14 Incredible Titles To Add To Your 2019 Reading And Bookclub List

14 Best New Books For 2019 To Add To Your Reading And Book Club Lists
Editor At Large
Self

I have very few hobbies except reading. In fact, I continually tell myself, 'you should have more hobbies,' but then I remember how much I love reading and I'm all: eh, no. The point being: I try to read 100 books a year, which really isn't that impressive if you keep in mind that a) I don't have kids and b) I don't blowdry my hair. With that being said, here are my favorite books I read in 2018 that you should check out in 2019 — because I'm not a proponent that you necessarily need to only read new books published in the same year. I am, however, a proponent that you should only read good books — and an even bigger proponent that if you don't dig a book 1/3 of the way in, put it down and find another. Because life is too short for sh*tty sex, sh*tty food, and sh*tty books. And if you want to follow along with me in real time, follow me on Instagram @bookreviewsnobodyaskedfor. Happy bookworming!


RELATED: 15 Powerful And Inspirational Books Every Woman Should Read At Least Once


NON-FICTION:

1. Unwifeable, Mandy Stadtmiller

The reason I liked this book so much is because Mandy Stadtmiller owns her crazy b*tch. Girlfriend went through some hot-ass-mess years and puts it all out there like, THIS IS ME; THIS IS MEEEEEEEE PEOPLE. You’ll often cringe when she reveals what she reveals (hint: everything. My jaw dropped, over and over and over and I’m hard to shock.) And while there’s sheer entertainment value, of course, in reading about dating Moby or having sex with Marc Maron and almost having sex with David Cross, this book is also about sadness. About pain — deep pain. About overcoming demons. About the mess behind the ‘hot mess’ that’s often not as funny. “I chose relationships that affirmed my self-hatred. Because if everything is pain, nothing is.” Here’s the thing: We all have a little bit of Mandy in us because we’ve all made sh*tty, messy decisions or done sh*tty, messy things because we were in pain — or we just wanted relief from said pain for a second or a night. Probably (AHEM, almost certainly) all of us will make even more sh*tty, messy choices before our lives end. So there’s something redemptive in rooting for the crazy b*tch who’s really just a less-righteous, more-honest version of you and me: because when she wins, so do we. 

2. Lab Rats, Dan Lyons

Read Disrupted by the same author. Then read this. A scaaaaaathing look at the infestation of tech start-ups and bullsh*t tech start-up culture, i.e. ‘the unlikely juxtaposition of silliness and cruelty.’ Author Dan Lyons is hilarious (‘The problem is that a venture capitalist writing a book about how companies should treat employees is like Ted Bundy offering dating advice to women’) but also deadly serious as he explains how the current Silicon Valley get-rich-quick/slot machine mood contributes to the wealth-income gap, the destabilization of the economy and ultimately, the dehumanization of hard-working employees into sad, stressed-out hamsters on wheels. Of interest, the companies offering ping-pong tables and free snacks, rather than anything resembling morale or job security: Amazon, Uber, Netflix (great piece in WSJ about their cutthroat #teamnotfamily culture, by the way); the ones who get it right: Basecamp, ManagedbyQ, Patagonia, among others. In short, the path we’re on: cutting corners and upping short-term gains just to make a penny isn’t the path to a successful biz. Or a successful future. Shocking, right? 

3. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Yuval Noah Harari

This book is ambitious. It runs the gamut of issues: AI taking over the world, automation = king, why democracy can’t survive the merger of biotech, imminency of digital dictatorships, the danger of nationalism in regards to climate change (among other things...), why religion has little to contribute to global policy debate (among other things...), etc — each chapter could be its own book, so consider this an overview rather than a deep dive. And yet Harari, who’s a brilliant writer, thinker, and secularist — ‘folks who cherish freedom and refrain from investing supreme authority in any text, institution, or leaders as the ultimate judge of what’s true and right’ — somehow makes it all digestible and cohesive. The chapter on religion was my favorite but that’s because I feel smug when smart people share my POV. The solutions he offers, when he does offer them, are fairly nihilistic and that’s the point. Sh*t is messy, nothing matters, and we’ll all eventually be beholden to robots. This is a book for realists — though some of his predictions seem overly-alarming/improbable, to be fair — not folks who want reassurance.


RELATED: 20 Scariest Books To Read When You Want To Freak Yourself Out


4. And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready, Meaghan O'Connell

If you’re on the fence about having kids, don’t read this. The ‘birthing chapter’ itself is as an effective form of birth control as inserting an IUD into your uterus. I’d been excited to read this because I’d heard that’s it’s such a ‘real’ take on the first year of parenting — and it definitely is — it’s just that the realness of it sounds awful. I kept expecting some redeeming moment — ‘this is why he was all worth it,’ but it never comes. So. I dunno. The writing is superb, but ... this can’t possibly be everyone’s experience, right? Or maybe it gets better after year one? Either way, as a fear tactic and/or horror story, this author either intentionally or unintentionally hits it out of the park. Or for those with kids, this book ‘makes you feel less alone,’ as many reviewers claim, furthering the notion that everyone’s lying to me. Please advise ASAP. 

5. Calypso, David Sedaris

“Bad things happen: People are discriminated against and tortured. Kittens swallow fishhooks and get shot in the head. I’m not saying you should dwell solely on the negative, but why blot it out entirely, especially in a social setting where it’s practically your duty to spark debate and lively conversation?” -David Sedaris, I didn’t think I could love you more. This is him at his most bizarre. This is him at his most pessimistic. This is him at his most observant. He’s brilliant, if you understand his absurdity. 

6. From Here To Eternity: Traveling The World To Find A Good Death, Caithlin Doughty

If you need any further evidence that America, as a society, is uncomfortable, unprepared, and scared sh*tless of dying, look no further. (Well, unless you want to read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.) The author, who’s a funeral director herself, takes us on a fascinating world death tour of how various cultures cope and interact with their dead. Short answer: far better than we do. (Deeply disturbing insights into just how greedy the US funeral biz is, sure to shock ... nobody.) Some parts were a little nauseating but maybe if I wasn’t such a death-phobic Westerner, I wouldn’t think so? Read it and realize how much better ‘a good death’ and all its trappings could be in this country. If only. 


RELATED: 5 Books About Love With The Best Relationship Advice


7. American Fire, Monica Hesse

“Some people light things on fire because they feel like they have to...” That’s how this true crime story — which should be turned into a podcast or an HBO mini-series for the non-readers in the group — cryptically starts. It could easily be creepy Gillian Flynn fiction. Except it’s not. It all happened, which makes the book that much more nuts. If you’re a fan of ‘Serial,’ Making A Murderer,’ or ‘Evil Genius,’ you’ll like this; just don’t accidentally google the ending ahead of time like I did. 

8. Home Is Burning, Dan Marshall

I wept openly on a flight to Chicago while reading this in one sitting. This has to be one of the most raw, moving, heart-destroying memoirs I’ve ever read. It’s about a dysfunctional family — most specifically the author, 20-something-year-old Dan, who’s forced to give up his posh life in LA to move home to Utah when his marathon-running dad is diagnosed with ALS. (Oh, and did I mention his mom has brain cancer?) It sounds so depressing — and it is — but it’s also one of the most joyful, humorous, beautiful things I’ve read in a long time. I love Dan’s sense of humor. I love his weird siblings. I love his overuse of expletives. I hate ALS and cancer and shit that happens in life that is completely unfair but I loved this book.

9. My Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward, Mark Lukach

This book was gutting. I won’t reveal spoilers, but my god, what this husband (and his wife, and child) but mostly, this husband went through — and still go through. Some criticisms on Goodreads said the author came across as ‘wanting to be a hero’, but honestly, lesser people in his situation would have politely left the marriage, so I say give the man some credit. This book also taught me about ‘depression psychosis,’ which I didn’t even know was a thing. Mental illness is so, so hard — and not just for the person who has it. 

10. Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, And Finding The Courage To Lead, Cecile Richards

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Cecile Richards AKA the former pres. of Planned Parenthood and Ann Richards’ daughter, for those of you living under a rock, is a courageous, truth-telling feminist from Texas who’s devoted her life to bettering lives, and more specifically, women’s lives. She writes like you’re casually chatting with her — with wit, humor, and facts (that are so often distorted by anti-choice groups ) — all while rallying her fellow humans to do better by women: all women. This narrative is light-a-fire-under-you inspo, especially if you’re feeling tired/defeated/overwhelmed to make trouble [see: title], speak out, and do something — big or little, activism takes many forms — about and for the shit that matters. And so. much. matters. right. now. 


FICTION

11. How To Be Famous, Caitlin Moran

“Still, life goes on, doesn’t it? It really always does. It keeps bloody going on. I mean that in a good way, of course. However much you f*ck things up, life just keeps going on, washing you downriver - even if you’re just floating there like a listless dead thing, making no effort, mouthing, ‘Oh god, Oh god’ facedown underneath the water. The current bears you on until soon, the awful events are just tiny specks left far behind you, and you can say, ‘Oh well, it was just a bad sexual tussle. I barely remember it now.’” One excerpt, of many, that illustrate why I adore Caitlin Moran and everything her hands type. This is a sequel to How To Build A Girl and also an epic tribute to girls and music and sex and Britain and bands and groupies and fame and unrequited crushes and drugs and sucking at life and killing it at life and rad f*cking girls. Read everything Caitlin has written. Promise. 

12. You Think It, I'll Say It, Curtis Sittenfeld

I finished this last week and Curtis Sittenfeld (who also wrote Prep, American Wife, and Sisterland — all of which are excellent) did NOT disappoint. This short story collection is devourable. My favorite was 'The Prairie Wife', which was originally published in The New Yorker, so you can probably read it there if you don’t want to get the entire book. It clearly spoofs The Pioneer Woman, but it’s also so much more — with a twist at the end! I LOVE TO READ AND CURTIS SITTENFELD IS A GINORMOUS REASON WHY. 

13. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub

This is just good fiction, plain and simple. The chapters are quick and easy and I loved how 2018 the plot/dialogue/characters were. They talk like we really talk. Also, I stalked the author @emmastraub on Instagram and turns out she co-owns a cool indie bookstore in Brooklyn called @booksaremagicbk. Amazing bookstore name!  If you have a beach vaca coming up or want something light, fun, and digestable, this is it. 

14. Swing Time, Zadie Smith

“Sometimes I wonder whether people don’t want freedom as much as they want meaning.” Truth. Zadie Smith is a genius and you should gobble up everything she’s written. Start with this or On Beauty. But don’t expect beach fluff. She writes brain fiction — in the sense that you have to use yours. 

Andrea Zimmerman is the editor-at-large at Yourtango. She enjoys reading, traveling, and reading while traveling. She lives in Chicago with her husband and three-legged cat. Follow her @angiecat86 on Instagram.

YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.