Favorite Books Read in 2019

“I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” Jane Austen

“Reading is a gift, but only if the words are taken into the soul—eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight.” Eugene Peterson

I love books. Give me a good library or an hour at your used book store and I’m a happy man. There are a lot of things that make a book good, let alone enjoyable, so my list is admittedly subjective. But to add to the chorus of top books read in 2019, here’s my top-ten list. My criteria was reading them in 2019, not publication date, though most were printed in 2019. In no particular order…

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Wendell Berry and the Gift of Remembrance

“[Tol Proudfoot] had become an elder of the community, and had recognized his memories, the good ones anyhow, as gifts, to himself and to the rest of us.”[1]

Maybe it’s my small-town upbringing, but I feel at home when reading Wendell Berry’s fictional stories. His characters aren’t larger-than-life heroes or villains but they capture the ordinary, beautiful, flesh-and-blood people I’ve encountered in life. His plots aren’t moved along by intense action, but in their familiarity as true to life stories you might hear at your own family gathering.

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Gilead

I first listened to Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead on Audible and now have read it, alongside her two follow-up novels (Home and Lila). The trio share overlapping characters and stories from the vantage of three different characters. It’s similar in ways to what Wendell Berry has done with some of his Port William characters in his stories and vignettes.

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