Blog | Literature | Non-Fiction

The Best Books of 2019

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Best Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

Georg W. Bertram: Kunst als menschliche Praxis
Andreas Reckwitz: Die Erfindung der Kreativität

I've read many books and papers about aesthetics and the philosophy of art. In Kunst als menschliche Praxis Georg W. Bertram offers a refreshing take on art and aesthetics. I believe an English translation is forthcoming. In Die Erfindung der Kreativität (The Invention of Creativity) Andreas Reckwitz shows, among other things, how art has become the model of creativity, instead of, say, engineering.

Best Non-Fiction

David Reich: Who We Are and How We Got Here
Serhii Plokhy: Chernobyl. History of a Tragedy
Adam Tooze: Crashed. How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

The study of ancient human genomes and what it reveals about human population dynamics is one of the scientific stories of the past decade. Crashed by Adam Tooze is one of the best books about the financial crisis. Tooze not only discusses the financial crisis of 2007-8 and the lead-up to the crisis, but also the European sovereign debt crisis, which as he rightly argues was an aftershock of the crisis of 2007-8. I share his dismay at how it was handled by EU politicians.

Best Fiction

Richard Powers: The Overstory

Best Science Fiction

Cixin Liu: The Three-Body Problem Trilogy

Last year I read the first volume and I'd originally planned to read the third volume next year, but I couldn't resist the temptation. It's that good.

Best Graphic Novel

Chris Ware: Rusty Brown

I have to say though that some of the windows are very small.

Best Photography

Tim Walker: Shoot For the Moon

Best Poetry

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer: Idyllen

With Idyllen Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer shows that poetry isn't dead and can be a relevant art form. Yes, it is possible to write classical poetry about current affairs.

Most Disappointing

Michel Houellebecq: Sérotonine

The yellow vest movement in France and the farmer protests in the Netherlands show that Michel Houellebecq remains one of today's most prescient authors. However, as a novel I found Sérotonine more of the same.