2019 promises to be a year of diverse, compelling, and topical books across all genres. Since 2018 promised to be a disaster and then pretty much followed through, this seems a bit more optimistic. While this isn’t a definitive list of every quality book to be released in 2019—which would probably take until 2019 to finish reading—it’s a sampling of both YA and adult titles to excite you month by month. So if your life plan for 2019 is less than certain, the least you can do is plan out your year in reading.
Maid by Stephanie Land
Stephanie Land writes: “my daughter learned how to walk in a homeless shelter.” As the gap widens between America’s wealthy and its underclass, Land’s work as a maid isn’t a door between these two worlds – instead, it’s only a window. The more Land struggles as an underpaid single mother, the more she witnesses the dark truth of what it takes to survive in a rigidly stratified society.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali is leaving soon: Caltech and her dream of becoming an engineer wait at the end of a few a few short months… which seem to get longer and longer. Although she tries to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, it’s hard not to react when they favor her brother and criticize her choice in clothing. It’s harder to hide her girlfriend. Swept off to Bandgladesh in a whirlwind of cultural panic, Rukshana realizes that she will have to fight for her love. But will she also have to lose everything?
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories–equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch’s house in “Hansel and Gretel” to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can–beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
The Fever King by Victoria Lee
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.
In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton
After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both.
Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
This dazzling collection interrogates the fractures, collisions and glorious new alloys of what it means to be a Chinese millennial. Xuan Juliana Wang has the dark soul of an old poet’s inkwell, the deep knowing of an ancient remedy, and linguistic incandescence of a megacity skyline.
From a crowded apartment on Mott Street, where an immigrant family raises its first real Americans, to a pair of divers at the Beijing Olympics poised at the edge of success and self-discovery, Wang’s unforgettable characters – with their unusual careers, unconventional sex lives and fantastical technologies – share the bold hope that, no matter where they’ve come from, their lives too can be extraordinary.
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Stirling
Hannah’s a witch. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire.
Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
One morning, Jessa-Lynn Morton walks into the family taxidermy shop to find that her father has committed suicide, right there on one of the metal tables. Shocked and grieving, Jessa steps up to manage the business, while the rest of the Morton family crumbles.
Jessa struggles to salvage the failing taxidermy shop, seeking out less-than-legal ways of generating income, all the while clashing with her mother and brother. As their mother’s art escalates to include a figure of her dead husband and a stuffed buffalo in an uncomfortably sexual pose, Jessa must find a way to restore the Morton clan’s delicate balance, and that means first learning who these people truly are, and ultimately how she fits alongside them all.
The Grief Keeper by Alex Villasante
Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.
But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called The Nickel Academy, a grotesque chamber of horrors. Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.”
Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative that showcases a great American novelist writing at the height of his powers.
The Arrival of Someday by Jen Malone
Hard-charging and irrepressible eighteen-year-old Amelia Linehan could see a roller derby opponent a mile away. They don’t call her Rolldemort for nothing! What she couldn’t see coming, however, was the unexpected flare-up of a rare liver disorder she was born with. But now it’s the only thing she—and everyone around her—can think about.
With no guarantee of a viable organ transplant, everything Amelia’s been sure of—like her college plans, the mural she’d been commissioned to paint, or the possibility of one day falling in love—has become a huge question mark, threatening to drag her down into a sea of what-ifs she’s desperate to avoid.
Doxology by Nell Zink
Pam, Daniel, and Joe might be the worst punk band on the Lower East Side. Struggling to scrape together enough cash and musical talent to make it, they are waylaid by surprising arrivals—a daughter for Pam and Daniel, a solo hit single for Joe. As the ‘90s wane, the three friends share in one another’s successes, working together to elevate Joe’s superstardom and raise baby Flora.
On September 11, 2001, the city’s unfathomable devastation coincides with a shattering personal loss for the trio. In the aftermath, Flora comes of age, navigating a charged political landscape and discovering a love of the natural world.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The wait is over.
And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.
When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her – freedom, prison or death.
With The Testaments, the wait is over.
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
Author Camryn Garrett | Image Via Vocally.com
Simone Garcia-Hampton is a black teen born HIV-Positive. Raised by loving queer parents who assure her that her diagnosis doesn’t define her, Simone must navigate a whole new world of fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love—and lust—for the first time.
No Mercy by Martina Cole
The brand new novel from Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller and ‘undisputed queen of crime writing’ (Guardian) Martina Cole. The biggest selling female crime writer in the UK, Martina’s unique and powerful novels have gripped their readers for twenty-five years, and include Dangerous Lady, The Take and Damaged.
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The new series centers on Alex Stern, a 20-year-old California high school dropout with a criminal past who is mysteriously offered a second chance as a Yale University freshman. Ninth House, the first book, follows Stern’s freshman year, where she is charged with monitoring Yale’s secret societies, who engage in sinister occult activities.
The Devil in Paradise by James L Haley
The gripping naval saga by award-winning historian James L. Haley moves to a tropical setting as Captain Bliven Putnam takes on pirates in the Phillipines and diplomatic relations in Hawaii.
It’s 1818 and Bliven Putnam is now a captain in the American Navy. Doing battle with the deadly pirate Jean Lafitte, off the coast of Texas, Putnam has come into his own as a leader. But he’s plagued by thoughts of home, where his wife, Clarity, is managing the family farm, the fortune, and an extenstive building project. When their long-planned reunion is cut short by a new assignment, Clarity at last puts her foot down. If she can’t keep Putnam with her, then she’ll just have to go with him.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a strange book hidden in the library stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues — a bee, a key, and a sword — that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to a subterranean library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.
Shooting Cole Stone by SC Megale
Author S.C. Megale Image Via Wikipedia.org
Wednesday Books has bought Shooting Cole Stone, S.C. Megale’s #ownvoices debut YA novel. The book features irreverent Maeve, who has Muscular Dystrophy and plans to become an Oscar-winning film director, if only she can graduate high school and get some action with her leading man first. Publication is projected for winter 2019.
Featured Image Via Poisonedpen.com | Images and book blurbs via Goodreads.com
Everyone wants to see their name in lights… but what about in the pages of an international bestseller? Famous crime novelistLee Childis auctioning off a chance for you to become a character in next year’s installment of his wildly popular Jack Reacher series (you can start with Killing Floor). Child isn’t the only one, joined in the auction by The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood. Pop culture legend George R.R. Martin has also sold readers the chance to die grisly on-page deaths in his fantasy saga (for $20,000 apiece). The best part? It’s all for a good cause.
Image Via Wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org
Martin specifically gave his proceeds to a New Mexico wolf sanctuary (let’s hope these wolves actually survived his care…) while Child has international charitable goals. All proceeds will go to Freedom From Torture, an organization dedicated to justice and rehabilitation for torture victims. Joining Child and Atwood in their offers are fellow Man Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes and Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018 winner Kamila Shamsie. If you’ve got the cash to spare, you could appear as a character in one of their books. If you’re lucky, you might even have some control over how your debut goes down!
Gif Via Tenor.com
There are no guarantees, but the character may actually resemble you, according to The Sense of an Ending author Julian Barnes. A prior participant in the auction, Barnes has said that your portrayal will almost definitely be sympathetic… unless you’d prefer to be a little more villainous! Maybe you want to see how you’d fare fighting crime and hanging out in the storied halls of literature. If you’re interested in participating and are unable to attend the November 15 London auction, place your bids remotely here.
Sleep, eat and breathe literature by attending these eleven literary festivals around the world. Whether you are a public speaker, an author or just someone with a passion for anything literary, these festivals are the perfect opportunity to hang out with fellow literati (bookworms) and immerse yourself in discussions, debates, workshops and other cultural and arts events that will blow your mind.
1. Shanghai International Literary Festival, China.
Having grown from small beginnings, this is now China’s leading English language literary festival, at which all genres are celebrated and discussed in order to create a taste for the current literary landscape. Each March, you can attend literary lunches, panel discussions, workshops, live events and readings, as well as watch some of the world’s greatest writers in conversation with one another. With a focus on fiction, literary non-fiction, poetry and children’s writing, activities also include interactive forums and sessions in other languages such as Mandarin, Italian and French, including sessions with well-known writers and Man Booker Prize winners.
Image Via SmartShanghai
2. Kosmopolis, The Amplified Literature Fest, Barcelona, Catalonia.
Born in March 2002, Kosmopolis showcases the wild literary scene of Barcelona right from its heart at the Center de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona in the beautiful El Raval neighbourhood. Literary history runs deep through this region of Spain, which is why many of its most successful publishing houses are located here today. Barcelona’s literary brand of Gothic mystique and historical weightiness has, for eons, produced some of the best works of romance, love, betrayal, adventure, friendship, familial conflict and mystery. The city feeds the imaginations of emerging writers and those who are just passing through. Around 9,000 people attended the festival this past March and Festival director Juan Insua explained that “the goal is to think of literature as a big house with many doors; the ‘amplified’ concept relates to the fact that you can enter from a television series, a video game, a graphic novel or scientific developments”.
Image Via Culture 360
3. Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, United Kingdom.
Image Via WeekendNotes
Hay-on-Wye is considered to be the Glastonbury of book festivals, and England’s most well-known. It began in 1988 in the small English-Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye and has since gained a powerful reputation playing host to a rich line up of novelists, poets, dramatists, biographers, historians, artists, chefs and many more influential creatives each year around the end of May. People in attendance can kick off the Summer either by camping in some of the U.K.s most beautiful stretch of countryside or stay in one of the book-town’s many B&Bs. To top it all off, this town is also home to Hay castle, a medieval fortification built in the 16th century, which has an outdoor public library wrapping around the castle walls.
4. Small Wonder, Charleston, Sussex, United Kingdom.
Image Via Bede’s
Small Wonder is another prime example of book festivals which thrive when hosted in small, pretty towns. Ledbury hosts this ten day long festival with a heavy focus on short story and poetry writers. With an international line-up to enjoy, many days are spent at the fabled setting of Charleston House, the previous home of Victoria Bell and Duncan Grant reading, listening and making friends with fellow book lovers who are all there to share the properties significant literary heritage and the voices that travel to it each year.
5. Brooklyn Book Festival, Downtown Brooklyn, New York, United States.
Image Via LA Now
Originally established to shine the spotlight on Brooklyn’s many homegrown writers, today the BKBF has become an international literary event and is NYC’s largest free literary festival. With hundreds of book-related events for new and emerging authors to showcase their work, a lively children’s day and a festival day, the outdoor marketplace which hosts it creates a hip, urban vibe which thousands of people visit each year to hear the “Brooklyn voice.”
6. Sydney Book Festival, Australia.
Image Via City of Tongues
Beginning in 1997, this festival has expanded, now drawing a crowd of 80,000 people each year, in mid to late March. The festival involves 400 participants and presents over 300 events in renovated piers in Walsh Bay, Sydney.
7. Berlin Book Festival, Mitte, Berlin, Germany.
Image Via Exberliner.com
Berlin is internationally recognised as a lively cultural hotspot. Its festival of literature boasts a program in which people can attend a multitude of events with a contemporary focus, such as “reflections” in which authors, journalists and international experts from various specialist areas will all be voicing their opinions in discussions that takes on current political, social and cultural topics. ‘Science and the Humanities’ is also on the list in which scientific insights, approaches and potential solutions are discussed. Other programs include ‘Literatures of the World’, ‘Speak’, ‘Memory’ and ‘Specials’ which foregrounds new German voices. All texts presented at this festival are done so in their mother tongue, yet with presenters and translators available, discussions between presenter, author and even audience are all made possible.
8. Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, India.
Image Via Livemint.com
This is the largest free festival in the world. Last year, 350,000 people attended in the Northern Indian city of Jaipur. Sanjoy Roy, founder of Teamwork Arts, the festival’s organizer says “This kind of energy is difficult to reproduce because it comes from the young participants and the array of conversation on topics from cookery to math, ancient literature to modern writing. It is all about the discovery of new voices.” As the tally of literary festivals across India continues to rise, the JLF remains “magnificent and chaotic and marvellous.”
9. Miami Book Fair, Florida, United States.
Image Via Miamiallround
The Miami Book Fair has gained quite the reputation for itself as being more of a “literary party” than anything else. This fair takes place over the course of eight days at the Watson Campus at Miami-Dade College every year in November. 250,000 people on average attend. Complete with live music and delicious food vendors, there is also a great selection of new and used books on sale and an engaging panel discussion.
10. World Voices Festival of International Literature, New York, United States.
PEN World Voices is a week-long literary festival in New York City. The Festival was founded by Esther Allen and Michael Roberts under then PEN President Salman Rushdie. The Festival is composed of programs, readings, conversations, and debates that showcase international literature and new writers. It is produced by PEN America, a nonprofit organization that works to advance literature, promote free expression, and foster international literary fellowship. It runs for a week in April and has a focus on human rights.
11. Wordstock, Portland, Oregon, United States
Image Via Literary Arts
In November each year, the literary arts annual celebration of books is where you can pick up information about MFA programs and writing classes, get book recommendations from your favourite authors and and attend events and talks such as ‘Border Crossing: Poetry and Place’ and ‘If You Can Make it Here: Art and Artists in New York City.’
No, this isn’t going to be an article about the worrying ongoing back and forth between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un on Twitter. Instead, it is about how, since Kim Jong Un took power in September 2010, the regime has demonstrated a marked thematic shift with emphasis on targeting youth, creativity and innovation; this includes state produced literary fiction.
Image Via The Japan Times
Outside observers such as you and I can now access some of this propaganda via regime-sponsored websites. The stories in circulation are written in highly stylized prose which, according to Meredith Shaw, Ph.D. student of politics and international relations at the University of Southern California, is hard even for South Koreans to understand. Luckily for us, Meredith has created a blog inspired by her studies of North Korea on which she showcases her translations of the state sanctioned fiction. Through interviews with North Korean defectors living in Seoul, Shaw found that most North Koreans don’t spend their leisure time reading these journals. Many, however, told her that they “had been exposed to these stories at some point in school.”
Image Via Library Guides
This new literary fiction is published in monthly magazines and journals and falls under categories such as Korean literature, children’s literature, and youth literature. The writers behind this fiction belong to organizations within the ruling Korean Workers Party. The Chosun writer’s union is the organization with direct control over what is written about, who is trained to write and what themes are covered.
The stories that Meredith has translated include dramatic stories of the Leader’s lives, morality tales showcasing those who embody certain socialist ideals and sometimes, even American leaders make an appearance, for example Bill Clinton during a nuclear crisis cowering under a table, and Jimmy Carter losing his wife Rosalynn to Kim Il Sung after she becomes smitten with him.
Image Via The Japan Times
More recent stories reference the luxurious recreational facilities the Leader has put in place which are meant to mirror Western-style amusements such as ski resorts and water-parks. “Teacher” is a short story published in 2013 and is about a family of schoolteachers who are delighted to hear they have been given a spacious new apartment in the Changjŏn complex, one of Pyongyang’s fancy new sky rises, complete with luxury amenities which North Korea has promised to innovators, creatives, and educators alike.