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26 of the Best Books I Read in 2019

It was super hard for me to put this list together, ’cause I originally intended to only include 10 titles – but quickly realized that’d be impossible. I genuinely had such an amazing reading year! So many books came out that I couldn’t wait to dive into, and the anticipation paid off in the best way – I loved a majority of what I read in 2019!

I’d LOVE to know what you read this year! Even if it isn’t within the same genres that dominated my reading experience, I’m always open to suggestions. There were a lot of books that came out in 2019 that I unfortunately just didn’t get a chance to read, but that won’t stop me from devouring them next year – I’m very much looking forward to what 2020 will bring to my shelves (in case you couldn’t tell from this post about my Most Anticipated 2020 Book Releases)!

I was introduced to so many new-to-me authors, while revisiting old favorites as well. I read short books, long books, scary books, funny books. I tried to be a little more varied this year – I’m trying harder in 2020, which you can read about here – but I’m pretty happy with what I achieved reading-wise! Even though there some that I unfortunately didn’t make much headway in, but that wasn’t for lack of trying – if only there were more hours in the day! I’m psyched to have a lot of good stuff to read heading into 2020.

Initially, I made a stack of books I loved in 2019 – but then noticed I left a few out, or read a few after making the stack (toward the end of December) that I didn’t have a chance to include in the photo. Because of that, there’s a separate section of photos down below – but all of these books are amazing and there are no differences from the ones that made it into my stack photo, or the ones I snagged images of from the internet. 🙂

As a note, these aren’t ones all released in 2019 – some are prior releases. I usually split my lists up, but this year, wanted to just keep everything together for ease. I also typically select a few novellas to single out, but chose to include them in my main stack anyway – they’re shorter than a normal novel, but oftentimes are just as good and impactful for me when reading, so they deserve their spots!


1) DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If you follow me on bookstagram, you may be sick of me talking about this book by now ’cause I’ve posted about it several times. I can’t help it, I loved it so much! It’s definitely a bit outside of my normal genre, but I enjoyed the heck out of it anyway. I did actually listen to move of this one as an Audiobook (I scooped up the physical copy from my Book of the Month box!), and if you have the chance to ‘read’ it that way, I can’t recommend it highly enough. The full cast of actors in the audiobook do SUCH A GREAT JOB of making you care about them & their story. Love, love, loved it!

2) FANTASTICLAND by Mike Bockoven

This was technically a reread, but I couldn’t pass it up when a group of my friends chose it as their book club of the month book! I absolutely love this LORD OF THE FLIES-meets-BATTLE ROYALE type of story, and always recommend it to people looking for something new to read. The book is told in interview format, which I normally can’t get behind, but really enjoyed here.

3) IN DARKNESS, DELIGHT: MASTERS OF MIDNIGHT edited by Andrew Lennon & Evans Light – Read my review!

Short story anthology are great for me ’cause of the limited time I sometimes have to read. Having short, bite-sized snippets to get into is an amazing way to add to my daily reading – and this collection is one of my favorites from the year! I was introduced to so many new-to-me-authors because of it, and the cover is one of the coolest I’ve seen all year.

4) THE APOCALYPTIC MANNEQUIN by Stephanie M. Wytovich

I’ll have a recommendation post for horror poetry coming to the blog soon, but definitely check this one out beforehand! I loved Stephanie’s way with words, and her ability to make things relatable while still keeping them open-ended enough to be interpreted by each reader differently, depending on their own personal situations.

5) URNTOLD TALES OF HORROR AND DREAD: A SCARY SHORT STORY COLLECTION by J. B. Lovet – Read my review!

Another excellent collection this year! These were stories originally posted online, now collected in a short story collection format – with some bonuses, as well! Each one was fun and quick, and I hadn’t read anything by the author before this, so I felt it was an awesome introduction.

Cricket Hunters Book Review by Jeremy Hepler

6) CRICKET HUNTERS by Jeremy Hepler – Read my review!

I’ll keep talking about this book FOREVER, friends! I loved it so, so much. Easily in my Top 10 of the whole year, to be honest. Part horror thriller, part coming-of-age magical mystery, this kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I can’t wait to read anything else Hepler puts out in the future!

7) IMPOSSIBLE JAMES by Danger Slater – Read my review!

I never really read anything considered “bizarro” until meeting people in the online book community – now it’s like my whole world has been opened up to new things reading-wise, and it’s been a hell of a ride! Danger Slater is one of my favorites in the genre, and this one that was released earlier in the year is one I’d definitely recommend to anyone – even if you don’t know what the heck bizarro fiction is!

8) THE DARK GAME by Jonathan Janz – Read my review!

I love Jonathan Janz, and my only regret with his books is that I didn’t discover them/him sooner! He’s been putting a bunch of things out through Flame Tree Press recently, and each one I read is just as good – or better than?! – the last. I have a little Janz shelf now, my addiction is that strong!

9) SOMETHING IN THE WATER by Eddie Generous – Read my review!

This is one of two collections released this year by Eddie, and I was super impressed with the variety to his writing! Homages to things we know and love from horror mixed with things that are new and original, I had fun reading each story & look forward to more.

To Be Devoured Book Cover in front of Rainbow Bookshelves

10) TO BE DEVOURED by Sara Tantlinger – Read my review!

Another one I keep raving about, but I won’t apologize! Sara’s books are so good, but this novella released this year is one of my Top 10 Books of 2019 for sure. It’s so visceral and gritty and I loved every second of it!

11) GHOSTER by Jason Arnopp

(Review coming soon!)

Reading about technology in horror books is so much fun; I’m not sure how texting & social media can be so creepy, but I’m obsessed. This one by Jason Arnopp was a super fun horror read – it’s a thick one, but it goes by quickly, I promise!

12) ROLLING IN THE DEEP by Mira Grant – Read my review!

Another reread, and for good reason: this is my all-time favorite novella, and I’ll always talk about it when given the chance. I also read the sequel, full-length INTO THE DROWNING DEEP this year as well, and it was good – but the novella version is just the most perfect bit of bite-sized scientific / cryptid related horror I’ve read, and I adore it deeply. Read it if you can!!

chad lutzke books review

13) THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU by Chad Lutzke – Read my review!

This one was a bit more contemporary than horror, but I loved it – Lutzke is a hugely talented writer in the horror genre, and his ability to add emotion to his stories is totally unparalleled. Plus the cover of this one gives me serious Laura Palmer vibes, which I love so much!

14) MAPPING THE INTERIOR by Stephen Graham Jones

I wrote about Stephen Graham Jones’ upcoming 2020 release in this post, but don’t let that stop you from getting into his writing now! MAPPING THE INTERIOR was one of the first few novellas I read this year, and it was such a good experience. His writing, the story, the characters, just everything – so good!

Choking Back the Devil book by Donna Lynch held in front of rainbow bookshelves

15) CHOKING BACK THE DEVIL by Donna Lynch – Read my review!

Another wonderful entry into the horror poetry genre! I loved this collection – it focused on the horror of mental illness primarily, and it’s such a impactful read. I loved every single poem here!

16) THE ATROCITIES by Jeremy C. Shipp

I love gothic horror stories, and this one is so well done! It gave me big TURN OF THE SCREW or Daphne du Maurier vibes, and I was super into it. Another great novella read in 2019!

17) SIPHON by A.A. Medina – Read my review!

This is another novella I’d highly recommend, but not if you’re squeamish – just a warning! I loved the pacing and writing voice in this, and am super looking forward to WHERE DRAGONFLIES DANCE by the author, which is set in the same fictional county as this one!

Book Cover and Review of Little Paranoias by Sonora Taylor

18) LITTLE PARANOIAS: STORIES by Sonora Taylor – Read my review!

The stories in this collection were so varied, and I absolutely loved the book as a whole. I hadn’t read anything else by Sonora before this, so not only was this a great introduction to her writing, but also made me want to read the rest of her books ASAP!

19) THE POSSESSION OF NATALIE GLASGOW by Hailey Piper – Read my review!

I read this one with my fellow Night Worms reviewers as part of a Night Worms book party, and I was blown away by the originality in this little book! It’s a super unique take on your average exorcism / possessed girl story, and I’d recommend it for sure.

20) COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglesias – Read my review!

This is one of my favorite books of the year, and of all-time. Described as a “horror mosaic collection”, this one is not only incredibly well-written and entertaining, but also extremely emotionally impactful & relevant to our society today. I’d recommend this one to everyone and anyone, and can’t give it high enough praise.

21) MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

(Review coming soon!)

I went into this short book not knowing what to expect, and was blown away by the rich writing, complex characters, and fast pace. I read this one in a single sitting, although I started it with the intention of just getting into a chapter or two – it was that good!

22) IN THE RIVER by Jeremy Robert Johnson

So many good novellas this year – I hope you’re adding these to your book wishlist, friends! This one had me near tears in the middle of a volunteering session at the library – it broke me! Such good writing, and I love the cover art so much.

 

23) A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS by Robert Ford & Matt Hayward – Read my review!

I loved this joint release by two of my favorite authors this year! It had the perfect blend of horror, mystery, and lighthearted comedy to keep me entertained throughout. They’ve been teasing a follow up book coming out at some point, and I can’t wait to read more!

24) THE FORGOTTEN ISLAND by David Sodergren – Read my review!

This is a perfect-for-summer (or anytime, tbh) horror story with pretty much everything you could possibly need – a funny female protagonist, vacations, terrifying island creatures, gore, death, mayhem, everything! I loved it and blew through it super quickly when I read it. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I have NIGHT SHOOT as well, and although I didn’t quite finish it last year, I am going to be finishing it this month – it’s so good so far!

25) SADIE by Courtney Summers – Read my review!

Another one that I listened to rather than traditionally read, but one I would recommend either way! This book had me bawling by the end, and everyone I’ve spoken to about it felt the same way that I did. It’s a story about two sisters – one murdered, one trying to avenge her – and the bond between them was so real that the heartbreak Sadie feels is almost tangible. Check out the audiobook if you can for sure, ’cause the full cast of voice actors as the characters is AMAZING!

26) THE DEAD GIRLS CLUB by Damien Angelica Walters

(Review coming soon!)

This one was read later into the year, but I’m so glad I got to it in time so I could include it in my end-of-the-year lists, ’cause it was so good! It reminded me a lot of another book on this list, Jeremy Hepler’s CRICKET HUNTERS, while still keeping both totally original and distinct. Highly recommended!

BONUS:

27) SERVED COLD by Alan Baxter

I finished this one a few hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve, and WOW! Such an incredible collection, both in its range and in Baxter’s ability to move between horror/sci-fi/fantasy & the subgenres of each with perfect fluidity. Loved it, one of the best collections I’ve read all year!


Phew, what a list! I read so many great things this year – 103 books total, which is no small feat in addition to everything else going on, let me tell ya! It was super hard narrowing it down, and even now, there are a few I’d really like to have included but tried to stick to my self-imposed limit, or you’d be getting an 85 book long list, haha.

What did you read in 2019? I’d love to read your annual wrap-up posts, or your best of reading lists! Link them in the comments so I can see!

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5 comments

  1. The Atrocities sounds very atmospheric and creepy! Love the whole “surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues” description in the synopsis; it really paints a picture in my mind lol. I’m also very much HYPED for Stephen Graham Jones 2020 release and I’ll definitely pick up more of his books if this one is as enjoyable as I think it’s going to be. Great list!!

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