Since 1983, it has been customary for nearly every State of the Union address to include the line “The state of the union is strong.” That rote confidence, though perhaps misplaced in politics, seems warranted in the world of books: there are always good books being written. But is it possible that, in 2019, there were a slightly greater number of them? I had a terrible time whittling down my top ten this year. There was a longer than usual tally of titles, reputed to be excellent, that I wanted to read (but have not, yet), with the result that the ballot below may be more reflective of idiosyncratic consumption than objective judgment. The lineup is heavy on fiction, memoir, fiction that behaves like memoir, and memoir that impersonates fiction. The books of 2019 may be slippery to categorize, but the state of them is strong—a luscious year, like 1997 for Brunellos—and I’m thrilled that my job calls upon me to share some of my favorites, rather than my assessment of the nation’s affairs. To the list!
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