2019 is halfway through, the weather is getting warmer, and it’s time for awkward small talk over Aperol Spritzes (or is that not a thing anymore?). ‘Tis also the season for the Amazon editorial crew to reveal our favorite books of the year so far, which will provide plenty of fodder should you find yourself in that particular bind (or just need a great read).
Last year, best seller lists were dominated by polemics. Thankfully that trend has abated (if just a smidge), but we are no less preoccupied by these divisive times. That may have a little to do with why we selected Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls as our number one pick; as one of the characters, Peg, says: “People are suffering, life is hard, let’s put on a show.” And City of Girls definitely does. Set in the 1940s, it follows the exploits of the frivolous and fun-loving Vivian Morris who arrives in New York with the goal of “becoming someone interesting” (and in short order she is, but for all the wrong reasons). This bawdy, big-hearted, and ultimately wise novel is the injection of joy we need right now.
Rounding out our top three is The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, a debut that just might be the thriller of 2019, and Jayson Greene’s Once More We Saw Stars--an emotional memoir that shines a beacon of light in the darkest of places. Our number one pick in the kids’ genre is The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart, an unforgettable middle grade novel about a girl and her father on a cross-country journey, the people they meet, and how they find their way home again. This is a book young readers won’t want to miss. Coyote’s story is wise, funny, and holds onto your heart long after you’ve read the final page.
Best books of the year, so far...
A novel by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books)
It’s the 1940s and the frivolous and fun-loving Vivian Morris arrives in New York with the goal of “becoming someone interesting” (and in short order she is, but for all the wrong reasons). The latest novel by the author of Eat, Pray, Love is bawdy, big-hearted, and wise.
To listen to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert about City of Girls, visit the Amazon Book Review.
A memoir by Jason Greene (Knopf)
In the face of unimaginable tragedy, they say the only way out is through. That’s exactly what Greene learns when his daughter dies from a freak accident. This emotional memoir shines a beacon of light in the darkest of places.
Visit the Amazon Book Review to read the Best of the Month review of Once More We Saw Stars.
A novel by Jennifer Weiner (Atria Books)
Sweeping in its personal and political scope, this tale of two sisters is a multi-layered and very moving story for the #MeToo era, one that traces how far women have come, and how far we have yet to go. Weiner’s most ambitious novel yet.
Visit the Amazon Book Review to read a feature interview with Jennifer Weiner.
A novel by Yangsze Choo (Flatiron Books)
Supple and powerful, like the predator that stalks the shadows of Choo's ensnaring tale, this historical novel set in 1930s Malaysia swirls around a strongminded apprentice dressmaker and a young houseboy whose destinies collide as they both search for a very unlucky mummified human finger.
Visit the Amazon Book Review to read a feature interview with Yangsze Choo.
A novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine Books)
Presented as a series of interviews, this novel about a young, captivating singer who came of age in the late 60s/early 70s will leave you thinking that Daisy Jones & the Six really existed.
Visit the Amazon Book Review to read why Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote the book the way she did.
by Robert Macfarlane (W.W. Norton & Company)
A one-of-a-kind book, Underland explores the universe beneath our feet, diving into catacombs, caves, and the land under Greenland's shrinking ice cap to delve into the darker recesses of our imaginations—a place where artists, adventurers, and criminals have traveled, willingly and otherwise.
Visit the Amazon Book Review to read a feature piece on Robert Macfarlane’s new book.
by Julie Yip-Williams (Random House)
Julie Yip-Williams' beautiful memoir speaks to one of our greatest fears, that we would be diagnosed with a terminal disease, and to our greatest hope, which is that we could face life straight on, fully, without squinting, and live each day with honesty, ambition, and true feeling.
Visit the Amazon Book Review to read the Best of the Month review of The Unwinding of the Miracle.
by Ruth Reichl (Random House)
Save Me the Plums chronicles how food writer Ruth Reichl came to be editor-in-chief of the magazine she’d pored over as a child, how she transformed it from a stuffy relic of the old guard into a publication that embraced a new culinary era, and how Gourmet magazine met its end. A memoir to savor.
To listen to an interview with Ruth Reichl about Save Me the Plums, visit the Amazon Book Review Podcast.
A novel by Thomas Harris (Grand Central Publishing)
Thomas Harris’ harrowing new novel of greed and survival, Cari Mora is as cinematic as one might expect (and hope for), charged with smugglers and lawmen, gruesome deaths, and deceit that crisscrosses the ocean between Colombia and Miami. Harris is a masterful storyteller who knows exactly how to get under our skin and into our heads.
Visit the Amazon Book Review to read the Best of the Month review of Cari Mora.
A recent study released by the Kingston University in London revealed that people who read a lot of books are nicer, kinder and more empathetic. But where to begin? Visit www.amazon.com/bestbookssofar to see our overall top twenty, plus picks in over twelve categories from biographies, to literary fiction, to romance and sci-fi (and everything in between). Included are releases from popular authors like Jennifer Weiner, Thomas Harris, and Ruth Reichl–but we are especially excited to introduce you to first-time authors Jayson Greene, Isabella Hammad, Etaf Rum, and more.