Whilst I only rarely follow the hype about new releases, I love reading about people’s most anticipated releases be it for the next month, six months, or year. This year, as these types of post start popping up, I decided that enough was enough; I should stop being so lazy and do my own research.
I’ve split this post into two halves. The first half will be a list of books with a 2019 birthday that I am most looking forward to reading (or, as is more likely, umming and aahing over for months on end before finally picking them up). The second will be the books that I heard about – or became more interested in – this year but have yet to read. These are the books which I have been umming and aahing over (see above) and would really like to have finally read by the end of 2019.
These are in no way definitive or absolute lists and there are definitely other titles that I am interested in – honourary mentions include: Priory of the orange tree by Samantha Shannon, The Binding by Bridget Collins, Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng, and Crazy rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – but, to prevent this post from going on forever, I decided to just select the top titles from each list.
Without further ado; the lists!
New year, new books: 2019 books I want to read
Circe by Madeline Miller:
Starting off with a grey area seems like a good idea. Even though Circe has already been released, I have been holding out for the paperback release so that it can sit side-by-side with Song of Achilles. I absolutely adored Song of Achilles, the writing was so beautiful and I found it very hard to step out of the story whenever real-life called. Circe has been met with such glowing reviews, I can’t wait to let Miller sweep me away again.
Paperback | 4th April 2019 | Bloomsbury
God. Mortal. Daughter. Monster. Saviour. Outcast. Lover. Destroyer. Creator. Mother. Witch. Scorned, rejected and at last exiled from her father’s house for her dark gifts, Circe arrives on the remote island of Aiaia with nothing but her wits and magic to help her. But there is danger for a solitary woman in the world, and Circe’s independence and strange powers draw the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. Complicated and wounded, gifted and passionate, Madeline Miller’s captivating Circe steps out of myth and into the present as a heroine for our time, and all times.
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman:
I know that Alice Oseman has been releasing copies of this LGBTQA+ graphic novel on here website but I keep missing the windows in which to purchase myself a copy, and really confused my Mum when I put this on my Christmas list. However, it would appear that from the 7th of February, Waterstones will start having copies. I am so excited for my pre-order to come in. Graphic novels are not my go-to format but after my success with Persepolis and mixed-feelings about Burma Chronicles, I have been keen to try some more. From the snippets I’ve seen online, this looks really cute with really great illustrations so should be right up my street.
Graphic Novel | 7th February 2019 | Hachette Children’s Group
Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they’ve never met … until one day when they’re made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance.
But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realised.
Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.
The Testaments by Magaret Atwood:
I am by far the only to be excited by this announcement. The news that Vintage – bravo to their marketing and social media departments for the announcement – was publishing a sequel to The Handmaids Tale set in motion, it would seem, a mass jumping up in down with anticipation and excitement among book-lovers everywhere. This will – I feel its a guarantee – be terrifying. Atwood has a distinct talent in being able to write realistic dystopia which straddles the line between fiction and observation of the real world. With so much going on in the real world to be able to draw inspiration, this is likely to not reflect a happy image. I can’t wait!
Hardback | 10th September 2019 | Vintage Publishing
At the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead. With The Testaments, the wait for answers is over.
Since The Handmaid’s Tale was first published in 1985, Margaret Atwood’s vision has only grown in significance, becoming a rallying call at women’s marches around the world following the election of Donald Trump, and taking on a new life in an acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning television adaptation.
Set 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, and unconnected to the second series of the television series, The Testaments finally reveals, for the very first time, Margaret Atwood’s vision of Gilead’s future.
The starless sea by Erin Morgenstern
I have mixed feelings about Morgenstern’s first novel: The night circus, at first, I loved it. It was captivating, rich, mysterious and a really engrossing read. However, when I read it this year, two years later, it lost two stars; I couldn’t get into it and found it convoluted. Fantasy is not a favourite genre of mine so when reading it I have to be in the perfect mood to be receptive, it is definitely possible that, in 2018, it wasn’t the right time. This being said, the blurb for The starless sea intrigues me, and I am interested to see how I feel about Morgenstern’s writing this time. Books about books are tough to resist.
Hardback | 5th November 2019 | Vintage Publishing
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. What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians – it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction. Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose – in both the mysterious book and in his own life.
New year, new (to me) books: pre-2019 books I want to read
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The biggest selling book of 2018, Becoming, Michelle Obama’s autobiography is a book I can’t wait to add to my shelves! I downloaded this from Audible as soon as I realised it was also narrated by the former First Lady, but I have yet to press play. This is a book that I want to give my full attention, something that tends to wander when listening to an audiobook and I think I would much prefer to be able to read and listen at the same time, or switch between the two. Added to my Christmas list – with fingers and toes crossed – I am so excited to learn more about this remarkable woman.
Hardback | 13th November 2018 | Penguin Books
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era.
As First Lady of the United States of America – the first African-American to serve in that role – she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history.
She also established herself as the most powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments.
Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her-from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address.
With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it-in her own words and on her own terms.
The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Quite honestly, the more I hear about this book the less it sounds like something that would pique my interest. The writing style, the chronology, and the subject matter all seem, from what I have heard, to be choices that wouldn’t usually appeal to me. But this one just won’t leave me alone. I don’t know whether its the attention that it has received, the cover, or the fact that I keep getting it confused with a completely different novel which is equally not my thing – The seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – but the only way I am going to be able to satisfy this itch is to read the book.
Paperback | 31st May 2018 | Simon and Schuster
In this entrancing novel “that speaks to the Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor in us all” (Kirkus Reviews), a legendary film actress reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the `80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Brain on fire: My month of madness by Susannah Cahalan
This has been on my list of books I desperately want to read for years; why I still have yet to do so I have no idea. Seeing the film adaptation with Chloe Grace Moretz early this year has only increased my need to read the book. I find anything to do with the brain fascinating and the fact that Susannah’s case was so rare makes it even more so.
Paperback | 5th September 2013 | Penguin Books
Brain on Fire is the stunning debut from journalist and author Susannah Cahalan, recounting the real-life horror story of how a sudden and mysterious illness put her on descent into a madness for which there seemed to be no cure ‘My first serious blackout marked the line between sanity and insanity. Though I would have moments of lucidity over the coming days and weeks, I would never again be the same person …’ Susannah Cahalan was a happy, clever, healthy twenty-four-year old. Then one day she woke up in hospital, with no memory of what had happened or how she had got there. Within weeks, she would be transformed into someone unrecognizable, descending into a state of acute psychosis, undergoing rages and convulsions, hallucinating that her father had murdered his wife; that she could control time with her mind. Everything she had taken for granted about her life, and who she was, was wiped out. This is Susannah’s story of her terrifying descent into madness and the desperate hunt for a diagnosis, as, after dozens of tests and scans, baffled doctors concluded she should be confined in a psychiatric ward. It is also the story of how one brilliant man, Syria-born Dr Najar, finally proved – using a simple pen and paper – that Susannah’s psychotic behaviour was caused by a rare autoimmune disease attacking her brain. His diagnosis of this little-known condition, thought to have been the real cause of devil-possessions through history, saved her life, and possibly the lives of many others. Cahalan takes readers inside this newly-discovered disease through the progress of her own harrowing journey, piecing it together using memories, journals, hospital videos and records. Written with passionate honesty and intelligence, Brain on Fire is a searingly personal yet universal book, which asks what happens when your identity is suddenly destroyed, and how you get it back.
Wild: A journey from lost to found by Cheryl Strayed
I know very little about the details of this book. All I know is that it is about a woman who, following a family tragedy, sets off into the wild in search of meaning and herself; that’s all I want to know. Despite knowing so little, this is a title and a brief understanding which has always intrigued me and one that, even in the many years since it was published, I have not forgotten about. 2019 will be the year I finally find out why.
Paperback | 1st August 2013 | Atlantic Books
At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything.
In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state – and to do it alone.
She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay in ruins at her feet.
What books are you most looking forward in 2019? Are they any in my pre-2019 list that I should get to first? Let me know in the comments below.