2018 was a busy year of reading for me. According to Goodreads I finished 45 books, which is a little over 13,000 pages. Most were contemporary, with a few classics thrown in for good measure. I rated nearly half of all the books I read as four stars (see graph). The bulk of my reading took place in August, when I read 2,774 pages of Man Booker Prize longlisted fiction.
I’ve been reading the Man Booker Prize longlist for two years now. It’s always a good way to connect with contemporary fiction and, if I’m lucky, I find a couple of new authors to follow. The only problem is, following the same prize every year doesn’t yield tonnes of variety.
For 2019 (or the first few months, at least) I’m trying a different approach. The goal is to read new fiction when it arrives and before it’s listed or overlooked for a prize. There are way too many books released every year, so I whittled down using the following criteria.
I found ten lists from a variety of sources. To be as fair as possible, I took a range of reading preferences into account when sourcing my lists, so any overlap is because of the book itself rather than any genre bias. Once I had my lists, I only counted novels which weren’t already out. I discounted fast-tracked Booker novels like Sally Rooney’s Normal People, for example. I also discounted any non-fiction, poetry or short story collections to keep the list focused.
This left me with 208 recommendations. Of these, 34 were recommended by more than one source. Just 10 books were recommended by four or more of the lists. Two of these were on more lists than they weren’t.
The most anticipated books for 2019 (and the number of lists I found them on) are:
- Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (6)
- Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (6)
- Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi (5)
- Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan (4)
- My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (4)
- On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (4)
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (4)
- The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer (4)
- The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray (4)
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood (4)
It’s important to mention that these lists favour books from early in the year. Except for the Margaret Atwood novel, all of the top ten most recommended books will be released before June, which is probably because that’s about as far ahead as most publication schedules go.
There are also some releases coming out that I thought would get more than one mention. Colson Whitehead only got one shout-out, as did Jeanette Winterson. What I’m saying is, this list will change a lot as the year goes on!
For now, though, this is what I’ve got to work with. I’ll be doing my best to read as many of these anticipated works as I can, and I’ll let you know what I think.
If you’re interested, these are the rest of the multi-listed books and the lists themselves.
Books Which Made
City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella
Lost Children Archive – Valeria Luiselli
More Than Words – Jill Santopolo
The Bride Test – Helen Hoang
The Night Olivia Fell – Christina McDonald
Books Which Made Two
An Orchestra of Minorities – Chigozie Obioma
Bowlaway – Elizabeth McCracken
Cape May – Chip Cheek
Golden Child – Claire Adam
In Another Time – Jillian Cantor
Lost and Wanted – Nell Freudenberger
Meet Cute – Helena Hunting
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
Recursion – Blake Crouch
The Far Field – Madhuri Vijay
The Farm – Joanne Ramos
The Flatmate – Beth O’Leary
The Island of Sea Women – Lisa See
The Lost Girls of Paris – Pam Jenoff
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters – Balli Kaur Jaswai
We Came Here to Forget – Andrea Dunlop
When We Left Cuba – Chanel Cleeton
Where Reasons End – Yiyun Li
The 10 Most Anticipated Books Of 2019, According To Independent Bookstores (Forbes, 18 December 2018)
The Most Anticipated Books Of 2019 (Shereads.Com, 21 December 2018)
50 Most Anticipated Books Of 2019 (Entertainment Weekly, 20 December 2018)
28 Of The Most Anticipated Books Of 2019 (Cosmopolitan, 7 December 2018)
The 25 Most Anticipated Books Of 2019 (Esquire, 11 December 2018)
Here Are 25 Of The 2019 Books We Can’t Wait For (So Far) (O The Oprah Magazine, 6 December 2018)
2019 Most Anticipated Adult Fiction Books (For The First Half Of The Year) (Perpetual Page Turner, 26 December 2018)
Books 2019: Which Top Fiction Picks Will You Choose? (BBC, 23 December 2018)
The Best Books Coming Out In 2019 To Add To Your Reading List (Womans Day, 29 November 2018)
The 10 Books You Need To Add To Your 2019 Reading List (Stylist, 24 November 2018
30 Must-Read Books Coming Out In 2019 That Need To Be On Your List (Popsugar, 16 November 2018)