Last week, we announced our list of the Best Books of the Year So Far. Our top adult pick for the first half of the year is Elizabeth Gilbert's novel City of Girls. Gilbert was in the Amazon offices a few weekends ago (that's right, she was here over the weekend; everyone is tightly scheduled, especially Elizabeth Gilbert during a book launch), in order to talk to Amazon editor Erin Kodicek. You can listen to their conversation in the second half of the Amazon podcast, which is embedded at the bottom of this page.
Picking the Best Books of the Year So Far is one of the highlights of the year for us. Take a look at the list, which includes 14 categories, including Kids and Teens selections. But we have been talking about other books as well. Here are the books we are talking about.
City of Girls: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert
As I wrote, City of Girls is our top pick for the Best Books of 2019 So Far. Here is Erin Kodicek's review of the novel: "It’s 1940 and good-time gal Vivian Morris has just been expelled from Vassar, but she doesn’t much mind. Her parents, on the other hand, are less than thrilled, so they dispatch their dawdling daughter to New York to live with her aunt Peg—the charismatic proprietor of a past-its-prime theater that is home to a quirky, cobbled-together family of thespians and showgirls (whom you will genuinely miss when the last page is turned). Here, Vivian sets out to become someone interesting, and in short order commits a colossal youthful indiscretion that makes her interesting for all the wrong reasons. Elizabeth Gilbert has said that she wants City of Girls to go down like a gin fizz. (Mission accomplished!) But she slyly imparts some hard-won wisdom into this bawdy but bighearted novel, written as an antidote to the grief Gilbert was experiencing after the loss of her partner, Rayya Elias: “Life is dangerous and fleeting. And thus there is no point in denying yourself pleasure or adventure while you are here.” To that end, don’t deny yourself the pleasure of reading City of Girls." —Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
Our top pick in the children's category is The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise. This book is recommended for ages 9-12, and I love the blurb that the author Katherine Applegate gave for it: "Sometimes a story comes along that just plain makes you want to hug the world."
Five years ago, Coyote lost her mother and two sisters in a car crash. Since then she has been traveling around with her father in an old school bus. Coyote learns that a park in her old neighborhood is being demolished--a park where she, her sisters, and her mother once buried a memory box. So she needs to get back to recover it. This is a book about adventure, the people you meet, and what it means to return home.
The Overstory: A Novel by Richard Powers
Meanwhile, in the category of one of the best books from last year, The Overstory was chugging along just fine. Then it won the Pulitzer and it seemed to gain a whole new level of success--since then, it has been a phenomenon. Here is Amazon senior editor Adrian Liang's review: "Do you love trees? I thought I did, until I read Richard Powers's The Overstory, and I realized that my appreciation of trees was lightweight at best. When one of Powers's characters goes to a small grove outside her office window to determine the tree's species, "She stands with her nose in the bark, perversely intimate. She doses herself for a long time, like a hospice patient self-administering the morphine." Trees are not exactly an addiction to the wide-ranging cast of characters--an engineer, a Vietnam vet, a college student, a videogame designer, and more—but more like a touchstone that offers tradition and destiny at once. Powers, a National Book Award and Pushcart Prize–winning author, is devious in that he first immerses the reader in the lives of his characters before delicately oxygenating his story with the devastation of Dutch elm disease, the enduring strength of the sequoia, and the communication methods trees use to warn of predators and to lure allies. The Overstory might sound a bit woo-woo—and it definitely is that, though in such a way that it inspires passion instead of eye-rolling. This gorgeously written novel will seduce you into looking more closely at not only our fellow human beings but the towering bio-kingdom that is too often merely a backdrop to our days. Perhaps, like me, you will be inspired to walk out into the night to smell the rain sweeping through the nearby evergreen trees." —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review
Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand
The Queen of Summer has struck again. Just as the leaves turn in fall, Elin Hilderbrand seems to drop another bestseller every June. Her latest is Summer of '69, which also happens to be her first novel set during an historical period. Like her other novels, it still takes place on Nantucket, a place that couldn't escape the tumultuous 60s despite its remote island setting.
Ask Again, Yes: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane
Finally, another book that made our Best Books of the Year So Far list is Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. The book got a big boost yesterday when it was reviewed on NPR. And now it's rising up even further at Amazon. That's something we are happy to see, because this is a novel that we believe in. You can see my interview with Mary Beth Keane here.
Want even more on the best books of the year so far? Listen to the latest episode of the Amazon Book Review podcast (embedded below) to hear the editors discuss a few of their favorite titles from the list, along with an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. Find more author interviews and book-talk in our podcast archive, and you can subscribe via iTunes or TuneIn.
- Best Books of the Year So Far
- Browse best books of the month
- The Amazon Book Review Podcast
- News about award-winning books
Subscribe to the Amazon Book Review, featuring picks for the best books of the month, author interviews, reading recommendations, and more from the Amazon Books editors.