For immediate release | January 27, 2019

2018 Notable Books List: Year’s best in fiction, nonfiction and poetry announced

Seattle- The Reference and User Services Association’s Notable Books Council, first established in 1944, has announced the 2019 selections of the Notable Books List, an annual best-of list comprised of twenty six titles written for adult readers and published in the US including fiction, nonfiction and poetry. The list was announced today during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Seattle.

The 2019 Notable Books List selections are:


“Waiting for Eden” by Elliot Ackerman. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House.

A psychological drama about an Iraq War veteran who hovers between life and death while his wife agonizes over her choices.

“Friday Black” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. Mariner, an Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Characters in a darkly satirical future confront race in America in this provocative collection.

“Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House.

The eponymous protagonist escapes slavery and embarks on an adventure through the Victorian world as a fugitive, artist and scientist.

“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

A young, black couple struggles to stay connected when the husband is sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit in this complex domestic drama.

“The Mars Room” by Rachel Kushner. Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

At the start of two consecutive life sentences a young mother reflects on her life while navigating incarceration.

“The Great Believers” by Rebecca Makkai. Viking, a division of Penguin Random House.

A book of friendship and love in the face of tragedy and loss during the early years of the AIDS crisis in Chicago and the impact years later.

“Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House.

A man seeks to understand why he and his sister were left in the care of a mysterious figure they call the Moth in post World War II England.

“There There” by Tommy Orange. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House.

A gritty depiction of the lives of urban Native Americans that converge at a Powwow in Oakland, California.

“The Overstory” by Richard Powers. WW Norton & Company, Inc.

A profound meditation on the connection between humankind and trees and the often invisible impact each has on the other.

“The House of Broken Angels: a Novel” by Luis Alberto Urrea. Little, Brown, and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group.

In this vivid and heartwarming portrait, a Mexican-American family celebrates the lives of their patriarch and his mother over a weekend in their San Diego home.

“Don’t Skip out on Me” by Willy Vlautin. Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins.

A ranch hand who yearns to be a boxer, the people who love him and the land that holds them.


“High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing” by Ben Austen. Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.

An insightful and robust history of the politics, policies and personal stories of city planning and urban renewal.

“American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment” by Shane Bauer. Penguin Press, a division of Penguin Random House.

An investigative journalist undergoes training as a guard at a private correctional facility and reveals the harsh living and working conditions for inmates and staff.

“Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” by David W. Blight. Simon & Schuster.

An engrossing biography of the abolitionist, author and orator.

“Rush: Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father” by Stephen Fried. Crown, a division of Penguin Random House.

The comprehensive biography of a lesser known statesman and his contributions to medicine and politics in the newly formed United States.

“Call Me American: A Memoir” by Abdi Nor Iftin. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House.

A Somali man recounts a childhood marked by constant violence and hunger, and his adjustment to life as a refugee in the United States.

“The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century” by Kirk Wallace Johnson. Viking, a division of Penguin Random House.

An ornithological robbery shines light on fixation, beauty, and the niche hobby that led an unlikely culprit to risk it all.

“Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found” by Gilbert King. Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

A hard-hitting reporter exposes the story of a developmentally challenged youth falsely accused of rape in Florida during the Jim Crow era.

“Heavy: An American Memoir” by Kiese Laymon. Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

A son’s complicated relationship with his mother is laid bare in this unflinching look at a life full of adversity and love.

“Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America” by Beth Macy. Little, Brown, and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group.

A deep dive into the dark and consuming opioid epidemic centering on the predatory practices of Purdue Pharma and the devastating effects on communities.

“The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life” by David Quammen. Simon & Schuster.

A chronicle of recent discoveries that changed our understanding of evolution, the scientists who made them and the implications for the future.

“Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore” by Elizabeth Rush. Milkweed Editions.

An evocative account of how changing sea levels impact coastal communities.

“Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover. Random House, a division of Penguin Random House.

A girl raised by Mormon survivalists in rural Idaho must choose between higher education and family ties.


“If They Come for Us: Poems” by Fatimah Asghar. One World, a division of Penguin Random House.

A Pakistani Muslim American woman longs for her parents and grieves the effects of the India-Pakistan Partition with a fresh, inventive voice.

“American Sonnets for My Once and Future Assassin” by Terrance Hayes. Penguin Poets, a division of Penguin Random House.

An electrifying collection ranging in subject from Dr. Who to black male hysteria.

“The Carrying: Poems” by Ada Limón. Milkweed Editions.

An elegant and vulnerable expression of the aching beauty of an imperfect world.

The winners were selected by the Notable Books Council whose members include twelve expert readers’ advisory and collection development librarians. The Council considers titles based on stellar reviews published in standard library reviewing sources and other authoritative sources.

The Council includes Kristen Allen-Vogel, Dayton Metro Library, chair; Lizzie Gall, Jefferson County Public Library, vice chair; Hilary Albert, Mahopac Public Library; Gloria A. Drake, Oswego Public Library District; William Kelly, Cuyahoga County Public Library; Lynn Lobash, New York Public Library; Jeanessa Smith, Grand Rapids Public Library; Christine Wells, NoveList; Michelle Young, Hawaii State Public Library System; Hana Zittel, Denver Public Library; Mary Callaghan “Cal” Zunt, Rocky River Public Library.

The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of the American Library Association, represents librarians and library staff in the fields of reference, specialized reference, collection development, readers’ advisory and resource sharing. RUSA is the foremost organization of reference and information professionals who make the connections between people and the information sources, services, and collection materials they need. Learn more at


Ninah Moore

Training & Events Coordinator


(312) 280-4398