Success is counted sweetest by those who never succeed.

Looking back to Manarola, the path from Manarola to Corniglia, Cinque Terre National Park, April 2017.

So I managed to read 112 books for 2019. Somewhat ahead of my goal of 80, and about 110 more than TV shows that I saw. The highlights? Well, I gave five stars to the following:

  • Jesmyn Ward's Salvage the Bones (dogfighting and Hurricane Katrina)
  • Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett (a wonderfully dark 1980s Aussie suburban coming of age novel)
  • Jarett Kobek's blistering I Hate the Internet (Vonnegut for the post-ironic age)
  • Andreï Makine's dreamlike The Archipelago of Another Life (a chase across the Siberian taiga at the tail-end of Stalin's rule); 
  • Żanna Słoniowska's complex The House with the Stained-Glass Window (a wonderfully translated cross-cultural, multi-generational tale of the women in one particular family in Lviv); 
  • This Is Not a Novel by Jennifer Johnston (an original novel framed around fragments of memory and the ways with which parents fuck up their children)
  • Boris Akunin's Black City (number 13 in the Fandorin series!)
  • Cormac McCarthy’s bleak as hell The Crossing (border crossing coming of age novel where – SPOILER ALERT – almost everybody dies); 
  • Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s The Abominable Man (number seven – of ten – in their glorious Martin Beck series)


  • Human Acts by Han Kang (you guessed it, a bleak, dark look at the deep and rippling effects of state-sanctioned atrocities that occurred during the South Korean economic ‘miracle’).