My year in books and places

Since I was a little girl, I was fortunate that my grandparents took me on many of their world-trotting adventures. My grandfather, Joaquin, who in every sense also taught me to read, would take my hand as we strolled along city streets, bookstores and museum hallways. We shared our insights on books read, and places visited. He has been gone for many years now, but I still feel his legacy every time I turn the last page on a favorite book or see the sunset in a foreign land far away from home.

In 2019, I completed 30 trips – most of them by air, a few by land. Twelve of those trips were international, taking me to a total of 8 different countries, some of which I visited more than once. Two of those countries I traveled to for the first time: Argentina and Chile.  I also went to 14 different cities in my native México. In total, I presented 50 lectures, courses, workshops, keynotes, or panels, sometimes as many as 3 in a single day.

I finished reading 22 books this year (so many hours in planes can be put to good use) – and have several already lined up or started for 2020.

Like everybody else, I had highs and lows. Work was good: besides the lectures and my books, I have been engaged in several exciting projects at school with my students.  Family life was good, very good. Health, well, not so good but getting much better. I had to make some difficult personal decisions and deal with their aftermath. I had a lot of growing to do, sometimes in a painful way. But, oh, the books I read! The places I went to!

Each book whispered to me at particular times; each site had a specific story behind.

Here are my highlights in books and places for 2019.

Best books read in 2019 (in chronological order):

Educated, by Tara Westover.

Life with Picasso, by Francoise Gilot.

Becoming, by Michelle Obama.

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, by Rick Hanson

That will never work, by Marc Randolph

The Formula, by Albert-Lázló Barábasi

Funderelele y más hallazgos de la Lengua,  by Laura García Arroyo

To Save Everything, Click Here, by Evgeny Morozov


Best places visited in 2019 (in chronological order):

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

The Grand Place, Brussels

Paris. Every. Single. Corner.

Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi

The Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, MALBA (Museum of Latin American Art, Buenos Aires)

Listening to Soprano Hera Hyesang Park at Centro Cultural Kirchner, Buenos Aires

The UN Headquarters, New York

The new MoMA, New York

Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, Mérida, México (Great Mayan World Museum)

Museo de la Memoria, Santiago de Chile (Museum of Memory and Human Rights)


There are already new places and new books waiting for me in the new year. I know each one will teach me something, and I can’t wait for those lessons to start.

2020, here we go.

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