Here at The Longest Chapter, instead of calling out best books of 2019, I've gathered a more personal list.
In "The Photographer at Sixteen," British poet and translator George Szirtes recalls his mother's turbulent life during World War II, the Hungarian Revolution and her final years in England. It's impressive and captivating.
Benjamin Taylor and Joyce Johnson lived dramatically different young lives, but their stories similarly and movingly capture two iconic times in history: the Beat Movement and November 22, 1963.
The paperback edition of Kenneth Slawenski's biography of America's iconic literary recluse was released the beginning of this year. I read it, curious about the many things I probably didn't know about the man who wrote "The Catcher in the Rye." One of my biggest surprises was learning Salinger fought in some of World War II's most difficult battles. I also came to know Salinger as less of a bizarre eccentric and more of a person whose experiences influenced his behavior.
Here's a collection of entertaining short biographies about writers who assumed pseudonyms as protective covers, such as the Brontë sisters, who wrote under the pen names Acton, Currer and Ellis Bell; and Eric Blair, who took the pen name George Orwell. Carmela Ciuraru's "Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms" is delightfully engaging.