Most Popular Titles of 2019
by Mary Swabb, Learning & Information Services Supervisor
Another year is almost in the books, and, betwixt all the holiday hubbub, you might have become aware that just sixteen days remain before we ring in the new year. Now might be a good time to look back and take stock of what’s happened, what you’ve read, what’s been written, and make plans for the future, like what books you’re going to read in the upcoming year. Here’re a few of this past year’s top titles that you won’t want to miss:
In her debut book, “Educated,” Tara Westover tells her coming-of-age story about growing up in a survivalist family residing in the mountains of Idaho, where she stockpiles canned goods, makes homemade remedies with her mother, and helps her father by working in his junkyard. Growing up, Westover was forbidden to seek medical attention, other than the herbalism provided by her mother, and she did not receive any formal education, so she began educating herself. Westover ending up attending Brigham Young University, and then went on to attend Harvard and Cambridge. Westover’s journey is one of self-invention, family loyalty, grief, and struggle. It’s a story that presents insight into what an education is, and what it offers- perspective on one’s life, and the opportunity to change it.
Helping women unpack their restrictive mindsets and embrace forward momentum, Rachel Hollis, lifestyle coach, seeks to share her tips for living a better and less fear-driven life in her first book, “Girl, Wash Your Face.” Hollis expands in more detail on how to let go of excuses, adopt positive behaviors, and believe in yourself in her new book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing.”
In “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth,” Sarah Smarsh weaves a lyrical and poignant tale of her fifth-generation wheat farming family, speckled with young mothers and people who understand a hard day’s work. Smarsh, primarily raised by her grandmother on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita, enjoyed the freedom of a country childhood but observed the economic hardships and limited opportunities surrounding her family. Combining personal narrative with cultural commentary, Smarsh challenges readers to acknowledge the class divide in our country and to re-examine the idea that if you make less, you’re worth less.
Jodi Picoult weaves a nuanced story that tackles complicated issues in “A Spark of Light.” Picoult entwines the narratives of a variety of characters who find themselves at the Center, a women’s reproductive health services clinic, on the day an avenging angel solicits vengeance at gunpoint. This unique narrative is told in a backward structure that shows how each person arrived at the Center. The novel’s directness combines with Picoult’s trademark sentimentality to engage readers in a dialogue on this difficult subject.
At a luxurious health resort in the Australian countryside, nine people gather for various reasons to relax and recover. They are all given blood tests upon arrival by the spa owner, Masha, an ominously beautiful women with huge green eyes who seems too beautiful to be real. But the blood tests don’t turn anyone away from the experience, and of course the nine guests are not strangers like the title would suggest. Obviously, something odd is going on. Read “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty to find out what happens to these “strangers.” Moriarty’s dark humor does not disappoint.
In “Long Road to Mercy,” David Baldacci introduces readers to his newest protagonist, Atlee Pine, an FBI special agent assigned to the remote wilds of the western United States. Baldacci’s intricate plots, double crosses, and fast-paced suspense are hard at work as Atlee Pine investigates a string of disappearances, the most recent being the rider of a mutilated mule found in the Grand Canyon. Will Atlee Pine be able to unravel these missing persons cases in the canyon?
If you’ve already read all these titles, or they just don’t capture your interest, Manhattan Public Library has plenty of other titles to add to your 2020 reading list. Feel free to stop by the library and ask a staff member for a recommendation. We’d be happy to help you find your next great read.