The Scented Library’s Top Reads for 2019

2018 was a stellar reading year (so many good books) spurring a resolve to read even more in 2019. In that spirit, I’m throwing my blogging ball cap into the ring of all the Most Anticipated New Books of 2019 lists (I do love to write a proper list). Pooling library resources from Bookpage, Booklist, Book Riot, also Bustle.com and of course, Goodreads, I’ve curated a selection of upcoming reads tailored to me and the authors’ works I’m excited to see, perhaps it will inspire a little more padding for your TBR too. There’s no such thing as too many book recommendations right?

Book cover images via Goodreads, titles linked, synopses provided by Goodreads unless otherwise mentioned:

January

Winter of the Witch* by Katherine Arden [Del Ray] Jan. 4th

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.” Arden’s debut, The Bear and the Nightingale, was one of the most memorable novels I read last year. Written in a dreamy style, this nightmarish folktale of ancient evil closing in makes an absorbing read for a dark winter’s night. I am motivated to finish the trilogy, just gotta get over my series’ stalling and read that second book first.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker [Random House] Jan. 15th

“A mesmerizing novel about a college town transformed by a strange illness that locks victims in a perpetual sleep and triggers life-altering dreams—by the bestselling author of The Age of Miracles, for fans of Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.”–I admit to having a strange fascination with sleep disorders, add to that a story described as horror with a literary spin, and color me intrigued.

Let’s go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie Anderson [Putnam’s] Jan. 15th

“Forced to become a child soldier, a sixteen-year-old Somali refugee must confront his painful past in this haunting, thrilling tale of loss and redemption for fans of A Long Way Gone and What is the What.” I’m also drawn to stories set in Africa, both fiction and non-fiction. This seems to be thinly veiled young adult fiction of real-life atrocities written by a former refugee relief developer with the UN, it’s sure to be provocative reading.

February

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin [William Morrow] Feb. 5th

The New York Times bestselling author of The House Girl explores the lives of four siblings in this ambitious and absorbing novel in the vein of Commonwealth and The Interestings.– A sweeping yet intimate epic about one American family, The Last Romantics is an unforgettable exploration of the ties that bind us together, the responsibilities we embrace and the duties we resent, and how we can lose—and sometimes rescue the ones we love—” The Last Romantics has generated enough good buzz that I’m hopeful it enlivens the worn-out family saga of grown children reconnecting in times of crisis, spilling secrets and exposing betrayals. Or maybe these secrets are just juicer and more poetically revealed. Keeping this one on my radar.

The Heavens by Sandra Newman [Grove] Feb. 2nd

“The author of The Country of Ice Cream Star returns with another ambitious saga ― this one a love story between two New Yorkers around the dawn of the millennium. As Ben and Kate meet and begin to twine their lives together, Kate is more and more drawn into a dream world in which she’s the lover of an Elizabethan aristocrat, until she begins to lose touch with reality.” Touting an atypical premise which could either resolve brilliantly or be extremely unsatisfying, my curiosity’s been peaked enough to find out.

April

 Women Talking by Miriam Toews
[Bloomsbury] April 2

“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.”

Women Talking is one of a few new releases garnering comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale, but this one is Atwood-approved with cover blurb, and
Queen Margaret hasn’t yet steered me wrong. A creepy captivity story inspired by real events, I hope I can escape this read emotionally and mentally unscathed. P.S. Atwood has her own novel further down this list.

May

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee Casey Cep
[Knopf] May 7

In what is already one of the most talked about nonfiction books of 2019, Casey Cep weaves together the stunning stories of an Alabama serial killer and the In Cold Blood-style nonfiction book about him that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a fascinating true crime narrative that offers an intimate look at the life, work, and personal struggles of one of America’s most beloved authors.” Bustle.com

Last year’s outstanding non-fiction work, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, proved to me that I can devour true crime cases with obsessive research and detailed case reports. Furious Hours looks to be in the same vein, not to mention revealing to readers what Harper Lee was up to all those years after writing To Kill a Mockingbird.

Cinderella Liberator
Rebecca Solnit, ill. Arthur Rackham [Haymarket] May 7

“In her debut children’s book, Rebecca Solnit updates a classic fairytale with a fresh, feminist Cinderella and new plot twists that will inspire young readers to change the world, featuring gorgeous silhouettes from Arthur Rackham on each page.” Solnit writes feminist Cinderella story, I’m in.

July

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead [Doubleday] July 16

In Whitehead’s follow-up novel he moves forward in time to the Jim Crow era, telling the story of two boys banished to a Florida reform school described as “a grotesque chamber of horrors.” It will undoubtedly be tough to read but more than worthy of your time”. — Maxwell Strachan

Reading Whitehead’s surreal Pulitzer-winning novel, The Underground Railroad, kept me on edge and off-kilter the entire time, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about reading this one. However, his thoughtful, eye-opening style of speculative fiction is unmatched in contemporary literature right now. I may have to read the most brutal parts of this coming-of-age tale with my eyes closed.

September

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood [Chatto & Windus] Sep. 10

A surprise sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale that takes place 15 years later? There’s no way I’m ready for this! @_@

November

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgentern [Doubleday] Nov. 5

Yeah, so I don’t know where I’ve been, but I’ve only just read The Night Circus a couple months ago and I was astounded by it’s depth and beauty. I guess I’m lucky in a way, because I only have to wait a year between books for Morgenstern’s highly anticpated follow-up.

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.” And that sounds like it’s just the beginning of the story. I’m all smiles at the mere thought of what’s to come. 🙂

TBA

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3)* by Neal Shusterman

No details, pub date, or cover image of this grand finale to the
dystopian Scythe series, which is good for me because it might contain spoilers and I haven’t started the second book yet. But I plan to, soon!

Will I read all of these books this year? Hardly, but they are all titles I’ll be watching closely, curious to see if they live up to the hype when reviewed. Some of these titles will fit into my 2019 Bookish Jay and Reading Mermaid reading challenge, most won’t. *There are loads of popular series additions slated to come out as well, but I’ve only included those that I’ve started and/or plan to finish; example, Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe, yes, Bardugo’s Grishaverse, no. (I really need to address my series-commitment issues).

Of course this list ’tis but a scratch on the surface of interesting titles being published this year. With 6 Fiction, 1 Non-fiction, 2 trilogy finales, 2 young adult and 1 juvenile book, it’s a good start; speaking of which, I’m going to crack open a fresh book now. What are you looking forward to reading in 2019?

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