Anthony Doerr's Favorite Books for 2019

Anthony Doerr is a treasured Boise local, and every winter we look forward to hearing about his favorite books from the year. Here's his best of for 2019:


Underland by Robert MacFarlane
In my opinion, MacFarlane is one of the most interesting writers on the planet. Here he descends literally and metaphorically into the deepest caves, burrows, and mines on Earth, and in the meantime asks: are we being good ancestors?

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

I reread this 1951 novel this spring, and every page of it rings with bright, deep wisdom. It’s a demanding novel, so you’ll want to leave your smartphone somewhere else, but it is utterly rewarding. Set in Rome in the second century A.D., it is one of the most soulful, skillful novels ever written.

Eat Joy: Stories & Comfort Food from 31 Celebrated Writers, edited by Natalie Eve Garrett 
A terrific little anthology of essays on comfort food and the ways it helps us through dark times. There are some lovely pieces of writing in here — I contributed a little essay about eating raw brownie mix with my hands during a rainstorm in remote Alaska.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, by David Wallace-Wells

The first 100 pages of this book will terrify you. If climate change strikes you as a confusing, distant problem, better left to future generations, you need to read this immediately.

Best American Short Stories 2019, edited by Heidi Pitlor and Anthony Doerr

Earlier this year I read hundreds of short stories selected by the series editor, Heidi Pitlor, from magazines big and small in search of the twenty most compelling stories that best represented our fascinating, challenging, frightening sci-fi year. This is the 104th annual installment of the Best American Short Stories, and it’s always a terrific way to discover new writers.