The Book Loft's Gary Lovely reveals what Columbus read most in 2019 and lists his personal favorites

As someone who pays attention to what folks are reading like it’s his job (it is), I couldn’t help but worry about our city this year. Did we feel stuck? Depressed? Both? Either way, Columbus readers drove to German Village, grabbed a coffee from Stauf’s and headed into The Book Loft for the latest self-help book.

This year's nonfiction was filled with uplifting, get-off-your-ass writing from the previous few years, including Girl, Wash Your Face (Thomas Nelson, 2018), a book filled to the brim with motivational girl-talk, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k (HarperOne, 2016), a book that doesn’t buy into typical self-help tropes but keeps our attention with uplifting chapters such as “Don’t try,” “The value of suffering” and, my personal favorite, “And then you die.”

Columbus also enjoyed what is now considered one of the best-selling memoirs of our time, Becoming (Crown Publishing Group, 2018) by Michelle Obama, along with Trevor Noah’s Thurber Prize-winning memoir, Born A Crime (Spiegel & Grau, 2016).

For fiction, Heather Morris’ The Tattooist of Auschwitz (HarperCollins, 2018) held the top of our best-selling paperback list the entire year. We also learned that Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2018), and her husband were at least present during the shooting of a poacher in the early 1970s (no one cared).

And though it doesn’t seem so, we did enjoy some new books, especially Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Group, 2019) and Lucy Ellmann’s Booker Prize winner Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press, 2019), a 900-plus page, one-sentence novel set in Newcomerstown, Ohio, that I’ve bet my reputation on finishing.

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Columbus: I know this year has been long and exhausting, but hopefully you found some time to read, reflect and toss one of those electric scooters into the river. If you find yourself in need of a warm place to walk around with some coffee, a great book recommendation or a benevolent skeleton lord to worship, you know where to find us. 

Oh, and before I list The Book Loft's bestselling fiction and nonfiction of 2019, here are a few of my personal favorites: Triangulum by Masande Ntshanga (Two Dollar Radio, 2019), Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire by Darren Demaree (Harpoon Books, 2019), The World-Ending Fire by Wendell Berry (Counterpoint, 2017), Grand Union by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press, 2019) and There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf, 2018).

Best-selling Fiction of 2019
1. The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
2. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
3. The Alchemist: 25th Anniversary Edition - Paulo Coelho
4. The Testaments - Margaret Atwood
5. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous - Ocean Vuong
6. Black Leopard, Red Wolf - Marlon James
7. Woman in the Window - A.J. Finn
8. The Dutch House - Ann Patchett
9. The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin
10. The Power - Naomi Alderman

Best-selling Nonfiction of 2019
1. Becoming - Michelle Obama
2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k - Mark Manson
3. Educated - Tara Westover
4. You Are a Bad Ass - Jen Sincero
5. Girl, Wash Your Face - Rachel Hollis
6. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari
7. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat - Samin Nosrat
8. Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman
9. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah
10. Calm the Fu*k Down - Sarah Knight

Gary Lovely is the founder of Harpoon Books, an independent publishing company based in Columbus. He is currently the marketing manager for The Book Loft of German Village and sits on the review board for Trillium, an imprint of Ohio State University Press.