My reading list for 2018 was one tour de force after another, with fewer baseball books and more female authors than I’ve read in any other year of my life. That wasn’t necessarily by design, but it probably says something about where my brain was centered over the past twelve months. Perhaps some of the titles here do, too.
The two books that occupied most of my headspace and highlighted my reading list were written centuries apart: Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” which I’ve been meaning to read forever and holds up so incredibly well, and Samin Nosrat’s delightful “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,” which is so much more than a cookbook; it will change how you think about food and preparing meals and the endless possibilities of cooking. The author radiates joy on every page and I can’t recommend her work highly enough.
On a more sobering note, Ta-Nehisi Coates delivers a powerful summation of the Obama presidency — and the white supremacist backlash to any racial progress we’ve made, a pattern that is repeated so often in American history — in his latest must-read book.
I also knocked off a few other powerhouse novels by Kate Chopin and William Kennedy and James Ellroy that were recommended to me and are well worth your time. Shea Serrano’s best-seller was a hilarious romp through basketball history. Jon Abrams’ oral history of “The Wire“ was an eye-opening look at the greatest TV show ever made.
Almost every book I read this year is worthy of mention and there were no real disappointments in the bunch. Andrew Roberts’ comprehensive biography of Napoleon Bonaparte drew on a lot of newly released letters and was terrific. Jane Leavy’s new Babe Ruth book is getting rave reviews and for good reason; almost everything you’ve read about his childhood and personal life is upended here. Even Chipper Jones’s autobiography was a brutally honest, engaging, enjoyable memoir (thanks almost entirely to his talented ghostwriter, veteran Atlanta sportswriter Carroll Rogers Walton.)
So without further ado, here’s my 2018 reading list:
- “Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age,” by Kevin G. Boyle
- “City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles,” by Jerald Podair
- “Ballplayer,” by Chipper Jones (with Carroll Rogers Walton)
- “We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire,” by Jonathan Abrams
- “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking,” by Samin Nosrat
- “The Brothers Karamazov,” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- “Ironweed,” by William Kennedy
- “The Wordy Shipmates,” by Sarah Vowell
- “Basketball (and Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered, Illustrated,” by Shea Serrano
- “L.A. Confidential,” by James Ellroy
- “Chicago: City on the Make,” by Nelson Algren
- “Napoleon: A Life,” by Andrew Roberts
- “The Awakening,” by Kate Chopin
- “Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin’s Sniper,” by Lyudmila Pavlichenko
- “History Vs Women: The Defiant Lives That They Don’t Want You to Know,” by Anita Sarkeesian and Ebony Adams
- “Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist,” by Sylvia Acevedo
- “The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created,” by Jane Leavy
- “Joe Gould’s Teeth,” by Jill Lepore