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SARAH GELMAN – Director, Amazon Books Editorial – Amazon’s Best Books of 2019!

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Here is my Davenport Cleaners Halftime interview with Sarah Gelman, the director of Amazon Books Editorial, discussing Amazon’s Best Books of 2019.  Enjoy!

Here are the Amazon Editorial Team’s Top 10 picks of 2019:

  1.   The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: Praise be! After almost 35 years, Margaret Atwood released the sequel to her pioneering work of speculative fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale, and it is well worth the wait. While The Handmaid’s Tale explored how totalitarian regimes come to power, The Testaments delves into how they begin to fracture. At 80 years young, Atwood is at the top of her game.
  2. The Nickel Boys: A Novel by Colson Whitehead: Having earned a Pulitzer and a National Book Award with his last novel, The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead follows up with a story about two young black men sent to the infamous Nickel Academy in Florida. Set during the 1960s Jim Crow era, the story follows Elwood and Turner who, despite different backgrounds and world views, learn to lean on one another to survive.
  3. Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur: The subtitle seems to say it all: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me. And yet there is so much more to the story. Adrienne Brodeur was fourteen when her mother started secretly dating Ben Souther. What developed after that was a strange, uncomfortable, impossible-to-look-away-from triangle in which young Adrienne became cover for the trysts between her mother and Ben. This is an engaging and at times breathless memoir that builds with anticipation and continues to unfold with observations and revelations.
  4. Quichotte: A Novel by Salman Rushdie: An exquisite satire on the world we live in, Rushdie’s latest novel pays Cervantes a great, clever compliment with this deliciously funny Don Quixote for modern times. An unusual romantic quest kicks off a road trip across America in an age that would be utterly surreal if we weren’t actually living it. An antidote to fear, bursting with intelligence and wit—Quichotte is exactly what so many of us need right now.
  5. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: Almost ten years after she wrote The Night Circus, Morgenstern offers readers a shape-shifting, time-bending, otherworldly adventure of storytelling, where pirates lurk and doors lead forward and backward in time, where crowded ballrooms collapse into oceans, and where a young man must piece together the clues to uncover and protect his own life’s story. This magnificent tribute to tales of the imagination is absolutely magical.
  6. Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac: Super Pumped is a masterful and highly entertaining work of investigative journalism into the evolution of Uber and its maverick founder Travis Kalanick. Perfect for readers who were captivated by Bad Blood, Mike Isaac’s Super Pumped provides an insider’s view of the stunning highs and catastrophic lows of the company that changed the way we use transportation.
  7. City of Girls: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert: It’s the 1940s, and the frivolous and fun-loving Vivian Morris arrives in New York with the goal of “becoming someone interesting”—and in short order she is, but for all the wrong reasons. The latest novel by the author of Eat, Pray, Love is bawdy, bighearted, and wise.
  8. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker: George Takei’s vivid graphic memoir reveals the story of his family’s incarceration during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, beginning when Takei was only five years old. Even as the memories depicted range from unsettling to infuriating, They Called Us Enemy inspires readers to insist that our country treats fellow human beings with fairness and dignity.
  9. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides: In this psychological thriller, a couple seems to have it all until the wife is convicted of shooting her husband in the face. But she will say nothing about the crime—or anything else, for that matter. After a criminal psychologist obsessed with the case comes on the scene, dark twists and delightful turns follow, secrets (and a diary) are revealed, and you will likely find yourself racing to the end of this year’s must-read thriller.
  10. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb: What happens when a celebrated psychotherapist finds herself on the other side of the couch? Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is an entertaining, relatable, moving homage to therapy—and just being human.

The top pick in the children’s category is the middle grade novel:

  1. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy: Bestselling author Julie Murphy makes her middle-grade debut with a smart, funny novel that tween readers will quickly embrace. Patricia “Sweet Pea” DiMarco is a seventh grader dealing with a wide range of emotions and change, including recently divorced parents and friendships in transition. Dear Sweet Pea is a warmhearted read that is at once reassuring, wise, and utterly relatable.

“The Books Editorial team reads thousands of new releases every year, all with the goal of recommending the very best to our customers,” said Sarah Gelman, Editorial Director, Amazon Books. “This year there were so many great books from various genres. Our top 100 Best Books list includes books with clever satire, heartwarming memoirs and psychological thrillers. But as soon as we read it, it was clear that Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments was the book of the year. The sequel to the modern classic The Handmaid’s Tale enraptured our editorial team and readers across the globe with a dramatic continuation of goings-on in the dystopian Republic of Gilead. It’s so exciting to witness literary history being made, and Atwood has done just that with this deeply moving book.”

“I’m Canadian, where modesty is a requirement. So I’m mildly embarrassed, though absolutely delighted, to hear that the Amazon editorial team has chosen The Testaments as their book of the year,” said Margaret Atwood, author of The Testaments. “While I’m no prophet, we seem doomed to live in stressful times. A tale of hope and courage narrated by three strong female voices appears to have connected to this crucial 2019 moment.”

The Testaments joins Amazon Book Editors’ past Best Book of the Year selections including Educated by Tara Westwood, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

During 2019, the Amazon Books editorial team read thousands of pages to help customers discover their next great read. Here are some interesting facts about this year’s Best Books of the Year list:

  • Most highlighted quote from Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, our number one pick, is: “You don’t believe the sky is falling until a chunk of it falls on you.”
  • Customers’ Most Wished For titles in our top 100: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, and Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Top three best of the year selections that readers have used both Audible and Kindle interchangeably throughout are: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner.
  • Alex Michaelides’s The Silent Patient, our ninth pick, is the number one most popular book on Goodreads this year, added to Goodreads shelves by more than 380K members; especially impressive since it’s a debut novel!
  • Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (#10 on our list) is the number one most popular nonfiction book on Goodreads this year, followed closely by Three Women (#19).

To see the complete list of Best Books of 2019, and to purchase in print, for Kindle or Audible, visit amazon.com/bestbooks2019 or visit an Amazon Books location near you, www.amazon.com/stores.

For more coverage of the books featured on the Best Books of the Year list, as well as insightful reviews on new books, author interviews, and roundups in popular categories, visit the Amazon Book Review, www.amazonbookreview.com, and the Amazon Book Review Podcast, www.amazonbookreview.com/tag/podcast.