Amazon Shares Its List of the Top 20 Books of the Year — Have You Read Them All?
As 2019 comes to a close, it's time to reflect on the biggest and most important pieces of pop culture that have shaped the last (nearly) 12 months. In addition to the best films and TV shows that have premiered, we'd also like to give it up for the best books that have come out and captivated us from page one. Then again, how could we possibly choose?! There have been tons of jaw-dropping thrillers, romantic beach reads, and stunning memoirs, to name a few. Fortunately, Amazon has done us a favor and narrowed down the site's 100 best books of 2019. See the first 20 picks on the list ahead!
Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco
Jeannie Vanasco's memoir, Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl, is a bold, necessary memoir in the age of #MeToo that manages to be both tender and razor sharp at the same time. In it, the author decides to confront her rapist, one of her closest childhood friends, after 14 years of nightmares about the assault. As she interviews him, she explores one simple but harrowing question: is it possible for a good person to commit a terrible act?
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
Lisa Taddeo's Three Women is a powerful nonfiction debut that has been hailed as a literary masterpiece. Based on eight years' worth of the journalist's travels across the country to speak to women about sexual desire, Taddeo paints three very different portraits of erotic longing that serve as a good reminder that none of us is ever truly alone in our experiences.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Stephen King has called Leigh Bardugo's Ninth House "the best fantasy novel [he's] read in years," and who are we to disagree with the review of the man who created Pennywise? The book follows a young woman whose dismal fortune is reversed when a wealthy, mysterious benefactor offers her a full ride to Yale as long as she monitors the school's secret societies. The deeper she digs into the groups, the more sinister and occult secrets begin to bubble to the surface.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The award-winning author of Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, penned The Water Dancer this year. The author's fictional debut is a bold, transcendent story of how atrocities committed against one generation can filter into the next, told through the eyes of a young man who's born into slavery, loses his mother, and eventually makes a daring escape from the only home he's ever known.
I Will Never See the World Again by Ahmet Altan
Ahmet Altan's inspiring memoir gives readers an inside look into what the Turkish writer's experience was like after being imprisoned, while also providing crucial insight into political censorship amid the global rise of authoritarianism.
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Poet Ocean Vuong's wonderful, lyrical debut novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, is a heart-shattering story of first love, family, and the immense power that comes with telling one's own story as a son unearths his family's history to his single mother.
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman, which came out in September, is a novel full of magical realism about good versus evil and the sacrifices we make for love. The story takes place in 1941 Berlin, when a woman sends her 12-year-old daughter, Lea, away to a renowned rabbi in order to survive the invading Nazi regime. The rabbi's daughter creates a golem, sworn to protect Lea, that leads her to safety.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
We should probably just warn you right now: Ask Again, Yes will break your heart into a million little pieces. But it will be worth it! And isn't that the best kind of book? Mary Beth Keane's story revolves around the families of two policemen and the daughter and son from each who fall in love despite their parents' vehement disapproval. When tragedy strikes and separates them for good, they spend years fighting their way back to each other.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
National Book Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson returned this year with Red at the Bone, which opens in 2001 on the night of 16-year-old Melody's coming-of-age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. From there, the novel switches back and forth in time between Melody's life and her mother's teenage years, exploring how everyone ended up at that exact point over a decade later.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett's The Dutch House introduces us to two siblings, Danny and Maeve, who live in the grand home their father bought after the end of World War II. Over the next five decades of their lives, they end up exiled from their home by their stepmother, see their inheritance put in jeopardy, and learn just how hard forgiveness can be.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
In addition to making an appearance on this list, Lori Gottlieb's Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is being adapted for TV by ABC and Eva Longoria, so you might as well get in on the buzz before it arrives! The nonfiction book is a delightful dive into the author's head as she discusses being a therapist and what happens when she ends up needing to see one herself. You just might close this book feeling like your own life has been transformed.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The main character at the heart of The Silent Patient, Alicia, seems to have the perfect life: she lives in a grand home in London, is a successful painter, and is married to an in-demand fashion photographer. But things change when her husband, Gabriel, comes home one night and Alicia shoots him five times in the face. Making matters more interesting? She now refuses to say a single word. With her life now in chaos, criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is brought on board to coax something, anything, out of her that might explain why she killed her husband.
Out Feb. 5
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker
When Star Trek actor George Takei was just 4 years old, he awoke to find his own birth country, America, at war with his Japanese father's. Soon their entire family was forced from their home into the uncertain (and horrifying) future of American concentration camps, along with over 100,000 other Japanese Americans imprisoned by the government during World War II. All is examined in his graphic novel/memoir, They Called Us Enemy.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
We all know Elizabeth Gilbert for her incredible memoir, Eat Pray Love, but this Summer, she brought us into the fictional world of 1940s New York City. In City of Girls, Vivian Morris gets kicked out of Vassar College, so her parents send her to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns the Lily Playhouse, a theater that's falling apart. There, Vivian meets a group of people who are unlike anyone she's ever met before, and she finds herself immersed in their world completely. It's a spellbinding novel about love, freedom, and finding your own happiness.
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
This New York Times bestseller by New York Times technology correspondent Mike Isaac traces the dramatic rise and controversies of Uber, the Silicon Valley startup at the center of one of the great venture capital power struggles of our time.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
If you yearn to revisit the decadent, dark, and magical world created by Erin Morgenstern in her first novel, The Night Circus, then here's a piece of good news: the author has a new book, The Starless Sea, which introduces us to another stunning, lushly created world and a powerful love story. The novel involves "pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a starless sea" as it tracks grad student Zachary Ezra Rawlins's adventure after finding a mysterious book hidden in his school's library.
Quichotte: A Novel by Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie's 2019 novel, Quichotte, which has been shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, is an unsentimental exploration of a man experiencing a midlife crisis and the fictional character he creates (inspired by the Cervantes classic) to escape his own existence.
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
If you read one memoir this year, let it be Adrienne Brodeur's Wild Game. This electrifying and exquisite (and eventually, harrowing) memoir chronicles the Summer 14-year-old Adrienne became her mother's confidante as her mom entered into an epic affair with her husband's closest friend. Although it brought her plenty of attention from her mother, the affair would lead to calamitous consequences for all involved and impact Adrienne's life in profound ways.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's The Nickel Boys is a deeply moving story about two young men, Elwood and Turner, who are forced to attend a hellish reform school called the Nickel Academy in Jim Crow-era Florida. While Elwood struggles to maintain his ideals despite the abusive and grotesque surroundings of the school, Turner is driven further into skepticism and scheming. Both boys come to find that one decision can change everything.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Ready to go back to Gilead? Margaret Atwood's dystopian vision of the future is revived in The Testaments, the critically acclaimed sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. This time we find out what happened to Offred after those doors slammed, picking up the story 15 years later with three new female narrators. Will Offred be among them? Guess you'll have to pick up Amazon's top book of the year to find out.