So many great reads came out this year, we couldn't possibly name the best ones on our own — so we went to our best source: our lovely bookworm community! Check out the list below and let us know what YOUR best read of 2019 is!
What Nothing to See Here has in spades are a sense of place and so much emotion—a story of a family set against suburban America in the nineties: long, winding roads, sticky, humid summers, days at the pool, a strange airlessness throughout it all. A summer when it feels like nothing could happen, and everything does. Sharp, humorously written, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, all at the same time, Nothing to See Here is a story of misfits that the world has tried to hide away, the way they confront and forgive the world, and the compassion, strength, and hope they can find in each other.
Katya, FIrst Look Club
Constructed as a transcript of interviews with the band and the people surrounding them compiled by an invisible author (whose identity is a thoughtful little twist toward the end; a twist that unfolds a tiny detail that is more heartbreaking to me), this novel will take you through the whirlwind of events surrounding the band’s first and only album and the carnage of emotions it leaves in its wake. After reading this novel, I went back to thinking long and hard about my favorite first albums, and if the one that Jenkins Reid wrote about in this novel actually exist, it’s going to be in the top of my list.
Palo, First Look Club
The Giver of Stars is a rich, heartwarming tale for anyone who loves books and whose lives have been changed by reading. This book will make you wake up every day grateful for the fact that you can read and have access to reading material. These remarkable women also encourage us to think beyond ourselves and consider how we can extend that gift to others who still live in need of it.
The book is a great deal of things all at once. It’s a lesson on the stories we keep so close to our book-infested hearts. It’s a passionate and fantastical reminder on why we read and keep reading. And it’s a beautifully written love letter to all of us who find solace in dog-eared pages and rows upon rows of print.
Absurdity, Sadness, Hilarity, and Love; These are the emotions that "Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory" brings to the table. Raphael Bob-Waksberg's style in storytelling is beautiful in a way that it all becomes palpable. How he depicted emptiness was truly piercing and quite heartbreaking. Never have I ever read something as wonderful and as painful as this book. This is definitely my #bestreadof2019.
This book offers one of the sharpest and keenest depiction of the life of an overseas Filipina worker involved in domestic labor. Joanne Ramos displays great restraint in her writing—leaving the judgments up to the reader—but doesn't make us look away from the struggle either.
Ilia, Fully Booked
While How Not to Die Alone is without a doubt a very funny book, it’s the rare novel that can convincingly capture the crushing existential dread of coming home to an empty apartment, putting on some old timey jazz, and reveling in the all-too-comfortable solitude of a life spent safe and alone. [...] Richard Roper’s narration of Andrew’s life is on point: witty, straightforward, and with just the right flavor of bitterness.
Jed, First Look Club
Randy Ribay’s book, “Patron Saints of Nothing,” is my #bestreadof2019 as it perfectly demystified a twofold Philippines—this country of ours that’s both glorious and problematic. The book made me realized that we can only, indisputably love the Philippines when we choose to embrace all its beautiful, wonderful and at the same time dismal, distressing facets.
A modern-day fantasy thick with themes of family, friendship, forgiveness, and a smattering of romance, here’s what you can expect from Kat Cho’s debut novel, Gumiho! All in all, Gumiho was an enjoyable, engrossing ride in a city filled with culture and magic, with two characters I’m very glad to have met. And as stoked as I am about that conclusion, there’s apparently a sequel on the way! I’m excited for the world to read more from Kat Cho, and for Gumiho to take its place as a distinct, proudly Asian addition to YA.
Reina, First Look Club
Red, White & Royal Blue offered me quite a unique and memorable reading experience, one that I, undoubtedly, won’t be forgetting about any time soon. No book in this universe can ever make me feel giddy the way that this book did. It puts a spotlight on a romance that is sexy and wholesome at the same time, family dynamics that will no doubt every contemporary reader would appreciate, a wonderfully diverse set of characters that were easy to root for, a plot line that’s infinitely gripping, and COME ON JUST READ IT, OK? You can thank me later.
Hello this is my favorite read this year. IT'S SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. Joan He's writing style is lyrical and compelling, and the worldbuilding is rich and vivid. But what really made me unable to put it down are the characters--because either I see myself in them, or I aspire to be them. I LOVE IT SO MUCH PLEASE READ IT.
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon is one of my #bestreadof2019 it gave a new and refreshing take on creating a magical world building with amazing characters that you will love dearly. This book inspires us to be brave, to be loyal, and most of all, to be true to ourselves. Shannon was able to deliver the powerful characteristic of her characters that empowers women. I love how thick this book and at the same time how fast-paced the writing style is. I never get bored and I was fully immersed when reading this book and do you know the only flaw of this giant book? IT ENDS. I want more from this book's world. I want to know what will happen to Arteloth, to the dragon, and to the remaining mystery that lies underneath in this book.
Many have said that this book is the “African Game of Thrones.” Being a fan of GOT and having read all the books, let me tell you that it is nothing like that. It is high fantasy unique and special to itself, combining elements of Africa’s rich mythology and history. An adventure that makes you think of the universality of love and family, and what you think is true. It is new and powerful. The GOT comparison is quite telling. We are so used to western medieval fantasy that we have nothing else to compare to. We have forgotten that there are other worlds to dream of, other worlds to visit.
Before she was Emily Doe, Chanel Miller was a writer. Her remarkable voice lays bare the dichotomies of life after sexual assault: the obsessive reacquainting the law requires you to do with your own body while feeling like a stranger is living inside it; the indignity of the investigation that follows for women who report rape versus the defenders who extract purpose out of that process; how you can be the subject of one of the most publicized rape cases of the decade and still have a private world filled with precious joys and victories. Know My Name is a vivid, complex, heart-wrenching, minute-to-minute account of how sexual assault irrevocably changes a woman’s life, but never diminishes her worth.
Reina, First Look Club
Slate makes ordinary pain glitter like gold in the sun. This book made me feel like a newborn butterfly with a renewed perspective of the world. I want to borrow her eyes so I, too, could keep seeing magic everywhere.
Reese Lansangan, @reeseypeasy
Beautifully drawn stories, grippingly told—Ito delivers a new batch of gloom, gore, ghosts, and grisly endings to keep horror fans entertained and unsettled for days with Smashed. The 13 new tales in this collection are packed with grudges and unforgivable crimes, well-intentioned gestures that result to genuine terror, star-crossed lovers, a sinister side to the entertainment we love, and in the title story, a nectar so smashingly delicious you won’t stop eating it until you die—literally. Definitely 2019’s best horror read for me!
Palo, First Look Club
Inside (the pages), the world is rendered in shadowy blacks and pastel pink hues that perfectly depicts the bittersweet intensity of high school. Topics such as sexuality, toxic relationship, and challenging subjects are rightfully & refreshingly into an open discussion that values the integrity and choices of the characters. Love it.
Reese Lansangan, @reeseypeasy
I've always loved Raina Telgemaier's ability to turn her personal experiences into something hilarious and equally relateable. If I had read Guts as a pre-teen, it would have helped me have a healthier perspective of anxieties and mental health. Telgemaier never compromises the comedy or the narrative in exchange for a blunt and neat message. Great for readers young and mature alike.
Ilia, Fully Booked
Even with the knowledge that this was a retelling of the Snow White fairy tale, Neil Gaiman's twist actually still surprised me. I've long bookmarked the short story available for reading online on The Dreaming's website, but never got around to actually reading it. I've just recently had the chance to read the graphic novel after being captivated by its cover and interior art. This is worth getting for Colleen Doran's art alone, reminding me a little of the art nouveau movement. Gaiman is a master fantasy storyteller, you can trust him to re-tell a fairy tale well. And to further let you experience the same wonder and enthrallment that I did, I'll give only details of no consequence to the twist — that the queen here is not so evil and her stepdaughter is really something else.
Anna, Fully Booked
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]