Top Ten Books to Read in the Second Half of 2019

About halfway through 2019, I’ve already read most of the books on my Top Ten Books to Read in 2019 list. The exceptions are Karen Thompson Walkers The Dreamers, which I heard mixed reviews about from friends and may not read; The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, which I’m still incredibly excited about but which won’t be published till November; and The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. (City of Girls just came out and is at the top of my pile at the moment.)

  • Bowlaway I liked, but didn’t love as much as McCracken’s last collection of stories, Thunderstruck. I still went to her reading and Q&A at Porter Square Books, though (the write-up to that is still sitting in my drafts folder from February).
  • Feel Free by Nick Laird I picked up ahead of the US pub date, at No Alibis in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which felt like a sneaky victory (one that only book nerds would care about).
  • Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley was excellent. She tells the story of her two miscarriages and traumatic delivery, and woven into her personal story are equally enlightening/horrifying facts about the history of childbirth and the current state of maternal health in the US.
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas neatly sidestepped the “sophomore slump” (after The Hate U Give) and was excellent. “Unarmed and dangerous, but America, you made us, only time we famous is when we die and you blame us.”
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram was good, and it’s a rare YA novel (a rare English language novel, really) that takes place even partly in modern-day Iran and addresses depression and friendship between boys.
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: I listened to the audiobook (the author reads it) and it was incredible. Absolute, top-quality novel in verse. I read her With the Fire On High also (in print) and loved how it showed Emoni balancing everything in her life and making decisions about her future.
  • Walking Home by Simon Armitage: Enjoyed this, but glad I didn’t foist it on my book club. Would definitely recommend to fans of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. “Distance, I’ve come to realise, is not the determining factor in terms of travelling time – it’s all about terrain.
  • Get in Trouble by Kelly Link: Can’t believe I didn’t read this as soon as it was published. I love her particular brand of speculative weird. “It’s a small world, after all. Bigger on the inside.”
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders: Many of these stories were speculative as well, and dealt with themes of extreme inequality, and were kind of depressing.

So what about the second half of the year? There’s still plenty to look forward to!

  1. Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg: I’m going to try to get my book club to read this one so we can discuss.
  2. The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon: Nominated for the Coretta Scott King award and an ALA Notable Book for Children, I’m thinking of trying this as an audiobook.
  3. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: Still on the list.
  4. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert: I know it’s not going to be cheerful, but a fellow reader recommended it, and I’m interested. Also an ALA Notable Book.
  5. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson: I loved Case Histories, but felt like each successive Jackson Brodie novel dropped off a bit in quality; however, I love her stand-alones and I’m willing to give Brodie another go. Reviews are pretty good. (June)
  6. Time After Time by Lisa Gruenwald (June): I am a sucker for time travel and I got a galley of this through LibraryThing.
  7. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (June): Adored her two previous novels, Fever and The Walking People.
  8. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (September): Ann Patchett! (Her first picture book, Lambslide, is excellent also. Just in case anyone was under the drastically mistaken impression that she was a one-trick pony.)
  9. The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, Volume 2) by Philip Pullman (October): Beyond excited for this; I’m taking a vacation day the day it’s published.
  10. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy: The author of Dumplin’ and Puddin’ goes into middle grade, and I follow. (October)
  11. Roll With It by Jamie Sumner: This isn’t even in my library’s catalog yet, but I read about it via Abby the Librarian and it looks like the kind of middle grade graphic novel I love. (October)
  12. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (November): Can’t wait, can’t wait. I know it will be different from The Night Circus but I read a tiny snippet from the publisher and I feel confident the magic is there.

What have you read this year? What are you looking forward to?

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