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The Best Fiction of 2019

I have to admit that I’m thrilled when some of my favorite books do well on all those best-of-the-year lists. I was heartened to see Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout, Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates make it to the top.

Now that most of the “best” lists are out there, it’s time to see what the professional book readers liked the most. Today I will look at adult and young adult fiction. Check here for the best in nonfiction. I compiled 33 notable lists, including our own favorites from the Cook Memorial Public Library District’s reference desk staffers (You can get our Staff Favorites booklets at our libraries or on our web site). All the lists I used are at the bottom of this post. I’ve included links to our catalog for book descriptions, and listed the Cook staffers who recommended the titles. This is what rose to the top from more than 700 books. Did any of your favorites make it?

24 Times:

Fleishman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (Contemporary Fiction), recommended by staffer Jenn.

Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo, Ellen and Jenn.

Normal People by Sally Rooney (Literary Fiction), recommended by Joe.

21 Times:

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout (Literary Fiction), recommended by Ellen and Jo. Read her review here.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Literary Fiction), recommended by Andrea. Read her review here.

20 Times:

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo and Heather.

17 Times:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo, Jane, Jenn, Ellen J. and Jean. Read Jo’s review here.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Historical Fiction), recommended by Nate, Jo and Ellen.

15 Times:

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Contemporary Fiction).

The Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Contemporary Fiction).

14 Times:

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (Thriller).

Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli (Contemporary Fiction)

The Need by Helen Phillips (Thriller), recommended by Jean and Becky.

13 Times:

Exhalation by Ted Chiang (Science Fiction stories), recommended by Jean. Read her review here.

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi (Magical Realism), recommended by Emily and Lindsay.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (Dystopian Fiction) recommended by Heather and Joe.

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner (Literary Fiction).

12 Times:

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo and Jenn. Read Jo’s review here.

Inland by Tea Obreht (Historical Literary Fiction), recommended by Jo and Ellen. Read Jo’s review here.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews (Contemporary Fiction).

11 Times:

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman (Historical Suspense), recommended by Jo and Ellen.

The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Paranormal Thriller), recommended by Andrea. Read Andrea’s review here.

Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Romance) recommended by Heather and Erica.

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha (Thriller), recommended by Jean and Andrea.

10 Times:

All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg (Contemporary Fiction), recommended by Jo.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (Fantasy), recommended by Joe.

Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann (Contemporary Fiction).

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Fantasy).

Grand Union by Zadie Smith (Short Stories).

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim (Legal Fiction), recommended by Haley, Becky, Jenn, Andrea and Jean. Read Andrea’s review here.

Patsy by Nicole Bennis-Benn (Contemporary).

The Wanderers by Chuck Wendig (Science Fiction), recommended by Ellen. Read her review here.

9 Times:

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson (Espionage) recommended by Jenn, Andrea and Erica.

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken (Historical Fiction), recommended by Erica and Jo.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (Thriller).

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (Dystopoian Fiction).

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (Magical Realism), recommended by Sonia and Jean.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Young Adult).

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (Fantasy) recommended by Ellen and Jenn. Read Ellen’s review here.

8 Times:

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Romance), recommended by Susie.

The City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (Historical Fiction).

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner (Historical Fiction).

The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell (Magical Realism).

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami (Contemporary Fiction).

Rusty Brown by Chris Ware (Graphic Novel).

The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott (Short Stories).

7 Times:

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalauddin (Romance), recommended by Erica.

The Institute by Stephen King (Horror), recommended by Ellen.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki (Young Adult Graphic Novel), recommended by Joe.

Lot: Stories by Brian Washington (Short Stories).

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy (Literary Fiction).

Mostly Dead Things by Kristin N. Arnett (Contemporary Fiction).

Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry (Thriller).

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo (Historical Fiction). Recommended by Jo. Read her review here.

The Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell (Short Stories).

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (Contemporary Fiction).

Recursion by Blake Crouch (Thriller), recommended by Ellen and Jean.

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai (Romance).

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott (Historical Fiction), recommended by Jo, Ellen and Jenn.

6 Times:

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (Literary Fiction), recommended by Andrea and Ellen.

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (Romance), recommended by Erica.

Bunny by Mona Awad (Contemporary Fiction).

Doxology by Nell Zink (Contemporary Fiction).

Everything Inside: Stories by Edwidge Danticat (Short Stories).

Find Me by Andre Aciman (Romance).

Frankly in Love by David Yoon (Young Adult), recommended by Jean.

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Contemporary Fiction).

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Historical Fantasy), recommended by Erica. Read her review here.

Lanny by Max Porter (Paranormal Fiction).

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas (Young Adult), recommended by Ellen, Jo and Brooke.

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma (Romance).

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste (Historical Fiction).

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Thriller), recommended by Ellen and Becky.

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware, recommended by Ellen.

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (Young Adult), recommended by Brooke.

5 Times:

Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray (Contemporary).

Conviction by Denise Mina (Contemporary).

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (Romance), recommended by JO, Ellen, Jean, Jane, Jenn, Andrea and Haley.

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson (Science Fiction), recommended by Ellen.

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay (Contemporary Fiction).

The Farm by Joanne Ramos (Thriller).

Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg (Historical Fiction).

Full Throttle by Joe Hill (Horror Stories).

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Romance).

The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine (Contemporary Fiction), recommended by Erica, Ellen and Jo.

Growing Things by Paul Tremblay (Horror Stories).

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (Young Adult romance).

The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Mystery), recommended by Jean, Ellen and Jo.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (Science Fiction).

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Young Adult).

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie (Contemporary Fiction).

Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine (Stories).

Sing to It by Amy Hempel (Stories).

Spring by Ali Smith (Literary Fiction).

The Supper Club by Lara Williams (Contemporary Fiction).

Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix A. Harrow (Fantasy), recommended by Ellen.

The World that We Knew by Alice Hoffman (Historical Fiction), recommended by Emily and Jean.

Sources: Amazon, American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal Longlist, Barnes and Noble, Booklist, BookPage, Book Riot, Buzz Feed, Chicago Public Library, Chicago Tribune, Cook Memorial Public Library Favorites, Goodreads, Entertainment, Esquire, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, The Guardian, Kirkus, Library Journal, Literary Hub, New York Public Library, New Yorker, New York Times, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Real Simple, School Library Journal, Slate, Time, Vogue, Vox, Vulture, Washington Post.

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