Now that 2019 has come to a close, it’s time to look back on some of the best books delivered to readers this year.
And it’s fair to say it was a pretty good year for books—from true crime to romance, fantasy to adventure, historical accounts to investigative journalism, there were plenty of great releases for readers to choose from.
The Best Books of 2019
Below are our picks for the 100 best books of 2019. Our selection includes both fiction and nonfiction titles and spans a wide range of genres, so whatever your preference, you’ll have no shortage of fantastic reads to add to your list as you ring in the new year.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
This sequel to Margaret Atwood’s bestseller The Handmaid’s Tale takes place 15 years later later, as the lives of 3 radically different women converge for potentially explosive results.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead comes The Nickel Boys, a story of two young men sentenced to a horrific reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
At 14 years old, Adrienne finds herself in a precarious situation: she becomes the primary confidante of her mother, who enlists Adrienne’s help in orchestrating her epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. There are significant consequences for all involved, and Adrienne’s life will be impacted in profound ways.
Quichotte by Salman Rushdie
In this modern take on Don Quixote, the title character sets off on a journey across his country, an America on the verge of moral and spiritual collapse, while trying to win the hand of a beautiful TV star.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Grad student Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovers a mysterious book of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and… a story from his own childhood. After uncovering a series of clues, Zachary is led to a secret club and through a doorway that leads to an ancient library deep beneath the earth’s surface.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
New York Times tech correspondent Mike Isaac explores the ambition, deception, obscene wealth, and bad behavior that shaped the dramatic rise and fall of Uber, based on hundreds of interviews with current and former employees.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Narrated by an older woman looking back on her life, this fictional novel by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of the hit Eat, Pray, Love) tells a story of glamour, sex, and adventure while proving that being a good person doesn’t require being a “good girl.”
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
In this graphic novel, actor, activist, and author George Takei tells his family’s story of courage, loyalty, and love as they endured internment in U.S. concentration camps during World War II.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
When Alicia Berenson inexplicably shoots her husband five times in the face one night before going completely silent, it’s up to one criminal psychotherapist to figure out what caused Alicia to do what she did. But his quest for the truth might just consume him.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Ever wonder what a therapist talks about with their therapist? Lori Gottlieb’s book explores this and more, diving into the inner chambers of her patients’ lives to examine some universal truths about the human condition,
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
The Dutch House traces the bond between two siblings, their childhood home, and their relentless past, while exploring issues like inheritance, love, forgiveness, and self image.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Red at the Bone tells the story of how an unexpected teen pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes while exploring sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class, status, and parenthood.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are two neighboring rookie cops in the NYPD whose children one day grow up to form a deep friendship and love. Ask Again, Yes explores how childhood memories can change when viewed in retrospect from adulthood.
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
Set in Germany in 1941, The World That We Knew follows 3 young women who must act with love and courage to survive as their lives become interlinked.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Written in the form of a letter from a son to his mother who cannot read, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous recounts a family history rooted in Vietnam while exploring race, class, and masculinity.
I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan
I Will Never See the World Again is one Turkish writer’s account of his imprisonment under the Erdoğan regime, providing relevant insight into political censorship amidst the rise of authoritarianism.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Hiram Walker was born into a slavery, but he was born with a mysterious gift that one day saves his life. He escapes the only home he’s ever known, a Virginia plantation, and is enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved. But he never loses his resolve to save the family he left behind.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
While in the hospital, Alex Stern is given the chance to trade her life of drug-dealer boyfriends and dead-end jobs for a free education at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. But she soon finds out that her mysterious benefactors are anything but kind.
Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington
In Houston, the son of a black mother and Latino father is coming of age as he works at his family’s restaurant, endures his brother’s outbursts, and resent’s his sister’s absence, while discovering and coming to terms with his own sexuality.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women presents riveting true stories that explore the female sex drive in a way it’s never been discussed before. Based on nearly a decade of reporting, discover the stories of 3 women and the desires, heartbreaks, and infatuations that characterize their love lives.
Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco
Part memoir and part true crime record, Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl is Jeannie Vanasco’s account of the night she was raped as a teenager by one of her closest friends, Mark. Fourteen years later, Jeannie decides to reach out to Mark, wondering if it’s possible for a good person to commit such a terrible act.
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
Girl, Stop Apologizing challenges girls and women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams and gives them the skills they need to grow confident and believe in themselves so they can reach their full potential.
The Institute by Stephen King
In the middle of the night, Luke Ellis’s parents are silently murdered and he is taken by strange people to The Institute, where he meets other kids with special talents, from telekinesis to telepathy. The leaders of this sinister institution have one goal: to extract the force of these children’s talents. Those who don’t cooperate get a one-way ticket to the Back Half. Luke must fight for his life and find a way out of The Institute.
Supermarket by Bobby Hall
In this psychological thriller, one supermarket employee finds himself dragged into a murder investigation. While the secrets of his own tortured mind are revealed, Flynn finds himself avoiding the supermarket—because something there seems to be looking for him.
Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern
Howard Stern Comes Again revisits some of Stern’s favorite celebrity interviews from his 40-year career in radio, from Donald Trump to Madonna, Lady Gaga to Harvey Weinstein, and many more fascinating and controversial characters.
The Pioneers by David McCullough
Sit back and let Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough take you on a journey through one of the most dramatic chapters in American history: the settling of the Northwest Territory by dauntless pioneers.
The Guardians by John Grisham
When Quincy Miller is convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, he writes a letter seeking the help of Guardian Ministries, a nonprofit that accepts just a few innocence cases at a time. But the real murderers don’t want Quincy exonerated, and they’re willing to take down anyone who stands in their way.
The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey
In The Path Made Clear, Oprah Winfrey shares her guide for activating your deepest vision of yourself and offers a framework for creating a life of significance.
Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand
Each year, the Levin family looks forward to summer in Nantucket. But this summer, like so many things in America, is full of change. The summer heats up both for the Levins and their individual secrets, and for the country, as politics and social norms undergo drastic changes.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Soon to be released as a major motion picture starring Amy Adams and Julianne Moore, this Hitchcockian thriller follows an agoraphobic woman who witnesses a murder in the house across the way.
The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
Set in 1946 and inspired by true events, The Lost Girls of Paris shines a light on the heroic women who helped shape WWII and tells a tale of sisterhood, survival, and strength in the most daunting circumstances.
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
Hosts of the #1 podcast My Favorite Murder share their own stories of overcoming depression, their biggest mistakes, and deepest fears while diving into true crime stories.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Soon to be a Hulu limited series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere follows the intertwined destinies of the seemingly perfect Richardson family and the mother and daughter duo who upend their lives.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Born in apartheid South Africa to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, Trevor Noah’s birth was literally a crime. This book tells his story of growing up in a world where he was never supposed to exist, shedding light on his world with unflinching honesty and brilliant wit.
One Good Deed by David Baldacci
One Good Deed is a fast-paced historical thriller about Archer, a WWII veteran who is forced to investigate a small-town murder if he wants to avoid a return to prison.
The 18th Abduction by James Patterson
When 3 teachers from the same school go missing and one turns up dead, it’s up to detective Lindsay Boxer and investigative journalist Cindy Thomas to find the mysterious killer and save their town from a true monster.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
Artist and critic Jenny Odell argues that in a world where our value is based on data productivity, doing nothing might be our best form or resistance. By reclaiming our most precious asset—our attention—we can take bolder forms of political action and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.
Redemption by David Baldacci
Detective Amos Decker begins to realize that a mistake he may have made as a rookie over a decade ago could have potentially deadly consequences.
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict
Based on the true story of Hollywood star and secret scientist Hedy Lamarr’s life, The Only Woman in the Room follows a beautiful young woman whose brilliant inventions revolutionized modern communication and helped fight the Nazis.
The First Lady by James Patterson
As news of his affair breaks out, the President’s wife goes missing, and top secret service agent Sally Grissom is summoned to help. At first it’s believed that the First Lady is recovering from the devastating news in Virginia, but things take a dark turn when the White House receives a ransom note, along with the First Lady’s finger.
Unsolved by James Patterson
This follow-up to the bestseller Invisible follows FBI agent Emily Dockery as she tries to solve a string of seemingly unconnected murders.
The Inn by James Patterson
Former Boston police detective and now innkeeper Bill Robinson finds his inn threatened by violent drug dealers who show up in the area. It’s up to him and the inn’s residents to fight together or die alone.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell, host of podcast Revisionist History, argues that the tools and strategies we use to understand people we don’t know just aren’t right, and as a result, we end up inviting conflict and misunderstanding to our lives.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Based on a real life scandal, Before We Were Yours follows a group of siblings who are taken from their home one night by strangers to be sold to wealthy families, a truth that will be discovered years later.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat and sentenced to live confined in a luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin. His unique circumstances provide him entry to a world of emotional discovery.
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
This darkly funny portrait of the Morton family follows one woman who takes over her dead father’s taxidermy business and finds surprising possibilities and second chances.
The Divers’ Game by Jesse Ball
In a society that has renounced the concept of equality, the notion of common decency is shattered, forcing us to consider the role of compassion in the human experience.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Winner of the 2019 Book Award for Fiction, Trust Exercise tells the story of two performing arts students who fall headlong into love. But will they be able to hold up against outside pressures and a drama teacher who toys with their passion?
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
Named one of Time’s Must-Read Books of 2019, Ducks, Newburyport follows an Ohio housewife as she contemplates her four kids, husband, cats, and chickens, as well as America’s ignoble past and her own regrets.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Girl, Woman, Other follows 12 very different characters, mostly women, in this tribute to modern Britain, black womanhood, and an ever-changing London.
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
Winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction, this coming-of-age memoir tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he tries to find his place within his family and country, while navigating tumultuous relationships, vulnerability, and grief.
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
This memoir of domestic abuse follows a relationship gone bad, as it dissects the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse.
Valerie by Sara Stridsberg
This unconventional novel explores the life of author, feminist, and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol, Valerie Solanas, her childhood, and lonely death.
Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin
A New Yorker Best Book of 2019, Axiomatic explores the traumas we inherit and the systems that sustain them by weaving together true and intimate stories of a community dealing with a suicide, a struggle with the criminal justice system, and other prominent issues.
The Anarchy by William Dalrymple
The Anarchy tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, providing readers with a portrait of the devastating results from the abuse of corporate power,
Armies of Deliverance by Elizabeth R. Varon
In Armies of Deliverance, Elizabeth R. Varon argues that Americans went to war in 1861 not to conquer the South, but to liberate it, in this bold new interpretation of the Civil War and of Union and Confederate war aims.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Finalist for the 2019 National Book Award and the first installation in Marlon James’s Dark Star trilogy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf brings together myth, history, and fantasy to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.
Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa
An old man from Aleppo makes a final wish from his deathbed to be buried in his ancestral village of Anabiya. It’s up to his son, along with his estranged siblings, to travel through a war zone to make his last wish possible.
Oliver Wendell Holmes by Stephen Budiansky
Oliver Wendell Holmes: A Life in War, Law, and Ideas explores the life story of one of the Supreme Court’s most influential justices.
A Primer for Forgetting by Lewis Hyde
Lewis Hyde offers a playful and inspiring defense of forgetfulness, and how forgetting can have a healing effect on the human psyche.
Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
Say Nothing is New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe’s stunning narrative of a notorious killing in Northern Ireland and the brutal violence that affected everyday citizens and left some IRA members wondering whether their acts were justified acts of war, or just plain murder.
Say, Say, Say by Lila Savage
One of the The Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Fiction Books of 2019, Say, Say, Say tells the story of the triangle that forms between a young woman and the couple whose life she enters during a transformative year.
Underland by Robert Macfarlane
In Underland, Robert Macfarlane explores Earth’s underworlds as they exist in myths, literature, memory, and the land.
The Vexations by Caitlin Horrocks
Caitlin Horrocks paints an enthralling portrait of love, family, genius, madness, and art in La Belle Époque Paris.
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Two young sisters go missing along the shoreline of northeastern Russia, leading to a suspenseful and haunting journey in Kamchatka.
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
Night Boat to Tangier tells the story of two aging criminals at the tail ends of their damage-filled careers with dark humor and hardboiled lyricism.
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
The Yellow House tells the story of one mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and a daughter who left home only to discover the pull of home, even after that home is wiped off the map by Hurricane Katrina.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People follows two very different teens from high school to college as they try to stay apart but repeatedly find themselves drawn back to each other.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
In this brilliant murder mystery, a reclusive woman is sure she knows whodunnit, but no one pays her any mind, begging the question of just who we deem sane and worthy of a voice.
Exhalation by Ted Chiang
One of the New York Times‘ 10 Best Books of the Year, Exhalation offers 9 provocative and poignant stories that tackle some of humanity’s oldest questions.
Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham
Journalist Adam Higginbotham shares his years-in-the-making account of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, investigating the propaganda, secrecy, and myths that have obscured this event.
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
In this novel about state surveillance on an unnamed island nation, one novelist must hide her editor beneath the floorboards of her home when the Memory Police—who are committed to making sure everything that disappears remains forgotten—come searching.
The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell
Set in 1904 on the banks of the Zambezi River, The Old Drift sees three families emerge through a whirlwind of history, fairytale, romance, and science fiction.
The Body in Question by Jill Ciment
Two jurors serving on a murder case begin a heated love affair, but soon find that they’re on opposing sides of the case. When the case reignited months later, their affair appears to have more profound personal and moral consequences than they expected.
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Inspired by true events surrounding the ousting of Thomas Sankara, American Spy tells the story of an FBI agent who is sent to seduce a communist leader, though she soon finds that her feelings and loyalties aren’t so clear.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Set during the Great Depression, The Giver of Stars follows five incredibly strong women on their journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.
The Need by Helen Phillips
By confronting a masked intruder in her home, Molly, mother of two, she realizes she must also confront her own frailty and the many dualities of motherhood.
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
Set in 1935 during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King tells the rarely-told true story of the women soldiers who took up arms against the Italians.
Grand Union Stories by Zadie Smith
In her first short story collection, Zadie Smith shares her observations about time and place, identity and rebirth, and the legacies that haunt us.
Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
In this debut story collection, Latinas of Indigenous descent take center stage as friendships, relationships between mothers and daughters, and their homelands are all explored.
What You Have Heard Is True by Carolyn Forché
Carolyn Forché’s life changes when a captivating stranger lands on her doorstep to invite her to his home country of El Salvador, a country on the verge of war.
Solitary by Albert Woodfox
In this inspiring memoir, Albert Woodfox chronicles his decades spent in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit, as he learned to turn his anger into activism.
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee by David Treuer
This portrait of American history shatters a number of myths about Native American civilization, starting with the fact that the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee was far from its end.
Conviction by Denise Mina
When Anna McDonald’s life is turned upside down by her husband’s shocking announcement, she turns to her favorite true crime podcast for a distraction. But when one episode digs up visions of her own past, she’s sent on a quest in pursuit of the truth.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
It’s been hailed as “the best novel ever written about trees,” but this book is about so much more, from our innate connection to nature to the crisis she suffers at our hands.
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
The Secrets We Kept is the thrilling tale of two secretaries tasked with smuggling Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR—where its print is prohibited—so it can be shared with the rest of the world.
There There by Tommy Orange
The fates of 12 Urban Indians living in Oakland, California collide on the day of the Big Oakland Powwow.
The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power
In this memoir, Samantha Power traces her journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official, while offering inspiring responses to the question, “What can one person do?”
The Godmother by Hannelore Cayre
Patience Portefeux, a 53-year-old, underpaid Franco-Arab interpreter for the Ministry of Justice, finds herself intervening in and infiltrating the machinations of a massive drug deal.
The Parisian by Isabella Hammad
The Parisian follows one young man’s studies and romances in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the dawn of its fight for independence.
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Two sisters grow up in a seemingly perfect 1950s Detroit home, but end up pursuing two very different paths and offering two very different responses to the question: How should a woman be in the world?
Separate by Steve Luxenberg
Covering a half-century of American history, Separate traces the origins of Plessy vs. Ferguson, its repercussions, and how its effects can still be felt in the 21st century.
The Mastermind by Evan Ratliff
The Mastermind tells the incredible true story of Paul Le Roux, the creator of a powerful and ruthless internet-enabled cartel.
The Crowded Hour by Clay Risen
The Crowded Hour tells the true story of the Rough Riders, a group of soldiers led by Theodore Roosevelt, marking the beginnings of American imperialism in the 20th century.
Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen
In this story of family, culture, memory, and community, a family plans a wedding that will end up shaking their small town to its core and reverberate across generations.
A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves by Jason DeParle
Delivered by a veteran New York Times reporter, this is a story of international migration, told through a Filipino family’s sacrifices and years of separation in their quest for a better life.
Falter by Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben, who warned us over 30 years ago about the perils of global warming in The End of Nature, is back with a new warning: that the entire human game might be playing itself out. McKibben explores issues like artificial intelligence, ideological fervor, and climate change, then offers a few suggestions about how we might find a way out of the trap before it’s too late.
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
Following a family of psychiatrists and their teenage son through several time periods, The Topeka School explores a number of issues, from toxic masculinity to the collapse of public speech and the ongoing crisis of identity among white men.
Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Fresh off his separation from his wife, Toby Fleishman juggles work at the hospital, the dating game, and raising his children. But when his wife drops off the kids one day and doesn’t return, he’s forced to juggle while also doing a little introspection if he wants to figure out where she went. This is a raw examination of modern marriage, an institution that instills both wariness and hope.
Parkland by Dave Cullen
Parkland tells the story of the movement that emerged from tragedy, taking readers a look at the days leading up to the mass shooting and following the birth of this revolutionary uprising by high school students determined to make a change.
More of the Best Books
Want more great titles to add to your reading list? Check out our recommendations for the best books for children, teens, retirees, and more.
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What was your favorite book of 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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