2019 Reading List

Below you’ll find all the books I got to in 2019, listed in order of best to those that left me indifferent. I’ll only add comments to the top books in each category.

FICTION:

1. The Book of X by Sarah Rose Ettar: Sarah Rose Etter can write. Jesus, can she write. The Book of X, her debut novel, is beautiful. Telling the story of Cassie, a girl born with a hereditary disorder where her stomach is wrapped into a knot, we are plunged into a world where meat is harvested from quarries, male prostitutes can be amputated if you can’t afford the cost, and jealously forms in the body as granite. More wonderful than this is seeing this world through Cassie’s eyes. Part Amy Hempel, part Margret Atwood at times, I was instantly captivated by her voice, and long after reading, heard it resonate in my mind long into the night. If Bridget Jones was written by William Burroughs, this would it. Dark, hypnotic, surreal, heart-breaking, honest and sublime. Seek it out.

2. The Sister Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

3. Extremely Loud, and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer

4. Cool Moon Over Babylon by Michael McDowell

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

6. Big Maria by Johnny Shaw

7. The Bone Weaver’s Orchard by Sarah Read

8. Carrie by Stephen King

9. Necronomicon by HP Lovecraft

10. Pet Sematary by Stephen King

11. The Dead Zone by Stephen King

12. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

13. Fly Already by Etgar Keret

14. Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

15. Bird Box by Josh Malerman

16. The Institute by Stephen King

17. Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

18. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

19. The Soul Standard by Caleb Ross, Axel Taiari and Nik Korpon

20. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

21. Don Quixote by Cervantes Saavedre

22. The Humans by Matt Haig

23. The Fog by James Herbert

24. The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J Walker

25. Legion by William Peter Blatty

26. Night of 1,000 Beasts by John Palisano

27. Moonglow by Michael Chabon

28. The Tattoist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

NON FICTION:

1. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi. As lead prosecutor in the Manson trail, Bugliosi proves to be an invaluable source into the atrocities that happened on August 8th/9th 1969, that involved the brutal murders of seven people, the most well known of whom was Sharon Tate. While the cast is many, which at times becomes disorientating as most of the Manson family also went by aliases, Bugliosi does well in keeping the wheels on a vehicle that moves at a fair pace. Beginning with the discovery of the bodies located at the Tate house on August 8th, then moving chronically through the first responding officers, forensics, the second murders at the LaBianca residence on August 9th, interviews, and extensive research before leading to the trail, you can’t help but get caught up in the story. The blunders made by police officers, the brutality and sheer madness of the deaths themselves, and of course Charles Manson and his crazy ideology that spread through the family like a virus, further bolsters the need to keep turning the pages. As with most notorious killers and evil people, there is a morbid curiosity to understand why these people did what they did, and while we are happy to ask these questions, and indeed delve into the minds of the sick and disturbed from the safety of our homes, as proven with many fictional books that deal with murder, it’s always worth reminding yourself that this is not a work of fiction. This was real, which makes it all the more chilling. While at times Bugliosi’s account of the events leading to the Manson trail turned into a genealogy chart with an infinite amount of members, and that his articulating of the American judicial system, and its many follies, acted as literary speed bumps, I believe that there is no one better placed to exhibit the story and evidence with such skilful finesse as Bugliosi. I personally took the trip into Manson’s life, and that of his family, because of Tarantino’s new movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which makes reference to the killing of Sharon Tate. I wanted to know as much as possible to see how accurate the movie is. Whatever reason propels you to delve into this book, be reassured you’ll come out of it realising that had this been a work of fiction you would have never believed it. And, that whatever factions of society believed Manson was innocent, they were wrong. Very very wrong.

2. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty (close 2nd)

3. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Powers Of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

4. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

5. The Beastie Boys Book by Mike D

6. Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

7. The Exorcist by Mark Kermode

8. Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giula Enders

9. Zodiac by Robert Graysmith

10. The Silent Guides by Steve Peters

11. Happy Brain: Where Happiness Comes From by Dean Burnett

https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2019

Published by craigwallwork

Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels, Bad People, Labyrinth of the Dolls, The Sound of Loneliness, To Die Upon a Kiss, and the short story collections, Quintessence of Dust, and Gory Hole. His short stories have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and feature in many anthologies and magazines both in the U.K. and U.S. He currently lives in West Yorkshire.

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