There are a lot of books out there, and you only have a limited amount of time. Choosing titles you’re sure to love can help you make the most out of the hours you spend curled up in your favorite reading spot.
Of course, everyone has their own thoughts regarding what makes a book “good”. Some people want drama and suspense, others want elegant turns of phrase and artful motifs.
In my opinion, the best books are often those that appeal to multiple audiences. They clearly possess some universal quality that draws in casual and sophisticated readers alike – a feat most authors don’t achieve.
With that in mind, I’ve selected three of the best new books I read in 2019. Here they are.
1. Furious Hours
This is the only nonfiction book I’ve included on this list. Although it’s marketed as a true crime narrative, I found it to be much more than just another murder story.
The first two-thirds of Furious Hours deal largely with the murder of “The Reverend” Willie Maxwell, a suspected killer himself. There’s plenty of intrigue and excitement in that story alone, but for me, the final part of the book was the most interesting.
Harper Lee, famous for authoring To Kill a Mockingbird, attempted to chronicle the events surrounding The Reverend’s death herself. Casey Cep gives this journey just as much careful attention as she dedicates to the scandal of Willie Maxwell’s murder and the deaths of several of his relatives.
These pages are a beautiful portrait of a writer at work, and her struggle to create. Creatives will sympathize with Lee’s attempts to capture a truth buried beneath a mountain of lies, and every reader will see one of America’s most beloved writers in a new light.
2. The Dreamers
I picked this book up mostly on a whim, and was pleasantly surprised to find it absolutely mesmerizing. It has a hazy, otherworldly quality consistent with its title and content.
The plot centers around a small California college town. Students begin mysteriously falling asleep and failing to wake up again, and their condition soon spreads to the residents of the fictional Santa Lora, indiscriminately infecting young and old, male and female, professors and janitors.
The thing that most impressed me about this novel is Karen Thompson Walker’s ability to craft complex characters within confined spaces. A large cast consisting of several students, a young couple and their baby, a single father and his daughters, a psychiatrist, and others fill the pages to the brim. Nevertheless, by the end readers are intimately familiar with the hopes, dreams, and fears of each.
Although it’s labeled science-fiction, don’t expect any thrilling expeditions into space or futuristic technologies here. Instead, The Dreamers provides an ethereal look into the human psyche, spurred by an unforeseen crisis.
3. Where the Crawdads Sing
I picked up Where the Crawdads Sing while browsing a local bookstore, read “exquisite ode to the natural world”, “coming-of-age story”, and “possible murder” on the jacket, and immediately bought it. It delivered on all fronts.
Delia Owens’ background as a wildlife scientist and writer shines through in her gorgeous descriptions of the Carolina coast and marshes. The setting lives and breathes in this novel. In my opinion, it’s worth reading for that reason alone.
Kya also makes for a compelling protagonist. She has a unique blend of independence that comes from having raised herself and a distrust of authority, and a naiveté born of her lack of experience with other people. Watching her work through these conflicting traits is an absorbing experience.
I did have one major hangup with this book – the dialogue. It’s a little stiff, very awkward, and not entirely believable. I found myself cringing through characters’ conversations and rushing to get back to Owens’ more skillfully crafted descriptions.
The pros certainly outweigh the cons, however, and Where the Crawdads sing is worth a read. It sold over a million copies in its first year, so I think it’s safe to say that many agree with me.
There were a lot of amazing books published in 2019, but each of us only has so much time. If you’re looking for quality reads that are worth investing a few hours in, here are my top picks for this year:
- Furious Hours by Casey Cep
- The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
What were your favorite books of 2019? Let me know in the comments section below!
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash.