While January is traditionally a month for looking forward—everyone full of good ideas and burning resolutions—today we’re focusing on the other face of the month’s namesake, Janus, and looking back. Of the 600+ articles we published in 2019, which ones did readers of the Amazon Book Review find the most compelling?
But before we start, here’s a quick reminder that if you’re a voracious reader who loves new book recommendations or interviews with both popular and debut authors, sign up for our daily email that highlights our newest articles. Then you’ll never be without a good book by your side.
Here we go, starting with the most popular article of 2019:
We get a lot of flak on our Facebook page for Celebrity Picks—our series of articles in which famous people who are now authors (like Elton John) or authors who are now famous (like Delia Owens, of Where the Crawdads Sing) tell us about three or four books they recently read and loved. Comments on Facebook range from “Who’s that?” to “Who cares?!” But the numbers tell a different story: Amazon Book Review readers want to know what books other readers have loved, even if (or because) they are celebrities.
I admit, this was a head-scratcher. History?! But we traced the popularity of this article back to an influencer who reposted it, bringing in a flood of readers to learn about the best new history books published in January 2019. And while the huge interest in this single article initially appeared to be an anomaly, we did see the history category rise in popularity throughout the year. The best history books of 2019 was among our most popular “best of the year” categories—an unexpected win for books too often seen as stuffy.
At the end of June, the queen of the beach read offered three reading recommendations ranging from “beachy” to “NOT AT ALL beachy (but terrific nonetheless).” Amazon Book Review readers who were finally going on their summer vacations and looking for books to stuff in their beach bags wanted to hear what Hilderbrand had to say. Hilderbrand’s own novel, Summer of ’69, was a mainstay on Amazon Charts throughout the summer, demonstrating that she not only knows her reading, she knows her writing as well.
The Amazon Books editors cover a lot of topics on the Amazon Book Review, including children’s books. This article written by Criminal Minds actor Matthew Gray Gubler was the perfect intersection for our readers between kids’ books and celebrity, as he talked about how a bowl of mint chip ice cream and a hallucination (okay, maybe not a hallucination—you be the judge) inspired him to write a story about Rumple Buttercup, who has five teeth, green skin, and lives underground, all alone. Gubler also included photographs of his early sketches of the ugly but huggable Rumple Buttercup. Check it out.
Yes, the Amazon Book Review sometimes features recipes, too! Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, shared her peach cobbler recipe from Cooking for Jeffrey. (Lucky Jeffrey!) While this is an older article originally published in 2016, readers who had baskets full of peaches turned to the culinary wisdom of Garten this summer to wow their friends and family with this delightful cobbler.
There are two very special moments in our lives as Amazon Books editors. One is when we pick up a new book and think, “I hope it’s great.” The second is when we finish a fantastic book and think, “I think this could be a best book of the year!” In mid-year, we share with readers the 20 books published from January through June that we consider the best books of the year…so far. This June 18 article highlighted a number of books that had won us over, including The Silent Patient, which went on to become the blockbuster thriller of 2019.
Have you heard of the Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Awards, or the Newbery Medal? Every January, the American Library Association names their winners for the best kids’ books, including those three prestigious awards, among others. Come back to the Amazon Book Review on January 27, 2020, to see which books win this year.
Every year, members of the World Science Fiction Convention cast their ballots for the best science fiction novels, novellas, and young adult books of the year. Finalists are announced partway through the year, and winners are announced at WorldCon in August. (You can be a member and vote, too—and excitingly, 2020’s WorldCon is in New Zealand!) If you ever want to meet George R.R. Martin, WorldCon is the place to be, as he throws an annual Hugo Losers party (which he talks more about in our podcast with him). The announcement of the winners of the Hugo Awards was also among the most popular articles of 2019, as were articles on Epic Reads and most anticipated SF and fantasy of the summer. There’s a good reason why these articles have so many readers: Marvelously mind-bending and imaginative books are coming from both new and veteran science fiction and fantasy authors every day. To keep up with the new releases, you can see our own picks for the best science fiction and fantasy of the month.
Our seven-person editorial team talks about books all day long… with each other. We’re stuffed into a single room and surrounded by bookshelves, and books is what we love. (Plus our children, our partners, and our pets, which we also talk about a lot.) Every few weeks, we post about books we are talking about, and those books can be best-sellers, buzzy upcoming releases, or a book that somehow is just perfect for the moment. This post features not only Prince and John Grisham, but the much-anticipated March 2020 novel from Hilary Mantel, who is completing the historical fiction trilogy that she began in 2009 with Wolf Hall.
This dramatically titled article features five also-dramatic thrillers, including, of course The Silent Patient, which we would later in the year name the best mystery of 2019. Surprise endings in mysteries is par for the course—hey, if you could guess the killer every time, it wouldn’t be as much fun—but in the last few years, thrillers have taken the final surprise to a whole new level. If these novels’ big finales didn’t make you gasp (or at least widen your eyes), then you should be writing thrillers yourself, my friend.
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- Editors' picks: Best books of 2019
- Celebrity picks - See what your favorite authors are reading and loving
- All ears: The Amazon Book Review Podcast
- Editors' picks: Best books of the Month
- Book award winners
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