"For BookReader: In the style of a McSweeney's List or a Letterman Top Ten List, a summary of books BR has read in the past year, without giving way the titles of the books (titles in pipe links or outbound links are okay, though)."
I’m not sure I’ve seen Letterman ever, but I get the idea. So, following is a list of my top books of 2019 without titles, summarized, with my opinion following. As an added bonus, where I’ve written down certain things that could give away the title of the book, I've blanked out the text SCP style. You probably will be able to guess a few of these anyway, though the more obscure historical books will probably be impossible.
It's important to note that these are not the Top Books that came out in 2019, but rather the ones I enjoyed reading the most out of all the books I read in 2019.
A rather clever defense of █████ with all of the wit I’ve come to expect of the English during the reign of ████████████. This is a pretty solid read starting with a great skewering of an Italian soldier who the author met, proceeding to noting how important ██████ was to the ██████s with a strong argument against ██████’s position (██████ thought ██████ and art were distractions).
I’d recommend it, especially if you like Early Modern English and all the particularities therein. It’s interesting to me that a lot of fuddy-duddy opinions that we contend with in these latter-days, namely that “art is bad” have always existed. What is with these people that want to crush the fun out of everybody else’s lives?
An old miser discovers the spirit of Christmas with the help of three (four actually, if you count the first one) Ghosts.
I’ve read it before, but since I read it every year around Christmas time, I’ll put it rather low on the list of top books of 2019 even though it ranks number 3 or so in my top list of all time. The author, ████████████, is widely considered one of the greatest novelists of all time and his talents are well on display here. Some of the phrasing is so innovative as to be astounding. How does one get to be as good a writer? It sometimes seems superhuman.
An ancient evil in a small town devours a series of children every twenty-seven years. A group of children realize that they are in danger and use their friendship to defeat the evil.
I decided to reread this after watching the new movie. It’s as good as I remember, though the weird-ass sex scene bothers me more now that it did the last time I read this book (at age thirteen). It has all the hallmarks of a book by ███████████ and if you enjoy his other books you’ll enjoy this one, even if it is a bit long and was written squarely in his “please God, somebody should trim these fucking books down” period.
A shapeshifting sex criminal terrorizes a small town and is defeated by a hard-headed detective, an autistic savant, and a group of disposable, interchangeable characters.
Like all of ████’s books, this is a fast-paced and compelling read, though it didn’t grab me as much as some other of his. I went on a ████████████ binge this year and read a whole bunch of his books starting with ██████ and ending with ██████. They’re good, more good than bad, and now that Bloom isn’t alive to shit all over them, we can start considering these as valuable a part of the literary canon as anything else.
A depressed alcoholic pulls himself up from addiction in time to help a pre-teen psychic fight a group of emotional vampires.
Another book by ████ and another based on one of his movies. The book departs significantly from the book in its final acts with the movie following the 1980 ██████ film and the book following the original ██████ book. The book is a sequel of sorts but stands on its own, and I found it much more compelling than number 7 on this list. The villain is fantastic and both protagonist and deuteragonist are interesting to follow around. I’ve noticed that I often skip sections of books with multiple viewpoints if one of the viewpoints isn’t as interesting as the other, and is one of my major complaints about Game of Thrones. You follow one character around, get invested in their story, and then the author interrupts their journey to follow the cheese-smith or somebody. This necessitates rereading the skipped sections later and so it is refreshing to have characters who are all equally interesting.
A dry historical document detailing the history of the ██████████. The first section is historical letters from the event and then it moves into summary and ends with statistics.
In the 1600s, the █████ were suffering under ██████ yoke. This event is foundational for a lot of New Mexican history and while we tend to walk around in our everyday life without understanding the events that shaped the city around us, we might ideally wonder how to pronounce such names as Tiguex Park (hint, it’s not French), and why the oldest haciendas date over a hundred years before the city is said to be founded, or why you can’t just walk from Gold Street to Gold Street, or why the outlying communities are so hostile to Albuquerque’s influence, and books like this can answer a lot of those questions. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anybody who isn’t interested in New Mexico history and a very particular time in that history.
The Priestess of the █████████ discovers a wizard trying to rob the treasures hidden inside.
I remember reading ████████████ when I was very young. Somewhere between seven and eight, I think. However, I never read the sequel books despite them sitting on my mom’s bookshelf for my entire childhood and these books being very short. ███████████ is considered to be a giant in the fantasy genre and reading this book I can see why. There’s a point in the book where the Priestess despairs that her gods aren’t real to the wizard as they’re trying to escape the ████s and he says something along the lines of “What are you talking about? It’s all I can do to keep them from devouring us alive! I’ve been fighting them this entire time!” It’s a Holy Shit Moment of the kind that I as a reader live for. The entire book has a dark majesty and you should absolutely read ██████████.
A very complicated book on logic and math that is interested in strange loops among other things. Any summary of this book would be incomplete since its subject ranges from computer science to Greek philosophy.
Oh, look, I even put the umlaut in the title before blanking it out. Okay, so this book is often over my head because the author is some kind of genius. He often has to spend chapters explaining simple parts of his idea so that when you get to the idea you can understand it. If you skip ahead, you’ll be lost. Even with having to reread and reread large sections of this book to understand the concepts, I think I got a lot out of it because this is the type of book that is so interesting and so informative that I’ve learned something from nearly every section and when I haven’t it still has given me a lot to turn over in my mind. It won a Pulitzer Prize, apparently.
2. █████ ██████
Part One of a series by ██████████████. A thousand years ago a hero faced down a standard fantasy dark lord and lost. The book is set in the resulting industrial hellscape.
The magic system and premise are excellent and it has one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve seen in fantasy in a long time. I originally picked up the book after seeing some of the author’s writing course videos on YouTube, and since he seemed to know what he was talking about, I stopped into my local bookstore after work one day and picked it up. I then had to call out of work the next day because I’d stayed up all night reading it and wasn’t quite done when sunrise hit. Did I mention how interesting the magic system is? Read it. Read it now!
A memoir detailing the General’s start at the beginning of the ███████ War to his defeat of ████████ at █████████.
Most military memoirs written in the 1880s are verbose and dry affairs. Pretentious too. This one was not. It is very clear, direct, and despite being about a thousand or so pages, reads very quickly. The edition I got from my library is a fully annotated edition and the footnotes are comprehensive. For instance, if ████ mentions that a soldier was killed, the footnote provided will detail who the soldier was and give a short biography. Or if he mentions some obscure 1880s technology, it will go into detailed explanation. In one section, █████ talks about going to a production of Hamlet with a few fellow generals in disguise so as to not be recognized by their own troops and the annotations go into contemporary reviews of the performance in question. With or without annotations, the work is astounding and relevant. There’s been a lot of talk about the origin of █████████ lately with some ███████████ apologists talking about █████ █████ by way of historical revisionism. ██████ clearly states in the final chapter that the █████ ██████ which caused the war was ███████ and further says that it wasn’t the █████ whose █████ were being trampled but the █████. When engaged in such a morally repugnant institution as ██████, to keep such an enterprise going, you have to infringe on the █████s of other █████ because without it the whole affair dries up. This led the █████ to petition the Federal Government for more and more absurd “requests” of its more ███████ neighbors so that every man north of ██████ had to become ██████ hunters for an institution that was evil. Further, the political machinations to spread █████ made the ████ ███ inevitable. Highly recommended.