triumph. Review.
One of the most brilliant books of the past few years, “The End concludes Karl Ove Knausgaard’s epic six-volume My Struggle series. Review.
An utterly propulsive thriller, Adrian McKinty’s “The Chain” also possesses a heart. Review.
You must not miss the unique voice of George Packer in his scintillating biography, “Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century.” Review.
“The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future” by David Wallace-Wells is a bracing if thoroughly depressing guide to Earth’s future. Review.
Also check out reviews of these honorable mentions: Lou Berney’s noir “November Road“; Max Gladstone’s space opera “Empress of Forever“; Mick Herron’s spy thriller “London Rules“; Joe Ide’s mystery “Wrecked“; “The End of Ice“, a climate change eyewitness account by Dahr Jamail; “Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting” by Anna Quindlen; Nathaniel Rich’s “Losing Earth: A Recent History“; and “The Incomplete Book of Running” by Peter Sagal.