Earlier this week I posted about 15 new releases I want to read in 2020 – but I definitely have a long list of backlist titles I want to get to, as well. New releases can be fun, especially when they’re super hyped online, but backlist titles also hold a lot of merit and I think it’s important to keep up with a mix of old and new titles. Below are 20 books released BEFORE 2020 that I want to make a priority to get to next year!
Boomer1 – Daniel Torday – 2018
Undead Girl Gang – Lily Anderson – 2018
Love, Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli – 2007
Dress Codes for Small Towns – Courtney C. Stevens – 2017
How to Walk Away – Katherine Center – 2018
Beartown – Fredrik Backman – 2017
November 9 – Colleen Hoover – 2015
Eliza and Her Monsters – Francesca Zappia – 2017
The Nowhere Girls – Amy Reed – 2017
Birthday – Meredith Russo – 2019
Red White, and Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston – 2019
Autoboyography – Christina Lauren – 2017
Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit – 2014
The Radium Girls – Kate Moore – 2017
The 4-Hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss – 2007
City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert – 2019
Middlegame – Seanan McGuire – 2019
Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl – 2018
The Cabin at the End of the World – Paul Tremblay – 2018
Sawkill Girls – Claire Legrand – 2018
Have you read any of these books? Have I been missing out having not read them yet, or could I skip them to make way for 2020 new releases?
Here’s a fun (read: discouraging) activity: go through your entire owned TBR list and count just how many books you thought you would have read by now but haven’t. I don’t consider my book collection huge by any means, but I was astounded to find that I have 56 books currently sitting on my shelves that I had every intention of reading this year. Although I will be carrying them into 2020, I’m declaring now that any books on this list that I haven’t read by the end of 2020 will be donated. In my opinion, there’s no reason to hoard stacks and stacks of books that remain unread year after year, so in order to keep my number of unread books low, I made the list below.
See the below list for all of the books I currently own and have not read – and plan to read within the next year. This list does not contain the 12 books I plan to read in December (read that post here), but it does contain all of the others.
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
Hatchet – Gary Paulson
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Metamorphasis – Franz Kafka
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
It Ends With Us – Colleen Hoover
Peak – Roland Smith
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood – Ann Brashares
Girls in Pants – Ann Brashares
Forever in Blue – Ann Brashares
Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty
Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
The Limit – Kristen Landon
Carry On – Rainbow Rowell
Historical Fictions (3)
Phantoms in the Snow – Kathleen Benner Duble
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
All the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda
Good as Gone – Amy Gentry
Pictures in the Dark – Gillian Cross
The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
The Crossing Places – Elly Griffiths
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
The Lying Game – Ruth Ware
The Silent Wife – A.S.A. Harrison
Attached – Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
Good to Great – Jim Collins
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands – Dr. Laura Schlessinger
The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell
Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein
Science Fiction (1)
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? – Temi Oh
A Coach’s Life – Dean Smith
Beyond Basketball – Mike Krzyzewski
Cubs Essential – Lew Freedman
Gold Dust – Chris Lynch
Hate Mail From Cheerleaders – Rick Reilly
Million Dollar Throw – Mike Lupica
One Yard Short – Les Steckel and Rob Suggs
Our Boys – Joe Drape
QB1 – Mike Lupica
Quiet Strength – Tony Dungy
The 33-Year-Old Rookie – Chris Coste
The Boy Who Saved Baseball – John H. Ritter
The Jordan Rules – Sam Smith
The Power of Negative Thinking – Bob Knight
Toughness – Jay Bilas
Travel Team – Mike Lupica
I would love input as to which of these books I should prioritize and read right away in 2020. Let me know if you have read any of them and your thoughts! If not, what are the top books you own and want to get to at some point in 2020?
2019 was such an amazing reading year for me – I completed over 100 books, found some new all-time favorite authors, and really honed in on my personal reading tastes for the first time. Looking forward to 2020, I have already become aware of a number of books to be released that I’m excited to try for one reason or another. Some are by authors that I already know I love, some are by authors that I want to give a second chance, and a some are authors completely unknown to me but have such an interesting premise that I want to check them out as soon as possible.
Below are 15 of my most anticipated releases for 2020 along with a short blurb on why I’m excited to read the book as soon as it comes out. Please let me know if any of these are on your radar for next year or if there are any other books you have your eye on!
Books by Favorite Authors
The Dilemma by B.A. Paris Anticipated Release: January 2020
B.A. Paris has quickly become one of my favorite thriller authors – two of her books, Behind Closed Doors and Bring Me Back, were both 5-star reads from me. I have very high hopes for this new one, which I actually was lucky enough to receive as an e-ARC from NetGalley and will be getting to read very soon!
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager Anticipated Release: July 2020
Riley Sager is an author I discovered this year, and after reading his debut novel Final Girls, I immediately had to read his subsequent books The Last Time I Lied and Lock Every Door. Every single one has been either 4 or 5 stars because of his extremely atmospheric writing, so I’m expecting nothing less from his upcoming thriller!
Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis Anticipated Release: March 2020
I actually have only read one book by Mindy McGinnis, The Female of the Species, but I absolutely loved it. Kind of a mix between a thriller and a contemporary, it completely stood out from all of the other books that I read this year and makes me very interested to read more from her to see if the vibe is the same throughout. In addition to this 2020 release that I want to try as soon as it comes out, I also have Heroine on my shelves already after being released this year – I plan to get to BOTH of them early in 2020!
Untitled by Ruth Ware Anticipated Release: July 2020
Another author that I only had to read one book from to fall in love with – Ruth Ware’s The Turn of the Key was released this year and quickly became a favorite of not only mine but so many people on the Bookternet. As I try to get to all of her backlist titles as well, I definitely am planning on keeping up with her future releases as they come.
Lucky Caller by Emma Mills Anticipated Release: January 2020
Foolish Hearts was my first exposure to Emma Mills, which I read this year and loved despite it being a young-adult contemporary-romance, not typically my favorite genre. Something about it really tugged at my heartstrings and actually made me feel quite nostalgic for the books that I read as a teen. If any of her other books are the same way, I do not want to miss out, which is why I’ll be keeping up with her future releases along with chipping away at her backlist when I can!
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power Anticipated Release: July 2020
Rory Power’s debut novel, Wilder Girls, was released just recently and I decided to try it out right away because of the hype I was seeing about it online. What I loved about it was the creepy premise and atmospheric writing, and although I wanted more from the plot, I could tell that Rory Power’s writing was something I connected with and really could fall in love with if the right story came along. I’m hoping that’s Burn Our Bodies Down!
Authors I Want to Give a Second Chance
You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen Anticipated Release: March 2020
I have only read one of this duo’s books, An Anonymous Girl. I unfortunately did not like the story itself and grew bored of the characters and the mystery. However, many readers of this book shared similar feelings as me and claim that their first book, The Wife Between Us, was much better. I hope to try that one out as well as their 2020 release to see if it was just the story I didn’t connect with, or if this writing duo just doesn’t do it for me so that I can know for future years.
The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren Anticipated Release: March 2020
Ironically, this is another writing duo that I have only read one book from and am skeptical about my connection with. The Unhoneymooners was a huge contemporary romance released this year that I read and actually REALLY disliked. Something about the characters rubbed me the wrong way, and the fact that this book was so beloved in the online community makes me think that maybe Christina Lauren books are just not for me – but I am willing to give them one more chance before writing them off completely.
Loveless by Alice Oseman Anticipated Release: April 2020
The firt and only book I have read by Alice Oseman is Radio Silence, another book very beloved by the online book community. Although I didn’t hate it, I didn’t connect with the story as much as so many other readers seemed to. It may be because of the young-adult focus or for some other reason, but I think one more chance is warranted for Alice Oseman before I decide not to read any of her future releases.
He Started It by Samantha Downing Anticipated Release: April 2020
When I read My Lovely Wife this year, a super-hyped thriller, I was really disappointed in how much I disliked the story, which followed a married couple of serial killers. I do, however, think that it was completely plot-based and have some hopes that I could enjoy future Samantha Downing thrillers with a different premise.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel Anticipated Release: March 2020
I am actually currently halfway through my first book from this author, Station Eleven. My thoughts are still very much undecided – on one hand, the post-apocolypic premise should be something I absolutely love, but I’m feeling a little underwhelmed and confused by the execution so far. But, I’m wanting to give it its fair chance to come together in the end, and with this author’s next release already announced I’m sure I will give it a chance regardless of whether I end up loving this current read or not.
Authors Unknown to Me
Strange Exit by Parker Peevyhouse Anticipated Release: January 2020
I have not read anything by Parker Peevyhouse before, but I have become intrigued in trying one of his books because of Booktuber Booksandlala. For the most part, if Lala enjoys a book (especially sci fis and thrillers), then I will too. Why not test this theory with Peevyhouse’s newest release in January?
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson Anticipated Release: March 2020
Peter Swanson is a thriller writer that I had not heard of before but became aware of as I was planning my Goodreads Thriller Predictions. Although his book didn’t end up on the 2019 nominee list, I still think that I would like to try one of his thrillers in the future in hopes that I connect and find a new favorite thriller author!
The Other People by C.J. Tudor Anticipated Release: Feburary 2020
C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man was released in 2018, yet I have continued to see rave reviews about it well into this year. I definitely plan to get to it sometime in the future, but want to be one of the first to read his upcoming 2020 release as well so that I can be in-the-know if it turns out to be another favorite of the online book community!
Beach Read by Emily Henry Anticipated Release: May 2020
I saw mixed reviews of Emily Henry’s When the Sky Fell on Splendor after its release this year. Although I don’t think I will go back and read that one, this 2020 release sounds to have a very different premise (contemporary instead of science fiction), so I’m willing to give it a try in hopes that this is the genre she is meant to be writing!
Are there any upcoming releases that I’m missing that you’re looking forward to – or is anything on my list also on yours? I’d love to know – the more prepared I can be for upcoming books, the more likely I’ll be to prioritize and actually get to them soon after release!
Hello December! I wish I could express just how excited I am for this month – Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, and this year it will be even more special because I am expecting a baby ANY day now! I can’t wait to see how much better this little Christmas baby makes the holiday season, which for me is already so full of love and family and joy.
BUT… in the back of my mind I still know that I have SO MANY BOOKS that I want to get in before the end of the year. I know that between the holiday craziness and a newborn baby I will DEFINITELY not get to most of the books that I want to, but I’ve picked 12 that I WANT to and feasibly think I CAN read before the end of the month – and as an extra little challenge, I named this post 12 Books before Christmas so that I can hopefully spend the last full week of the year completely enjoying my family without stressing or thinking about any reading goals I have yet to complete 🙂
There’s not much of a rhyme or reason to this TBR, but I have included the 12 books I want to read below with the short blurbs on why!
Title: Station Eleven Author: Emily St. John Mandel Genre: Dystopia
Why I Want to Read It: These first two books on my list are a little bit of a cheat – I’ve actually finished them both already. (It’s the 4th of the month, and every day counts!!) This is a book that I had seen hyped all over the internet, claiming to be a creepy, sort of hard-hitting post-apocolyptic dystopia novel about a traveling Shakespeare troupe navigating a world whose population has been wiped out by 99.99%. I’ll save my full thoughts for my December wrap-up, but unfortunately this one did not live up to the hype for me!
Title: Artemis Author: Andy Weir Genre: Science Fiction
Why I Want to Read It: Again, I already have read it – but this had recently been added to my shelves as a thrift store find. I loved both the book and the movie of The Martian by Andy Weir, so I thought this book by him might be worth a try. Again, full thoughts to come, but I was so extremely pleased to find that I loved this one just as much!
Title: An Unwanted Guest Author: Shari Lapena Genre: Thriller
Why I Want to Read It: I have read all three other books by Shari Lapena, including her 2019 release Someone We Know, and to be honest my opinion on her is still up in the air. I believe the three other books I have rated 2, 3, and 4 stars – so I’m hoping this one will help me solidify my thoughts on whether I connect with Shari Lapena’s writing or not!
Title: The Dilemma Author: B.A. Paris Genre: Thriller
Why I Want to Read It: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris is one of my all-time favorite thrillers – I absolutely loved the writing, the story, and the way I was left thinking about it for hours/days/months after finishing it. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book, set to be released in January, and I’m pumped to read more of her writing in this new thriller that I really don’t know anything about.
Title: The Bridge of Little Jeremy Author: Indrajit Garai Genre: Contemporary
Why I Want to Read It: I was sent a physical copy of this book by a representative of the author in return for a review, based on my feelings about Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. I expect this book to similarly be very character-focused and potentially hard-hitting, which I’m excited to get into and share my thoughts about this previously unknown-to-me book and author.
Title: Until We Meet Again Author: Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger Genre: Historical Fiction
Why I Want to Read It: This one’s an interesting one – this book actually belongs to my husband, who recommended I read it several months ago. I haven’t gotten around to it yet because it seems to be quite out of my comfort zone, but I’d really like to fit it in by the end of the year so that I can relay my thoughts back to him 🙂
Title: The Death of Mrs. Westaway Author: Ruth Ware Genre: Thriller
Why I Want to Read It: This year Ruth Ware became one of my favorite thriller authors after reading only one book – The Turn of the Key – and I now want to get to ALL of her backlist titles. I’ve been told that they aren’t as good as her most recent release, but I’d like to make that decision for myself – starting with this one!
Why I Want to Read It: I read The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis early on this year and gave it 4 stars – I really connected with the hard-hitting story, complex characters, and McGinnis’s style of writing. Since this seems to have more of that hard-hitting subject matter, I have high hopes that I’ll enjoy this book just as much.
Title: Everything I Never Told You Author: Celeste Ng Genre: Contemporary
Why I Want to Read It: You might see a theme here, but I read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere this year and – spoiler alert – it’s ending up in my Top 10 of 2019 (post to come!). This is her only other full-length novel to date, and I can’t wait to dive in (pun intended, see the cover) to this one and hopefully love it as well. A bonus is that it’s pretty short and should be easy to squeeze in!
Title: Night Film Author: Marisha Pessl Genre: Thriller
Why I Want to Read It: Marisha Pessl is an author that I have not yet explored yet but think that I will really love, based on reviews of her books Night Film and Neverworld Wake. This one I just happened to stumble upon in a thrift store, so I picked it up and would love to prioritize it this month!
Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Author: Fredrik Backman Genre: Contemporary
Why I Want to Read It: One more time – I’ve read one book so far by Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove. That book really surprised me in how much it impacted me by the end, and I hear that that’s what all of his books do. I hope to get to Backman’s entire backlist eventually, but this one by the end of the year will be good enough progress towards that goal for me.
Why I Want to Read It: Gillian Flynn has been hit-or-miss for me with her last two books; I absolutely adored the book and movie of Gone Girl, but then was extremely disappointed in how much I disliked Dark Places. This one will be the tie-breaker – is Gillian Flynn one of my favs, or was Gone Girl an anomoly for me?
Just writing about these books has made me excited all over again to read them – I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of these books before and what you thought of them. If not, what are you planning on reading in December? I realize now that I have absolutely no seasonal reads, and I’m treating this month more like a catch-up month for my physical TBR – are you planning on reading holiday-themed books for the month instead?
Hope everyone has/is having a wonderful holiday season!
Man oh man, I thought I was setting myself up for a busy reading month in October (see my TBR here and get ready for my wrap-up on Friday!)… but when setting up my November reading schedule, I realized that November is going to be even crazier! There are a whole bunch of challenges and readathons I want to participate in, so the most logical way for me to get to everything is to organize my month by weeks and have a different theme/challenge/readathon to focus on for that week. I’m super excited for all of these titles and really hoping I can keep my motivation up to finish all of them. I’d love some encouragement (or… commiseration? 😊) so if any of you are planning on participating in these readathons too, please let me know!!
Week One (Nov. 1-8): Goodreads Choice Award Thriller Nominees
The Goodreads Choice Awards are coming (I thought yesterday, but I guess I was wrong! But likely sometime in the next couple weeks), and I’d like to read all of the books nominated for the Mystery & Thriller category. I made some predictions earlier this week (see them here!) and I plan to spend the first week of November finishing off that list, as well as revising and reading the books that are ACTUALLY nominated once those come out. And, yes – this idea is heavily influenced by Booktuber Booksandlala – my queen. Can you blame me? The exact number of books I want to get to depends on how many of my predictions end up being correct… but my goal is somewhere between 3 and 5 books within the first 8 days of the month. Below are some that I’m thinking I have a good chance of getting to!
Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson
Although I haven’t read from this author before, I’ve seen several good things about him and this book floating around the bookternet. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be about a woman who starts to suspect her husband has something to do with an unsolved murder that happened in their town a couple of years ago.
Someone We Know by Shari Lapena
This latest release from Shari Lapena is, I believe, her 4th thriller, and so far I have read her first 2. Although neither have been 5 stars, I’m excited to give her another chance. I have heard that this book is about a small town in which everyone has secrets and wants to know everything about everyone else, but I don’t know much more of the plot than that!
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
This is a book that I certainly would not have planned to pick up had it not showed up in my research as a highly-rated, highly read thriller likely to be nominated for the GR Choice Awards. According to Goodreads, this book appears to follow two brothers trying to find out the truth about the death of their third brother.
Watching You by Lisa Jewell
Again, another book and author I likely would not have discovered if not for being nominated for GR awards in the past. Like Shari Lapena’s, this book also seems to follow a small-town neighborhood made up of nosey individuals trying to uncover everyone’s secrets.
Wilder Girls by Rory Power
This last one I’m not sure completely fits in the thriller category, as I’ve heard it more commonly described as a fantastical horror-type novel. But it has been extremely hyped, so nonetheless I’d love to read it even with the outside chance that it ends up as a nominee. I’m sure most people have heard of it, but the general plot seems to follow a group of young girls being held on an island as some kind of virus infects them and starts mutilating their bodies in horrific ways.
Week Two (Nov. 9-17): Tome Topple
This is a new-to-me readathon with the main focus being to read books with 500+ pages. The readathon is hosted by Booktuber Thoughts on Tomes – see her announcement video here for more details (including the actual dates of the readathon, which are the 9th to the 22nd!). I have several books on my owned TBR that fit this main goal, but I’d love to get to two or three within the nine days.
Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman
This is the second book in the wildly popular Arc of a Scythe series, a dystopian series about humans living in a futuristic world where death no longer occurs naturally. Death only comes to those who are selected by scythes themselves, highly-respected members of society who are trained to glean a certain number of people every year as a means of population control. I absolutely loved Book 1 of this series (Scythe) and am very excited to finally get to Book 2 (Thunderhead) and then eventually to Book 3 (The Toll), which is being released on November 5th!
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
This is a book that I have seen so many great reviews for yet know so little about that I don’t even want to know the basic plot before starting it. As far as I know, it is a thriller with some pretty dark/messed up topics, and I’m so excited to dive into it.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
On a very different note, Carry On is a novel said to be sort of a retelling of Harry Potter in which Harry and Draco end up in a relationship. It sounds fun and creative and I’ve seen so much love for this book floating around that even though it’s out of my comfort zone a little, I’m excited to give it a try.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
You may be sensing a theme here, but this is another beloved book in the online community that I want to experience for myself. This historical fiction novel is set in Nazi Germany and follows a young girl who becomes, quite literally, a book thief, stealing books and exposing herself to worlds outside of her own, potentially offering hope in a time and place that is so hopeless for her in real life.
Week Three (Nov. 18-24): Buzzwordathon
And then comes one of my favorite readathons, Buzzwordathon. This is hosted by Booktuber BooksandLala (mentioning her twice in one post, clearly she is my fav!) – see her announcement video for this round of the readathon here! This readathon always features a buzzword (or a set of buzzwords) with the goal being to read as many books with that word/those words in the title as possible. This round, she has announced the set of buzzwords to be numbers – any form of any number in the title counts. Again, I have several books on my owned TBR that fit, but I think three to four is a reasonable number to strive to complete within the week.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
At the top of my Buzzwordathon priority list is this post-apocalyptic novel about a group of Hollywood actors trying to survive civilization’s collapse.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
This is (I believe) a contemporary novel about nine strangers who are at a health resort and whose lives (I’m assuming) start to interweave. I’ve only read one other book by Liane Moriarty, and I’ve seen mixed reviews about most of her works. So this could be a great experience or a very bad one. Either way, I’m excited to get it off my TBR list!
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
This classic novel is set during WWII and follows an American bomber during his experiences overseas trying to stay alive and ultimately make his way back home. I think I’ve tried reading this book before and found it hard to get through, so I’m hoping this time my experience is a little better and a little easier, since this book is so iconic in literature.
Million-Dollar Throw by Jim Lupica
This book actually belongs to my husband… but because it sits on my shelf, I have a weird thing about wanting to actually read it so that I can eventually have read all of our owned titles. I have no idea what it’s about (other than football, obviously) or if I’ll like it, but it is fairly short so I should be able to easily knock it out!
Week Four (Nov. 25-30): Sci Fi Month
Lastly, it was brought to my attention that November is Sci Fi Month as denoted by blogger OneMore.org. This is definitely self-explanatory, but the focus of this reading challenge is to read as many Science Fiction novels and consume as much Sci Fi content (in any format – tv shows, movies, podcasts, etc.) throughout the month. Although I’d love to dedicate the entire month to that theme, I feel most comfortable committing the last week of the month catching up on any Sci Fi books I still have on my shelves by the end of the month. I’d love to finish two within the five days I’ve allotted.
Artemis by Andy Weir
I just recently got my hands on this book and am super excited to get into it. I loved Andy Weir’s most popular book, The Martian, and because this book looks to be pretty similar in the space/sciency realm, I’m hoping I enjoy it just as much.
Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
This book is super intriguing, not only because of its hype on the internet but also because of the format of the book itself. It looks to be made up of mixed media: computer files, emails/messages, and other miscellaneous text types to make up a very uniquely-told sci fi story.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh
This book seems to be about a group of people leaving Earth for a new civilization and their experiences on the journey itself. I’ve heard that it’s suprisingly emotional, and I’m excited for that dynamic in a science fiction novel, as most tend to be more action-based than character-based.
And that is it for my (slightly crazy) November reading
plans. For some, it might feel overly-structured, but for me it puts my mind at
ease to have a little bit of a plan going in with some room for adjustment
based on my mood any given week. Plus, this is possibly my last serious reading
month of the year – in December I’m expecting to have a baby, and we all know
that will seriously derail any reading plans I try to set for myself 😊
Again, I’d love to know who else is participating in any of
these readathons or what your November reading plans are in general. Anyone
else feel like they have a ton of books to cram in before the end of the year?
You know what time of the year it is…. Goodreads Choice Award time! If I’m not mistaken, I believe the nominees for the 2019 GR Choice Awards will be announced tomorrow, with multiple voting rounds going on until winners are announced in early December.
This year I thought it would be super fun to take a page out of Booksandlala‘s book (AKA my favorite Booktuber, check her out if like Booktube videos and somehow haven’t found her already!) and read all of the nominees in the Mystery & Thriller category.
However, me being me, I had to take it one step further and try to get a little head start by predicting the books that I think will be nominated and ultimately win the category. I wanted to release this list today, so that when nominees are announced tomorrow I can see how many I got correct and how many I missed 🙂
So read on if you’re interested in my predictions, my rationale for selecting them, and my ratings & rankings for the ones I have already read.
How the Awards Work
For those not familiar with the Goodreads Choice Awards in general, I thought I’d briefly explain the awards and voting schedule.
The Goodreads Choice Awards are a set of popular-vote book awards voted on by the users of the Goodreads app/website. The awards are separated by category, most of them being genre-related (Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, etc.), with some additional categories including Debut Author and Best of the Best. 2019 will be the 10th year of the awards, and the categories seem to change slightly from year-to-year. There are a number of rules for what books can be nominated for the awards, which I was easily able to find on the Goodreads website, but the major criteria are that the books must have been released between November 16, 2018 and November 15, 2019, books can be nominated for only one genre category, and opening round nominees must have an average rating of 3.5 or higher (although write-in votes can have any rating).
The Opening Round of the awards typically starts on the last Tuesday of October (this year will be tomorrow, October 29th) and lasts for 6 days. It consists of 15 nominees selected by Goodreads based on titles shelved under each category, average rating, and number of ratings. Voters can vote for any of the 15 nominees OR write in a vote for any book of their choosing.
The Semifinal Round begins the following Tuesday (November 5th this year) and lasts for 6 more days. It consists of the 15 original nominees plus the 5 most-written-in titles to make up a list of 20 nominees. Voters can vote for any of the 20 nominees on the list.
The Final Round of voting begins the following Tuesday (November 12th) and last for 14 days. This round consists of the top 10 nominees determined by the Semifinal Round. Voters can vote for any of these top 10 books.
And finally, the winners for each category of the Goodreads Choice Awards are announed on the first Tuesday of December, which this year falls on December 3rd.
My Mystery & Thriller Predictions
As I mentioned, the selection process for opening-round nominees is slightly unclear, but we do know it involves a book’s average rating, its number of total ratings, and the genre that it is shelved most commonly as. With this information, I went in and looked up all of the thrillers I could find and think of and listed them based on number of ratings. I also made sure to look at authors with books previously nominated for this award because repeat nominations (for authors with new books) is common. Filtering out books with an average rating of less than 3.5, below is my predicted Top 15/Opening Round nominees.
# of Ratings
The Silent Patient
An Anonymous Girl
Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
The Turn of the Key
The Lost Man
My Lovely Wife
Lock Every Door
Two Can Keep a Secret
Karen M. McManus
Before She Knew Him
The Last House Guest
The Night Olivia Fell
And some titles I think might come up as write-ins:
Someone We Know
I Know Who You Are
The Night Before
The Family Upstairs
My Pick/Ratings So Far
Of the 22 books I listed above, I have read 11. Below is my personal ranked list of these titles from my favorite to least favorite – tune into my October wrap-up in a couple of days for some more in-depth thoughts of almost all of them!
Verity – Colleen Hoover – 5 stars I absolutely loved this book’s premise and execution – very suspenseful, great twist and ending!
The Turn of the Key – Ruth Ware – 5 stars Super atmospheric and suspenseful, enjoyed the mystery and characters, satisfying ending.
Lock Every Door – Riley Sager – 4 stars Also super atmospheric and suspenseful, I enjoyed the reveals even though I spoiled this book for myself!
The Silent Patient – Alex Michaelides – 3 stars Amazing premise, loved the format, first half of book was 5 stars but twist was predictable and ending unsatisfying.
Run Away – Harlan Coben – 3 stars Took a while to get into, overall good mystery and satisfying ending.
The Last House Guest – Megan Miranda – 3 stars Easy read, pretty good twist and reaveals, ultimately forgettable.
Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M. McManus – 3 stars Quick read, nothing outstanding, YA thrillers are generally not my favorite and this one followed that trend.
An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen – 3 stars Intriguing beginning but grew bored with the storyline, not surprised by the twists, not invested in the characters by the end.
The Institute – Stephen King – 2 stars Very long, not suspenseful in my opinion, underwhelming ending.
My Lovely Wife – Samantha Downing – 2 stars Did not find the serial killer perspective interesting, not suspenseful at all, not invested in characters.
Inspection – Josh Malerman – 2 stars Great premise but had some weird focuses/tangents, not suspenseful, action came too late in the story for me to feel invested.
But with that, my predicted winner is overwhelmingly The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. Lala does a really great job in her video from last year explaining that the winner of these awards is almost never the book with the highest rating on the nominee list – it is usually the book with the most ratings – and The Silent Patient is far and away the most-rated book on the list. I can’t wait to find out if my predictions are correct!
I would love to hear some additional opinions on this topic – are you a fan of the Goodreads Choice Awards, do you have any predictions for nominees or winners, and have you read any of the books on my prediction list?
I plan to post some updates throughout the voting periods following the nominees and trying to read any that I have not yet read. Also let me know if you want to join me in that challenge!
I am loving fall so far and all the inspiration and motivation it’s giving me to keep reading 🙂 This month I read 11 books – while that’s not my highest of the year, I’m still very happy with that amount and really happy with the books themselves that I was able to complete! Without too much of an intro, let’s go ahead and get into the wrap-up!
Title: Golden State Author: Ben H. Winters Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia Pages: 319 My Rating: 4 stars
Brief Summary: This book takes place in a futuristic society where lying is among the very worst crimes a person can commit. We follow Lazlo, a member of this society’s “Speculative Service,” as he enforces the laws requiring citizens to tell the truth at all times.
My Thoughts: This is a WILD ride of a book… at first it seems clearly dystopian, then it turns into sort of a mystery/thriller, and then it erupts into complete chaos. I didn’t know who was good and who was bad, who and what I was supposed to believe, and I CERTAINLY didn’t know what to expect from the ending. Not sure I’m completely satisfied with how it wrapped up, but it had/has my mind reeling, and I really enjoy that. Aside from the ever-twisting plot, I really enjoyed reading about the nuances of this society – for example, finding out that fiction books are outlawed because of their obvious deviation from the true world, and that sarcasm is considered okay as long as all parties understand that the speaker isn’t deliberately trying to mislead the listener. Overall a great read, and I fully recommend to fans of dystopias, science fictions, and government conspiracies.
Title: Appalachian Book of the Dead Author: Dale Neal Genre: Metaphysical Thriller (?) Pages: 250, DNF’d at 100 My Rating: 1 star Publication Date: September 3, 2019 An ARC of this book was provided to me by SFK press, but I am under no obligation to review positively or otherwise. All thoughts are my own and are given voluntarily!
Brief Summary: This book has been described as a “metaphysical thriller,” as it starts out by telling the story of an outlaw escaping prison and disappearing into the woods in South Carolina, murdering the unlucky few who get in his way. The book then follows several different individuals living in the near vicinity, paranoid by the news of this escaped convict but otherwise trying to live their lives.
My Thoughts: I just could not get into this one… I was confused about the tone and vibe of the writing – very slow-paced and ominous, but no clear plot – and I didn’t care about or connect to ANY of the characters. I unfortunately DNF’d after 100 pages, which is something I have a really hard time doing, but my reading experience was that bad.
Title: Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office Author: Lois P. Frankel Genre: Female Nonfiction Pages: 0 (audiobook) My Rating: 3 stars
Brief Summary: This nonfiction book highlights “101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers,” and then offers advice and solutions to stopping them.
My Thoughts: The format of this book was enjoyable – each of the 101 sections/tips were short enough to easily digest, and it offered plenty of convenient stopping points for reading this book in small chunks. Most of the advice was pretty generic, but overall good. Some of it started to rub me the wrong way, however – her advice to women “with thin skin” and who find themselves getting overly emotional at work is to just “get over it”… really? That along with a few of the sections on personal appearance felt way over-simplified and a little outdated. Overall not life-changing, and I will not be re-reading or recommending in the future, but there are some helpful nuggets if the reader is open to some tough love.
Title: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth Author: Alexandra Robbins Genre: Miscellaneous Pages: 448 My Rating: 5 stars
Brief Summary: This book explores “quirk theory,” or the idea that quirks and things that usually make us feel excluded early in life (like in high school) are exactly the traits that make us unique and successful later in life. The book follows seven individuals from different locations in the U.S. throughout one school year, going in-depth to their feelings and experiences – particularly how their quirks make them feel in relation to their peers and if there is anything they wish they could change about themselves or their situations. The book alternates between their stories and the author’s expression of different social theories, how they apply to each individual, and what it means for us as the readers and society as a whole.
My Thoughts: This book is really hard to summarize in just a few sentences because of just how in-depth it goes to each of the followed individuals’ lives, plus we get constant commentary from the author relating everything back to different psychological and social theories. It was really, really interesting, plus the seven different storylines made it feel like reading a fictional novel. I enjoyed seeing how each of the individuals’ lives played out, and I think I gained some insight and confidence that my own quirks should be celebrated and honed, not ignored. I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to high-schoolers or any individuals who are struggling with feeling excluded from their peers.
Title: The Last House Guest Author: Megan Miranda Genre: Thriller Pages: 0 (audiobook) My Rating: 3 stars
Brief Summary: This thriller follows Avery, a young, 20-something woman living in Littleport, Maine and working as a property manager for some of the vacation homes. It follows two timelines, the first being the summer of 2017 when Avery’s best friend Sadie is found dead in the water near her family’s vacation home, and the police are questioning everyone near to her to find out whether it was an accident, a suicide, or a murder. The other timeline is one year later, as Avery is dealing with the closing of Sadie’s case and wondering whether the police might have gotten it wrong.
My Thoughts: As an audiobook, I generally enjoyed this story. The setting of Maine gave it a great small-town, beachy vibe that was both fun and a little creepy. I can’t say that anything in the story was particularly great or terrible – a pretty run-of-the-mill thriller. I didn’t predict the ending, but that’s not usually my strength or my goal when reading thrillers. I love to just absorb the story and twists as they come – but some reviews I’ve seen say that the twists were obvious, and veteran thriller readers may find this story unsatisfying. If you’re a fan of Megan Miranda, I think this one is worth a try, but if you require huge plot twists or over-the-top storylines, you may want to skip this one.
Title: The Art of Fielding Author: Chad Harbach Genre: Sports/Contemporary Pages: 512 My Rating: 5 stars
Brief Summary: This book mainly follows the players on a midwestern collegiate baseball team throughout the senior year of team leader Mike Schwartz and junior year of talent standout Henry Skrimshander. Although baseball takes up a majority of their time, and therefore makes up a lot of the book’s plotline, the characters also deal with plenty of other issues including plummeting self-esteem, messy relationships, and uncertainty about the future.
My Thoughts: Whew… this book. There is so much more than meets the eye. First of all, I will say that although this book centers heavily around baseball, I do not think you have to be a sports fan in order to enjoy it. But if you ARE a baseball fan, you will enjoy it that much more. These characters are SUPER complex and the story is long enough that we get very intimate with their thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears, and uncertainties, which I think makes the story extremely relatable and easy to become invested in. Since my husband was the one who originally recommended this book to me, I think I can safely recommend it to both men and women – anyone who is looking to dive into an emotional story with lots of ups and downs, not unlike what we all go through in life in general.
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone Author: Laini Taylor Genre: Fantasy Pages:418 My Rating: 4 stars
Brief Summary: This fantasy novel follows Karou, a college student who spends half of her life in the human world, attending art classes and struggling with a nagging ex-boyfriend, and half of her life in a fantastical world, running errands for her part-human-part-animal father figure and receiving wishes in return – one of which she used to have her hair permanently grow in a bright blue color. She doesn’t know much about this other world, or her own past for that matter, and suddenly things start happening in and around this fantastical world that cause her to start questioning more deeply, which ends up putting her in danger and leaving her wondering if she should abandon the other world to live safely as a human, or risk everything to get the answers she’s been looking for.
My Thoughts: I’ll start out by saying I am NOT a fantasy reader. I prefer my fiction realistic, but I have seen this book and Laini Taylor often highly rated and recommended by members of the book community, so I decided to give it a try – and I really enjoyed it! I appreciated that I could still identify with the main character as a person (not just a mysterious magical being), and the fantastical world/magic system was complex enough to make for a compelling and satisfying story while also staying simple enough that I could follow and understand it all. I enjoyed the entire story, including the ending, and although I don’t think I will be continuing with this series nor will I only be reading fantasy from now on, I’m glad that I branched out and overall enjoyed my reading experience with this one.
Title: Maybe in Another Life Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid Genre: Contemporary Pages: 342 My Rating: 4 stars
Brief Summary: This book starts with main character Hannah moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles after several years moving from city to city, job to job. On one of her first nights back, she is confronted with a turning-point decision: go home with her best friend after a night of drinking and dancing, or stay out with an old fling possibly wanting to rekindle their romance? The story then splits into two alternate realities, following Hannah as she lives out her life based on the two possible outcomes of this decision.
My Thoughts: I think the concept of alternate realities is really interesting, and I loved reading about both possible outcomes and the compounding effect of one seemingly simple and trivial decision in the main character’s life. It really makes you think about all of the pivotal decisions in your own life and where you might be had you chosen a different path (which I guess is equally exciting and terrifying, depending on your personal outlook). I don’t think any of these characters were overly compelling, and this is not my favorite TJR book to date, but it was a thought-provoking page-turner of a book and I was ultimately left extremely satisfied after reading it.
Title: Final Girls Author: Riley Sager Genre: Thriller Pages: 339 My Rating: 4 stars
Brief Summary: This book follows Quincy, a woman who is twelve years removed from a traumatic life event where she was the sole survivor of a mass murder in a cabin in the woods. This puts her in a very small and exclusive group of women known to the press as “final girls,” something she shares with only two other women in the country. When one of the other final girls is found dead having committed suicide, and the other shows up suddenly at Quincy’s doorstep, Quincy is forced to dig up old memories and emotions she’d been repressing in an attempt to form a normal life after such an abnormal past.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this as my first Riley Sager read. The idea of uniting sole survivors from mass murders into this kind of “final girls club” is really intriguing, and that was enough to pull me through the first half of this book, which has very little thrill/mystery to it other than the backstories of all of the final girls. Once the twists and mysteries of the present time are revealed, it becomes more of your typical thriller and although it includes one of my least favorite plot devices – women with memory problems – I still enjoyed the ride and didn’t predict any part of the ending. So far I see why the Riley Sager hype is there and I’m excited to get to his subsequent books!
Title: After I Do Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid Genre: Contemporary Pages: 336 My Rating: 3 stars
Brief Summary: In this book, a couple that has been married for 9 years finds themselves in a rut in their relationship – they are constantly fighting, resent each other over small things, and are just generally unhappy being together. They decide to take a one-year break from their marriage, during which they are free to explore other people and relationships and are not allowed to contact each other in any way. The goal is for each of them to re-evaluate the relationship and decide if they want to fight for their marriage or go their separate ways for good.
My Thoughts: As someone who is married, a lot of the elements of this book hit close to home – it’s super common for small, nitpicky items to add up and boil over into a huge fight if you can’t communicate before it gets to that point, and it’s definitely difficult to learn to love the other person past the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Other than the interesting ways this couple chose to deal with their issues, I didn’t find myself super invested in the relationship and rooting for one outcome or the other. The couple is very average – which is what they’re supposed to be – but it made the overall story kind of boring and forgettable.
Title: One True Loves Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid Genre: Contemporary Pages: 0 (audiobook) My Rating: 3 stars
Brief Summary: This book follows Emma, a young woman who is celebrating her engagement to a man named Sam when she suddenly gets a phone call from her previous husband, Jesse, who has been presumed dead for 3 years. With this revelation that Jesse is still alive, Emma is caught in between her feelings for both men and wondering if it’s possible to love two people at the same time.
My Thoughts: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are so unique and I always find the plots super interesting to think about. I mean, nobody can imagine losing the love of their life early and having to move on to another relationship only to find out that the first person is still alive. However, with this book I just didn’t feel like I had enough time with the characters to be fully invested in any relationship. The story flips back and forth between current-day Emma and Sam, current-day Emma and Jesse, high-school Emma and Sam, and high-school Emma and Jesse – which are all relationships with completely different dynamics that make it really hard to sink your teeth into one before you’re whisked into another.
As I said in my October TBR, I am sooo excited to get to reading allll the thrillers this upcoming month. Let me know what you read in September and what you have planned for October!