December 5, 2019
It was a good year for nonfiction!
These essays were a joy to read. I love that Jia Tolentino owns her whole back story (conservative Christian upbringing, reality TV star, sorority girl, Pure Barre attendee) and then examines it without apologizing for having lived it. I especially liked the essays on literary heroines, scams, and UVA. If you liked this, try Meghan O’Gieblyn's Interior States.
I thought the writing in this book was utterly brilliant. I also can't stop myself from using the phrase "deep psychological insight." I see this winning some awards—maybe the Pulitzer?
I've always been fascinated by con artists, and I COULD NOT PUT THIS DOWN. I loved the intense level of detail (although it made for a stressful reading experience). For some reason this brought to mind Susan Jane Gilman's Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven. But mainly it was like a Patricia Highsmith book brought to life.
This was fascinating and her conclusions are shocking! Her other book, Brain on Fire, is also excellent.
This is sort of cheating, because this book doesn't come out until January, but I couldn't resist including this amazing memoir/true crime mashup. I would like to call now that this is going to be one of the big books of 2020.
I’ve already posted about the other books that made my top 10: Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Hindman, Best. Movie. Year. Ever. by Brian Raftery, Biloxi by Mary Miller, No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder, and Wordslut by Amanda Montell.
My favorite movies this year were almost all documentaries. They included Aretha Franklin’s 1972 performance at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles and the most exhilarating archival footage I've ever seen in Apollo 11.
My only non-documentary pick is Parasite, the Palme d’Or winner by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, which is still in theaters. Honorable mention goes to Bathtubs Over Broadway, which unfortunately has not yet been released on DVD.
What were your favorites of 2019?