The Top 50 from the Best Books of 2019 List of Lists

This is my annual community service to book-bloggers – a list of the books that appear most frequently on the 56 lists that I listed on Best Books of 2019 – A List of Lists.

Presenting the 2019 Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2019-Book-Lists-Before-December-31 top 50 books.

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Books that made seven lists –

Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
Mrs Everything by Jennifer Weiner
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Scott
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
Red White and Royal Blue by Casey Mcquiston
The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell
Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett
Once More We Saw Stars by Jason Greene
Thick by Tressie Cottom
The Institute by Stephen King
Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Books that made eight lists –

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Spring by Ali Smith
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
Furious Hours by Casey Cep
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Books that made nine lists –

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Lot by Bryan Washington
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Wang
How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Books that made ten lists –

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

Books that made 11 lists –

Grand Union by Zadie Smith
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Lanny by Max Porter

Books that made 12 or 13 lists –

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
The Need by Helen Phillips
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Exhalation by Tony Chiang

Books that made 14 or 15 lists –

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Women Talking by Miriam Toews
Inland by Téa Obreht
She Said by Jodi Kantor
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman

Books that made 16, 17 or 18 lists –

Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
In the Dream House by Carmen Machado
Underland by Robert Macfarlane
Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James
The Yellow House by Sarah Broom
Say Nothing by Patrick Keefe

Books that made 19, 20 or 21 lists

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Girl Woman Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

Books that made 22-29 lists –

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Books that made 30 or 31 lists –

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

I’ve read seven (Gottleib; Gilbert; Reid; Oyeyemi; Atwood; Taddeo; Rooney); have another seven in the TBR stack (Jami Attenberg; Zadie Smith; Sarah Broom; Patrick Keefe; Ben Lerner; Bernardine Evaristo, Ann Patchett) and I am busting to read another ten (Adrienne Brodeur; Jason Greene; Esme Wang; Deborah Levy; Nicole Dennis-Benn; Jodi Kantor; Chanel Miller; Elizabeth Strout; Jia Tolentino; Taffy Brodesser-Akner).

Do you agree with the critics – will any of these titles make your ‘Best of 2019’ list?

35 responses

  1. I have read none, so I don’t expect any to be on my top list! Also, I’m guessing these are all new releases – it would be unusual for older books to make multiple best-of lists after all! Anyhow, there are a few here I’m interested in – particularly the three that made 11 lists! What does that say about me? Mainly that I’m just not keeping up anymore with world publishing. Struggling to keep up with Aussie publishing!

    Anyhow, thanks for doing this list Kate. Always interesting.

    • They are all new release except Normal People – it made the list last year but was re-released this year?? Not really sure how that works! Anyway, I read it this year and it is easily one of my favourites this year.

      Every so often, I check back over these lists and see how many I’ve read from each year – hate to agree with the critics but very often my favourite reads appear on these lists! T said, Aus authors rarely make it and invariably they dominate my own list each year.

      • Hmmm, no. Probably depends exactly when it was released? Anyhow, who are we to whinge about things like this. After all it’s promoting books and reading.

        These days I read very little contemporary books from overseas. I think this year only about 25% of my reading will end up being non-Australian, but most of those are older works.

  2. A couple of crossovers with mine and I read some that weren’t on my list but were tight runners up – Ghost Wall, and I took Normal People off my list because I thought it was a 2018 release? I know there was a new edition this year but that violated my rules.

    • Yes, Normal People was on last year’s list as well – I don’t really get how that happened??

      My annual list is based purely on what I read in that year, regardless of when it was published (I don’t actually read enough new releases to put together a top 10).

      • I noticed in a couple of places (Goodreads and maybe the publisher site or could have been Booktopia) that Normal People is listed with a 2019 publication date, which is confusing, but there was a new edition this year so maybe that’s why. I still don’t think it counts – using my rules, which nobody needs to worry about but me.

  3. I am so impressed with your list and your graphic! I’m reading Fleishman… now and think I will be among the minority of readers who didn’t get it / didn’t love it. The Nickel Boys was just alright for me, too. (In fact, there are lots of books here that I didn’t really get on with, and certainly wouldn’t rank among the best of the year.) Once More We Saw Stars and Olive, Again will certainly be among my top reads of the year, though.

    • Will await your thoughts (eager to see if it lives up to the hype – I read a sample chapter and although it didn’t grab me, I did wonder if it’s a book that you need to get in the rhythm of).

  4. These end of year book lists are equal parts funny and discouraging because they always make me question, what the heck did I actually read then? hahaha I read a total of 3 so I guess I’m not doing terrible. It’s amazing to see how many books made as many lists as they did though. Thanks for putting this together!

      • Listen to the Leigh Sales/Annabel Crabb podcast then you will know ALL ABOUT Fleishman – they loved it and we’ve now been selling a truck load at work purely on their say-so!

  5. I read Normal People last year, so it was on best of 2018 list instead. But certainly Olive, Again, Girl Woman Other and The Man Who Saw Everything will be on there. Still not sure if Three Women and the Testaments will qualify for my list.

    I have The Dutch House, Ducks Newburyport, Red at the Bone and the Memory Police on my TBR. Exhalation and Nothing to See Here are on my radar.
    It’s a very US dominant list, as you’d expect I guess.

    Thanks for highlighting the Kirkus review in particular – found some great wishlist ideas there. And THANKS for compiling this list again – fascinating as always – and very useful for me at work 🙂

    • I truly wish Australians were better represented – I would put together a separate Aus list if it were possible but there are so few newspapers etc publishing top 10 lists…

      I may be wrong but it seemed to me that there were more translated books on the list this year, so there is a small bit of diversity.

  6. I just checked out of the library: TRUST EXERCISE and ON THIS EARTH WE’RE BRIEFLY GORGEOUS. I loved DUTCH HOUSE, INLAND, and DISAPPEARING EARTH. Not sure one should say they love NICKEL BOYS because it is so disturbing. FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE sounds wonderful. I also want to read ORDINARY PEOPLE and OLIVE AGAIN. So many good books. How will I read them all? I hope you are okay with me linking this post onto my blog post about end-of-the-year best books lists.

    • es, very much under-represented… actually, not represented at all. he only ones that came close were Jane Harper’s Lost Man and Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe.

  7. I read and loved the memory police. I also read ghost wall and it was an okay read. I liked concepts but not the book overall. Daisy Jones was extremely well written and I see why others love it. I hated gideon the ninth and black leopard red wolf. Those two were highly anticipated and sadly abandoned. For me to have read five is kinda amazing. I only have two others to read from this list. As usual, I haven’t heard of most of these. Love that ye compile this list so I don’t have to! Arrrr!
    x The Captain

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  9. This has reinforced my feeling that I have not kept up to date with contemporary publishing – thought i’ve heard of several of the most often cited books I’ve read not even one. Partly because I’m trying to reduce the TBR but also because I never buy hardbook copies – I have to rely on the library and they are so often well behind the times

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