Reading List: 2019’s Most Critically Acclaimed Books

View a more detailed description of the 2019 list.
View a list of all the critically acclaimed titles on our list from 0 to 2020.


Fiction

  1. Heads of the Colored People: Stories by Nafissa Thompson-Spires
  2. The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead
  3. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
  4. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  5. Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  6. American Spy: A Novel by Lauren Wilkinson
  7. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  8. The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
  9. They All Fall Down: A Thriller by Rachel Howzell Hall
  10. The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
  11. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  12. I Do Love You Still by Mary B. Morrison
  13. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
  14. Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
  15. Speaking of Summer: A Novel by Kalisha Buckhanon
  16. Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke
  17. Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington
  18. We Cast a Shadow: A Novel by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
  19. My Time in the Sun by Naleighna Kai
  20. New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent by Margaret Busby
  21. Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury
  22. One Night in Georgia by Celeste O. Norfleet
  23. Crossroads by LaVerne Thompson, Angela Kay Austin, Naleighna Kai, Ursula Sinclair, and 16 more
  24. Evil Never Sleeps: Tales of Light and Darkness by Robert Fleming
  25. Good Man Gone Bad: An Aaron Gunner Mystery by Gar Anthony Haywood
  26. The Wolf Queen: The Promise of Aferi Book II by Cerece Rennie Murphy
  27. The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz
  28. Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi
  29. The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
  30. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
  31. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
  32. The Farm by Joanne Ramos
  33. Out of Darkness, Shining Light by Petina Gappah

Nonfiction

  1. Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon
  2. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison
  3. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  4. The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers by Bridgett M. Davis
  5. The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom
  6. Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib
  7. Self-Value: The Story of Me by Brandon Williams
  8. Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  9. Breathe: A Letter to My Sons by Imani Perry
  10. Life Is God’s Best Gift: Wisdom from the Ancestors on Finding Peace and Joy in Today’s World by Sam Chege
  11. After Life: My Journey from Incarceration to Freedom by Alice Marie Johnson
  12. Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People by Ben Crump
  13. My Name Is Prince by Prince Rogers Nelson and Randee St. Nicholas
  14. How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir by Saeed Jones
  15. Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
  16. Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
  17. The Beautiful Ones by Prince Rogers Nelson
  18. In the Country of Women: A Memoir by Susan Straight
  19. Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook by Jose Andres and Matt Goulding
  20. Free Cyntoia: My Search for Redemption in the American Prison System by Cyntoia Brown-Long
  21. What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young
  22. More Than Pretty: Doing the Soul Work That Uncovers Your True Beauty by Erica Campbell
  23. I Am Dance: Words and Images of the Black Dancer by Hal Banfield
  24. Letters to the Finishers (who struggle to finish) by Candace E. Wilkins
  25. Inspire Your Home: Easy Affordable Ideas to Make Every Room Glamorous by Farah Merhi
  26. Your Next Level Life: 7 Rules of Power, Confidence, and Opportunity for Black Women in America by Karen Arrington
  27. Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward by Valerie Jarrett
  28. More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth

Children’s

  1. The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
  2. New Kid by Jerry Craft
  3. Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
  4. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
  5. Black, White, Just Right! by Marguerite W. Davol
  6. Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim
  7. Boonoonoonous Hair by Olive Senior
  8. Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds
  9. Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry
  10. Whose Toes are Those? by Jabari Asim
  11. Jake the Fake Goes for Laughs by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach
  12. The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes
  13. Around Harvard Square by Christopher John Farley
  14. Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers
  15. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia
  16. A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan
  17. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
  18. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
  19. Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan
  20. Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
  21. A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein
  22. Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk by Meredith Davis and Rebeka Uwitonze
  23. The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown
  24. I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones

Poetry

  1. The Tradition by Jericho Brown
  2. The Crazy Bunch by Willie Perdomo
  3. I: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte
  4. Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix
  5. A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland by Damaris B. Hill
  6. Honeyfish by Lauren K. Alleyne
  7. Mistress by Chet’la Sebree
  8. Felon: Poems by Reginald Dwayne Betts


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