My 2019 in 26 books  24 December 2019  Books 

The Collected Stories, Amy Hempel.

Lost Children Archive, Valeria Luiselli.

Books I read or in some cases listened to over the past twelve months, in chronological order.

Travelers' Tales Thailand, O'Reilly and Habegger ed.

What the Buddha Never Taught, Tim Ward. The Canadian author's experience as a Thai Buddhist monk explained some of what I saw and some of what I missed but mostly it fed my cynicism.

Dreyer's English, Benjamin Dreyer.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres.

Washington Black, Esi Edugyan. The life of a slave takes a magical turn.

The News: An Owner's Manual, De Botton. I better understand my ambivalence as news consumer.

The BBC Radio George Smiley stories, John le Carré audio book.

Milkman, Anna Burns. Also appears on 2018's list.

Spring Snow, Mishima. A love story set in early 1900s Japan.

Machines like Me, Ian McEwan. A man and his robot.

Peking Story: The Last Days of Old China, David Kidd. A true story of life as a westerner in pre- and post-Mao China.

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare Appreciated annotated audio play.

Endurance, Scott Kelly. If only I were brave and adventurous.

MacBeth, Shakespeare Appreciated annotated audio play.

The Plot Against America, Philip Roth. Published in 2004, a no-longer-so-alternate history in which a celebrity is elected to the US presidency.

I Married a Communist, Philip Roth. Some wonderful writing, some boring writing.

The House of Spirits, Isabel Allende. Life in revolutionary Chile told in a rather plodding manner.

Death at La Fenice, Donna Leon. The orchestra conductor dies mid-concert in the first volume of a Venetian detective series.

Shyness & Dignity, Dag Solstad. An idealistic teacher of Norwegian lit, in the middle of "The Wild Duck", has a breakdown.

The Wild Duck, Henrik Ibsen. A man. Another man. A gun. A child. A wild duck in the garrett.

Exhalation, Ted Chiang. Black Mirror meets folktale.

Essays One, Lydia Davis. A look over Davis' shoulder as she writes and as she reflects on her work and the work of others.

The End of Eddy, Édouard Louis. Growing up in France doesn't guarantee you a happy childhood.

The Trial, Kafka. The archetype for an opaque bureaucracy.

The Vegetarian, Han Kang. Yeong-hye's issue with food is a sad story with unlikeable characters.

Night Boat to Tangier, Kevin Barry. Two charming low-lifes hang around the Algeciras ferry terminal in a story full of obscenities, bad grammar, drinking, drugs, sex, alcohol, criminality, violence, love and good writing.