The 20 Best Jazz Albums Of The 2010s

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Where jazz is concerned, the 2010s could be divided almost precisely in half: BK (Before Kamasi) and AK (After Kamasi). The burly LA saxophonist’s triple album, The Epic, was released on May 5, 2015, almost exactly at the decade’s midpoint, and it changed everything. Not because he inspired a slew of imitators, but because all … More »

Favorite Short Story Collections of 2019

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2019 was another great year for short fiction collections.

These are the short fiction collections I have recommended most to blog readers, friends, and family throughout the year.

What was your favorite short story collection of 2019?

Black Light

Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons

Heartbreaking and lyrical, Kimberly King Parson’s short fiction collection Black Light is one of the most striking books of the year.

Driving in Cars with Homeless Men

Driving in Cars with Homeless Men by Kate Wisel

Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Kate Wisel’s linked story collection Driving in Cars with Homeless Men is filled with haunting and poignant portrayals of women and violence.

A Girl Goes Into the Forest

A Girl Goes Into the Forest by Peg Alford Pursell

Peg Alford Pursell’s collection A Girl Goes Into the Forest is filled with powerful, inventive, and masterfully surreal short stories.

Last of Her Name

Last of Her Name by Mimi Lok

Mimi Lok’s collection Last of Her Name features empathetically drawn characters whose lonely lives haunt the reader long after the book is closed.

Lot

Lot by Bryan Washington

Bryan Washington’s impressive debut collection Lot brings to life the Houston of the narrator while poignantly exploring race, class, and sexuality.

Mouthful of Birds

Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin

Samanta Schweblin continues to surprise and impress with her second book translated into English, the short fiction collection Mouthful of Birds.

also at Largehearted Boy:

online “best of 2019” book lists

Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2018
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2017
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2016
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2015
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2014
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2013
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2012
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2011
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2010
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2009
Largehearted Boy favorite short story collections of 2008

previous lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks book reviews

The 50 Best Stereogum Comments Of 2019 — And Best Of The 2010s

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Another “Auld Lang Syne” is imminent, which means it’s time to review the year in Stereogum comments. We’ve had so much to comment on in 2019. Remember Lil Nas X? Baby Yoda? Marie Kondo? Jussie Smollett? Momo? They’re newsmakers I’d never heard of one year ago; now I have tattoos of all of them. More »

The 10 Best My Chemical Romance Songs

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My Chemical RomanceWhen Gerard Way watched the Twin Towers go down from Hudson River Pier, he, like many people at the time, had a revelation: Life is fragile, and its ending seems arbitrary. A few months later, he decided his job making cartoons for a large corporation was not his current calling. Instead, he called up a … More »

The 101 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2020

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The 101 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2020With the end of the decade rapidly approaching, 2019 has been an especially backward-looking year. Here at Stereogum, we examined the entirety of the 2010s this fall, then followed it up in December with our usual slate of year-end coverage. Now that we’re finally finished assessing the last 10 years and More »

Leah Umansky’s Favorite Poetry Collections of 2019

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Here are some of my favorite books of poetry I read in 2019:

The Twenty-Ninth Year

The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan

Hala Alyan’s first book of poems is both lyrical and honest, two of my favorite things about a collection of poetry. I love the way her poems echo what it means to be a woman, to own your body, to take your body out into the world and examine it against both your personal geography and your familial geography. Overall, I found it to be a meditation on the self, on desire and on womanhood.I’m not sure what I loved more, hearing these poems, before I bought the book, or buying the book, reading it, and remembering her reading of these poems at the 92nd St Y, earlier this year. I love this book so much and have bought it for so many friends.

Build Yourself a Boat

Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix

This new book of poems from this wonderful debut poet is both inquisitive, powerful and haunting. It is a book that stays with you for the way it revolves around memory, family, identity and the push to rise up and over and through every struggle life gives us. If you’ve seen Camonghne read, or listened to her read, her voice, her presence is quite remarkable. (I’m also so in love with this cover).

Only As The Day is Long - New and Collected

Only As The Day is Long – New and Collected by Dorianne Laux

I love Dorianne Laux’s work so much and was so excited when this new and collected book came out. So many of my favorite poems are in it, as well as new ones, which are truly, and I hate to sound cliche, but cliches are based in reality: real gifts. I teach so many of her poems to my middle school and high school English students because they are relatable, heartfelt and real. Her poems have no pretense, they are what they are and they sit with you. I go back to them constantly. She could write a poem about a bottle on the road, and it would turn into a long meditative poem about what it means to be human, and I would love it, and share it with my students, and then I would try not to cry when reading it aloud to them.

Deaf Republic

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminksy

What can I say about this breathtaking new book by Ilya Kaminsky that hasn’t already been said before? I devoured it in one sitting when I got it. I couldn’t believe how relatable it was for these awful times we are living in. I loved its message of hope, its message of resistance and its cry out to humanity. I loved it so much and want everyone I know to read it. This book also changed the way I viewed poetry, with its form being in two acts, and two voices, with a list of “characters.” I’ve suggested the book to everyone I know and so here, I am suggesting it again. I never read a book of poems like this one. It left me scared, it left me hopeful and it also left me questioning every passing day after. I am grateful for it.

If you’ve seen Ilya Kaminsky read before, or if you’ve seen him read online, or have listened to him in a podcast, or follow him on twitter, or even know him real life, you know that the power he wields not only in the words he places on the page, but also in his voice, and in his kindness and generosity in all things.

What Saves Us

What Saves Us edited by Martín Espada

This anthology is one of the best I’ve bought this year and one I’ve already started using in the classroom. Not only is there a diverse group of poets here, ranging from Patricia Smith, Ricardo Maldonado, Dante Di Stefano, Rich Villar, Jan Beatty and Danez Smith, Caroyln Forche and Maria Mazziotti Gillan, but there is also, in this anthology, a diverse cry for hope, for freedom, for equality and for kindness that culminates in a desire for something better: a better way to save ourselves and each other. I’m a big fan of Espada’s work and have been for years, but the collection of poems and voices, he’s put together here are really something else. I attended the launch of the event in NYC and the spirit, the magnitude, and the presence of some of these voices on stage was really something else. I don’t know if anything will save us as we head headfirst into the unknown of 2020, but it could be poetry.

On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

*I’m breaking the rules here, because that’s what poets do, we break the rules! My first thought when asked about putting together a short list of some of my favorite poetry collections of 2019 was, can I somehow include Ocean Vuong’s beautiful novel, and obviously, the answer was YES. I loved this book so much; it reads like the most tender, the most heartbreakingly beautiful prose poem and the most intimate of novels I have ever read. This book inspired a new poem of my own because though so much of what this novel is about is the love for family, and the quest in understanding the stories of our family, it is also a book about beauty — what makes life beautiful, gorgeous if you will. When I finished this book, I wanted to instantly re-read it and that’s part of what makes a good poem, no? You want to immediately re-read it and savour it all over again.

Leah Umansky is the author of The Barbarous Century, and Domestic Uncertainties, among others. She earned her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and is the curator and host of The COUPLET Reading Series in NYC.

also at Largehearted Boy:

list of online “best of 2019” book lists
2019 Year-End Online Music Lists

Largehearted Boy favorite poetry collections of 2018

previous lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comic Preview (weekly comics recommendations)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
LIbrairie Drawn and Quarterly Books of the week (weekly book recommendations)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews

The 10 Best Hardcore Albums Of 2019

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There have been long stretches this past year when I didn’t want to listen to anything other than hardcore — where music didn’t sound right unless it had volcanic mosh parts and I-just-ate-bad-curry-and-I’m-angry-about-it vocals. I could attempt to be cute and blame my hardcore fixation on the perilous state of the world or whatever. But … More »

Basking In The Glow: The 36 Best Music Tweets From 2019

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Twitter UserTweets! At the end of every year, for the past four years, we have collected memorable music tweets from artists and musicians into a handy little list for you. It’s tradition! And tradition, as we all know, is always good and never bad. Sorry, we don’t make … More »

Favorite Novels of 2019

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These are the 11 novels I have most recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who has crossed my path this year (my personal metric for “favorite”).

What was your favorite novel of 2019? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook.

All City

All City by Alex DiFrancesco

Alex DiFrancesco’s novel All City is a gem of speculative fiction, a book that deftly explores the near future while examining current issues like gender, climate change, and income inequality.

Bunny

Bunny by Mona Awad

Inventive and wildly entertaining, Mona Awad’s Bunny is a stunning novel.

Family of Origin

Family of Origin by CJ Hauser

CJ Hauser’s novel Family of Origin is hilarious, moving, and astonishingly original.

Lanny

Lanny by Max Porter

Inventively told in prose and poetry, Max Porter’s novel Lanny is a fable for our time.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

My favorite novel of the year. Lyrical and heartbreaking, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a book that begs to be read several times to fully appreciate its beauty.

Permission

Permission by Saskia Vogel

Saskia Vogel’s novel Permission is a nuanced and provocative debut.

Symphony No. 3

Symphony No. 3 by Chris Eaton

Chris Eaton’s Symphony No. 3 is one of the year’s finest novels, symphonic in structure and spectacular on a sentence level.

The Tenth Muse

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

Catherine Chung’s novel The Tenth Muse is timely, poignant, and captivating.

The Volunteer

The Volunteer by Salvatore Scibona

Salvatore Scibona’s brilliant novel The Volunteer is both moving and epic.

We Cast a Shadow

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s impressive novel We Cast a Shadow is a bold, timely, and important debut.

Your House Will Pay

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Steph Cha’s novel Your House Will Pay is ambitious and suspenseful, an unforgettable literary thriller.

also at Largehearted Boy:

Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2018
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2017
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2016
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2015
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2014
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2013
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2012
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2011
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2010
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2009
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2008
Largehearted Boy favorite novels of 2007

other lists at Largehearted Boy
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews

The 15 Best Music Podcasts Of 2019

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Best-Music-Podcasts-2019If you’re looking for the stories behind your favorite songs, but don’t have time to read, say, Flea’s 400-page memoir or even all the liner notes on the latest Numero Group release, podcasts can be the answer for the music fan in need. Even if you just want to hear more from Kim Gordon or … More »