My favorite books of 2019

My favorite books of 2019

2019 was another great year for me. I read piles of stellar books, and today I’m sharing my tip-top favorites.

I read a lot of books—just over 200 in 2019—so it’s not always easy to narrow it down to my absolute favorites. I decided to go with books that were well-written, that I enjoyed reading, that I found myself recommending to other readers, and that I couldn’t stop thinking about—even long after I finished the book. 

I track my titles in my reading journal, and put a simple little star by especially noteworthy titles. Despite my best efforts at record-keeping, I’m probably forgetting a favorite here, because I always do. 

Note: I’m omitting favorites I listened to on audio from this list. I’ll be sharing my favorite audiobooks next week—if you’re not currently subscribed for updates, sign up here.

My list of 2018 favorite books was balanced more evenly between fiction and nonfiction; this year it’s fiction-heavy. I’m not sure what that means; feel free to analyze my reading life in comments. (Ha!)

A full SIX of these titles were Summer Reading Guide selections. If you missed out on this year’s guide—or if you want to revisit it—click here to peruse our seasonal magazine.

I would love to hear your favorite books of the year in the comments section. And if you’d like to find and enjoy more books you truly love in 2020, make sure you join us for our 2020 Reading Challenge: our #1 goal is to get you reading more great books that are just right for you.

Favorite Books of 2019
Kindred

Kindred

I waited far too long to read Kindred by Octavia Butler, and I was riveted from the first page. Time travel meets slave narrative in this modern science fiction classic. When Dana, a modern Black woman from 1976, gets transported to the antebellum south in order to save one of her white ancestors, she preserves her own history. But it doesn't end there. As she keeps getting pulled back to the past, her trips grow more and more dangerous, and Dana must figure out how to survive in a reality far more terrifying than the history books ever suggested. If you still need a push to read Kindred, listen to Volume II Episode III of One Great Book. More info →
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

I didn't read this for so long because I thought it was going to be hard and heavy since it was written by a psychiatrist who has done a lot of work with trauma survivors, but if someone had told me how fascinating it would be, I would have picked it up immediately. Also interesting, it's changed the way I read some books because I'm noticing how well some authors demonstrate how their characters are acting out lingering affects of trauma. One of the highest compliments you can pay a nonfiction book is you want to change things in your life because you read it. More info →
To Night Owl From Dogfish

To Night Owl From Dogfish

This collaboration between two highly successful authors—one who primarily writes for kids, the other for grown-ups—is a modern version of The Parent Trap, about two twelve-year old girls who live on opposite coast who strike up an unwanted correspondence after they discover their dads fell in love at a building conference and are secretly dating. This is not good news to either of them, as they make clear in the ensuing emails that comprise the book. And then it gets worse, when the girls are forced to attend camp together because their fathers went them to become friends. Things go horribly wrong in more ways than one, but there's not a single page here that doesn’t feel fresh, funny, charming, and real. A feel-good story for readers of all ages—numerous adults loved it this summer, as did nearly everyone in my family. More info →
Ayesha At Last

Ayesha At Last

In this retelling of Jane Austen's comedy of manners, set in contemporary Toronto, Darcy becomes Khalid, a devout Muslim man whose mother is trying to marry him off. Elizabeth becomes Ayesha, a teacher who'd much prefer to be a poet. When they first meet, it's utter disaster: she thinks he's rigid and judgmental; he thinks she's not a good Muslim because of the drink (virgin) and cigarettes (not hers) she's holding. But circumstances bring them together again, of course. I loved the supporting cast featuring good friends, a cousin dreaming of a Bollywood-inspired wedding, an embarrassing mother, and a Shakespeare-quoting grandpa. If you're a P&P devotee, this is a delight. If you've never read the original, you can still enjoy this story about family, friendship, and love. More info →
The Nickel Boys: A Novel

The Nickel Boys: A Novel

Colson Whitehead brings Jim Crow-era Florida to life through the real story of a reform school in Tallahassee that claimed to rehabilitate delinquent boys and instead abused and terrorized them for over one hundred years. Elwood Curtis is bound for a local black college when an innocent mistake lands him at The Nickel Academy instead. Elwood finds comfort in Dr. Martin Luther King's words and holds to his ideals, whereas his friend Turner believes the world is crooked so you have to scheme to survive. All this leads to a decision with harrowing repercussions for their respective fates. This was a tough read emotionally, but such a good one. More info →
The River

The River

Author:
This is my very favorite book I read this year—and to think I almost didn't pick it up! When two college friends plan a long canoeing trip in northern Canada, they anticipate a peaceful yet memorable summer escape filled with whitewater paddling, fly fishing, and campfire cooking. The first hint of danger is a whiff of smoke, from an encroaching forest fire. The next comes from a man, seemingly in shock, who reports his wife disappeared in the woods. If these boys didn't feel compelled to do the right thing and go look for her, they’d be fine, but instead they step in to help—and are soon running for their lives, from disasters both natural and man-made. A tightly-written wilderness adventure, a lyrical mystery, and a heartrending story of friendship, rolled into one. More info →
Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes

When two rookie cops who meet at the NYC Police Academy strike up a friendship, it sets in motion a tragic chain of events that echo through the decades, through the lives of their children and their children’s children. I found this book exceptionally difficult to read—it's depressing and dark and triggers abound—yet I was eager to find out what would happen next to these doomed families, and the astonishing developments of the last 75 pages vaulted this to my best-of-the-year list. I'm a sucker for a good redemption story, and this one delivers. For fans of Atonement and Little Fires Everywhere. More info →
Resistance Women

Resistance Women

The novel was inspired by the life of Mildred Harnack, a real historical figure whose story was previously untold because the U.S. government deliberately buried it after the war. Harnack was one of dozens of members of the network of American and German resistance fighters the Gestapo called die Rote Kapelle (Red Orchestra). The bulk of the action takes places between the wars, beginning in 1929; I was initially surprised that a novel about Nazi Germany before and during WWII began SO early, but Chiaverini's chosen timeline serves her story well: as a reader, you see events escalate over time through these women’s eyes: first they’re incredulous, then increasingly horrified, all the while asking each other, what do we do? The setup feels leisurely (even in print) but the payoff is worth it. More info →
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Author:
I read this back in April and it's really stayed with me: I still think about it, and recommend it, all the time. Psychotherapist Gottlieb employs an unusual two-pronged approach to show us how therapy really works, and to examine how we grow, change, and connect to each other. First, Gottlieb introduces us to four of her patients, taking us inside the room to show us what happens in their sessions. But Gottlieb is also in therapy herself, thanks to a sudden breakup, and through her eyes, we get the patient's perspective as well. I so enjoyed getting to know the people in these pages, session by session, and rooted hard for them as they worked through the process. Part memoir, part educational glimpse into the profession: if you like to learn something from the books you read, and you enjoy a good story, well told, add this to your list. More info →
This Tender Land: A Novel

This Tender Land: A Novel

I'm so glad this is the year I discovered William Kent Krueger: I read three of his titles this year, and would have included another Krueger title in this list had I not forced myself to whittle it down to a halfway-manageable number! This standalone coming-of-age story focuses on three Minnesota kids during the Great Depression, whose respective situations become ever more impossible due to human cruelty and circumstance. They realize no one is going to save them, so they have to save themselves—and that's when the Huck Finn comparisons start kicking in. I alternated between text and audio on this one, and it was excellent in both formats. A great story, well told. My husband Will just finished this one and he also loved it. More info →
The Dutch House: A Novel

The Dutch House: A Novel

Author:
This was so good I've already read this twice—once in the striking hard copy, and once on audio, narrated by Tom Hanks. I love sibling stories and meaty family sagas, as well as stories told with a reflective, wistful tone. This one delivers on all counts. Cyril Conroy means to surprise his wife with the Dutch House, a grand old mansion outside of Philadelphia. But a symbol of wealth and success for some is a symbol of greed and excess to others—including, crucially, Cyril's wife—and the family falls apart over the purchase. In alternating timelines, we get the whole story, over five decades, from Cyril's son Danny. (If you want to hear the incredible story of how Kate DiCamillo wrote the perfect final paragraph without reading the book, you must listen to this episode of What Should I Read Next!) More info →
Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age

Author:
This debut is a coming-of-age story for right now, and addresses hard and heavy topics and yet remains a DELIGHT thanks to Reid's sparkling voice. On page one, we meet Emira, a twenty-five year old babysitter to a Philadelphia family. Emira's out with friends when the mother calls to ask if Emira can rush over and get their daughter out of the house for a bit. This is strange because it's almost 11:00 p.m., but something has happened at the house. This is important: Emira is black; the Chamberlains are white. Emira picks up the little girl and takes her down the road to the pricey grocery store. They're having a good time, enjoying being out past bedtime, when the trouble begins. This is the first domino in a chain of events that changes the lives of everyone involved forever. This all happens in the first 20 pages and I don't want to say more, because whatever you're thinking right now, that is not the direction this story goes in. Confident and complex and a total page-turner. More info →

I’m a committed re-reader, and this year I revisited quite a few books I’d previously read and loved. These were my favorite two. (Although for a bonus third, I could have included The Dutch House, which I first read and then listened to.)  

Favorite Rereads of 2019
Garden Spells

Garden Spells

I so enjoyed revisiting this old favorite for MMD Book Club in January. This is the book that hooked me on Sarah Addison Allen's writing and it was our flight selection to accompany the newer release Harry's Trees. What to say about this book? The romance is cheesy, the magic is impossible, but put them together and it sings. A few love scenes are a little racy (ahem). If you're not down with supernatural food or a magical apple tree, skip this one—but you should know how many readers call this "a wonderful surprise." A must-read for fans of The Language of Flowers. Sweet, sparkly, and thoroughly Southern. I LOVED discussing this book with the author's fellow North Carolinian Kendra Adachi in Episode 27, "Books good enough to make you turn off the tv (even if you love tv)." More info →
This Must Be the Place

This Must Be the Place

This was one of my favorite books of 2017, one of my favorite rereads in 2018, and I'm calling it a favorite again this year. Notice a trend? Family stories are commonplace in fiction, but I love this one for its intricate plotting, nuanced characters, true-to-life feel, and ultimate hopefulness. This is the story of an unlikely but successful marriage between a floundering American professor and a British film star who hated the limelight so much she faked her own death and disappeared ... until an unexpected bit of news, twenty years old but newly discovered, threatens to unravel everything they've built together. If you want to hear me talk more about this story, told in interlocking scenes from different viewpoints, occurring between 1944 and 2016, it's the subject of One Great Book episode 8. More info →

Honorable mention: Peter Heller’s Celine, Daniel Silva’s The New Girl, William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace, Julie Berry’s Lovely War, Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s Revolution of Values

What were YOUR favorite books of 2019? 

P.S. I’ve been sharing my favorites for a long time: check out my favorite books of 2018, 2017 and of 2016. In 2015 I divided my list into fiction favorites and nonfiction favorites. (You can go back even farther if you dare!)

242 comments | Comment

242 comments

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  1. S says:

    It’s always difficult to narrow down favorites, and this year I have read more than any previous year and the majority have been 3 plus stars. My faves: Kitchen Yarns, Save me the Plums, Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, Inheritance, Save Me the Plums, Ask Again Yes, The Dutch House, Where the Lost Dogs Go, Lager Queen of Minnesota and The Last Plane in the Sky. Runner ups: Sisters First, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea, and Dopesick (tough tough read but perspective shaping).

  2. Barb says:

    I read and loved The River, this Tender Land and You Should Talk to Someone. Just added a few more to my hold list. They may make it onto my 2020 reading challenge!

  3. Rebecca Ray says:

    My favorite fiction was This Tender Land (followed by Harry’s Trees and Stephen King’s The Outsider), and my favorite non-fiction was The Only Plane in the Sky (with Maybe You Should Talk to Someone coming in as a close second).

      • Libby says:

        Anne, I read Only Plane in the Sky on audio: extremely well done. They use the real recordings from some of the hijacked 911 flights, and some of the oral histories are narrated by the actual people. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it because it was so difficult, but I’m extremely glad I read it. I was only in 5th or 6th grade at the time, so I remembered the differences between pre and post 911 America, but the true scale of the attack didn’t register with me until reading this book. I thought the section towards the end with single excerpts from individuals at each age (ie, someone born on 9/11, a kindergartner during 9/11, first grader, all the way through early 20s) was particularly well done for demonstrating how monumentally the attack changed American life.

    • Christine says:

      I LOVED The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. It was such a fun twist on a very classic mystery trope. My favorite reread was Enchanted April. I could read that every Spring.

  4. Susan says:

    The Alice Network, Gilead, The River, Cherish (NF), The Sacred Marriage (NF), Love Does (NF), Celine, Cutting For Stone, Evie Drake Starts Over, The Lieutenants (W.E.B. Griffin), Liturgy of the Ordinary (NF), Tell Me Three Things, The Lost Man, Back Lash

    • Gaby says:

      I really loved We Were The Lucky Ones. Shared it with my mom and husband who both enjoyed it. I also love The Giver of Stars. As a newly minted library student (20 years after I graduated from school), this book really spoke to me.

          • Debbie Foster says:

            I loved “The Giver of Stars.” It triggered an interest in the packhorse librarians of southeastern Kentucky. I went on to read “The Book Woman of Cut Shin Creek” and two other books aimed at young children. These women were truly amazing.

    • Penny says:

      I read Liturgy of the Ordinary a few years back, and I just recommended it to someone this week. Have you read Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller? You might enjoy it as well.

  5. Christina says:

    I just finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, and I really enjoyed it, like I would cuddle up with a novel!

    My 5 star reads in 2019: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, The Poet X, Inheritance, Dear Evan Hansen (script), Wolfpack, Summer of ’69, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becoming, City of Girls, The Benefits of Being an Octopus, Persepolis, On the Come Up, Daisy Jones and the Six.

    I DNF a few books in 2019: The Furies, My Glory was that I had Such Friends, The Gown, As Bright as Heaven. (Trying to do a reading challenge, so if it didn’t grab me or make me want to keep reading, I moved on)

      • Barb says:

        I rarely do audio books, but had a gift subscription for 3 months. I LOVED The Warmth of Other Sons on audio. It will be at the very top of my 2019 favorite reads. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    • Gay B says:

      I’ve had this on my Nook forever, you just reminded me to pull it up and start it. I’ve heard such great things about this book.

    • Joy Fleming says:

      Warmth of other Suns also one of my favorites this year along with The Dutch House, Daisy Jones and the Six, Evie Drake starts over, Cradaddys, The Chain, Island of the Sea Women, lady in the lake and many others. Since I have been listening to what shall I read next I’ve had my best reads year.

  6. Samantha says:

    It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few! But Silver Sparrow, News of the World, Ask Again Yes, All We Ever Wanted, The Mother-In-Law, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, and Evvie Drake Starts Over were at the top of my list.

  7. Marion says:

    Here are my favorites I read in 2019:

    1) Chef’s Secret by Crystal King

    2) A Shadow In Summer by Daniel Abraham

    3) Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck.

    4) Ascending by Meg Pechenick

    5) Little Dreamers by Vashti Harrison

    6) The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

    7) Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

    • Laureen says:

      I also would put this in my top five! Other top books : Where the Forest Meets the Stars (audio version), Winter Garden, The Dutch House (audio version), The Line Becomes a River, Rebecca, You Were There Too and the ARC of American Dirt ( out in Jan 2020).

    • Helen says:

      The Things We Cannot Say was one of my favorites for 2019 as well! I feel like it has not gotten enough love – so, so good!!!

  8. Giuliane says:

    I read Garden Spells and This Must Be the Place this year after your recommendation and I just loved it! They were so good! I also read You Should Talk to Someone and loved it as well. One book that I read recently and just adored was Disappearing Earth! Now I must read The Dutch House, it sounds amazing.

  9. Elizabeth Barnhill says:

    My top 10 favorites published this year are:
    I Miss You When I Blink
    The Book woman of Troublesome Creek
    The Lager Queen of Minnesota
    Running With Sherman
    Giver of Stars
    Furious Hours
    Someone We Know
    The Mother In Law
    Evvie Drake Starts Over
    Nothing To See Here

    • Linda says:

      I loved The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek /Mornings with Rosemary / Evvie Drake Starts Over/ all of Fredrik Backman’s books

  10. My favorite of 2019 (unless one overtakes it in the next few weeks ;)) is THE DEARLY BELOVED by Cara Wall. I loved it so much b/c the characters seemed so real. Love that you mentioned GARDEN SPELLS as I happen to be re-reading it this week!

    • Traci Collins says:

      The Dearly Beloved is my favorite, too!! I loved the characters and the story (I need a book to have a good story!), and it has stuck with me and given me lots to think about!

    • Melissa Schabel says:

      The Dearly Beloved was a wonderful read! Definitely in my top ten as well. Her language was magical and such true characters!

  11. Katie says:

    The 7.5 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was my favorite read of 2019. I also loved The Lake House by Kate Morton and subsequently went to the used book store and bought everything they had. Where’d you Go Bernadette was also a fun and funny read. The Stationery Shop and The Ten Thousand Doors of January were great. Looking through my list it appears I read a lot of good YA and Middle Grade (Middle Grade being a genre I’ve been trying to read more of). Dry by Neal Shusterman (and I expect The Toll to be amazing), A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Truly Devious and The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson (the 3rd book comes out in January), and American Royals. MG I enjoyed was The Mysterious Benedict Society, Ghosts of Greenglass House, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, and Nevermoor – The Trials of Morrigan Crow.

    I had a couple big flops this year. I did not enjoy The River (sorry! I thought it was just ok! But I also read Celine and I just don’t think Peter Heller is for me, though I can see how others would like him). I also did not enjoy Pachinko, The Time in Between, or The Starless Sea. I finally read Redwall and hated it lol.

    And sad to say… A Better Man may be my least favorite Louise Penny book. But take that with a grain of salt because Louise Penny is still amazing!

    • Jen says:

      I’m not sure the river was my fave either. it was just ok. he can sure weave a story though. i was COMPLETELY disappointed by The Starless Sea. The Night Circus is one of my all time favorite reads and while the writing was magical in the starless sea and i loved that the story was just too all over the place and weird

  12. Christine Martucci says:

    2019’s Favorites
    1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    2. The River by Peter Heller
    3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    4. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
    5. Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

    Favorite re-read
    The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevrin

  13. Kacie says:

    Wow, I’ve read 6 on your faves list (including your re-reads). It was a great year of reading for me.

    I’m still putting together my final best-of list (and hoping for one more excellent read this year), but I’d say I’d include:

    A Woman is No Man
    The River
    Dark Matter
    This Tender Land
    Tell Me Three Things
    Educated
    Rocket Men (Kurson)
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
    The Witch of Blackbird Pond (read aloud to my kids)
    The Book of Dreams

    • Patti says:

      A Woman is No Man-just a stunning book. It takes a lot for a book to “break me into pieces” but this one sure did and still does if I think about it deeply.

    • Lou Ann says:

      I’ve read a number of books this and though I enjoyed most of them, nothing comes close to “Educated.” Very powerful and beautifully written.

    • Becky says:

      The Witch of Blackbird Pond is one of my all-time favorites. I read it in middle school, have read it with both my daughters, and re-read it many times.

  14. Pam says:

    I loved Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton which went from idyllic to gritty to romantic to pragmatic (ok, I want to travel to Puglia now); Birding Without Borders by Noah Stryker and The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace. Loved The River as you did!

  15. Kassie Joslin says:

    I read The River (and chose it for my Book Club), but we did not love it! I so wanted to love it after hearing you rave about it. My favorites that I read this year would have to be Know My Name, Harry’s Trees, Where the Crawdads Sing, The Dutch House, My Dark Vanessa, Ask Again Yes, The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, and The Flatshare.

  16. Debi Croy says:

    Fav fiction: Where the Crawdads Sing (surprising because I almost didn’t pick it up); Harry’s Trees is a close 2nd.
    Fav non-fiction: Talking to Strangers (again a surprise); The Better Angels of Our Nature a close 2nd

  17. Tina says:

    I loved Maybe you should talk to someone and Everything is figureoutable by Marie Forleo. I also loved Daisy Jones and the Six, mainly because of the unusual format. I also read a ton of really good German books so let me know if anyone is interested in those – you never know 😉

  18. Sarah says:

    Educated, My Sister the Serial Killer, The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches, Moon-Kissed, The Bear and the Nightengale. This has been one of my most prolific reading years, but not one of my best. Most of my numbers come from binge-reading romance novels, a coping strategy when I’m stressed. I’m ready for a better 2020.

  19. Lori A. Samilson says:

    Since you differentiated I will. Some of my favorite books this year were (among many, many others) Ginny Moon, The Almost Sisters (I listened to several of her other books and loved them, just not as much), Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Does My Head Look Big in This?. I listened to a ton of great audio books too; among them Unsheltered, The Last Anniversary Becoming, Little Fires Everywhere, The Island of Sea Women, Ready Player One, The Dutch House, Born to Run, City of Girls, and Ask Again, Yes. It was a pretty good year for me.

  20. Jenn says:

    Things you save in a fire.
    The best book i have read in 2019
    I read the river and where the crawdads sing which were good as well but Things you save in a fire by Katherine center was my #1

  21. Janna says:

    Best reads of 2019: Everybody Always by Bob Goff; Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel (thank you, Anne!); and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Honorable mention: The Boys in the Boat & Where the Crawdads Sing

  22. Nikol King says:

    I really enjoyed a lot of nonfiction this year. Some of my favorites were Make it Scream, Make it Burn by Leslie Jamison, Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino.

  23. Denise Link says:

    My favorites this year were A Gentleman in Moscow, The Paragon Hotel, The Weight of Ink, Sometimes I Lie, and Dreyer’s English. I’m an editor, so the Dreyer book was practical, but it speaks to my sometimes-perfectionist tendencies in other aspects of my life as well.

  24. Kinsey says:

    My favorites this year included “Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo, “Wayward Son” by Rainbow Rowell, “The Flatshare” by Beth O’Leary, “The Rest of the Story” by Sarah Dessen, and “The Huntress” by Kate Quinn.

  25. Jenn says:

    I’m not sure the river was my fave either. it was just ok. he can sure weave a story though. i was COMPLETELY disappointed by The Starless Sea. The Night Circus is one of my all time favorite reads and while the writing was magical in the starless sea and i loved that the story was just too all over the place and weird

  26. Amy says:

    My favorites of the year are very non-fiction heavy. In the order I read them, my favorites are:

    1. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
    2. Good Talk, by Mira Jacob (and adult graphic novel memoir)
    3. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls (I cannot believe I never read this before!)
    4. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb
    5. The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead
    6. Miracle Creek, by Angie Kim
    7. I Think You’re Wrong, But I’m Listening, by Sarah Holland and Beth Silvers
    8. Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell
    9. The Body, by Bill Byrson

    The reading year still has a few more precious days in it, so I will see if anything else vaults to to the top to make it an even 10!

  27. Alex T. says:

    My favorites for the year were Being Mortal, Pachinko, Before We Visit the Goddess, A Place for Us, There There, and The River.

    I’ve also been enjoying diving into the Inspector Gamache series, so thank you for that introduction!

  28. Shawntaye says:

    I’m not picking my favorites yet because I’m still reading, and I’m reading an excellent book right now. (The Water Dancer) However, Peace Like a River and Becoming are HIGH on my list.

  29. Breana says:

    My Favorites of 2019:
    -The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
    -After the End by Claire Mackintosh
    -Sorry I’m Late I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan
    -A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
    -Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl (After reading this I devoured all of Ruth’s books this year.. thanks to Anne for helping me discover her!)
    -I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott
    -Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

    • Deborah Trickett says:

      1. Being Mortal- Atul Gawande
      2. The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan
      3. The Burgess Boys – Elizabeth Strout
      4. The Mother in Law – Sally Hepworth
      5. Dead Wake – Erik Larson

  30. Adrienne says:

    I had a fantastic reading year! My goal was to read 70 books and to date, I’ve read 67, and about 20 of those are audiobooks. I might just make it to 70! I tend to read mostly fiction, but two of my favorites this year were non-fiction, ‘Being Mortal’ and ‘When Breath Becomes Air’. The latter has stuck with me for many months.

    My favorites were: Harry’s Trees (recommended by Anne), The Invention of Wings, The Lost Man (I discovered author Jane Harper from Anne’s recommendation of The Dry), Daisy Jones and the Six, The Huntress, and We Were the Lucky Ones.

    In addition to my own reading, I select and send books to my mother. She loves to read but says she never knows what books to choose. Her favorite genre is Historical Fiction, and because she grew up in London during WWII, stories about that period really resonate with her. I’ve sent her several books I picked based on recommendations here and on the podcast, including We Were the Lucky Ones, and the Huntress, both of which she LOVED. After she reads a book she sends it back to me with a post-it note inside with her thoughts on the book. I cherish those notes and love that we can share books together this way.

    Thank you Anne for making my mother’s and my reading life so much richer. We really appreciate all you do!

    Happy reading in 2020!

  31. Elizabeth Whittaker says:

    At the top of my nonfiction list is Becoming, by Michelle Obama. Fiction is a little harder to choose, but here goes. Pilars of the Earth-Ken Follett; A Piece of the World-Christina Baker Kline; City of Girls-Elizabeth Gilbert; Gods in Alabama-Joshilyn Jackson; Resistance Women-Jennifer Chiaverini; The Stars are Fire-Anita Shreve; and most favorite: Where the Crawdads Sing-Delia Owens. Currently reading, This Tender Land.

  32. Becky Maxwell says:

    I had two books that stood out for me this year. A non-fiction titles Path of the Puma by Jim Williams. Mr. Williams is a wildlife biologist who has studied Mountain lions his whole career. He wrote this book about this amazing cat and amazing recover through the years across two continents and how changing human attitudes as allowed them to thrive. My second choices is a fictional title The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. I just related to the main character so well. This title surprised me, because it is written in the first person and I am not a big fan of first person format. I highly recommend both books.

  33. Sheila says:

    This is surprisingly difficult. My favourites this year were: Little Fires Everywhere, Homes: A Refugee Story (NF) by Abu Baker al Rabeeah, The Silence Of The Girls, The Overstory, Hum if You Don’t Know the Words, the Lost Man, the Last Painting of Sara de Vos, A Dangerous Crossing, Manhattan Beach.
    There are so many books to read!

  34. Amanda Joy says:

    After reading Gardner Spells this year, I was searching for “Read-A-Liked” (because I loved it so much) and that is how I discovered this site! I am so glad I did. It is such fun and I love your podcast too!

  35. sjgraves says:

    I am so happy to see Resistance Women on here!! It was one of my top books this year and I haven’t it seen it getting much love in other places!

  36. Torrie says:

    Great list, Anne! One of my NY resolutions for 2019 was to get more out of my reading life and you helped me knock that one out of the park. Big thanks to you and your team!

    I’ve still got a few on my nightstand that I am hopeful will make the list of my best reads before 12/31, but as of today, these are my top reads of 2019. I had 15 5-star reads and I am currently at 65 completed.

    My #1 of the year was A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I have no idea how it took me so long to get to this one from 2013.

    Runner up- The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

    2nd Runner up- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

    Others I loved:
    Becoming by Michelle Obama (audio)
    The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester (audio)
    The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
    The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
    Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
    The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
    Americanah (another “how did I wait this long to read this?”)

  37. Kristi says:

    My favorite reads of 2019:

    1. A Gentleman in Moscow–Amor Towels
    2. Then She was Gone–Lisa Jewel
    3. Kingdom of the Blind–Louise Penny
    4. Stoner–John Wiliams
    5. Hannah Counter–Wendell Berry
    6. Never Split the Difference–Chris Voss
    7. The Coddling of the American Mind–Haidt and Lukianoff
    8. A More Christlike Way, A More Beautiful Faith–Brad Jersak
    9. The Road Back to You–Ian Cron
    10. Harry’s Trees–John Cohen

  38. Tracy says:

    This yea I loved Circe by Madeline Miller and Her Body & Other Parties by Carmen Marie Machado. 2019 was the year I finally got back to constantly reading after years of distraction and am so happy about that.

  39. Jenny says:

    My favorite for this year is The Stationary Shop. I NEVER would have picked this up had I not listened here and heard others praise about the book. So glad I did. The author that I had the most fun discovering this year was Deanna Raybourn. Her books were such fun reads.

  40. Gina says:

    The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall! I feel like this book is not getting nearly enough attention. Meanwhile, every year end “best-of” list has Sally Rooney’s Normal People on it, which I HATED!

  41. Many of your favorites were my favorites this year, too.

    Regarding William Kent Krueger – I discovered him this year, too – thanks to Book of the Month Club. I am listening to another one of his novels, Ordinary Grace, right now. I think I like it even better than This Tender Land (which is high praise!). I’m wondering if you read that one yet – and if you haven’t yet I am recommending it to you!

    Thanks for always providing such wonderful, sensible, reliable bookish advice. You are a blessing in my life!

  42. I’m a counselor and I loved Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. I’m still wondering how Gottlieb was able to tell the stories without getting in trouble with ethics committees. The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Van der Kolk is a standard in our industry.

    Being a grandma to a toddler in a new grandbaby I was only able to read 30 books this year rather than my usual 60.

    Books that stood out for me were:

    *The Day the World Came to Town (true story about town that welcomed 9/11 airplane passengers)

    *Over My Shoulder (memoir about Columbine survivor)

    *The Plot against the President (NF)

    *

  43. I’m still thinking about my favorite reads of this year, but I do know that The Golem and the Jinni will be on the list as will The World We Know. I read the first of these in January and just finished the second a couple days ago, so my year was bookended by books based on the Jewish mystical legend of the golem.

    I’ve read four of the books on your list: Kindred (read it last year), The River, The Dutch House, and Ayesha at Last. I enjoyed all of them; The Dutch House is my favorite of the lot.

    I put four more of your favorites on hold at the library, after reading your descriptions here: The Body Keeps Score, To Nightowl from Dogfish, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, and Such a Fun Age. I look forward to reading them in 2020!

  44. Meagan says:

    I’m not done reading this year, but I have been having a really good reading year (171 books and counting) this was the first year that I used a reading journal and I am really loving it. It is easier to remember my favourite books when I make a note of them each month!
    Here are a few that I really enjoyed:
    A Bitter Feast Deborah Crombie,
    Dear Girls Ali Wong (I laughed so hard that I cried)
    Still Life- Louise Penny (I don’t know how it has taken me this long to start these books)
    Veronica Mars re-reads in anticipation of the new tv series I re-read them. Still enjoyable!
    Delicious!- Ruth Reichl’s fiction book, I loved it
    Save me the Plums- Ruth Reichl nonfiction that I also loved
    Veronica Speedwell- that last book!
    The Proposal- Jasmine Gulliory
    The Paris Spy- Susan Elia Macneil
    The Huntress- Kate Quinn
    Next Year in Havana- Chanel Cleeton
    I’ll Be Your Blue Sky- Marisa de los Santos

  45. Margaret in Huntsville says:

    As I was going back through books that I have read from the library over the last 3 years, I began to realize what an impact MMD has had on my reading life. So many came from podcasts or the best of lists. Thank you!

  46. Meg Dolan says:

    So hard to narrow it down, but a few are: Miracle Creek; Red, White & Royal Blue (I have read 3 other romance books this year and did not like them, so high praise that this is one of my faves); The Most Fun We Ever Had; Lager Queen of Minnesota; Circe; Ask Again, Yes; The Reckless Oath We Made; The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

  47. Suzanne C says:

    My top books of the year were:
    1) A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
    2) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara
    3) Daisy Jones & the Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    I also started (and love!) the Inspector Gamache series this year, which I thank you guys for recommending.

  48. I read so many really good books – ones I’d rate 4 stars – but here are most of my five stars for 2019:
    THE SILENT PATIENT by Alex Michaelides
    THE INVITED by Jennifer McMahon
    SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS by Charlie Donlea
    DEAR WIFE by Kimberly Belle
    THE TURN OF THE KEY by Ruth Ware
    HEROINE (YA) by Mindy McGinnis
    AUGUST ISLE (MG) by Ali Standish
    WE WALKED THE SKY (YA) by Lisa Fiedler
    AFTER THE END by Clare Mackintosh
    NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson
    THE WHISPER MAN by Alex North
    NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo
    THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS by Lisa Jewell
    DARLING ROSE GOLD by Stephanie Wrobel

  49. Jen C says:

    My favourite new releases for this year are Ask Again Yes, The River, The Editor by Steven Rowley, Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner and On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl. Two other books I loved were Warlight by Michael Ondaatje and Snap by Belinda Bauer (brilliant British thriller).

  50. Ellen Hatfield says:

    I loved The Gown, The Time in Between, and the Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom duology. I read so many other good ones this year too.

  51. Sharon says:

    Lots of good ideas here, along with several books I’ve read myself. (Example: I also read Kindred for the first time this year and really enjoyed it!)

    We read Ask Again, Yes for my book club and I thought it was meh. Others liked it, though.

  52. Vickie Pfost says:

    Some of my favorite books out of 106 read this year. I met my goal of 100 books for the year.
    Meet Me at the Museum by Ann Youngson
    The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
    When All is Said by Ann Griffin (good Audio)
    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
    The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
    The Dutch House by AnnPatchett
    The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

    Enjoyable Rereads:
    East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
    The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

  53. Kat says:

    A Woman is No Man is my top pick for 2019. It has stayed with me all year, including a re-read a few months ago. Everyone on my list is getting a copy for Jolábokàflöd!

  54. Lisa F. says:

    I only read 24 books this year, so my list is rather short!
    Favorite fiction books this year–A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley, The River by Peter Heller, Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry, Jane and the Canterbury Tale by Stephanie Barron.
    Favorite classics this year–The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.
    Favorite nonfiction–Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson and The Templars by Dan Jones.
    Interestingly–and this probably won’t go over well–I started reading The Dutch House and couldn’t finish it. I set aside time before bed to read every night and I found I was looking for anything else to do besides read. A close friend noticed I’d been rather down and irritable lately and wondered what was wrong. I finally realized it was the book, which I couldn’t get into anyway. Once I stopped reading it, I felt like I had recovered from an illness. I know book tastes and preferences are subjective, but good heavens, has this ever happened to anyone else?

    • Gay B says:

      Oh, yes – especially if the book is a book club book that I think I have to finish! I have a new rule, 50 pages and if I hate it, I put it down. There are too many good books and life is too short! I wasn’t gaga over The Dutch House either, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t on my favorites list.

  55. Marlana says:

    So many!!! Girl at War by Sara Novic, The Silent Patient, The Lost Man by Jane Harper, The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff, Recursion by Blake Crouch, Daisy Jones and the Six, the Nickel Boys, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Dutch House, and Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai.

  56. Brandon Harbeke says:

    5 stars:

    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
    Why We Love Star Wars: The Great Moments That Built a Galaxy Far, Far Away by Ken Napzok

    Other good books from 2019:
    Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott
    Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston
    Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray
    Pirate’s Price by Lou Anders
    The Captain’s Oath by Christopher L. Bennett
    Star Wars Icons: Han Solo by Gina McIntyre
    Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story by Susan Tan

  57. We overlapped on Ask Again, Yes and The Dutch House (Ps – how great a year was it for family dramas?!).

    Other favorites:
    The Only Plane in the Sky – my #1
    Daisy Jones & the Six
    City of Girls
    I Miss You When I Blink
    The Last Romantics
    Wild Game
    Miracle Creek
    The Dearly Beloved
    The Other’s Gold

  58. Ayesha! I’m in the middle of that one right now and it is so fun.

    I also loved Ask Again, Yes, Lovely War, and Celine. My faves this year included Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun (coming Jan. 7!), The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall, Samantha Power’s memoir (so fascinating!), and The Book of Delights by Ross Gay.

  59. Lisa says:

    You listed several great books and you’ve peaked my interest with The Body Keeps Score. Some of my favorites of the year are Save Me the Plums, Olive Kitteridge, and Olive, Again. I just recently read OK and OA and thought (before reading) they might just be so-so, but Strout is a new favorite author of mine.

  60. Alison R says:

    It’s hard to choose an absolute favorite. I’m just grateful for having the best reading year of my life! Some of my favorites are The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss, Station Eleven, And Then There Were None, The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson, Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple, Where the Crawdads Sing, The River by Peter Heller, and Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson.
    Thanks Anne. You are always an inspiration!

    • Alison R says:

      I just finished The Nickel Boys last night and had to include it as one of my favorites. One of my few 5 star reads of the year!

  61. Cathy says:

    My favorite was Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Also enjoyed the Dutch House, Hum if you don’t know the words, I miss you when I blink, cold sassy tree and Nothing to See Here.

  62. Mark F says:

    Ask Again, Yes – YES! That was a great one. For newish books (2018/19) also loved Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. This is now one of my favorites of all time–but then, I’m a sweeping family saga fan (The Brothers K, Pachinko, A Place for Us also top my list from the past few years).

  63. Olivia O says:

    I have three: (1) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; (2) Becoming by Michelle Obama; and (3) Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb.

  64. I’m reading my 100th book of the year right now, which is the most I’ve ever read in a year! So many of my favorites are thanks to you and the SRG!! My favorite fiction books were “Ask Again, Yes” and “The Most Fun We Ever Had.” I also loved “The Dutch House.” Favorite non-fiction reads were “Just Mercy,” “Shoe Dog,” “Inheritance,” and “Becoming.”

  65. Dana says:

    My favorites were:
    The Likeness By Tana French. Anne, I started reading French on your recommendation. Love the books. Binge read The Witch Elm, In The Woods and The Likeness over a 2 week vacation at Thanksgiving. I will return for more soon.
    The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett. I was fortunate to get to take a writing workshop with Charlie based on the book. Amazing! A Kindle Daily Deal
    Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. I love food memoirs and this one didn’t disappoint. Another Anne recommendation. Kindle Daily Deal

    Soul Survivor by Phillip Yancey. A spiritual journey told through the short biographies of Martin Luther King, Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, Annie Dillard and many others. Another Kindle Daily Deal

    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine By Gayle Honeyman. Another Anne rec.
    Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

    NeverMoor and Wondersmith, by Jessica Townsend, These are the first 2 books in a Middlegrade Fantasy Series, ( 2rd is out in March). This ia an absolutely fabulous series. I have recommended it to anyone who loved Harry Potter. A very worthy successor to the genre.

  66. Gay B says:

    Favorites this year included Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must be the Place (loved the quirky story and the interesting way it was told), The Stationery Shop by Margan Kamali, (listened to this one in two days while knitting/quilting/cleaning my kitchen cabinets) and a surprise super easy read that I picked up from a Little Local Library that is along one of my bike rides, Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key (read in just 2 nights of pre-sleep reading). I loved this one so much, I’m binge reading several others of her books. However I just got my hand on an AR copy of My Vanessa, so everything is on hold while I read this one-apparently this book is generating a lot of buzz and is due out next year.

  67. Mary Jo Durivage says:

    These are titles i recommend that I don’t think were mentioned yet. Enjoy!
    US AGAINST YOU
    MIDDLESEX
    STORYTELLER’S SECRET
    MOMENT OF LIFT
    GUEST BOOK
    IMMORTALISTS
    PURPLE HIBISCUS
    MAP OF SALT AND STARS
    SOUL OF AMERICA
    THE LIBRARY BOOK

  68. Kelly Rinehart says:

    I have had a great reading year and much of that thanks go to you and your guests! I am still working on it, but I have finished 140 books so far this year. My top 10 favs for 2019 were:
    1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (I really think this is her masterpiece)
    2. The Overstory by Richard Powers
    3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
    4. The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
    5. The Soul of An Octopus by Sy Montgomery (NF)
    6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    7. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
    8. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
    9. Abigail Adams by Woody Holton (NF)
    10. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    I am still reading so this might change, but I have been delighted by some AWESOME books this year!

  69. Melissa says:

    My favorite reads this year were Heroine, The Lager Queen of Minnesota, The Giver or Stars (despite the controversy that now surrounds this one), Educated and Becoming. I’m actually thrilled that two Nonfiction titles made my list, as I never seem to remember to pick up anything in that category!

  70. Elise says:

    My favorite fiction reads this year were Jayber Crow, Bel Canto, Never Let Me Go, Angle of Repose, The Almost Sisters.
    Favorite nonfiction was Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. I LOVED this one and wanted to recommend it to everyone. I also really enjoyed The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, as well as Liturgy of the Ordinary.
    Favorite re-reads: The Wind in the Willows, Anne of the Island, Jane Eyre, The Fellowship of the Ring.
    It was also a joy to read a number of W.H. Auden’s poems and prose pieces, and a lot of G.K. Chesterton’s essays.

    • Sarah says:

      Anne of the Island is one of my favorites. I used to reread the Anne books every few years, but it’s been awhile. I think it might be time to revisit them as a comfy start to my reading year.

  71. Angela in NC says:

    My Top Five New-to-me Books of 2019 (in order):
    1- The Gown – Jennifer Robson
    2- Winter Solstice – Rosamunde Pilcher
    3- The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
    4- Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate
    5- Royal Holiday – Jasmine Guillory

    Plus, I reread the first two Harry Potter books this year and loved them just as much the third time around!

  72. Julia R. says:

    My favorite reads this year were: A Dog’s Way Home by Bruce Cameron; Ghosted by Rosie Walsh; Perla by Carolina De Robertis; Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear; The Current by Tim Johnston; The Huntress by Kate Quinn; The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan; Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult; As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley; The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck; Celine by Peter Heller; and Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

  73. Debbie in Alabama says:

    Ok here goes, cause all these great reads came thru knowing, Ms Anne! For the longest I was saying, The Dearly Beloved, and then I read the new Alice Hoffman with the golem which took me back to WW2 after my Ariel Lawhon experience at the MMD retreat! So then I went to another rabbit hole, and found My Oxford Year which was sooooo delightful and yummy! Then The Next Right Thing and Don’t Overthink It for my nonfiction besties. Year is ending at 151 and that is because of you and this “mission” thing you do!!!!

  74. Renea Mertens says:

    I Loved Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I thought about and still think about this one months after reading it. Anyone who has been married a couple years can very much relate!

    • Renea mertens says:

      Forgot “My Grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry”. I listened to that one and sobbed out loud while listening at the Y!

      Garden Spells opened a whole new world to me, as I didn’t realize how much I love realism fantasy.

  75. Amanda says:

    This year, my favorite adult book was The Queens of Innis Lear, my favorite YA book was The Raven Boys and my favorite MG book was To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer. The Queens of Innis Lear wins for my favorite overall book of 2019. Happy Holidays!

      • Amanda says:

        I’m thrilled someone else is interested in the Queens of Innis Lear! It is not an easy read and based on Goodreads reviews, it seems like many readers abandoned it, but if you stick with it, I hope you’ll love it as much as I did.

  76. Lisa H. says:

    Some of my favorite reads in 2019:
    The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates
    Becoming by Michelle Obama
    She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
    Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny
    The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick
    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

  77. Janene says:

    I love reading these lists! I had a good reading year but there are soooo many good books to read and there will be new ones in 2020! Here are my favorites for 2019:
    Becoming by Michelle Obama
    The Lost Man by Jane Harper
    We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
    Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
    The River by Peter Heller
    The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

  78. Diane says:

    The River by Peter Heller (recommended you you!) is my favorite of this year and I just finished it today. I’ve already recommended it to someone.

  79. Becky says:

    Anne, if you liked Revolution of Values, try any of Jim Wallis’ books on the intersection of faith and society. “Christians” should try to follow the example of Christ, who was all about including the outcasts, making power relationships more fair, love and forgiveness.

  80. KS says:

    Such a fabulous reading year. Among my favorites, these five stand out: The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali; Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen; The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah; American Marriage by Tayari Jones; A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. Favorite reread: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson.

  81. Amapola says:

    My favorites of the year:
    1. Born a Crime
    2. Kristin Lavransdatter
    3. News of the World
    4. The Testaments
    5. Resistance Women
    The River was interesting, but I struggled a lot with all the camping-outdoor terminology.

  82. Sarah C says:

    The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall was my favorite fiction book this year. I can’t stop recommending to friends, who then turn around and recommend it to other friends! It’s so good!

  83. Amanda says:

    I’m thrilled someone else is interested in the Queens of Innis Lear! It is not an easy read and based on Goodreads reviews, it seems like many readers abandoned it, but if you stick with it, I hope you’ll love it as much as I did.

  84. Beth says:

    This Tender Land was my favorite fiction book this year. For non-fiction, I liked “Grace Will Lead Us Home,” and “The Fall and Rise of 9/11.” The former is about the Charleston church massacre and the latter is a 600 page book that delves into the personal lives and/or last minutes of victims’ lives. It was difficult emotionally to read, but an important read.

  85. Christine from Australia says:

    I’ve had a good reading year, and these are some of my favourites:
    Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, (I’d never read it before)
    Zadie Smith, On Beauty
    Robyn Cadwallader, Book of Colours
    Zeyn Joukhadar, The Map of Salt and Stars
    Diane Setterfield, Once Upon a River,
    Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, Butterflies in November,
    Jane Harper, The Lost Man,
    Michelle de Kretser, The Life to Come,

  86. Laura says:

    The Body Keeps the Score was amazing. It was the book I needed in my life when I read it.

    Other favorites:
    The Great Believers- Rebecca Makki
    Becoming- Michelle Obama
    The Pioneers- David McCullough
    Fleishman is in Trouble- Taffy Brodesser-Akner

  87. Joanna says:

    My favorites: It’s Not Supposed to be this Way, Spilled Milk, The Inheritance, Listen to the Marriage, and The Huntress. I read 51 books this year. I wish I remembered some of them better, but I had brain surgery, so the books I read right before and after that are not super clear. I’m a huge WWII historical fiction fan, so I pleased I was able to break out of that rut. It amazes me that 3 of my favorite books this year were nonfiction–a genre I struggle finishing.

  88. Beth Roireau says:

    Thank you to What Should I Read Next for the terrific recommendations because my 2019 Favorites are Rules of Civility, In This House of Brede, The Great Alone, The Hate U Give and The Smell of Other People’s Houses.

  89. Cindy says:

    I absolutely LOVE all the lists. Thanks for sharing! I’ve done something different for next year: I searched my personal stacks for books that I cannot possibly wait another year to read and I physically stacked them. They aren’t in any order yet – I’ll give my moodiness that much leeway – but this will make the “What do I read next?” a bit easier. Oh, my favorite book I read this year was “November Road” by Lou Berney. It made me remember why I came to have such a passion for books in the first place!

  90. Julie Morris says:

    Love reading everyone’s favorites. I had a rough year in reading. I DNF more books than normal. And the majority of the books I did were okay
    On the plus side, it makes choosing my favorites very easy.
    They are …
    Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
    Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
    Lost Man. By Jane Harper
    When All is Said by Anne Griffeth
    Bad Blood ( non-fiction) by John

    Here’s to a better reading in 2020!

  91. Just Me says:

    My 5 stars (5 stars = I’d recommend to anyone) An American Marriage (compelling and believable), Bad Blood (read like a thriller to me), A Woman is No Man (a unique take on the isolationism of immigration), and The Turn of the Key (PERFECT contemporary gothic novel). Looking through my list – I had a LOT of 4 stars (4 stars = V Good for its genre, would recommend to people who like that genre), so not a bad year.

  92. Heather says:

    Here are my five-star reads for this year:
    The Nickel Boys
    The Loving Cup by Winston Graham (Poldark series)
    The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan (good mystery for Tana French fans)
    Book Love by Debbie Tung

  93. SusieQ says:

    My reading year was GREAT, thanks to MMD! I’m going on 90 books for the year and these were my 10 faves.
    Left Neglected, by Lisa Genova (everything she writes is super, informative and well written. This was fascinating!)
    Olive Kitteridge, by Eliz. Strout
    A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles *****
    A Jane Austen Education, Wm Deresiewicz *****
    Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson
    Rules for Visiting, Jessica Francis Kane
    The River, Peter Heller
    Four Seasons in Rome, Anthony Doerr
    Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
    Tell ME Three Things, Julie Bauxbaum
    14 Honorable Mentions, also Soooo good.
    6 Disappointments that everybody else seemed to love: Almost Sisters, Harry’s Trees, The Gown, Where the Crawdads Sing, Born a Crime and Recursion.

  94. Sarah says:

    I finally read The Rules of Civility. It was my favorite book of this year. I loved A Gentleman in Moscow, which I read first. Two qualities of Towles’s writing I especially enjoy are his strong sense of place and the emotional resiliency of his protagonists. I just started keeping a reading journal this year, and I am surprised by how much I like going back through and reviewing my reading year.

  95. Irene says:

    I loved these twelve books; some new and some old:
    1. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjeh-Brinyah. Short stories, three of which were masterful.
    2. Sugar Run by Mesha Maren. Set mainly in Georgia and West Virginia, with stopovers in other southern states … I usually dislike books with lots of drugs and sex and crime, but I can take it when they’re this well-written. Characters and plot were wonderful.
    3. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. This was exciting and romantic, with fascinating settings in the Caribbean and Africa.
    4. The Development by John Barth. Subtle, cutting humor in a gated senior citizens’ community. (I read three books by this author for the 2019 MMD Reading Challenge, and I didn’t like the other two nearly as much.)
    5. Karst in China by the Institute of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Science. (Yes, really!) Terrific photos of all parts of China and, since it was written in the 1970s, hilarious Mao-speak throughout the text.
    6. The Life List of Adrian Mandrick by Chris White. Fun birdwatching adventures, family tensions, and solid, non-preachy moral lessons.
    7. The Farm by Wendell Berry. I previously read a nonfiction book and a novel by Berry, but this poetry book is the first work of his that I’ve loved.
    8. Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie. These Tommy and Tuppence short stories were paced just right!
    9. Paradise News by David Lodge. Entertaining characters and a very pleasant love story (also included side plot about a woman entering a nursing home and having good experiences there. How refreshing!).
    10. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. Now I’ll be reading all the Miss Marple mysteries and short stories.
    11. The Cat Who Lived High by Lilian Jackson Braun. I love it when books in this series have elaborate descriptions of beautiful decor, delicious food, and fabulous art. This was one of the best books for vicariously living the good life through reading.
    12. Monument by Natasha Trethewey. Most of these poems came from her previous books but I hadn’t read any of those (bought this one at a reading she gave in Athens, GA) so I really enjoyed the history and storytelling in all the various sections.

    Sorry, but Kindred is one of my least-favorite books of all time. I thought Dana had *no* personality.

    I plan to read at least two from your favorites list: Ayesha at Last and Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. Thanks for the reminder!

  96. BonniEve says:

    My favorites for the year we’re: Gone with the Wind, Once Upon a River, The Likeness, Our Souls at Night. And Dogman:Lord of the fleas. The book that wasn’t for me was Maybe You Should Talk to Someone- I got halfway through.

  97. Diane Tinsley says:

    My two favorite books of 2019 were The River and The Last Romantics. The Dutch House a close runnner up as I listened to Tom Hanks read it. I am now going to read more of Peter Hellers books as I love his writing. Thanks for all the great suggestions . If you haven’t read Chaos Monkeys please do

  98. Melanie says:

    I too loved The River and Celine! Celine maybe more because I didn’t love the ending of the River. Also among my favorites were The Mother In Law, Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and a middle grade book, Navigating Early.

  99. Shellie Grant says:

    The Lake House by Kate Morton. Thrilling past/present story uncovering a mysterious death. So many clever twists I couldn’t figure out how it would end.

  100. An incredible round-up Anne – it’s been such a pleasure getting recommendations from your podcasts and reading along with you this year! Perhaps the skew towards fiction this year simply reflects the fact that our “real” world is so unbelievable right now…? Happy holidays, and happy reading for 2020! ❤️

  101. I’m actually surprised to see I’ve read 6 of your top books – two I found because I heard you recommend them: Night Owl from Dogfish and The River. The River is excellent and one of my top reads. Others for this year include:
    Where the Crawdads Sing, The Library Book, Once Upon a River (LOVED this book), The Lost Man, Storm Front #1, Ask Again Yes, Born a Crime.
    I consistently add to my TBR list after your podcast or blog lists because, darn if you don’t make everything sound intriguing! 🙂 Thanks for all you do in support of the reading life.

  102. Kay says:

    I keep a list on Goodreads and also in a book journal, according to Goodreads I have read 152 books but only ten were 5 stars for me, according to my year review my average is 2.9 stars so to get five means it was certainly outstanding for me. They are (I do realise I am late to the party for several of these): Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, All The World We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Fifth to Die by J.D. Barker, The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker, Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Sixth Lamentation (reread) by William Brodrick, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Night Waking by Sarah Moss, and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan.
    I have just enjoyed looking at all of your Favourite books of the year posts back to 2012 and added a few more to my ‘must read one day’ list. x

  103. Sarah says:

    It amazes me how you read so many books! I thought I read a lot (compared to others I knew) at 25 books a year. Ha! What really amazes me is how books are not really repeated on your lists. It’s like a personal message to me, to try and read a tittle on your list before they show up. 🙂 thanks for your work and recommendations. My reading life has never been better.

  104. Janice Cunning says:

    My 2019 favs were:
    The Library Book by Susan Orlean
    I’d Rather Be Reading (by Anne of course)
    Abide with Me and Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout
    Falling Together and The Precious One by Maria de los Santo
    Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
    The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
    The Gown by Jennifer Robson
    The Student by Cary Fagan
    Albatross by Terry Fallis
    Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
    The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

  105. Teresa says:

    I Loved Mr. Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo, don’t think it’s new but I’m deep into her new one and it’s excellent so far.

  106. Krisha Hinkle says:

    I’ve read over 50 books this year thanks to another reading challenge. In 2020, I will participate in both that reading challenge and the MMD challenge. My favorites from this year are: “The Pecan Man” and “The Truth About Grace” by Cassie Dandridge Selleck; “The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richardson; “Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver; “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles; “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens; “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman; “Dear Committee Members” by Julie Schumacher; “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini; “A Wedding in December” by Anita Shreve; and last, but certainly not least, “I’d Rather Be Reading” by Anne Bogel. I love that these challenges get me to read genres that I wouldn’t normally pick up because each of these books has broadened my reading scope so that I am now yearning for quality books that make me think. I am no longer satisfied with just any book off the shelf!

  107. Kara Middleton says:

    My 2 favorite books from this year were Pillars of the Earth (which I haven’t even finished yet…that’s how good it is) and City of Thieves by David Benioff. A gorgeous, emotional, devastating, heart breaking book.

  108. Jen Rodgers says:

    Some of my favorite reads this year that didn’t make Anne’s list were: Fleischman is in Trouble, Miracle Creek, City of Girls, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Asymmetry, The Great Believers, and Neverworld Wake. I’m anxious to read the newest Louise Penny and The Testaments, which are on my list for the holidays!

  109. Kelsey says:

    Always so hard to narrow it down but my favorites were: “If you Want to Make God Laugh”, “Fountains of Silence”, “This Tender Land”, “Daisy Jones and the Six” and “The Bookish life of Nina Hill”.

  110. Keren says:

    I also read Kindred for the first time this year and wondered why I’d waited so long!

    Other favorite reads were:
    Recursion – thanks for the rec! 😉
    The Daevabad Trilogy books (again – thanks!)
    The 10,000 Doors of January
    Wayward Son

  111. Helen says:

    Favorites in 2019:
    Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
    The Things We Cannot Say
    Where The Crawdads Sing
    The Great Alone
    A Gentleman In Moscow
    Little Bee
    Lilac Girls
    The Only Plane In The Sky
    Disappointments: Rules of Civility, One Day In December, Kindred, Winter Garden, Tattoist of Auschwitz

  112. Thanks for this list. I love you, Anne Bogel.

    Favorite reads this year:
    The Last Days of Night
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    The Heart’s Invisible Furies
    Commonwealth
    Kent Haruf’s trilogy

  113. Lou Ann says:

    Favorites in the last year:
    Educated
    Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup-Carryrou
    The Great Believers – Malakai
    The Good House – Ann Leary
    Never Let Me Go – Ishiguro
    Small Fry -Brennan-Jobs
    The Dutch House – Patchett

  114. Gretchen says:

    I’m so happy to see Resistance Women on this list!! I loved this book, and I don’t feel like there was much hype around it. Glad to see it getting a little love.

  115. Deepa says:

    I am glad you discovered Kent Krueger! He came and talked to my neighborhood book club in St. Paul after Ordinary Grace won all those awards- such a lovely, down to earth man for one who is so talented. I finally got started on the Cork O’Connor series and I can’t stop. They capture the spirit of northern MN so incredibly well. I don’t really go “up north” much but the books transport you there. If you haven’t read them I recommend them highly, in sequence (I read a few Inspector Gamache in random order, such a bad idea).

  116. Such a great post. So far: The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power, Educated by Tara Westover, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon, The Library Book by Susan Orlean, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. ANd there’s still some reading to be done. 🙂

  117. Barbara June says:

    Thanks to your recommendations & my finally accepting Audio books as “real” reading I had a great year of reading. Some of my favs were The Only Plane in the Sky, Tell Me More by Kelly Corigan, The Dutchhouse and Ask Again, Yes. For rereads I listened to the 5 Penderwick books by Jeanie Birdsall ❤️

  118. Marion says:

    I have seen a lot of people (Anne included) write The Dutch House by Ann Patchett as one of their favorite reads of 2019. I read Bel Canto years ago and really enjoyed it. I have not tried another Patchett novel…but The Dutch House has my attention. Thanks to everyone who has recommended it.

  119. Amy Borchardt says:

    Of your favorites I would completely agree with you about Kindred but thought The River, had too much going on, Ayesha was a good book but not great and I listened to the body keeps the score, and kept getting sidetracked.
    My favorites include And the Moutaibs Echoed, Goblet of Fire Illustrated edition, The Hoke, A Man Called Ove, Recursion.

  120. Tessa says:

    This is such a great post-I love seeing what people have been reading and loved over the past year! A few of my favourites reads in 2019 were “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness, “The Rose Garden” by Susanna Kearsley, “Belleweather” also by Susanna Kearsley and “The Temptation of Gracie” by Santa Montefiore. A non-fiction favourite was “The Library Book” by Susan Orlean…I just love books about books

  121. Debbie says:

    My favorite book of 2019 was The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia. I read it back in June and I still think about it. The main character, Simonopio is mute, yet he is one of my favorite characters ever. The book is beautifully written. It begins slowly and may seem a bit repetitive, but once you discover who the narrator is and the circumstances of the narration, it will all make sense. I loved everything about this book and highly recommend it.

  122. Ashley F. says:

    Evvie Drake Starts Over was one of my absolute favorites of 2019. Light but meaningful. I appreciate a romance that doesn’t develop right away. The characters became close friends first, and that doesn’t seem to happen to often in books these days. I also loved A Woman is No Man and The Dutch House!

  123. I loved a bunch of books: Me Before You (JoJo Moyes), The Shadows We Hide (Allen Eskens), The One-in-a-Million Boy (Monica Wood), The Bookshop on the Corner (Jenny Colgan), Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens), Pocket Prayers (Max Lucado — Read it twice!), and lots more.

  124. Jody Hamilton says:

    My favorite read of the year: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield; loved everything about: the setting, the sense of place, the plot, the characters, they mysticism.

    The two books that shared second place: Eleanor Oliphant is Complete Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Lost Man by Jane Harper.

  125. Nanci Byers says:

    I just finished listening to The River by Peter Heller, narrated by Mark Deakins. In one sitting. I couldn’t stop listening. It in in my top reads/audiobooks of the year. I just had to post this now. I will add the rest of my favorites later, but the language, the story…it just all came together for me. I came across Celine by Heller late last year and it was so terrific that I just had to own my own copy. Peter Heller can write!

  126. April Harnish says:

    My favorites of the year:
    -The River
    -The Mother-In-Law
    -Time After Time
    -Recursion
    -The Island of the Sea Women
    -Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
    -Daisy Jones and the Six
    -Ask Again, Yes
    -The Tattooist of Auschwitz
    -Where the Crawdads Sing
    -Beartown

  127. Franny says:

    This year I loved:
    -Pachinko by Min Lin Lee
    -The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    -Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
    -Maybe you Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

  128. Karen says:

    I’m very late to comment….but finally had a moment to read your favorite book list for 2019 and added a few to my reading list for 2020. My favorite books of 2019 were Pachinko, Inheritance, Mrs. Everything, and The Library Book which in many ways tops my list. Susan Orlean is a wonderful writer.

  129. Sarah says:

    I JUST finished More Than Words, and I could not put it down! By far best book I read all year. I also loved Ayesha at Last, waiting for Tom Hanks, juliet takes a breath, daisy jones and the six, the gown, educated, where the crawdads sing was phenomenal, and a woman is no man stopped me in my tracks.

  130. Wendy Scott says:

    My favorite pick for 2019 was Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. There are always so many good books to choose from so I used the criteria of how the book stayed with me and caused me to analyze myself and see how I perceive other people of different races or ethnic backgrounds.

    • Lynne says:

      Here are my faves:
      -Jane of Lantern Hill – L.M. Montgomery
      -Hannah Coulter – Wendell Berry
      -Pachinko – Min Lee
      -Heartland (NF) – Sarah Smarsh
      -Nine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty
      -Bridge of Sighs – Richard Russo
      -The Better Man – Louise Penny
      -The Pioneers – David McCullough
      -The Second Mountain (NF) – David Brooks

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