11 Books I Loved in 2019

Books, books, books. It used to be easy for me to get engrossed in stories. I would pick up a book and read it, not distracted by the Internet, the news, my phone or any other shiny objects. All I needed was a book.

Now, in my middle-age years, my patience for ordinary books has grown thin and the joy of discovering a book that captures my attention – and keeps it – is rare. As I do every for year, I’m sharing the ten books of 2019 that I could not put down.

The Obesity Code – Dr. Jason Fung
I am starting my list with this book because it has changed the way I eat. Giving up sugar, processed foods, bread, and pasta is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and my sense of well-being. Intermittent fasting is, for me, an easy way to manage my food intake. I’ve lost weight and inches, and my health has improved.

Olive, Again – Elizabeth Strout
Oh, how I love Olive. She is difficult, cranky, mean, irritating and annoying – but underneath it all there is a warm and loving heart. And Elizabeth Strout has a way of bringing you into the community of Crosby, Maine and making you feel like you are walking the streets alongside her characters.

The Overstory – Richard Powers
An epic, sprawling novel that starts out with the smallest of details and grows into a treatise on global warming, timber wars and the passion of those who want to preserve the planet for future generations. This beautiful book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2019.

Fleishman is in Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Anker
In the tradition of the neurotic Jewish anti-hero, Brodesser-Anker brings us Toby Fleishman, whose wife has disappeared in the middle of their divorce. With two children to worry about, new-found popularity on dating sites and trouble at the hospital where he is a doctor, Toby’s summer of the missing ex and a growing self-awareness make for a funny, touching, and very readable book.

Women Rowing North – Mary Pipher
I am not a big fan of self-help books. In fact, I find most of them repetitive and obvious. Mary Pipher’s Women Rowing North, however, had a big impact on me. Perhaps it’s because she’s an older woman reflecting on her life. Maybe it’s because she writes with honesty about herself and those around her. Or maybe I needed to hear what she had to say and the timing was just right. Appreciate the moment, and read this book.

The Dutch House – Ann Patchett
For anyone (like me) with a house that symbolizes their childhood and all the good and bad that went with it, The Dutch House will make you laugh and cry and nod your head, remembering the view from a certain window, the sound of footsteps on a stairway or the faces of people you loved. Ann Patchett never disappoints, and this is another compulsively readable book from her.

The World That We Knew – Alice Hoffman
I rarely ever read books about the Holocaust. As a Jew, I find it horribly upsetting to revisit the darkest time in world history that resulted in the extermination of so many of my tribe, including many family members. However, when Alice Hoffman writes a book, I read it. And I’m glad I did. Incorporating her trademark magical realism in the form of a golem, the love stories and survival stories and human stories are told with a gentleness that made it easy for me to read.

Memories of the Future – Siri Huvstedt
It’s not easy to explain this captivating book. A woman discovers her notebooks from 40 years prior, when she had been obsessed by her next-door neighbor’s apparent descent into madness. She begins a conversation with her younger self to recapture that time in her life. Trust me when I say this is a fantastic book – I just can’t describe exactly what happens.

The Library Book – Susan Orlean
The history of the Los Angeles Public Library and the fire that destroyed it may not sound like a gripping, engrossing story, but it is. Susan Orlean, who wrote The Orchid Thief, is a master at making true stories seem like dramas.

Good Riddance – Elinor Lipman
Family drama, romance, humor, intrigue and wine. If you’ve never read a book by Elinor Lipman, start now. If you have, you know you’re in for a treat. A book by Elinor Lipman is like a fizzy glass of champagne – fun, tingly and indulgent.

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