My Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

Although over 90 books from the second half of the year are already on my radar, I’ve managed to narrow it down to the 15 July to November releases that I’m most excited about. I have access to a few of these already, and most of the rest I will try requesting as soon as I’m back from Milan. (These are given in release date order within thematic sections; the quoted descriptions are from the publisher blurbs on Goodreads.)

[By the way, here’s how I did with my most anticipated releases of the first half of the year:

  • 16 out of 30 read; of those 9 were somewhat disappointing (i.e., 3 stars or below) – This is such a poor showing! Is it a matter of my expectations being too high?
  • 10 I still haven’t managed to find
  • 1 print review copy arrived recently
  • 1 I have on my Kindle to read
  • 1 I skimmed
  • 1 I lost interest in]



The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal [July 23, Pamela Dorman Books] Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest (2015) is one of my recent favorites. This one has a foodie theme again, and sounds a lot like Louise Miller’s latest – two sisters: a baker of pies and a founder of a small brewery. “Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that’s often stacked against them.”


Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton [August 6, Grand Central Publishing / Headline Review] As soon as I heard that this was narrated by a crow, I knew I was going to have to read it. (And the Seattle setting also ties in with Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s book.) “Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.”


Inland by Téa Obreht [August 13, Random House / Weidenfeld & Nicolson] However has it been eight years since her terrific debut novel?! “In the lawless, drought-ridden lands of the Arizona Territory in 1893, two extraordinary lives collide. … [L]yrical, and sweeping in scope, Inland subverts and reimagines the myths of the American West.” The synopsis reminds me of Eowyn Ivey’s latest.


A Door in the Earth by Amy Waldman [August 27, Little, Brown and Company] I loved The Submission, Waldman’s 2011 novel about a controversial (imagined) 9/11 memorial. “Parveen Shamsa, a college senior in search of a calling, feels pulled between her charismatic and mercurial anthropology professor and the comfortable but predictable Afghan-American community in her Northern California hometown [and] travels to a remote village in the land of her birth to join the work of his charitable foundation.” (NetGalley download)


Bloomland by John Englehardt [September 10, Dzanc Books] “Bloomland opens during finals week at a fictional southern university, when a student walks into the library with his roommate’s semi-automatic rifle and opens fire. In this richly textured debut, Englehardt explores how the origin and aftermath of the shooting impacts the lives of three characters.” (print review copy from publisher)


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett [September 25, Harper / Bloomsbury UK] I’m more a fan of Patchett’s nonfiction, but will keep reading her novels thanks to Commonwealth. “At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous [Philadelphia] real estate empire … Set over … five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.”


Medical themes

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death by Caitlin Doughty [September 10, W.W. Norton / September 19, Weidenfeld & Nicolson] I’ve read Doughty’s previous books about our modern attitude towards mortality and death customs around the world. She’s wonderfully funny and iconoclastic. Plus, how can you resist this title?! Although it sounds like it’s geared towards children, I’ll still read the book. “Doughty blends her mortician’s knowledge of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions … to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five … questions.”


The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care by Anne Boyer [September 17, Farrar, Straus and Giroux] “A week after her forty-first birthday, the acclaimed poet Anne Boyer was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer. … A genre-bending memoir in the tradition of The ArgonautsThe Undying will … show you contemporary America as a thing both desperately ill and occasionally, perversely glorious.” (print review copy from publisher)


From the author’s Twitter page.

Breaking and Mending: A doctor’s story of burnout and recovery by Joanna Cannon [September 26, Wellcome Collection] I haven’t gotten on with Cannon’s fiction, but a memoir should hit the spot. “A frank account of mental health from both sides of the doctor-patient divide, from the bestselling author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things About Elsie, based on her own experience as a doctor working on a psychiatric ward.”


The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson [October 3, Doubleday / Transworld] His last few books have been somewhat underwhelming, but I’d read Bryson on any topic. He’s earned a reputation for making history, science and medicine understandable to laymen. “Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories, The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological makeup.”


The Depositions: New and Selected Essays on Being and Ceasing to Be by Thomas Lynch [November 26, W.W. Norton] Lynch is such an underrated writer. A Michigan undertaker, he crafts essays and short stories about small-town life, the Irish-American experience and working with the dead. I discovered him through Greenbelt Festival some years back and have read three of his books. Some of what I’ve already read will likely be repeated here, but will be worth a second look anyway.


Other Nonfiction

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell [August 29, Profile Books] The Diary of a Bookseller was a treat in 2017. I’ve read the first two-thirds of this already while in Milan, and I wish I was in Wigtown instead! This sequel picks up in 2015 and is very much more of the same – the daily routines of buying and selling books and being out and about in a small town – so it’s up to you whether that sounds boring or comforting. I’m finding it strangely addictive. (NetGalley download)


We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer [September 17, Farrar, Straus and Giroux / October 10, Hamish Hamilton] Foer’s Eating Animals (2009) was a hard-hitting argument against eating meat. In this follow-up he posits that meat-eating is the single greatest contributor to climate change. “With his distinctive wit, insight and humanity, Jonathan Safran Foer presents this essential debate as no one else could, bringing it to vivid and urgent life, and offering us all a much-needed way out.”


Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie [September 19, Sort of Books] Jamie is a Scottish poet who writes exquisite essays about the natural world. I’ve read her two previous essay collections, Findings and Sightlines, as well as a couple of volumes of her poetry. “From the thawing tundra linking a Yup’ik village in Alaska to its hunter-gatherer past to the shifting sand dunes revealing the impressively preserved homes of neolithic farmers in Scotland, Jamie explores how the changing natural world can alter our sense of time.”


Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper [October 8, Farrar, Straus and Giroux / riverrun] Ties in with my special interest in women’s religious memoirs. “In November 2012, at the age of twenty-six, [Phelps-Roper] left [Westboro Baptist Church], her family, and her life behind. Unfollow is a story about the rarest thing of all: a person changing their mind. It is a fascinating insight into a closed world of extreme belief, a biography of a complex family, and a hope-inspiring memoir of a young woman finding the courage to find compassion.”


Which of these do you want to read, too?

What other upcoming 2019 titles are you looking forward to?

27 responses

  1. I loved Stradal and Waldman’s last novels, so will be looking forward to their new releases. And Patchett, of course!

    I’ll wait for your review of the Bryson – looks interesting but like you, I’ve been underwhelmed by some of his more recent books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always slightly nerve-wracking approaching an author’s second novel — you have to hope it will live up to the first and they won’t just be a one-hit wonder. The blurbs sound really promising for Stradal and Waldman, though.


  2. Very much looking forward to Inland and the Dutch House. I have a rather gorgeous proof of the latter. Is the Waldman an American publication? I thought The Submission was one of the more interesting of the many post-9/11 novels I’ve read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I only see a U.S. release for the Waldman thus far. I have access to it via NetGalley.


      1. Ah, I’m still wedded to print, I’m afraid. Too much reading from a screen for work in the past. Fingers crossed for it to be published here.


    2. I prefer to read in print, but will read an e-book if it’s my only way to access a title I’m desperate to read. My e-book reviewing has dropped massively in the last year or two.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m happy to read non-fiction from a screen but there’s something about fiction and print.


    3. An interesting distinction!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s the Kathleen Jamie and Shaun Bythell titles for me. Bythell’s first book had me laughing out loud. And I absolutely loved Kathleen Jamie’s earlier essays.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Bythell sequel is just as fun as the first book.


  4. Thanks for this – excited about the new Kathleen Jamie and Ann Patchett! And A Door in the Earth sounds great – I also loved The Submission but had completely forgotten about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I heard about the new book I couldn’t place her name but knew it was familiar. It took a search through my Goodreads library to remind me who she was. Pleased to find another Kathleen Jamie fan, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. From your taster notes, Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton is teh one that most attracts me. Joanna Cannon? On the evidence of her previous books, probably not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine (hope) that the style of her autobiographical writing will be quite different to that of her fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I LOVED Kitchens of the Great Midwest so I’m really looking forward to his follow up! And I really enjoyed the Bythell so I’ll definitely read the sequel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just finished it last night. It has exactly the same setup and elements as the first book, which some might find boring or repetitive, but I enjoyed it. It helps that I’ve been there and can picture a lot of the locations he mentions.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well I’ve just requested Confessions of a Bookseller from NetGalley and am sending my husband the crow one to look for on Audible!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good! The Haupt is a slightly older book, 2009, so I don’t know if it will be available on audio.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, I meant Hollow Kingdom, which is on pre-order on Amazon and he’s added to his wishlist.


    2. Ah, I see. My mistake. I was thinking of your comment on a previous post.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I keep reading Patchett for BEL CANTO, which is among my faves (I did not see the movie, thankfully). I wasn’t as impressed with COMMONWEALTH. I’ll be interested to read Obrecht, too–and see how her sophomore outing is!


    1. I’ve never understood what all the fuss was about Bel Canto — sorry! (I know many people love it.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll definitely read anything by Patchett and I like Bryson’s work a lot too though I haven’t read everything. Bloomland sounds like it could be interesting as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. […] this second half of the year I chose just 15 of the new releases I was most excited about. Limiting myself in that way has been helpful for focusing the mind: […]


  11. […] Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton [a review copy – and one of my Most Anticipated […]


  12. […] had sky-high hopes for Stradal’s follow-up after Kitchens of the Great Midwest (it was on my Most Anticipated list for the second half of the year). Theoretically, a novel about three pie-baking, beer-making female […]


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