Whatcha Reading: Looking back at 2019

Every week we ask an interesting figure what they're digging into. Have ideas who we should reach out to? Let it fly: info@seattlereviewofbooks.com. Want to read more? Check out the archives.

One of the great joys of running Whatcha Reading is seeing all the books people are reading. In 2019, people in the column talked about 258 books. There’s a big table below listing all of them, sorted by title, alphabetically.

Of those, only eleven books were mentioned twice (no books made three mentions this year), so deserve an extra callout.

  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit
  • Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson
  • Deaf Republic, by Ilya Kaminsky
  • Dreyer's English, by Benjamin Dreyer
  • How to Do Nothing, by Jenny Odell
  • Is, Is Not, Tess Gallagher
  • Less, Andrew Sean Greer
  • Milkman, Anna Burns
  • On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong
  • The Nickel Boys, Colson Whitehead
  • The Secret Lives of Color, Kassia St Clair

Personally, I read Less, The Secret Lives of Color, and I saw Jenny Odell talk at the XOXO Festival, her lovely book is still sitting on my to-read pile.

You’ll see each of them listed twice below, because I’ve also linked them to the original column they appeared in, so you could find the source, if you want to be the kind of nerd who looks over huge lists of books and finds where they were mentioned on the site (and, to be clear, I am the kind of nerd who creates huge lists of books).

I wish I could tell you what the trend was this year, but waving a hand over this list revealed nothing to specific to me. I'd be curious if you have insight into that. What I can say, pretty definitively, is that Seattle is full of (and visited by, since many of these were touring writers) people who read incredibly widely. Kind of gives you hope about the world, doens't it?

Here's the full list. We'll be back next week with our normal Whatcha Reading, but isn't it fun to take a step back and gander at just how many books have been recommended on the site by guests? I'm absolutely thrilled about it.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, by Grace LinOriginal post
A Chorus of Stones, by Susan GriffinOriginal post
A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca SolnitOriginal post
A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca SolnitOriginal post
A Monthly Account of the Year Leading Up to the End of the World, by Agonistes, Prophet and Fulfiller; or, The Exhausted Dream, by Joshua EdwardsOriginal post
A Place to Land, by Barry Wittenstein, and and Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)Original post
A Prince on Paper (Reluctant Royals #3), by Alyssa ColeOriginal post
A Separation, by Katie KitamuraOriginal post
A Woman Is No Man, by Etaf RumOriginal post
About a Boy, by Nick HornbyOriginal post
All Systems Red, by Martha WellsOriginal post
All the Names They Used for God, by Anjali SachdevaOriginal post
All They Will Call You, by Tim Z. HernandezOriginal post
Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal, and Juana Martinez-Neal (Illustrator)Original post
Alys, Always, by Harriet LaneOriginal post
America Is Not the Heart, by Elaine CastilloOriginal post
American Wolf, by Nate BlakesleeOriginal post
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-OrtizOriginal post
Anagrams, by Lorrie MooreOriginal post
Animal Farm, by George OrwellOriginal post
Architecture of Dispersed Life, by Pablo de Rokha, and Urayoan Noel (Translator)Original post
As I Lay Dying, by William FaulknerOriginal post
Autobiography of Red, by Anne CarsonOriginal post
Autobiography of Red, by Anne CarsonOriginal post
Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, by Susan FaludiOriginal post
Bad Boy Brawly Brown, by Walter MosleyOriginal post
Bangkok Wakes to Rain, by Pitchaya SudbanthadOriginal post
Becoming, by Michelle ObamaOriginal post
Becoming Dr. Seuss, by Brian Jay JonesOriginal post
Bitter in the Mouth, by Monique TruongOriginal post
Bloodlands, by Timothy SnyderOriginal post
Body My House, by Bethany ReidOriginal post
Book of Cord, by Leona ChenOriginal post
Bowlaway, by Elizabeth McCrackenOriginal post
Breathturn into Timestead, by Paul Celan, and Pierre Joris (Translated by)Original post
Bunny, by Mona AwadOriginal post
Butterfly Yellow, by Thanhha LaiOriginal post
Buzz, by Thor HansonOriginal post
Cantos del Cazador, by Emmanuel TaubOriginal post
Cassandra Darke, by Posy SimmondsOriginal post
Cecilia Vicuña, by Cecilia Vicuna (Artist), Andrea Andersson (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), and Julia Bryan-Wilson (Text by (Art/Photo Books))Original post
Characters and Episodes of the Great Rebellion. Selected from the History and Autobiography of Edward, Earl of Clarendon, by Rev G. D. Boyle, and Edward Hyde ClarendonOriginal post
Cherry, by Nico WalkerOriginal post
Claude at the Beach, by Alex T. Smith, and Alex T. Smith (Illustrator)Original post
Collected Poems, by Robert LowellOriginal post
Conversations with Friends, by Sally RooneyOriginal post
Darkstalker, by Tui T. SutherlandOriginal post
Dead Wake, by Erik LarsonOriginal post
Deaf Republic, by Ilya KaminskyOriginal post
Deaf Republic, by Ilya KaminskyOriginal post
Down and Out in Paris and London, by George OrwellOriginal post
Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha LeeOriginal post
Dreyer's English, by Benjamin DreyerOriginal post
Dreyer's English, by Benjamin DreyerOriginal post
Drift, by Caroline BergvallOriginal post
Eager, by Ben GoldfarbOriginal post
Einstein's Shadow, by Seth FletcherOriginal post
Emergent Strategy, by adrienne maree brownOriginal post
Epileptic, by David BOriginal post
Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, by Phoebe RobinsonOriginal post
Extinctions, by Josephine WilsonOriginal post
Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, by Keith S. WilsonOriginal post
Fleishman Is in Trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-AknerOriginal post
Friday Black, by Nana Kwame Adjei-BrenyahOriginal post
From Scratch, by Tembi LockeOriginal post
Ghosts of Old Virginny, by Milla van der HaveOriginal post
Girl Logic, by Iliza ShlesingerOriginal post
Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush, by Lael MorganOriginal post
Grief Sequence, by Prageeta SharmaOriginal post
Gross Anatomy, by Mara AltmanOriginal post
Grown-ups Never Do That, by Davide Cali, and Benjamin ChaudOriginal post
Hardly War, by Don Mee ChoiOriginal post
Hello Lighthouse, by Sophie BlackallOriginal post
Henry and Bea, by Jessixa BagleyOriginal post
Hero Land #1, by Esther Pearl WatsonOriginal post
High Fidelity, by Nick HornbyOriginal post
Hiking with Nietzsche, by John J KaagOriginal post
House of Mirth, by Edith WhartonOriginal post
How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin MoranOriginal post
How to Be Loved, by Eva HagbergOriginal post
How to Change Your Mind, by Michael PollanOriginal post
How to Do Nothing, by Jenny OdellOriginal post
How to Do Nothing, by Jenny OdellOriginal post
I Think I'm Ready to See Frank Ocean, by Shayla LawsonOriginal post
I Want You, by Lisa HanawaltOriginal post
Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors, by Susan SontagOriginal post
Inkling, by Kenneth Oppel, and Sydney Smith (Illustrator)Original post
Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha LaiOriginal post
Instruments of the True Measure, by Laura Da'Original post
Insurrecto, by Gina ApostolOriginal post
Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado PerezOriginal post
Is, Is Not, by Tess GallagherOriginal post
Is, Is Not, by Tess GallagherOriginal post
Jane, by Maggie NelsonOriginal post
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte BronteOriginal post
Juliet, Naked, by Nick HornbyOriginal post
Just Mercy, by Bryan StevensonOriginal post
Kaibyo, by Zack DavissonOriginal post
Killers of the Flower Moon, by David GrannOriginal post
Klezmer, by Walter Zev FeldmanOriginal post
Know My Name, by Chanel MillerOriginal post
Ladder of Shadows, by Gustaf SobinOriginal post
Lake City, by Thomas KohnstammOriginal post
Less, by Andrew Sean GreerOriginal post
Less, by Andrew Sean GreerOriginal post
Life After Life, by Kate AtkinsonOriginal post
Life Is a Wheel, by Bruce WeberOriginal post
Live Work Work Work Die, by Corey PeinOriginal post
Look Both Ways, by Jason ReynoldsOriginal post
Luminous Debris, by Gustaf SobinOriginal post
Marsilius of Padua, by Annabel BrettOriginal post
Master of the Phantom Isle (Dragonwatch #3), by Brandon MullOriginal post
Memoirs from Beyond the Grave, by François-René de ChateaubriandOriginal post
Merci Suárez Changes Gears, by Meg MedinaOriginal post
Milkman, by Anna BurnsOriginal post
Milkman, by Anna BurnsOriginal post
Mis(h)adra, by Iasmin Omar AtaOriginal post
Monsters I Have Been, by Kenji C. LiuOriginal post
Mother Winter, by Sophia ShalmiyevOriginal post
Mr. Pumpkin's Tea Party, by Erin BarkerOriginal post
My Life Underwater, by Charles E. MartinOriginal post
My Parents, by Aleksandar HemonOriginal post
My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and Don Bartlett (Translated by)Original post
Ndn Coping Mechanisms, by Billy-Ray BelcourtOriginal post
Neither, by Airlie AndersonOriginal post
Nick Adams Stories, by Ernest HemingwayOriginal post
Nightingale, by Paisley RekdalOriginal post
No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda JulyOriginal post
Norwegian Wood, by Haruki MurakamiOriginal post
Notes From a Black Woman’s Diary, by Kathleen CollinsOriginal post
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean VuongOriginal post
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean VuongOriginal post
One Good Mama Bone, by Bren McClainOriginal post
Operation Shylock, by Philip RothOriginal post
Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions Volume 1, by Frank HarrisOriginal post
Outrageous Openness, by Tosha SilverOriginal post
Pittsburgh, by Frank SantoroOriginal post
Plastic, by Susan FreinkelOriginal post
Pleasure Activism, by Adrienne Maree Brown Original post
Politics of Design, by Ruben PaterOriginal post
Proxies, by Brian BlanchfieldOriginal post
Quichotte, by Salman RushdieOriginal post
Recovery, by Russell BrandOriginal post
Remainder, by Tom McCarthyOriginal post
Return of the Sea Otter, by Todd McLeishOriginal post
Return of the Temujai (The Brotherband Chronicles #8), by John FlanaganOriginal post
Rose Fear, by Maria Laina, and Sarah McCann (Translator)Original post
Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn WardOriginal post
Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden KeefeOriginal post
Selected Poems, by Clark CoolidgeOriginal post
Sense of Wonder, by Bill SchellyOriginal post
Shapes of Native Nonfiction, by Elissa Washuta (Editor), and Theresa Warburton (Editor)Original post
She Said, by Jodi Kantor, and Megan TwoheyOriginal post
Ship Fever, by Andrea BarrettOriginal post
Shorts, by Various authorsOriginal post
Sight Lines, by Arthur SzeOriginal post
Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn WardOriginal post
Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-JobsOriginal post
So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma OluoOriginal post
Soul, by Andrey Platonov, and Robert Chandler (Translator)Original post
Starsight (Skyward #2), by Brandon SandersonOriginal post
Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2), by Rebecca RoanhorseOriginal post
Sublime Subliminal, by Rena PriestOriginal post
Sugar Run, by Mesha MarenOriginal post
Swedish Modern, by Janet Colletti, and Helene Boström (General editor)Original post
Sweet Taste of Liberty, by W. Caleb McDanielOriginal post
Taking the Leap, by Pema ChodronOriginal post
Tamara Drewe, by Posy SimmondsOriginal post
Thank You, Omu!, by Oge MoraOriginal post
The Age of Innocence, by Edith WhartonOriginal post
The Art of Memoir, by Mary KarrOriginal post
The Art of Weed Butter, by Mennlay Golokeh AggreyOriginal post
The Best Bad Things, by Katrina CarrascoOriginal post
The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der KolkOriginal post
The Body Papers, by Grace TalusanOriginal post
The Book of Boy, by Catherine Gilbert MurdockOriginal post
The Book That Eats People, by John Perry, and Mark Fearing (Illustrator)Original post
The Buddha Walks Into A Bar, by Lodro RinzleOriginal post
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette KowalOriginal post
The Collected Schizophrenias, by Esmé Weijun WangOriginal post
The Color Master, by Aimee BenderOriginal post
The Crying Book, by Heather ChristleOriginal post
The Embarrassment of Riches, by Simon SchamaOriginal post
The Emissary, by Yoko TawadaOriginal post
The Female Man, by Joanna RussOriginal post
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1), by N. K. JemisinOriginal post
The Founder's Dilemmas, by Noam WassermanOriginal post
The Fowl Twins (Artemis Fowl), by Eoin ColferOriginal post
The Gateless Barrier, by Robert AitkenOriginal post
The Goldfinch, by Donna TarttOriginal post
The Great Believers, by Rebecca MakkaiOriginal post
The House of Broken Angels, by Luis Alberto UrreaOriginal post
The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, Book One), by Suzanne CollinsOriginal post
The I Ching Workbook, by RL WingOriginal post
The Idiot, by Elif BatumanOriginal post
The Inferno, by DanteOriginal post
The Lachrymose Report, by Sierra NelsonOriginal post
The Long Ships, by Frans G. Bengtsson, and Michael Meyer (Translated by)Original post
The Lowland, by Jhumpa LahiriOriginal post
The Luminaries, by Eleanor CattonOriginal post
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, by William BlakeOriginal post
The Marriage of Space and Time, by Jed MyersOriginal post
THE MONKEY'S MASK, by Dorothy PorterOriginal post
The New Negro, by Jeffrey C. StewartOriginal post
The Nickel Boys, by Colson WhiteheadOriginal post
The Nickel Boys, by Colson WhiteheadOriginal post
The Night Diary, by Veera HiranandaniOriginal post
The Octopus Museum, by Brenda ShaughnessyOriginal post
The Overstory, by Richard PowersOriginal post
The Poisoner's Handbook, by Deborah BlumOriginal post
The Power Broker, by Robert A. CaroOriginal post
The Princess in Black, by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)Original post
The Reign of Elizabeth, by James Anthony FroudeOriginal post
The Republic, by PlatoOriginal post
The River at Night, by Kevin HuizengaOriginal post
The Rough Patch, by Brian Lies, and Brian Lies (Illustrator)Original post
The Sea, the Sea, by Iris MurdochOriginal post
The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St ClairOriginal post
The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St ClairOriginal post
The Skinned Bird, by Chelsea BiondolilloOriginal post
The Song of Achilles, by Madeline MillerOriginal post
The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy MontgomeryOriginal post
The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin HoffOriginal post
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. HarrowOriginal post
The Topeka School, by Ben LernerOriginal post
The Trees the Trees, by Heather ChristleOriginal post
The True Keeps Calm Biding Its Story, by Rusty MorrisonOriginal post
The Universe Within, by Neil ShubinOriginal post
The Unpassing, by Chia-Chia LinOriginal post
The Worm at the Core, by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom PyszczynskiOriginal post
There There, by Tommy OrangeOriginal post
They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, by Hanif AbdurraqibOriginal post
This Is How You Lose the Time War, by Amal El-Mohtar, and Max GladstoneOriginal post
This Land Is Our Land, by Suketu MehtaOriginal post
This Never Happened, by Liz ScottOriginal post
This Wound Is a World, by Billy-Ray BelcourtOriginal post
Through the Second Skin, by Derek SheffieldOriginal post
Thunderstruck & Other Stories, by Elizabeth McCrackenOriginal post
Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse #8), by James S. A. CoreyOriginal post
Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, by Verlyn KlinkenborgOriginal post
Tokyo Tarareba Girls 6, by Akiko HigashimuraOriginal post
Touching the Void, by Joe SimpsonOriginal post
Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1), by Rebecca RoanhorseOriginal post
Transcription, by Kate AtkinsonOriginal post
Transit, by Rachel CuskOriginal post
Translingual Poetics, by Sarah DowlingOriginal post
Treasures Retold, by Alex TothOriginal post
Tributaries, by Laura Da'Original post
Under the Net, by Iris MurdochOriginal post
Underland, by Robert MacfarlaneOriginal post
Underworld, by Don DelilloOriginal post
Unfurled, by Michelle Bailat-JonesOriginal post
Van Gogh, by Steven Naifeh, and Gregory White SmithOriginal post
Waterlog, by Roger DeakinOriginal post
We Begin Our Ascent, by Joe Mungo ReedOriginal post
Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, by Patrick Syme, and Abraham Gottlob Werner (Illustrator)Original post
What Ever Happened to Interracial Love, by Kathleen CollinsOriginal post
What My Mother and I Don't Talk About, by Michele FilgateOriginal post
What the Ice Gets, by Melinda MuellerOriginal post
What You Have Heard Is True, by Carolyn ForchéOriginal post
White Teeth, by Zadie SmithOriginal post
White Walls, by Hayley Merelle CoatesOriginal post
Who the Hell Is Imre Lodbrog?, by Barbara Browning, and Sebastien RegnierOriginal post
Why Religion?, by Elaine PagelsOriginal post
Wild Is the Wind, by Carl PhillipsOriginal post
Wildlife of a Garden, by Jennifer OwenOriginal post
You Look Like a Thing and I Love You, by Janelle ShaneOriginal post
Your Face Tomorrow, by Javier MaríasOriginal post
Zen Master Raven, by Robert AitkenyOriginal post