The best of genre reading in 2018

Coordinated by the American Library Association, each year a group of librarians from across the country form The Reading List Council with the goal to identify the year’s best books across eight genres. Here are the 2019 winners (for books published in 2018) in Adrenaline, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, and Women’s Fiction, plus the short list of runners up in each category. Find new titles in the genre you love, or branch out and find something new to try. You can also find this full list in our library catalog.


Book cover image for Safe HousesSafe Houses by Dan Fesperman
Managing CIA safe houses in 1979 West Berlin, Helen overhears a secret conversation that sends her on the run. Thirty-five years later, a tragedy leads Helen’s daughter to dig into her mother’s secret past, unaware that her mother’s old enemies are still watching.

Short List:
Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe ♦ Bearskin by James McLaughlin ♦ Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier ♦ Star of the North by David John


Book cover image for FoundrysideFoundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Sancia is a thief-for-hire whose latest job has the potential for a life-changing payout. When she realizes the power of the item she has stolen–a magical key with the ability to open any lock–she keeps it for herself, setting in motion a chain of events with far-reaching consequences.

Short List:
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty ♦ The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert ♦ The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang ♦ Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Historical Fiction

Book cover image of Between Earth and SkyBetween Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore
When Alma discovers a former classmate from her missionary parents’ Indian Territory boarding school has been arrested for murder, she returns home to defend him. Upon arrival she reflects on the heartbreaking legacy of forced assimilation and the damage done by stripping Native American children of their language and culture.

Short List:
The Butcher’s Daughter by Victoria Glendinning ♦ Circe by Madeline Miller ♦ Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce ♦ A Well Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler


Book cover image of The Silent CompanionsThe Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
In 1860s England, pregnant Elsie travels to her deceased husband’s crumbling country estate. Kept company by only a few servants, Elsie discovers a realistic life-sized wooden figure in the attic. As the figure and others like it begin popping up around the house, Elsie begins to question her sanity.

Short List:
Awakened by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth ♦ Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach ♦  The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay ♦ Melmoth by Sarah Perry


Book cover image of The Widows of Malabar HillThe Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
Oxford-educated Perveen Mistry is the first practicing woman lawyer in 1920’s Bombay. When three widows of a wealthy Muslim businessman need legal assistance, Perveen is perfect for the job –especially since the women live secluded from men. When the widows’ guardian is murdered, Perveen must unravel the mystery.

Short List:
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James ♦ Broken Places by Tracy Clark ♦ Crimson Lake by Candice Fox ♦ The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan


Book cover image of InterceptedIntercepted by Alexa Martin
When Marlee Harper discovers that her NFL player boyfriend has been cheating on her, she swears off athletes forever. Or, at least, until the team’s new quarterback Gavin Pope enters the picture. Years ago, Marlee and Gavin shared a steamy encounter, and the sparks continue to fly when they meet again.

Short List:
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang ♦ A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole ♦  Tempest by Beverly Jenkins ♦ The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Science Fiction

Book cover image of The Calculating STarsThe Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
In a world emerging from World War II, Earth is struck by a massive meteorite. Faced with the likelihood of total extinction, the scientific community dedicates themselves to developing space technology. The efforts of aspiring astronaut Dr. Elma York and her fellow women scientists are hampered by racism and sexism.

Short List:
Noumenon Infinity by Marina J. Lostetter ♦ An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim ♦ Stars Uncharted by S.K. Dunstall ♦ The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

Women’s Fiction

Book cover image of Stray CityStray City by Chelsey Johnson
In the early 1990s, Andrea Morales flees her disapproving parents and discovers a family within the Portland, Oregon lesbian scene. Betrayal causes Andrea to stray from her community, resulting in an unintended pregnancy. After ten years, her daughter Lucia discovers her father’s identity and asks to meet him.

Short List:
The High Season by Judy Blundell ♦ How to Walk Away by Katherine Center ♦ Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson ♦ Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes

~ posted by Andrea G.

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