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I am releasing my best of the year in two separate categories. This is the second installment of my best of the year list: new releases. (See my list of favorite back list books of 2019 here).
This is my first year for book blogging and engaging with the book world on Instagram (#bookstagram) and holy new releases, Batman! I honestly never knew when I started seven short months ago just how many amazing new releases I would long to read this year.
Anyway, I have read around 85 books this year and just under half of them have been new releases (I also read quite a lot of back list books). These were my absolute favorites.
Updated January 6, 2020: The first book I read in the last few weeks of 2019 and thus, it was not included the first time I published this list. Still, I adored it and did not want to miss a chance to add it to my “Best of 2019: New Releases” list.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (Soucebooks Landmark, May 7): This historical fiction tells of Cussy Mary Carter, a strong woman, the “book woman.” Cussy is a “pack horse librarian” responsible for carrying books deep into the hills of 1930s Kentucky on her pack mule. She brings precious words, news, recipes, remedies and even medical information to the people in the Eastern Kentucky Mountains outside the little town of Troublesome Creek. Cussy is afflicted with a disorder that causes her skin to be blue which causes many to misunderstand and treat her differently. I loved every second of reading about this strong character and her trials and triumphs while bringing the written word to those who have so little.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Flatiron, Feb 5): I fell in love with Harper’s debut novel, The Dry, and I raced to get my hands on this one, downloading it the day it came out. The audio versions of Jane Harper’s novels are so special given the Australia setting and the talented narrator (with Aussie accent), and this one was no exception. My review.
When You Read This by Mary Adkins (Harper, Feb 5): I adore quirky, snarky books and they are really hard to find, so I was thrilled to find this one. It’s a bit of a dark comedy that is tons of fun without being devoid of meaning or underlying themes. My review.
This Much Country by Kristin Knight Pace (Grand Central, March 5): I think there is a theme on this list and that is that I love a book with a strong sense of place or where the setting is almost a character. This memoir is an incredibly atmospheric Alaskan story that Pace tells (I listened and she reads it herself) about her life and especially her experiences as a dog sled musher. My review.
I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott (Atria, Feb 2): I loved this collection of essays that honestly made me feel like I was not alone for feeling not completey fulfilled and happy even though it appears I “have it all.” From marriage to work to kids, Philpott successfully gives a voice to so many people who, I think, feel this way but don’t know how to articulate it. My review.
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine, March 5): This one was EVERYWHERE this year. After hearing about it constantly for several months, I finally decided to take a look and see what all the fuss was about. I have almost never read a majorly hyped book and liked it so this one completely blew me away. My review. (Goodreads Choice Awards Winner for Best Historical Fiction of 2019.)
After the Flood by Kassandra Montag (William Morrow, Sept 3): I loved this debut dystopian novel with amazing messages about the lengths we go to for our children. It’s the story of a really awesome, strong woman, who is navigating flood waters (its set in a future where the world is flooded) with her young daughter and fighting to find her older daughter who was taken away from her years before. This one checked both boxes of being compelling while also having some underlying messages and themes that made me think. My review.
Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl (Random House, April 2) This was my first Reichl book, but it will not be my last. She tells of her time at the helm of the iconic food magazine, Gourmet. Hired to revive and update it during a difficult time for magazines in general, I adored this one from its recipes all the way down to its descriptions of the magazine business. I was especially moved by her account of being in New York on 9-11 and taking food to the police, fire fighters and other first responders at Ground Zero on that fateful day. My review.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon, Feb 5): Many book lover friends loved this one, and given that it also won the Mystery & Thriller category of the Goodreads Choice Awards for 2019 I think it is safe to say this one is extremely popular. I originally only gave it four pizza slices (my rating system), but after thinking about it for several months after reading it, I decided it belonged on this list. I found it to be well-written with a completely unforeseeable and creepy twist. And isn’t that all we can ask for in a thriller?