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8 books from 2019 you shouldn’t miss

For booklovers, 2019 couldn’t have been better. For most genres, there came a literary gem that not only won the readers with its fine writing but challenged them to expand their imagination as well. Only a few page-turners like The Shining or Pachinko can leave an impact like this. But this year, there were many.

No matter which genre you treasure, 2019 didn’t disappoint anyone. In mysteries, there were novels that were bold, intense, and graced with cliff-hanger endings. In romance, there were as much diversification of characters and family themes as there were warmth and relatability. Memoirs were funny, yet dark and shocking. Science-fiction authors didn’t disappoint either as they introduced readers to a dystopian future, zombie plagues, faraway worlds, and interplanetary empires that resonated with the real-world climate challenges and political issues.

Every year, readers expect their favourite authors to outdo themselves. Looking at the most anticipated books of the year, it is safe to say that the bar has been raised. But 2019 wasn’t just for the hall of fame authors. Many debutants from around the world made an unexpected entry to the bestsellers list, which is a mark of growing competition and a surge in talent.

Celebrating their work and craft, Soulveda has created a list of the books of 2019 that deserve a standing ovation for their storytelling palate, a riveting plot, and animated characters.

The Institute, by Stephen King

Behind most of our nightmares, there is an antagonist brought to life by Stephen King. Whether it’s a clown monster from IT, a demon child from Pet Sematary, or a zombie king leader from Cell, King has an arsenal of the scariest villains of all time. With his latest release, The Institute, the list has become longer and scarier.

For antagonists, The Institute has humans who torment children with ‘special’ abilities. The people in charge of the institute run secret experiments on their ‘subjects’ who live each day as their last, quite literary. The novel has everything a King fan would expect—drama, suspense, chilling revelations, murder, and vengeance. The Institute is one of the scariest—if not the scariest—novels of 2019, which is also a reminder to why King is the king of the horror genre.

I Miss You When I Blink, by Mary Laura Philpott

Not a linear memoir, but a collection of essays inspired by real-life events, I Miss You When I Blink is the debut memoir-in-essay by Mary Laura Philpott. Quickly recognised as the modern-day reincarnation of Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwin; Philpott has captured the lives of every woman struggling with an identity crisis and searching for happiness.

What makes I Miss You When I Blink a delightful read is its warm humour and its honesty. And even though the book is set on modern American life, it appeals to women from all spheres of life who want more from life than it has to offer.

Hence begins a family’s fight for survival and staying together in a riveting, gripping story of The Water Cure, long-listed for the 2019 Man Booker Prize.


In the Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado

Every memoir has a story to tell. And something to give. Through her autobiography, In the Dream House, Carmen Maria Machado wants the readers to feel her pain and decide if it’s real. In the Dream House is the story of abuse experienced by Machado in her relationship with a “woman”—Machado has kept her ex-partner’s identity anonymous in the book.

Machado doesn’t want her readers to be voyeurs but characters of her memoir, so they can witness what abuse, deception, intimidation, and manipulation can do to a person. Speaking on the genuineness of the book and the house where the story unfolds, Machado writes, “I could give you its address, and you could drive there in your own car and sit in front of that Dream House and try to imagine the things that have happened inside.”

The Dreamers, by Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson Walker’s debut novel, The Age of Miracles, is about a dystopian future where catastrophic natural disasters occur when Earth’s rotation slowed down. Walker’s latest work, The Dreamers, is another Sci-Fi masterpiece, where it’s the humans who are ‘slowing down’.

The Dreamers begins with a strange epidemic where humans are mysteriously falling in perennial sleep and not waking up. No one knows its reason, but one thing is clear to the experts; everyone is dreaming about something grandeur. But what are these dreams? Pursuing the answers and the cure, characters of the novel race against time to save their loved ones, their community, and humanity.

The Water Cure, by Sophie Mackintosh

Isolated from the mainland where violence towards women has reached its pinnacle, on a deserted island, a woman and her three daughters lead a peaceful life. Or at least they try to. The woman’s husband has fortified the island to protect the family and keep them invisible from the cruel world outside. One day, the woman realises her husband is missing, and three men have entered their territory. Hence begins a family’s fight for survival and staying together in a riveting, gripping story of The Water Cure, long-listed for the 2019 Man Booker Prize. It is the debut novel of Sophie Mackintosh, recipient of the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize.

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

From the New York Times bestselling author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth, comes another masterpiece, The Dutch House. Spanning across five decades, Ann Patchett’s new installment, The Dutch House is a story of a brother and a sister stalked by an unsettling past that tests their bond and their choices. The novel follows the trajectory of life coming full circle, as the protagonists find themselves at the same place from where their story started, even before their birth.

The Dutch House is proof of Patchett’s exceptional skills as a writer and a thinker. Her vivid description of the characters and remarkable storytelling ability make The Dutch House an experience difficult to forget.

Mostly Dead Things, by Kristen Arnett

Kristen Arnett debut novel, Mostly Dead Things, revolves around Jessa-Lynn, a taxidermist, groomed and moulded by her father. Things run normally until one day Jessa’s father commits suicide and the responsibility of the broken family falls on her shoulders. Milo, her younger brother works at a local car dealership and spends most of his time sleeping through the shifts. The sudden death of Jessa’s father leaves her mother in shock, leaning into her creative side she begins turning her husband’s artwork into erotic installations. While each member of the family has their own demons to fight, things turn from bad to worse when Milo’s wife, who is also Jessa’s ex-lover, vanishes into thin air. Arnett’s dark humour mixed with rich prose keeps the readers glued to the story.

Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout

It was 2008 when Elizabeth Strout first introduced Olive Kitteridge in Emotional Wallop, winning her the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. After 11 long years, Olive is back in Strout’s latest Olive, Again. Set in a remote town of Maine, Olive, Again is an array of 13 short stories that are oddly interconnected with one another. The stories have something great to offer, as each character experiences transcendental moments in their journeys. And as Olive continues to wear the garb of an outspoken, intimidating woman, she comes face-to-face with her vulnerability and fears.

With Olive, Again, Strout has proved yet again why she is one of the greatest writers of this generation. Only a few writers can create a story so intense that it evokes a cocktail of emotions in the readers through the originality of the characters, details of the narratives, and carefully crafted sentences.

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