That time again: for reading through lists of books and thinking ‘oh yeah, I did mean to read that this year’. My list seems shorter this year, possibly because I read a lot of decent books that came out this year, but not that many which count as favourites (and you can see the Spite List for the other end of the scale). My favourite books that came out in 2019, in order of when I read them (links to full reviews where written):
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – Another female retelling of the Trojan War, but this time epic in scope and style.
Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy – Eerie heatwave coming of age gothic set in 70s Wales.
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn – Set between Jamaica and America, this novel tells the story of Patsy and her daughter Tru and their struggles with identity, sexuality, and finding a home.
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson – Winterson’s retelling of Frankenstein to feature AI, gender, and what is life and death – not always nuanced, but interesting.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong – Lyrical prose about telling your story in Vuong’s debut novel, about trauma, addiction, and growing up.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – Two rival agents fall in love across the battlegrounds of time in this short novel that seems to have made a lot of people fall in love with it and its two female protagonists, ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’.
Meat Market by Juno Dawson – If you’ve read her previous novel Clean, you won’t be surprised that this is a sharp, sometimes shocking look at the fashion industry, abuse, and teenage models, aimed at but not only for a YA audience.
Birthday by Meredith Russo – Part of this made me cry on a plane, but it’s okay because it has a happy ending – a YA novel about Morgan and Eric, best friends whose love story is told through their shared birthday each year.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead – A tense novel about a reform school’s corruption and abuse, combining the history of a real institution with a well-plotted narrative.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – What would happen if the son of a female US president realises his rivalry with the Prince of Wales might not be about dislike after all? Everyone raved about this feelgood read and eventually I overcame the monarchy aspect to agree that it is very sweet and funny.
Underland by Robert Macfarlane – My real surprise of the year was enjoying this account of subterranean travel and thought as much as I did.
The Creativity Code by Marcus du Santoy – What AI can (and can’t) do with creativity, but written in a way that is pretty accessible.
No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg – Must be on so many lists, but it really is powerful and short enough to just give to everyone to read.
Mindf*ck by Christopher Wylie – The story of Cambridge Analytica, from the inside. Brings it all together in a terrifying way (I should add that’s the actual title, I didn’t censor it).