The Best Books of 2019

Your friends and family will want to cuddle up with these picks

Woman relaxing on sofa reading a book

Morsa Images/Getty Images

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Is there any better gift than a good book? For typically less than $20, you can send a friend (or yourself) on a journey through time, on a trip around the world or to a totally different dimension. And for lovers of the e-book, consider gifting a print version this year — retro-style. It’s not only the chance to brush up on your gift-wrapping skills, but can make an excellent hostess gift in place of the usual bottle of wine, and reading on paper, curled up on the couch, is far more festive than settling in with a device. Here, seven novels of varying styles for your favorite bookworm to dig into.


  • 01 of 07

    Best Historical Fiction: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingat

    Based on a real-life scandal, this book opens with the story of Rill Ross, a young Memphis girl in the 1930s charged with taking care of her siblings in an orphanage when her parents are unexpectedly called away. Flash-forward to present-day, when a wealthy South Carolinian lawyer starts to investigate her past — and discovers the shocking history of her family. Billed by the New York Times as a fit for lovers of The Orphan Train and The Nightingale, this book is up to five stars with more than 2,500 customer reviews.

  • 02 of 07

    Best Dystopian Fiction: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King

    From the thrllmaster himself, in collaboration with his son, comes this dark novel. In a future world not unlike our own, all the women are suddenly and mysteriously covered in a cocoon-like wrapping when they go to sleep — and when they do, they escape to a peaceful, harmonious world. If men wake or disturb them, the women turn to violence. Only one woman seems immune — and the men fight over whether she’s something to be protected — or killed.

  • 03 of 07

    Best Crime Thriller: The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne

    For lovers of brainy thrillers from the likes of Michael Crichton and Dan Brown this novel (the first in a two-part series) drops Theo Cray, a professor of computational biology, into the Montana woods just as a killer sets loose. When one of his students is found dead, his scientific mind sees an unnatural pattern in the murders that only he can stop—but his solitary observations make him a target of police and the killer alike. An Amazon Charts bestseller.

  • 04 of 07

    Best Historical Thriller: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

    For those who loved All the Light We Cannot See and Unbroken comes this novel set in World War II-era Italy. Typical Italian teenager Pino Lella becomes enmeshed in the war when his family’s home is bombed, and quickly becomes a part of an underground network helping Jews escape from Germany. As a shield, his parents encourage him to enlist as a German soldier, where he suddenly finds himself driving for a top Nazi officer. An Amazon Charts Bestseller.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Best Literary Fiction: The Ministry of Utmost Gifts by Arundhati Roy

    By the author of The God of Small Things, this novel sprawls across the Indian subcontinent, winding together the tales of its “tenderly rendered” characters. Among them are Anjum, who lives in a city graveyard; Tilo, whose ex-lovers include her landlord and a longtime sweetheart; and Miss Jebeen — actually two children, one dead and buried, another abandoned in the streets of New Delhi. Lovers of intricate storytelling and richly rendered scenes will love this.

  • 06 of 07

    Best Magical Realism: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

    Set in a country on the brink of civil war, a couple falls in love — the strong-willed Nadia and gentler Saeed. As their city becomes violent, with bomb blasts and checkpoints turning into the norm, they cling together and make an impossible choice: To walk through a magical door to a world beyond with only each other to begin their future and remember their past. Shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker and Kirkus Prizes.

  • 07 of 07

    Best Mystery: The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

    For your most bookish of book readers comes this novel, billed as a fit for lovers of Possession and People of the Book. Set in London in the 1600s and 2000s, this story twines the tales of two intellectual women. In the past, Ester Velasquez, who emigrates from Amsterdam to scribe for a blind rabbi — just before a plague. Hundreds of years later, aging historian Helen Watt is enlisted by a former student for one last project: to race against other historians to find the identity of a mystery scribe.