NPR’s Book Concierge 2019

Book Concierge listI write about this every year, but it is well worth the annual mention. NPR has released its 2019 Book Concierge, and it is delightful as always. If you haven’t checked it out before and you’re a book lover you are in for a treat.

National Public Radio compiles all of the books it has reviewed throughout the year and assigns multiple categories to each. You can then view the books by category. But what is really cool about the book concierge is that you can mix and match categories. For example, you can select Staff Picks and For Music Lovers. Or you can select Book Club Ideas and Historical Fiction. With 369 books in this year’s catalog, that’s a lot reading choices for you.

My favorite category is Seriously Great Writing. What surprised me was how many books in that category I have read this year. Here’s a rundown of the books I’ve read in 2019 that NPR considers Seriously Great Writing.

  • The Source of Self Regard by Toni Morrison – To me this was a sort of mixed bag. There are many genres in this collection: essays, speeches, and meditations as the subtitle indicates. I suspect that I might have chosen another Toni Morrison book to find the best of her writing, but as a memorial to someone we just recently lost The Source of Self Regard belongs in this category.
  • Horizon by Barry Lopez – Lopez is, after all, the dean of living nature writers and this book is a highly readable account of his sojourns in the last couple of decades.
  • The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine – This is an absolutely delightful novel about twins who were born sharing a private language, grew up loving words, and took different paths in their language journey as adults.
  • Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino – I listened to the author read her own essays in the audiobook version. If you think think that millennials are not up to standard as generations go, read this book. You will change your mind.

And then there’s:

  • Floating Coast by Bathsheba Demuth – I read the prologue of this history of the Bering Strait as a Kindle sample, bought the e-book, got part way through the first chapter and returned it for a refund. There was just too much about how whales and other mammals are killed for survival and for profit in the region. But, yes, the writing is seriously great.
  • Nobody’s Looking at You by Janet Malcolm – I read the Kindle sample and decided that the subject matter didn’t interest me. But that’s no reflection on the writing.

Yes, that’s only a handful of books out of eighty-eight, but at least I seem to be making some good choices with regarding to my book reading.



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