Reviews of 37 Exceptional Books Published in 2019

There are many places to find reader reviews on the web, but it can be a challenge to know which are truly independent.

The reader reviews offered through BookBrowse's First Impressions program are trustworthy because only our members can post them. Members have the opportunity to request books to read months ahead of their publication dates in exchange for their honest opinion. They can request specific titles but the books are assigned by an algorithm. So, while it's conceivable that someone with a personal connection to the book might receive a copy to review, the chances of there being enough people to influence the overall consensus is effectively zero.

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The Top 20 Best Books of 2019

It's been a great year for books, and if you haven't had as much time to read as you might have liked, hopefully you can take the opportunity over the holidays to rest, read, and refuel. If you don't already have a stack of unread books on your nightstand waiting for your attention (or even if you do), you'll definitely want to pick up a few of the titles in our Best of Year lineup consisting of the 20 books that were rated highest by BookBrowse subscribers in our annual Best of Year survey. The books are listed in ratings order lower down this page; but first, the four 2019 Award Winners!

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14 Great Books to Discuss With Your Book Club

Whether you're wondering if a book might be right for your book club, or you just want to see what others have said about a book you've read, BookBrowse's Book Club discussions are an excellent resource. In 2019, our members exchanged views on 14 different books.

What sets BookBrowse's Book Club apart from others online is the quality of the discussion. Participants come together with the intent of sharing and learning from each other, just as they would if they were physically in the same room, and by reading through and, if you wish, taking part in these discussions, you can gain a good sense of whether a book is going to be a good fit for your book club.

Most of these discussions are now closed for new posts, but you can browse them all to find out what people thought of each book and discover which topics generated the most lively debate.

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Food and Competitive Hosting at Book Club Meetings

Food is so closely tied with social gatherings, it's no wonder that it's often present at book club meetings. In fact, according to our research report, The Inner Lives of Book Clubs, 91% of private book clubs have food at their meetings, ranging from a snack (41%) to a full hostess-cooked meal (13%) or potluck (13%). Among public book clubs (i.e. groups that are open to anyone to join, many of which meet in libraries), 61% have some sort of food but the great majority keep it very simple.

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Best Books for Book Clubs in 2020

Looking to start 2020 off right with some excellent book club selections? We're here to help. All of these books received positive reviews from BookBrowse and are coming out in paperback in the first three months of 2020, and all but one has a reading guide. So if your New Year's resolution is to be more prepared (or if this was your resolution last year, but you never got around to it), take this opportunity to start planning ahead for a great year of lively book club discussions!

There are options for readers of all tastes and interests, from historical fiction to novels examining social issues, to nonfiction investigative reporting. Many of these books involve complex female characters, from Madeline Miller's Circe to the Korean seafood divers in Lisa See's The Island of Sea Women. Both Alan Brennert's Daughter of Moloka'i and Myla Goldberg's Feast Your Eyes examine mother-daughter relationships, though the authors approach their subject from vastly different angles. Sarah Bird's Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a fictionalized version of the life of an American heroine with grit and heart in equal measures. These and more to explore below!



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The First (and Last) Lines of Iconic Books

The first line of a book is a written invitation addressed to the reader. If the reader likes the invitation, they read on. If they don't like it, they close the book and read something else. Finding the best combination of words for that first line can take a while. Some authors devote months of time to develop the opening line of their book. Stephen King, for example, recently revealed that he has spent months, even years, crafting his opening sentences.

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