Books! Everyone loves books. 2018 was a strong year for literature but alas I missed out on most of it because of work and studying. However, I have finished my Master’s Degree now - yay! - and now have time to indulge in a few more night-time reads. 2019 has some major upcoming releases from beloved authors as well as some below-the-radar choices I’m dying to get my hands on. With that in mind, let’s check out a mere handful of 2019 literary releases that you should be adding to your Amazon wish-lists now! Make sure to share your most anticipated books of 2019 in the comments!
In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
I don’t read a massive amount of fantasy and have never truly warmed to the genre, but Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children novellas have had me gripped since day one. The premise is simple but ingenious: Every now and then a door will appeal that will allow a child to travel to a new world. Sometimes the worlds are beautiful and welcoming and other times less so. Sometimes the children will stay forever and other times they’ll leave, voluntarily or otherwise. Those who have been forced back home find their way to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, where they can readjust to their old lives or wait out their time until the door opens once more. McGuire’s writing is sharp and evocative and she’s proudly progressive in her world-building and characterization. Book four will focus on Katherine Lundy, the therapist of West’s home who has begun to age backwards because of her time in her world, the goblin market. I cannot recommend this series enough. It makes me sob like a small child with every new installment.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Hoang’s romance debut The Kiss Quotient was released to a whole lot of hype that it somehow managed to justify. Her contemporary tale of a scientist with Aspergers who hires a hunky escort to help her learn how to be in a relationship was sparky, sexy and wholly empathetic. A premise like that so easily could have fallen into ableism or ‘true love cures all’ territory but Hoang managed to craft a quirky tale that wasn’t laden with syrupy misreadings of mental health. The Bride Test follows a similar path, with a hero with autism whose mother decides to play matchmaker by bringing back a potential wife from Vietnam.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give was one of the true publishing phenomena of the young adult world, and 95 weeks following its release, it’s still in the New York Times best-seller list (at the top!) There’s nothing I can say about the book that hasn’t been said already. Thomas’s next book, On the Come Up, is her homage to hip-hop, telling the story of 16 year old Bri and her dream to follow in the footsteps of her underground rap legend father as her family goes through tough times.
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Jamaican author Marlon James won the Man Booker Prize with his epic historical novel A Brief History of Seven Killings, which used the backdrop of the attempted assassination of Bob Marley to craft a rich, layered narrative about Kingston in the 1970s. Now, James is making the jump to fantasy, something we seldom see ‘literary’ authors do. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the first book in the Dark Star Trilogy, which is already garnering comparisons to Game of Thrones.Tracker, a mercenary, is hired to hunt down a missing boy who disappeared under strange circumstances and who seemingly everyone wants to get their hands on. A sprawling fantasy epic with African mythology? Count me in.
Doxology by Nell Zink
Nell Zink’s work is the kind of stuff that is immediately off-putting to describe: It’s bone dry farce with a serious literary slant and Jonathan Franzen is a big fan. But she deserves far better than that. Books like The Wallcreeper and Mislaid are peculiar and hilarious and full of these incredibly well-crafted sentences that demand your attention time and time again. Doxology will see Zink turn her attention to a failing punk band from the Lower East Side who are struck by tragedy following 9/11. The premise sounds glum but Zink’s work is seldom so.
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Reese Witherspoon has already picked up this book’s TV rights for a planned Amazon series, but even without that knowledge, this would be a 2019 must-read: A mystery about the break-up of a beloved 1970s rock group as told by a fictional oral history of the band.
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Cha is best known for her crime novels featuring her detective hero Juniper Song, as well as being the noir editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books. The LA Times described her as possibly being ‘the world’s only author of Korean American feminist noir.’ If that doesn’t immediately hook you, nothing will. But her 2019 novel, Your House Will Pay, will look at the 1992 LA riots and their aftermath from the Korean-American perspective, something I myself have certainly never seen in fiction before.
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
If you follow Arnett on Twitter, you’ll know she’s an endless source of wit, joy and cute animal pictures. Her debut novel promises much of the same, albeit all those cute animals will be taxidermy instead. Coming from the legendary indie press Tin House, Mostly Dead Things tells the story of a family spiralling out of control after their taxidermist patriarch has committed suicide. The book’s blurb makes note of the protagonist’s mother making ‘aggressively lewd art with the taxidermied animals’ so of course I have to know what happens there!
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Honestly, this could go oh so very wrong. The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my favourite books ever and it had an immeasurable impact on me as a teenager. It’s found new life thanks to the Hulu series and, you know, the world falling apart in spectacular fashion. I wholly understand why Atwood would want to pick up from where she left off, and the Testaments promises to show us the fate of Offred 15 years after the first book ended her story. There’s a lot I want to know about Gilead and Atwood knows what she’s doing. However, my big fear is that this book will merely serve as a thinly veiled anti-Trump read, which would weaken the point of the original book and make for some sloppy parallels that rob the world of its real power. Still, Atwood knows a thing or two about dystopian fiction (praise be, Oryx & Crake) and frankly we could use this book right now.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I run so hot and cold on Elizabeth Gilbert. Her short stories and journalism are so sharply realized and clearly the work of an intelligent writer, but then there’s Eat Pray Love, a boldly cynical cash-in on the rich white lady empowerment narratives that birthed a whole new age of cultural ignorance. Still, Gilbert’s always known how to get eyeballs on her work and even I can’t resist the hook of her latest novel, a historical drama about a dreamy college dropout who parties with showgirls in 1940s New York.
Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell
Russell is probably one of my all-time favourite short story writers thanks to her ability to take completely bonkers premises and imbue them with emotional heft and unnerving mood. Her new collection of stories promises more of her imaginative strangeness, with stories about a new mother who agrees to breastfeed the devil in exchange for protection, a woman who becomes possessed by the spirit of a tree, and a man who falls in love with a 2000-year-old excavated bog girl.