Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
The book-lovers at Goodreads asked their members to select their favorite books of 2019. After 4.7 million votes, here are the top five:
- The Testaments, Margaret Atwood
- Daisy Jones & The Six, Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston
- The Institute, Stephen King
- The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides
Didn’t read any of ’em. Over the past few years, I’ve focused on classics since I spent my school years on stuff like The Lord of the Rings and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I created a Goodreads account, which allows you to track and rate what you read, and set goals for how many books you want to knock out in the coming year.
I’ve been setting my annual goal based on the year (17 books for 2017, 18 for 2018, etc). This year I overshot my goal a bit with 21 titles; nothing like last year where I devoured 54 — that was overkill and I don’t recommend it.
For my list, I’ve eliminated the Bible from contention (the Holy Spirit has a unnatural advantage over mortal authors). Here are my favorite five books that I read in 2019, in order of publishing date:
The Histories, Herodotus
I’ve consumed a zillion ancient history books, articles, and podcasts, and each references Herodotus. Why not read the source? “The Father of History” compiled this tome in the 5th century BC with incomplete information, obvious biases, and often pure conjecture about far-off lands. But it provides fascinating insights into the worldview of the ancients and reveals how human nature remains the same.
The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, various authors
Much of my reading this year was religious in nature as I’ve continued the journey I began last year from evangelicalism to the Orthodox Church. (I keep meaning to write about that subject, but it probably needs its own book.) This is an ancient collection of thoughts, stories, and lessons from the Christian ascetics who fled the world to live in the deserts of Egypt. We moderns have much to learn from our nearly forgotten spiritual forbears.
The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton
Here’s an embarrassing admission: despite being fascinated with politics from an early age, I had never actually read The Federalist Papers. Excerpts and quotes, sure, but like Herodotus, never the source document. I was astonished at the brilliance and erudition of our founding fathers, though now I feel obligated to read The Anti-Federalist Papers.
The Trial, Franz Kafka
A couple of years ago, I read Kafka and Camus back-to-back and fell into an existential depression. These aren’t the guys you’d want to invite to your kid’s birthday party, but Kafka creates a mood like no one else. His portrayal of suffocating bureaucracy and incompetent officials could turn AOC into a libertarian.
I, Partridge: We Need to Talk About Alan, Alan Partridge
This is actually written by comic actor Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci (creator of “Veep” and The Death of Stalin). Partridge is a long-running character on BBC; a middle-aged middle-englander who was once a major chat-show host but is now consigned to DJ-ing for North Norfolk Digital. He delves into his Toblerone addiction and shares tragic childhood vignettes like “snowflakes fell from the sky like tiny pieces of a snowman who had stood on a landmine.”
Now, the important part: What are your favorite books of 2019?