The 7 Best Books I Read in 2019

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I read 113 books this year. Considering I didn’t have a full-time job for 10 months, it’s probably not as high as it could have been (but there are 42 books that I started and did not finish, for lack of interest). I love Best Of book lists, and I love new book recommendations, so this is mine.

The Seven Best Books I Read in 2019

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Optimism

Two of my friends have bemoaned recently how the world has never been worse. Of course, both these friends are white men, and I pointed out, as a minority woman, my life is so much better than my parents’ or my grandparents’ generations, it’s not even a contest. But more than just an anecdotal story about how life is getting better, how about a whole book about how the entire world is getting better?

Millions of people are escaping extreme poverty, hundreds of countries are progressing in terms of child mortality, girls’ education and lifespan, among other statistics. Obviously there are still lots of problems in the world, but let’s not disregard the progress that has been made and the trajectory the world is on. The book also helps us judge the news today to make sure we are getting the right picture. I believe that interpreting the news accurately (without regard to our biases or the journalists’) is one of the most important skills we have in our arsenals these days.

This book made me feel better about our polarization in politics. I mean, people are still polarized, but I never believed that either side was evil. This book is also necessary reading if you ever wanted to change someone’s opinion about anything.

Memoir

I downloaded this book in anticipation of my trip to South Africa. I actually listened to it while I was in Portugal. I highly recommend the audiobook, because Trevor Noah reads it himself and it adds so much more humor when he reads in the voices of his mother and his friends.

Every time I see Trevor Noah now I think why is he so smiley? And then I think, well maybe it’s because he doesn’t have to live in his childhood anymore. His memoir is hilarious and insightful, and it makes you appreciate how much we have in America.

Fascinating

I started taking birth control because I heard it would make my skin better. But it made me feel weird. It wasn’t that I was sick, but I was off. I had small negative effects, but since they weren’t . But I felt terrible saying anything against the pill, because I knew how important it was for women’s advancement.

This book, however, takes an honest look at how the birth control pill affects women’s bodies. It justified my experience of birth control and gave voice to side effects I had barely noticed – a dulling of enjoyment, reduced stress response, low libido, etc.

Women are told that switching a few hormones in their bodies will stop their risk of pregnancy and only provide good side effects, but it’s not that easy. Switching a few hormones can change everything in a woman’s body and women should be aware of these effects. This is not to say that women shouldn’t take birth control, but all women should be given the information so they can make an educated choice.

Love

I love reading romances and dating advice books. This was a very different kind of romantic advice book. This book was so fun to read and made me think about relationships, marriage, and divorce, from a terrible lawyer’s opinion (ah my favorite kind of opinion).

My posts about depression were inspired in part by the insights from this book.

Loneliness

This book is about the importance of church and/or community and how we’ve lost much of these connections as small towns have collapsed. Loneliness is the malady of our times and I always love reading more research about it.

Honorable Mentions


I like this book primarily because it gives me a little bit of hope for the members in Congress. And how many books can say that?

New developments in sex robots, anyone? It makes me a little sad about future romantic life because I feel like I could easily be replaced by a sex robot, but it’s fascinating.

I love the adventurous nature of this book. And I signed up for improv classes after reading about them here.

This book made me so mad, but that always seems to happen when I read about the justice system. It’s about the two systems of justice in America – that lets the uberrich off the hook and penalizes the poor just for existing.

This was a random book choice, and I’m surprised that the subject matter made such a long book, but Prof. Banks tackles the issue from many different perspectives, sociological, financial, psychological, cultural, etc. It’s a fascinating way to answer a simple question.

Granted, many of the predictions in this book have already come true by the time I read it (it was published in 2017), but it gave me schemas for thinking about technological change. Recommended by FinanceAfter50.

I thought this book was about shopping, but it’s really about the entire concept of possession and ownership. It really makes you think about ownership of your body, your reputation, your identity, your home, your friends and family, etc. Because of this book, I thought long and hard whether owning a dog or being a dog sitter would be better for me. For now, dog sitting is the way to go, but I definitely considered what role “ownership” should play in my life. A very interesting read.

What were the best books you read this year?

Author: Lisa

A Washington, DC attorney discusses the financial struggles facing women lawyers.

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