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Reading is an intimate experience that pauses the grind of our daily lives. A good story can take you to a different world, spark new ideas and even teach you a bit about yourself. That’s why books are one of the most thoughtful gifts you can give to your family, friends or even coworkers who love to read.
However, it can be hard to choose the right book for the right person. Should you start with the classics? Sci-fi? Memoir? To help you on your hunt for the best books to gift this holiday season, we’ve compiled a list from the reading experts at Goodreads to get you started. Below, you’ll find Goodreads users’ top-rated books of 2019 across 10 different genres.
Each month, the 90 million members of Goodreads add more than 18 million books to their “Want To Read” shelves. Goodreads determines its most-anticipated lists by tallying how many members mark a book “To Read.”
Take a look below at the best books to give as gifts in 2019:
“The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood’s much-anticipated sequel to “The Handmail’s Tale,” “The Testaments,” picks up Offred’s story 15 years later. “The Testaments” is a thriller inspired in part, Atwood has said, by the world we’re living in. Read the reviews on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Ask Again, Yes” by Mary Beth Keane
Mary Beth Keane’s “Ask Again, Yes” is a family drama that poses questions about childhood, adulthood and forgiveness. Goodreads calls it “a profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.” Read more on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides
Alicia Berenson is a renowned painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer. Her life seems perfect. Until, that is, Alicia shoots her husband and refuses to talk. “The Silent Patient” follows Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, as he attempts to unravel the mysteries that Alicia has kept for herself in the years since her life changed. Read more about it on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“The Turn of the Key” by Ruth Ware
When Rowan Caine finds a nannying position in a high-tech smart home in the Scottish Highlands, it seems too good to pass up. “What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder,” reads the Goodreads description. Read more about this spooky tale on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
What happens when a captivating singer and brooding rock star join forces to form an instantly iconic rock powerhouse called Daisy Jones & The Six? And what could go wrong? Dive into the ’60s and ’70s with this tale of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — or, better yet, listen to the audio version. Read more about it on Goodreads, or grab a copy on Amazon.
“City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame is back. “City of Girls,” a tale set in the 1940s, features a strong woman and explores “themes of female sexuality and promiscuity, as well as the idiosyncrasies of true love.” Find a synopsis on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“The Wicked King” by Holly Black
The sequel to the New York Times best-selling novel “The Cruel Prince” has arrived, and Holly Black’s ravenous fanbase cannot get enough of the tale of Jude. “The Wicked King” finds Jude trying to keep her brother safe by binding herself to the wicked king Cardan to make herself “the power behind the throne.” Find more details on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern
Fans of “The Night Circus” will find themselves lost in another timeless love story with Erin Morgenstern’s “The Starless Sea.” This magical tale follows Zachary, a graduate student, as he discovers where he belongs in “a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead.” Read the reviews on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide” by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark
The comic duo behind the popular “My Favorite Murder” podcast is in print with a look at the events that made them who they are today. “Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered” is an irreverent account of struggles with depression, addiction and the unexpected twists that life throws at you. See how the book stacks up to the podcast on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
Who does a therapist go to when they need advice? “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” is a candid and humorous look into Lori Gottlieb’s world as a therapist and patient. It examines “the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.” Learn more at Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“In the Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado
“For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship,” Goodreads says in its description. “In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit.” Learn more about this National Book Award Finalist on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“How We Fight For Our Lives” by Saeed Jones
This memoir is about a young, Black, gay man from the South finding his place. Find out more about Jones’ powerful memoir on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland” by Patrick Radden Keefe
The New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe focuses on the abduction of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10, by the IRA in the 1970s, and how her story represents “the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with.” Find reviews on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster” by Adam Higginbotham
“The Body: A Guide for Occupants” by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is known for his humorous but easy-to-understand explanations of the world around us. This time, Bryson looks inside ― literally ― with a dive into the human body, how it works, and how we’re able to heal ourselves. See what Bryson fans are saying on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” by Mike Isaac
New York Times tech correspondent Mike Isaac took a deep dive into Uber — which Goodreads calls a “a corporate cautionary tale about the perils of startup culture and a vivid example of how blind worship of startup founders can go wildly wrong.” Read more on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Recursion” by Blake Crouch
This mind-bending novel by Blake Crouch follows a society plagued by False Memory Syndrome, in which victims are driven mad by memories of lives they’ve never lived. New York cop Barry Sutton teams up with neuroscientist Helena Smith to find the truth ― a difficult task as reality around them seems to shift. Find out more on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Dark Age” by Pierce Brown
“For a decade Darrow led a revolution against the corrupt color-coded Society. Now, outlawed by the very Republic he founded, he wages a rogue war on Mercury in hopes that he can still salvage the dream of Eo. But as he leaves death and destruction in his wake, is he still the hero who broke the chains?” Find out more about Brown’s sequel to “Iron Gold” on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“The Unhoneymooners” by Christina Lauren
Thanks to a bout of food poisoning, unlucky-in-everything Olive ends up on her newly married sister’s honeymoon trip with Ethan, the best man (and Olive’s sworn nemesis). Just when she’s ready to enjoy her free vacation as far away from Ethan as possible, Olive runs into her future boss. This romantic comedy follows Ethan and Olive as they pretend to be loving newlyweds, and Olive realizes she might not be as unlucky as she thought. Read more on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.
“Red, White & Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston
“When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius — his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond.” Things change, however, when Alex and Henry’s fake Instagram-worthy friendship turns into something deeper. Read more on Goodreads, and grab a copy on Amazon.