New year, new books! Book Light is our Dandelion Chandelier curated list of the titles we’re most excited about that are being published in the coming days. In this edition, we take a longer time horizon. Our intrepid team has been exploring the most-anticipated new books scheduled to be released in 2019 and here’s what we found. Spoiler alert: while 2018 provided a fine year of reading, 2019 is going to be a great year for bookworms.
Some of our all-time favorite authors are returning with new works – some after almost a decade. 2019 will see new novels or story collections from Margaret Atwood, Colson Whitehead, Elizabeth Strout, Ali Smith, Karen Russell, Ian McEwan, Helen Oyeyemi, Nell Zink, Nell Freudenberger, Nathan Englander, Tess Hadley, Sally Rooney, Elizabeth Gilbert and Erin Morgenstern. Plus new collected essays from Toni Morrison and Rachel Cusk.
And there’s a particularly strong group of debuts slated for 2019 – some have already been picked up for film and television adaptations (we’re looking at you, Recursion by Blake Crouch).
Whether you’re looking for fiction or fact, here’s a list – by month – of our picks for the best new books coming in 2019. You can pre-order them now, if you like.
For a full list of the best new releases coming in January 2019, click here.
How to Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson is a “comedy philosophy” aimed at interrogating what it means to date men within the trappings of modern society. With sections like Real Interviews with Men about Whether or Not It Was a Date; Good Flirts That Work; Bad Flirts That Do Not Work; and Definitive Proof That Tom Hanks Is the Villain of You’ve Got Mail, this is a one-stop shop for dating advice when you love men but don’t like them. – Publication date: January 8, 2019
We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin. This new novel tells the story of a futuristic southern town where violent racism still persists in America. In this place, medical procedures can reduce the “ethnic” looks of the black residents. A complete “de-melanization” will liberate you from the confines of being born in a black body. A father’s obsessive quest to protect his son—even if it means turning him white—is the fuel for this narrative fire. – Publication date: January 29, 2019
Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley. Two couples have been friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later, one spouse dies unexpectedly. In the wake of this loss, the remaining three friends find themselves unmoored. Instead of loss bringing them closer, the friends find that it warps their relationships, as love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness. – Publication date: January 15, 2019
Hark by Sam Lipsyte. In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and—perhaps most immediately—just a little focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”—a combination of mindfulness, mythology, fake history, yoga, and, well, archery—is the perfect vehicle to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status. This comic novel is billed as “a smart, incisive look at men, women, and children seeking meaning and dignity in a chaotic, ridiculous, and often dangerous world.” – Publication date: January 15, 2019
Such Good Work by Johannes Lichtman is a debut novel about a creative writing teacher whose efforts to stay sober land him in Malmö, Sweden, where drugs are scarce but the refugee crisis forces a very different kind of reckoning. The year is 2015 when he arrives; the city is struggling to cope with the arrival of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees. Driven by an existential need to “do good,” Jonas volunteers with an organization that teaches Swedish to the desperate and idling young refugees. But one young man will force Jonas to question whether “doing good” can actually help another person. – Publication date: February 5, 2019
The Study of Animal Languages by Lindsay Stern. This first novel tells the story of a married couple – both experts in language and communication – who nevertheless cannot seem to communicate with each other. Ivan is a tightly wound philosophy professor who reveres logic. His wife, Prue, is the opposite: a pioneer in the emerging field of biolinguistics, she’s full of life and feeling. An odd distance has settled in between them. Might it have something to do with the arrival of the college’s dashing but insufferable new writer-in-residence, whose novel Prue always seems to be reading? – Publication date: February 19, 2019
Merchants of Truth by Jill Abramson. The former New York Times managing editor and the first woman to serve as the paper’s Washington bureau chief – Publication date: February 5, 2019
The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison. A new nonfiction collection–a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. – Publication date: February 12, 2019
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. Billed as Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Americanah, this novel tells the tale of Queenie Jenkins. She’s a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places, involving several hazardous men. – Publication date: March 19, 2019
Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington. In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he’s gay. Around him, others live and thrive and die in the city’s myriad neighborhoods. This eagerly awaited short-story collection, excerpted in The New Yorker to much fanfare, depicts its author’s hometown of Houston with empathy, tragedy, and exceptional specificity. Ultimately, it’s a meditation on what makes a community, a family, and a life. – Publication date: March 19, 2019
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi. The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a new novel. Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories—equal parts wholesome and uncanny—this is the tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe. – Publication date: March 5, 2019
kaddish.com by Nathan Englander. The acclaimed author of Dinner at the Center of the Earth returns with a new novel about a son’s failure to say Kaddish for his father. Larry is an atheist in a family of orthodox Memphis Jews. When his father dies, it is his responsibility as the surviving son to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, every day for eleven months. To the horror and dismay of his mother and sisters, Larry refuses–thus imperiling the fate of his father’s soul. – Publication date: March 26, 2019
I Miss You When I Blink: Essays by Mary Laura Philpott. In this memoir-in-essays, the author shares what happened after she checked off all the boxes on her career and life to-do list (job, spouse, house, and kids). And then realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself. Filled with wry observations about home, work, and creative life, the author takes on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood and tells us what she’s learned. – Publication date: April 2, 2019
Women Talking by Miriam Toews. In this experimental novel, the author gives voice to eight women as they grapple with the trauma and power of patriarchy. Margaret Atwood said its events “could be right out of The Handmaid’s Tale.” – Publication date: April 2, 2019
Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger. One of our very favorite authors – she wrote the splendid The Newlyweds – returns with a new novel. What do physics and grief have in common? How can a scientist reckon with the inexplicable, for instance, the appearance of a ghost? Narrated by a renowned physicist, this work asks life’s biggest questions in a rumination on the space that exists between friends, families, colleagues, and lovers. It’s a new, humanistic kind of mystery novel. – Publication date: April 2, 2019
Normal People by Sally Rooney. From the author of Conversations with Friends comes a new novel – an examination of class and love through the on-again-off-again relationship between two Irish teens. – Publication date: April 16, 2019
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan. The author of Atonement returns with a novel that features synthetic humans whose personalities can be designed. In an imaginary alternative 1980’s London, two lovers are tested in the grim shadow of a lost war. – Publication date: April 23, 2019
Spring by Ali Smith. From the Man Booker-short-listed author of Autumn and Winter comes the highly anticipated third novel in the acclaimed Seasonal Quartet. This series of stand-alone novels features books that separate but interconnected (as the seasons are). – Publication date: April 30, 2019
Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer. Potentially the next Educated or Wild, Palmer’s memoir of beating the odds to become a horse champion is an inspiring saga of perseverance — and a classic underdog tale. – Publication date: May 7, 2019
The Farm by Joanne Ramos. This debut novel is equal parts feminist dystopia and immigrant’s tale. – Publication date: May 7, 2019
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. In this sequel to The Kiss Quotient, a young woman attempts to teach Khai—who is autistic—how to love. She finds herself falling for him, all the while knowing that he could potentially never love her back. – Publication date: May 7, 2019
I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum. The Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker TV critic traces the medium’s evolution from a variety of angles, in a set of essays which collectively argue that “we are what we watch.” – Publication date: May 14, 2019
Mostly Dead Things by Kirsten Arnett is a novel about a family launched into tragicomic dissolution by the suicide of its patriarch. When grief threatens to send the family taxidermy business under, one daughter must rally her eccentric family members to keep it afloat. – Publication date: June 4, 2019
Recursion by Blake Crouch. This new novel – already slated to be a Netflix film – envisions the aftermath of a brilliant female scientist inventing a powerful technology that allows people to entirely reinvent intense, visceral memories. – Publication date: June 11, 2019
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert. From the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love comes a unique love story set in the New York City theater world during the 1940s. Told from the perspective of an older woman as she looks back on her youth with both pleasure and regret, this new novel explores beliefs about female sexuality, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love. – Publication date: June 4, 2019
Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell. The author of Swamplandia! returns to short stories with this new collection. Its vintage Russell: in one, a woman agrees to breastfeed the devil in exchange for her child’s protection. – Publication date: June 18, 2019
Growing Things and Other Stories by Paul Tremblay. A chilling collection of psychological suspense and literary horror from the multiple award-winning author of the national bestseller The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts. A masterful anthology featuring nineteen pieces of short fiction, The Growing Things is an exciting glimpse into Paul Tremblay’s fantastically fertile imagination. – Publication date: July 2, 2019
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. The author of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning bestseller The Underground Railroad returns with a novel that illuminates another strand of American history. This time, it’s through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. – Publication date: July 16, 2019
The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott is a collection of linked stories set in fictional Cross County, Maryland, founded by the leaders of America’s only successful slave uprising. Characters range from robots to sons of God in these magical realist stories about race, religion, and violence. One reviewer says “Think of it as Faulkner meets Asimov.” – Publication date: August 20, 2019
Bottle Grove by Daniel Handler. Set in San Francisco during the Big Bang of tech, this taut novel sees two marriages form and mutate under the influence of greed, secrets, and income inequality. – Publication date: August 27, 2019
Doxology by Nell Zink. The author of Mislaid returns with a novel about a Lower East Side punk band facing a shattering loss in the wake of 9/11. As they search for a path forward in a time of confusion, threat, and political division, Zink illuminates hard truths about our political climate while also offering a poignant portrait of human goodness. – Publication date: August 7, 2019
Coventry by Rachel Cusk. Cusk plunges into nonfiction in this collection of memoir and cultural criticism, with focus on gender, politics, and literature. – Publication date: August 20, 2019
Dear Girls by Ali Wong is a collection of letters addressed to her two young daughters. Motherhood is tied closely with Wong’s public image; during her Netflix special, Baby Cobra, the comic—then seven-and-a-half months pregnant—ponders aloud: “I don’t know what kind of mother I’m gonna be…”
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. When the van door slammed on Offred’s future at the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her—freedom, prison or death. With The Testaments, the wait is over. – Publication date: September 10, 2019
Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. Olive was first introduced in the author’s 2009 Pulitzer Prize–winning collection of short stories: a mediocre mother, the loathed middle-school math teacher, and the long-suffering wife of a philanderer. But she also had a core of decency and a refreshing honesty. Check in on the working-class residents of tiny Crosby, Maine, and the story of Olive’s second marriage.
Make It Scream, Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison. The author of The Recovering releases a new essay collection. – Publication date: October 2019
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. The Night Circus author returns with her first novel in seven years, another high-wire fantasy, interweaving magical and romantic elements. – Publication date: November 2019
That’s it – our curated list of the best new books coming in 2019. What say you? What titles are on your pre-order list?
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