New Acquaintances from 2019

Another year, come and gone. They do go faster these days, but every year I look back and marvel at the new literary acquaintances I’ve made. This year, there were several, the best of which is Amor Towles. The author of one of the best novels I’ve read in years, A Gentleman in Moscow, his writing and storytelling astonished and delighted me. So much so, I was driven to read his first, less-acclaimed novel, Rules of Civility, which valued reading friends had warned me was nowhere near as good. While I agree that his second novel is better, I absolutely loved the first, which has a surprisingly clever story line and unforgettable characters along with his wonderful writing. I liked it so well I chose Rules of Civility as my next acquisition in my signed first edition collection. I look forward to its arrival.

There were other joys this year. I met Michael Ondaatje on the page, having experienced his storytelling in cinema form previously. His prose is poetic and a pleasure, and the story, Warlight, was compelling. I read John Carreyrou’s riveting story of Theranos, Bad Blood. The cautionary tale of how hubris can lead to evil reveals how the company’s founder, Elizabeth Holmes, and her Sancho Panza duped powerful, famous people into joining her journey of deception which left one dead and many harmed along the way. It is investigative journalism at its best.

I read Mitch Landrieu’s fascinating tale of taking down Confederate statues in New Orleans, In The Shadow of Statues. His bravery and insight are inspiring, and aided me in my own personal journey of escape from the myth of the Lost Cause.

I also actually met a writer I greatly admire: Tim O’Brien, who spoke at a Dallas event my daughter and I attended. I had the opportunity to thank him for his moving, insightful writing about Vietnam, and for my personal favorite, his novel, July, July.

There were many others, too many to mention in a post like this. I read about twenty-five books this year, by my count, and got something from each one. The ones above were treasures that I’ll take with me, and that fuel my anticipation of 2020. I hope your year, literary and otherwise, proves memorable.


  1. Kathryn MacDonell on December 28, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Bob, your literary sensibilities are a great guide in the world of so many books!
    Thanks for this post. I’ll add titles to my 2020 list.
    Look forward to sharing our love of words with you, soon.
    Happy New Year!

    • Robert Schwab on December 29, 2019 at 8:42 am

      Kathryn, thank you. Let’s get together soon. I’d like to hear more about plans for art and medicine at Dallas, and to hear about what’s going on with the wellness project.

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