Keeping up with all of the latest must-read books can quickly turn into an overwhelming endeavor -- finish one, add five more to the pile, and the cycle wears on until it's simply too unbearable to pay attention anymore. Here's another solution: Leave the sorting of what's good and what's bad to us, dedicated readers of impeccable taste. We'll be regularly updating this list of the most exciting titles from 2019, adding new and upcoming releases and amending past months with things we might've overlooked (or taking out things we ended up hating) as we go along. Join us on this fresh literary journey, won't you?
Written by: Sophie Mackintosh Release date: January 8 Why we're excited: Book critics have been comparing this debut novel from British writer Sophie Mackintosh to The Handmaid's Tale. Its futuristic and fable-like story follows three sisters on a mysterious island after their father suddenly dies, and they and their mother grapple with his sadistic legacy and his claim that toxins are making the outside world uninhabitable. If want you want an escape from the horrors of day-to-day life right now, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for a talented new writer's to take on the anger, anxiety, and trauma that comes from dealing our reality, in a surreal package, look no further.
Written by: Sarah Moss (The Tidal Zone) Release date: January 8 Why we're excited: Not until praise for Ghost Wall started popping up did we think that the world could use more novels about weird archaeological crucibles. The brusque British novel, now available in the US, follows a specific family in an experimental community trying to live as closely to the lifestyle of the Britons of the Iron Age as possible, the reenactments loaded with split moments ripe with social commentary. As divides in the camp deepen, Ghost Wall reads as an ominous allegory for Brexit with feminist and anti-nationalist themes basting the story.
Written by: Chigozie Obioma (The Fishermen) Release date: January 8 Why we're excited: Nigerian writer Chigozie Obioma was hailed as the literary heir to Chinua Achebe after his 2015 debut, The Fishermen, and his second novel is garnering even more acclaim. An Orchestra of Minorities is partially based on The Odyssey and follows a poultry farmer who remakes himself to be worthy of a wealthy woman he falls in love with after saving her life. This modern epic is narrated from the perspective of his "chi" -- an Igbo guardian spirit -- which means both deep dives into Nigerian history and contemporary reflections on casual racism as the protagonist studies abroad in Cyprus.
Written by:Samanta Schweblin (Fever Dream) Release date: January 8 Why we're excited: Many American references have been made to describe Argentinian writer Samanta Schweblin's moody, surreal work: think David Lynch, Raymond Carver, John Cheever. Together, these seemingly disparate influences congeal, most recently, into this spaced-out collection of 20 short stories. Following the success of Schweblin's 2017 English-language debut, Fever Dream, her latest has plenty of weirdness for everyone to dig into, whether you're drawn to meditative stories about willing away a pregnancy or biting the heads off of live birds.
Written by: Niviaq Korneliussen Release date: January 15 Why we're excited: There are exactly zero writers from Greenland, a country with a population the size of New Brunswick, New Jersey, that have become household names in the United States. (Try to name one, I dare you.) That could very well change with queer, Greenlandic author Niviaq Korneliussen's breakout novel translated into English, an absorbing (and short) coming-of-age tale for five teens in her home country's capital city of Nuuk.
Written by: Sam Lipsyte (The Ask, Home Land) Release date: January 15 Why we're excited: The first novel satirist Sam Lipsyte has published since 2010's hilariously dark The Ask draws its inspiration from the cult-y, New Age-y leadership of charismatic enablers, channeling it all into protagonist Hark Morner's faux self-help discipline called "Mental Archery." In Lipsyte's wheelhouse, expect heavy-handed irony, absurd scenarios that unfold into cringeworthy scenes, and a looming feeling of existential drainage by the end.
Written by: Ian S. Port Release date: January 15 Why we're excited: Nobody asked for a legitimately entertaining account of the long-running feud between the chief innovators of the electric guitar, and yet here we are. Fans of guitar music and gear should consider this mandatory reading.
Written by: Kristen Roupenian Release date: January 15 Why we're excited: Rarely does a piece of short fiction get a response like Kristen Roupenian's story "Cat Person," published in The New Yorker in December 2017, but something resonated in its forthright depiction of just how bad heterosexual dating can be, and it came as close as literature can to breaking the internet. Roupenian's debut short story collection is already an event in the wake of that, filled with ever darker fables of cruelty and accessible surrealism. HBO has nabbed the development rights to You Know You Want This, so consider this your chance to feel great when you say that you preferred the book.
Written by: Dani Shapiro (Hourglass, Slow Motion and Devotion) Release date: January 15 Why we're excited: Best-selling memoirist and novelist Dani Shapiro's fourth memoir describes how, long after her parents' deaths, she took a DNA test that revealed that the man who raised her was not her biological father. This book follows Shapiro's search for both the true identity of her father and the circumstances of her conception, as she considers whether her parents had been deceiving her for their entire lives, or had themselves been deceived by the fertility clinic they'd gone to in need. Her journey is introspective, with meditations on the nature of, as the book's subtitle aptly puts it, "genealogy, paternity and love."
Written by: Karen Thompson Walker (The Age of Miracles) Release date: January 15 Why we're excited: In the midst of figuring out what's causing a virus that puts the ill into a deep, unwakeable sleep, The Dreamers jumps into the lives of those affected, from hard-partying college students to doomsday preppers, in a California college town. A terrifying and deliberate sci-fi adjacent tale told through big philosophical questions about the nature and limits of humanity.
Written by: Madhuri Vijay Release date: January 15 Why we're excited: This epic debut from Indian-American writer Madhuri Vijay follows a young woman's quest to find a man from her childhood along her journey from southern India to a Himalayan village in Kashmir in the wake of her mother's death. But prying open her past brings terrifying consequences and massive implications no one could predict at outset of this the novel, which explores the nature of our connections as it maps the political realities of contemporary India.
Written by: Juliet Lapidos Release date: January 22 Why we're excited: This debut from Atlantic editor Juliet Lapidos is a satirical campus novel, but don't stop reading yet. This much-hyped book follows Anna Brisker, a grad student working on a dissertation about the "intellectual history of inspiration," as she becomes obsessed with finding the missing notebooks of a famous writer after meeting that writer's niece. There's romance, there's mystery, but it's all grounded in making fun of intellectuals and academia -- something everyone can get behind. Fans who find themselves at the curious intersection of last year's The Pisces and Thomas Mann's 1927 classic The Magic Mountain will find everything they ever wanted in Talent.
Written by: Dana Czapnik Release date: January 29 Why we're excited: Debut novelist Dana Czapnik is a former sports journalist and a native New Yorker, which is probably why she's able to expertly portray the coming-of-age story about a 17-year-old female basketball player in early '90s New York City. The street-smart narrator -- who navigates first love, her senior year, and the bullshit young women deal with in any city -- is garnering (positive) comparisons to Holden Caulfield, but also breaks out as a new young literary hero making her way through a confusing world.
Written by: Maurice Carlos Riffin Release date: January 29 Why we're excited: Maurice Carlos Riffin's debut speculative, satirical, and striking novel about racism in the South is already being talked about in the same breath as Paul Beatty's The Sellout and Jordan Peele's Get Out. Don't sleep on this singular story that feels like some parts could be pulled directly out of contemporary headlines.
Written by: Robert Bolaño (2666, The Savage Detectives) Release date: February 5 Why we're excited: This posthumous release from the Chilean master of fiction was finished around 1984 and is seen as a sandbox for the ideas that would later coalesce into Bolaño's epic of aimless poets in Mexico City, The Savage Detectives.
Written by: Marlon James (A History of Seven Killings) Release date: February 5 Why we're excited: The first novel of James' new Dark Star Trilogy has been smartly marketed as "an African Game of Thrones," only that sells Black Leopard, Red Wolf short on its incisiveness of prose and its truly magical world-building.
Written by: Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give) Release date: February 5 Why we're excited: Angie Thomas basically redefined the impact of YA fiction with the New York Times bestselling novel-turned-movie The Hate U Give, and her anticipated follow-up about an aspiring teen girl rapper promises to be no less compelling.
Written by: Sally Rooney (Conversations With Friends) Release date: April 16 Why we're excited: The 27-year-old Irish author's second novel is about as hyped as books come in 2019. Already, Normal People has been picked up for a BBC series and is longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
Written by: Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad, Zone One) Release date: July 16 Why we're excited: Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead drops another gutting historical fiction, this time about a juvenile detention center in the Jim Crow South.
Written by: Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale) Release date: September 10 Why we're excited: A long-awaited followup to The Handmaid's Tale that officially answers the question, "What happens to Offred after she escapes Gilead?" Consider this answer canon.
Written by: Zadie Smith (Swing Time, NW) Release date: October 8 Why we're excited: One of the most well-regarded writers of the past two decades releases her first ever short story collection.