A few years ago, when I was finishing my first book with my name on the front cover, I learned something new about myself: I have trouble blending the “writing” and “reading” parts of my brain at the same time. Writing for me has always been a manic-brain activity — when the gears are turning and the words are flowing, my job is just to get them all on the page. At times of great productivity, the words just pour out of me until I’m all out of words for the day, week, or project. Sometimes the words come at the exclusion of sleep, food, and everything else, too.
Unfortunately, “reading” also loses out when my brain is in its highest gear, as it was for so much of 2019. My reading list this year may be the shortest it’s ever been in my entire life — mostly because my brain spent so much of its time living in 1919 during this amazing Black Sox centennial year.
My reading list reflects those 100-year-old interests, naturally. Of the books I read this year, the standout below was Eve Ewing’s stunning and heartbreaking collection of poetry on the 1919 Chicago race riots, one of the most poorly understood events in American history. I read this book in one sitting and then read it again and again, three times in all, because it was so powerful and insightful. You won’t forget it.
Joe Bonomo’s delightful book on perhaps my favorite baseball writer was a masterpiece in explication, getting at the heart and soul of what makes Roger Angell’s work so timeless.
I was also enthralled by the story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies, an extraordinary English women’s soccer team of wartime factory workers who played games in front of 50,000 fans before the insecure men of the Football Association banned them from using the country’s best stadiums and set women’s soccer back for decades. The book needed better editing, but the story is worth learning.
Without further ado, here’s my reading list for 2019:
- The 42nd Parallel (John Dos Passos)
- Three Weeks (Elinor Glyn)
- Going the Distance: The Life and Works of W.P. Kinsella (Willie Steele)
- A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 (Claire Hartfield)
- K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches (Tyler Kepner)
- 1919 (Eve L. Ewing)
- No Place I Would Rather Be: Roger Angell and a Life in Baseball (Joe Bonomo)
- In A League of Their Own: The Dick, Kerr Ladies, 1917-1965 (Gail Newsham)