Readers’ Advisory Experts Announce 2019 Reading List: Year’s Best in Genre Fiction for Adult Readers

The Reading List Council has announced the 2019 selections of the Reading List, an annual best-of list comprised of eight different fiction genres for adult readers. A shortlist of honor titles, up to 4 per genre was also announced. The list was announced today during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting held in Seattle.

The 2019 selections are:

Adrenaline

Winner
“Safe Houses: A Novel” by Dan Fesperman. A Borzoi Book, published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Managing CIA safe houses in 1979 West Berlin, Helen overhears a secret conversation that sends her on the run. Thirty-five years later, a tragedy leads Helen’s daughter to dig into her mother’s secret past, unaware that her mother’s old enemies are still watching.

Readalikes:
Deutschland 83 (TV show).
“The Expats” by Chris Pavone.
“Restless” by William Boyd.

Short List
“Barbed Wire Heart: A Thriller” by Tess Sharpe. Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group.
“Bearskin: A Novel” by James A. McLaughlin. Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“Jar of Hearts” by Jennifer Hillier. Minotaur Books.
“Star of the North: A Novel” by D.B. John. Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

 

Fantasy

Winner

“Foundryside: A Novel” by Robert Jackson Bennett. Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Sancia is a thief-for-hire whose latest job has the potential for a life-changing payout. When she realizes the power of the item she has stolen–a magical key with the ability to open any lock–she keeps it for herself, setting in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequences.

Readalikes:
“A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab.
“Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch.
“The Mechanical” by Ian Tregillis.

Short List
“The City of Brass: A Novel” by S.A. Chakraborty. Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“The Hazel Wood: A Novel” by Melissa Albert. Flatiron Books.
“The Poppy War” by R.F. Kuang. Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“Trail of Lightning” by Rebecca Roanhorse. Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

 

Historical Fiction

Winner

“Between Earth and Sky: A Novel” by Amanda Skenandore. Kensington Books.

When Alma discovers a former classmate from her missionary parents’ Indian Territory boarding school has been arrested for murder, she returns home to defend him.  Upon arrival she reflects on the heartbreaking legacy of forced assimilation and the damage done by stripping Native American children of their language and culture.

Readalikes:
“News of the World” by Paulette Jiles.
“One Thousand White Women” by Jim Fergus.
“The Round House” by Louise Erdrich.

Short List
“The Butcher’s Daughter: A Novel” by Victoria Glendinning. Overlook Duckworth.
“Circe: A Novel” by Madeline Miller. Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group.
“Dear Mrs. Bird: A Novel” by AJ Pearce. Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
“A Well Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts” by Therese Anne Fowler. St. Martin’s Press.

 

Horror

Winner

“The Silent Companions: A Novel” by Laura Purcell. Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

In 1860s England, pregnant Elsie travels to her deceased husband’s crumbling country estate. Kept company by only a few servants, Elsie discovers a realistic life-sized wooden figure in the attic. As the figure and others like it begin popping up around the house, Elsie begins to question her sanity.

Readalikes:
“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson.
“The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton.
“The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James.

Short List
“Awakened: A Novel” by James S. Murray, with Darren Wearmouth. Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“Bad Man: A Novel” by Dathan Auerbach. Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
“The Cabin at the End of the World: A Novel” by Paul Tremblay. William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“Melmoth: A Novel” by Sarah Perry. Custom House, an imprint of William Morrow.

 

Mystery

Winner

“The Widows of Malabar Hill” by Sujata Massey. Soho Crime, published by Soho Press.

Oxford-educated Perveen Mistry is the first practicing woman lawyer in 1920’s Bombay. When three widows of a wealthy Muslim businessman need legal assistance, Perveen is perfect for the job –especially since the women live secluded from men. When the widows’ guardian is murdered, Perveen must unravel the mystery.

Readalikes:
“Leaving Everything Most Loved” by Jacqueline Winspear.
“A Rising Man” by Abir Mukherjee.
“The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra” by Vaseem Khan.

Short List
“The Broken Girls” by Simone St. James. Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
“Broken Places: A Chicago Mystery” by Tracy Clark. Kensington Books.
“Crimson Lake: A Novel” by Candice Fox. A Forge Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates.
“The Ruin: A Novel” by Dervla McTiernan. Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

 

Romance

Winner

“Intercepted” by Alexa Martin. A Jove Book, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

When Marlee Harper discovers that her NFL player boyfriend has been cheating on her, she swears off athletes forever. Or, at least, until the team’s new quarterback Gavin Pope enters the picture. Years ago, Marlee and Gavin shared a steamy encounter, and the sparks continue to fly when they meet again.

Readalikes:
“Field of Pleasure” by Farrah Rochon.
“Hooked on You” by Kate Meader.
“Nobody’s Baby But Mine” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Short List
“The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang. A Jove Book, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
“A Princess in Theory” by Alyssa Cole. Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“Tempest” by Beverly Jenkins. Avon Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“The Wedding Date” by Jasmine Guillory. A Jove Book, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Science Fiction

Winner
“The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal. A Tor Book, published by Tom Doherty Associates.

In a world emerging from World War II, Earth is struck by a massive meteorite. Faced with the likelihood of total extinction, the scientific community dedicates themselves to developing space technology.  The efforts of aspiring astronaut Dr. Elma York and her fellow women scientists are hampered by racism and sexism.

Readalikes:
“The Atomic City Girls” by Janet Beard.
“Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis.
“Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly.

Short List
“Noumenon Infinity” by Marina J. Lostetter. Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
“An Ocean of Minutes: A Novel” by Thea Lim. Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
“Stars Uncharted” by S.K. Dunstall. Ace, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
“The Wrong Stars” by Tim Pratt. Angry Robot, an imprint of Watkins Media Ltd.

 

Women’s Fiction

Winner

“Stray City: a Novel” by Chelsey Johnson. Custom House, an imprint of William Morrow.

In the early 1990s, Andrea Morales flees her disapproving parents and discovers a family within the Portland, Oregon lesbian scene.  Betrayal causes Andrea to stray from her community, resulting in an unintended pregnancy.  After ten years, her daughter Lucia discovers her father’s identity and asks to meet him.

Readalikes:
“Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” by Carrie Brownstein.
“The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith.
“When Katie Met Cassidy” by Camille Perri.

Short List
“The High Season: A Novel” by Judy Blundell. Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC.
“How to Walk Away: A Novel” by Katherine Center. St. Martin’s Press.
“Meet Me at the Museum: A Novel” by Anne Youngson. Flatiron Books.
“Women in Sunlight: A Novel” by Frances Mayes. Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

The winners were selected by the Reading List Council whose members include ten expert readers’ advisory and collection development librarians. The eight genres currently included in the Council’s considerations are adrenaline, fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and women’s fiction. However, the Council is adaptable to new genres and changes in contemporary reading interest.

The Council consists of Tammy Ryan, Phoenix Public Library (retired), chair; Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library; Michele Drovdahl, King County Library System; Halle Eisenman, NoveList; Matthew Galloway, Anythink Libraries; Carol Gladstein, Multnomah County Library;  Andrea Gough, Seattle Public Library; Edward Kownslar, Stephen F. Austin State University, TX; Janet Schneider, Peninsula Public Library; Estella Terrazas, Altadena Library District.

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more at www.rusaupdate.org.

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