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Find more Notable Books
The Notable Books Council, ALA Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), presents its annual best-of list of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles published in the U.S., books selected for their significant contribution to the expansion of knowledge or for the pleasure they provide. This list has been compiled for use by general readers and for librarians who work with adults. All titles were published in 2019.
Dominicana. By Angie Cruz. Flatiron, $26.99 (9781250205933).
In this vivid and timely tale of immigration, a young woman summons the courage to carve out a place for herself in 1960s New York.
Everything Inside. By Edwidge Danticat. Knopf, $25.95 (9780525521273).
This searingly emotional short-story collection explores the complexities of the Haitian diaspora.
Girl, Woman, Other. By Bernardine Evaristo. Black Cat, $17 (9780802156983).
A sweeping look at Black British life through a symphony of female voices, young and old, conventional and iconoclastic.
The Innocents. By Michael Crummey. Doubleday, $26.95 (9780385545426).
On an isolated cove along the Newfoundland coastline, the lives of two orphaned siblings unfold against a harsh, relentless, and unforgiving landscape.
Lanny. By Max Porter. Graywolf, $24 (9781555978402).
This is the story of an English village, three people, and a child around which everything revolves. Inventive, raw, and insightful, it is more to be experienced than read.
Lost Children Archive. By Valeria Luiselli. Knopf, $27.95 (9780525520610).
A summer road trip captures a moment when both a country and a family are in danger of splitting in two in this meditation on the immigration crisis and the role of artists bearing witness.
The Nickel Boys. By Colson Whitehead. Doubleday, $24.95 (9780385537070).
This powerful and unforgiving portrait of a school for boys in Florida sheds light on the cruel and dehumanizing legacy of the Jim Crow Era.
Normal People. By Sally Rooney. Hogarth, $26 (9781984822178).
Two Irish high-school students take up an intense relationship that wavers between love and friendship as they move on to college. The deceptively simple style plumbs the depths of human nature in a coming-of-age story of uncommon grace and power.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. By Ocean Vuong. Penguin Press, $26 (9780525562023).
In a letter from a son to his mother who cannot read, Little Dog unearths a family’s history rooted in Vietnam, also revealing his journey of self discovery.
Sabrina & Corina. By Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Random/One World, $26 (9780525511298).
This debut collection captures and preserves the beauty in the lives of Latinas of Indigenous descent working through change, violence, love, and family in a gentrifying Denver and the American West.
The Topeka School. By Ben Lerner. Farrar, $27 (9780374277789).
This stylistically complex novel opens in 1990s Kansas and delves into themes including relationships, aggression, and masculinity.
Trust Exercise. By Susan Choi. Holt, $27 (9781250309884).
A performing-arts high school serves as a backdrop for young love and its aftermath, exposing persistent social issues in a manner that never lets the reader off the hook.
The Water Dancer. By Ta-Nehisi Coates. Ballantine/One World, $28 (9780399590597).
A gifted young man, born into slavery, becomes the conduit for the emancipation of his people in this meditative testament to the power of memory.
Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life. By Louise Aronson. Bloomsbury, $30 (9781620405468).
An examination of aging and the human condition, this call-to-action challenges the U.S. medical system to rethink patient care.
A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century. By Jason DeParle. Viking, $28 (9780670785926).
Experiencing cultural differences, long separations, and triumphs, a group of Filipinos leaves their families and homes behind for better jobs in other countries, including the United States.
The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation. By Brenda Wineapple. Random, $30 (9780812998368).
Congress enacts the first trial of a President after he refuses to enforce the laws and legislation for post-Civil War reconstruction, including equal rights for individuals freed from enslavement.
Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss. By Margaret Renkl. Milkweed, $24 (9781571313782).
An exquisite essay collection rich in reflections on family, place, and the wonders of nature.
Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves. By Frans de Waal Norton, $27.95 (9780393635065).
Readers are led through research showing that other living creatures have their own range of emotions.
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster. By Adam Higginbotham. Simon & Schuster, $29.95 (9781501134616).
Extensive investigation and access to new materials paint a full picture of the worst human-made accident to date, including corruption, incompetence, inexperience, secrecy, courage, and heroism.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. By Patrick Radden Keefe. Doubleday, $28.95 (9780385521314).
In this fascinating blend of true crime and history, the kidnapping of a widowed mother is the starting point for the investigation of the IRA during the conflict known as The Troubles.
Thick: And Other Essays. By Tressie McMillan Cottom. New Press, $24.99 (9781620974360).
A bold, new voice combines theory and the everyday to explore race, feminism, and culture.
Underland: A Deep Time Journey. By Robert Macfarlane. Norton, $27.95 (9780393242140).
An exploration into underground worlds, from the human-made to the natural, and how they connect to our myths, beliefs, and rituals.
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. By David Wallace-Wells. Crown/Tim Duggan, $27 (9780525576709).
A dive into the climate apocalypse illuminates the myriad devastations that await us.
Yellow House. By Sarah M. Broom. Grove, $26 (9780802125088).
A memoir of family love, striving, and loss in New Orleans East that exemplifies humanity and injustice.
Deaf Republic. By Ilya Kaminsky. Graywolf, $16 (9781555978310).
This book-length poem begins with a soldier shooting a deaf boy and the gunshot rendering everyone in the occupied town deaf.
The Tradition. By Jericho Brown. Copper Canyon, $17 (9781556594861).
Searing rhythmic poems examine Blackness, queerness, spirituality, and trauma with integrity and profound insight.
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