Looking for your next great book to read? Something enthralling you can’t put down? Our fabulous books editors reveals the top books every month, and there’s something for everyone.
We love books. Old-fashioned, weigh-your-handbag-down books. There’s something quite magical about bookmarking your way through printed pages and we’d like to share our love of reading with you, by hunting out good books to read in 2019.
This year is shaping up to be an exciting year for reading enthusiasts, with some much-anticipated novels hitting stores, from a shrewd exploration of gender inequality in Louise & Louis by Julie Cohen, to a hilarious – and heartbreaking – take on old age from Joanna Nell in The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village.
A Summer of Wisdom by Fanny Blake will whisk you away to a Mallorcan retreat where some old friends have unfinished business, while You’ll Never See Me Again by Lesley Pearse sees a young woman desperate to escape her old life in the aftermath of WW2.
Each month, the team here at w&h pick the best books to add to your reading list. And, whether you’re looking for a thriller, romance or something to pull at your heartstrings, there’s sure to be something that takes your fancy on our list of good books to read this year…
Good books to read in 2019: from thrillers to romance
Platform Seven by Louise Doughty
Watching a stranger approach the edge of the platform, ghost Lisa Evans is powerless to prevent what is about to happen. She is also unsettled by the feeling there must be a connection between this coming death and her own. Determined to seek out the truth, she guesses it can’t be worse than not knowing – or can it? Doughty’s eerie and atmospheric writing combines a calm assurance with sinister darkness.
The School Run by Helen Whitaker
Imogen and Lily are old friends who shared everything, but when they both move to the same area and the local ‘outstanding’ school only has one place, what lengths will they go to for their children? From fake marriage break-ups to moving house and ‘getting in’ with the vicar, it’s a frank and funny account that’ll resonate with many parents. Prepare to laugh and cringe in equal measure.
The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
After his wife Abbie’s tragic accident, tech genius Tim Scott becomes obsessed with recreating her in AI form. With her memories completely intact and her appearance identical, the new ‘Abbie’ begins to assume her namesake’s place as dutiful wife and mother. But meeting Tim’s expectations takes a heavy toll and other memories start creeping back. The narrative complexity, characterisation and gradual unravelling of the truth is a triumph of pacing and suspense.
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Francis Gleeson and his wife Lena welcome a new couple, the Stanhopes, to their neighbourhood in upstate New York. But while the men have common ground, Anne Stanhope makes her distaste for Lena plain from the start. As the years wear on, the combination of love and violence that binds these two families together becomes the ultimate test of human decency. A powerful tale.
Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft
This captures the wonderful sense of a Norfolk coastal village as Clancy escapes London.
Secrets of Santorini by Patricia Wilson
Returning to her roots on the island of Santorini, Irini must uncover family secrets if she is to make peace with her mother.
Her Last Promise by Kathryn Hughes
A mysterious letter sees Tara Richards journey to Spain in search of answers. A gripping summer read.
In a Kingdom by the Sea by Sara MacDonald
When Gabby’s husband’s job takes them to Karachi in Pakistan, a painful secret puts both past and present at risk.
Home From Home by Veronica Henry
The Melchior family’s Somerset home is disrupted by a tragedy that unearths secrets.
My Lemon Grove Summer by Jo Thomas
A feel-good read that follows two friends immersing themselves in a Sicilian community.
Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls
The perfect read for film enthusiasts, Nicholls’s debut novel follows projectionist Nick, whose idealised view of love is challenged when his girlfriend suddenly moves out. Nick must now confront his new reality, but will he ever understand where it all went wrong? In this refreshing take on the typical boy-meets-girl romance, Nicholls celebrates the genre, while never missing an opportunity to make it his own. An unmissable, multi-layered read.
Do Not Feed the Bear by Rachel Elliott
Freerunner Sydney is always on the move, but never quite able to come to terms with a tragic event that took place when she was a child. As her 47th birthday approaches, her partner Ruth wants them to celebrate together, but instead Sydney is standing on a rooftop in St Ives preparing to jump. Beautifully written, Elliott’s unique, mesmerising voice effortlessly draws you in.
Tidelands by Philippa Gregory
Set towards the end of the English Civil War, in a world where a woman’s path is treacherous at every turn, midwife Alinor struggles to keep her home and children together after her shiftless husband deserts the family. This dark, gripping story is a powerful portrayal of wartime love and divided loyalties, with a chilling backdrop of witchcraft and suspicion. Philippa Gregory at her finest.
A Summer Reunion by Fanny Blake
When Amy makes a shocking discovery, she heads to Mallorca with three friends in the hope of gaining advice. But what she gets is something else entirely… Fabulous, fun and full of wisdom.
The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter
When a terror cell threatens to unleash a deadly epidemic at a hospital, it’s up to investigator Will Trent to stop them.
You’ll Never See Me Again by Lesley Pearse
Set in the aftermath of the Great War, Betty Wellow is on a mission to escape her old life, but it seems even the dead are on her tail…
Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop
An age-old mystery, a glorious Greek setting and rich historical detail form the backdrop of this captivating and poignant story, which follows one woman through WWII and into exile.
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
Edmund Stearn is a well-respected in Wakenhyrst, but behind the closed doors of his manor house, he rules his family with a titanium fist. His daughter Maud is devastated when her mother dies, but rather than bring her and Edmund closer, it drives a wedge between them. Then one day, Edmund finds a sinister painting known as a ‘doom’ and all manner of things begin to happen…A spine-chilling masterpiece.
The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis
In 1956, Ivy falls pregnant and is sent in shame to the dark and foreboding St Margaret’s home for unmarried mothers. Her baby arrives and is given away for adoption without her consent, while Ivy herself is doomed to remain. Sixty years later, journalist Samantha is hungry to make her mark, so when she finds a letter from a young mother begging for help, she’s determined to unravel the girl’s story. As moving as it is disturbing – a real triumph.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Dumped and homeless, Tiffy can’t believe her luck when a reasonably priced flat is offered to her. There’s just one catch – she will have to share a bed with the other occupant. Leon works nights at a nursing home and spends weekends with his girlfriend, so in theory, their paths never need cross – but where would the fun be in that? Uproariously funny with characters you fall for from the first page.
Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
In 1979, in a small Maine town called Casablanca, Peggy and Irving Alder welcome their first child. In one reality, they have a boy, Louis, and in their second, a girl, Louise. The two have similar interests, identical friends, and both dream of moving to New York, but because their genders are different, they’re not treated in the same way. This tender and thought-provoking novel explores the reasons why.
The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans
When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness. Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what? A heart-stopping novel from the author of The Wildflowers.
The Distance Home by Paula Saunders
Set in South Dakota in the 1960s, this evocative, moving and deeply immersive novel follows an average family torn apart by expectation. Older brother Leon shares his passion for dancing with his younger sister René, but their father refuses to indulge in his ballet-mad son’s ambitions. There is an undeniable beauty to this epic portrayal of the complex and intimate nature of human relationships – well worth a read.
If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman
Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected. As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. A compelling and heart-breaking tale of family love and loss.
Between the Lies by Michelle Adams
You wake up in hospital, you can’t remember your own name, or anything about your life… So who can you trust? Struggling to regain her memory after an accident, Chloe turns to her family for help, but is she foolish to trust them? A psychological thriller with a shock ending you won’t see coming.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
When nine university friends head to the Scottish Highlands to see in the New Year, the plan is to catch up and kick back. But when the clock strikes midnight, a body is discovered in the snow. Unable to flee after the blizzard blows in, the occupants find themselves trapped with a murderer – but who struck the final blow? The suspense will keep you reading long after lights out.
Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield
On a dark winter night, at an inn along the Thames, a group of locals have gathered to share stories when a far more curious tale staggers in right through the doors. The man who appears is dripping wet and bleeding profusely, but most peculiarly of all, he is carrying the body of a young girl – a child all those present agree is dead… until she opens her eyes. Brimming with folklore, intrigue and romance, this is a story to savour.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits – staff and guests alike. This absorbing and poignant novel is laugh-out loud funny.
The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell
Life has begun to look a little beige for 79-year-old Peggy. Her bladder is weakening, her crush on the suave Brian is not reciprocated and her children assume that dementia is only a matter of time. The fact is, Peggy’s life is in dire need of an overhaul. So, when her old friend Angie offers to take our heroine under her very colourful wing, Peggy plays along… with hugely entertaining results. Funny and heart-warming.
The Binding by Bridget Collins
Emmett Farmer has the same suspicions about bookbinding – the practice by which troubled souls can bind their traumas, fears and deepest secrets into a book – as most people. Struck down with an illness that leaves him unable to work, he feels compelled to accept the position of a bookbinder’s apprentice. Then one day, in the dusty vault under the workshop, Emmett discovers a book bearing his own name. A captivating, inventive and unforgettable story.
Something To Tell You by Lucy Diamond
Discovering an unopened letter from her late mother fills Frankie with joy – until she opens it. Reeling from the contents, she hotfoots it up to Yorkshire to track down the Mortimer family and get some answers. This endlessly enjoyable drama puts even the most dysfunctional families in the shade – brilliant fun.
Scrublands by Chris Hammer
This compelling novel is set in a remote Australian town and follows a journalist investigating a shocking act of violence.
The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd
Divided by tragedy, Stella and Jack are drawn together once more in this riveting novel. Reunited once more, both have moved on with different partners, so can they resist temptation? If you get a second chance, should you always take?
Village of the Lost Girls by Augustín Martínez
Set in the Pyrenees, this creepy and atmospheric thriller charts the mystery of two missing 11-year-olds. Two eleven-year-old friends left school one afternoon and were never seen again. Until now. Ana reappears, but her friend Lucia is still missing. Where is Lucia… and is she still alive?
The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein
Written by a former Scientologist, this unsettling drama peers under the lid of life within a sinister cult. Fog Island has been described as Flowers in the Attic meets Girls. A harrowing read.
The Last Lie by Alex Lake
A tense and twisty domestic noir that oozes with intrigue, telling the tale of Claire, who seemingly has the perfect life. But her husband has other ideas. Perfect for devouring in one sitting.
The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright
From the very first page of this mesmerising novel, you know life has gone seriously awry for Cornelia Blackwood – and things get steadily worse from there on in. Why are her friends unable to look her in the eye, and why did her husband lie about where he was going? The truth, as it emerges, is as heartbreaking as it is captivating, and you’re left with no choice but to put life on hold while you race to the end.
The Familiars by Stacey Halls
Set in 1612 against the backdrop of the Pendle witch trials, Fleetwood Shuttleworth is pregnant for the fourth time but the 17-year-old is yet to become a mother. Fearing for her own and her unborn child’s life, she enlists the help of a local midwife, Alice Gray. When the young woman’s mysterious remedies bring her under suspicion of witchcraft, however, Fleetwood faces a tough choice, because saving Alice means risking herself…
Adèle by Leïla Slimani
From the bestselling author of Lullaby comes this new and equally sharp-edged literary tale about love, desire and female sexuality. Adèle appears to have it all – a loving husband, a young son and a beautiful apartment in Paris – but she is plagued by an ardent need to be wanted. This compulsion for sex leads Adèle towards a number of affairs, but the more she is gripped by her addiction, the closer she veers towards catastrophe. Erotic fiction at its best.
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
On a remote college campus in Southern California, a female student falls asleep and does not wake up. Nobody can rouse her, and soon, others begin to succumb. The virus spreads rapidly and the area is quickly quarantined, leaving those trapped inside with a mystery to unravel. Told through the voices of several different characters in prose that is hauntingly beautiful, this is a story to let yourself get lost in.
We Must be Brave by Frances Liardet
The year is 1940, and Britain is adjusting to the realities of war. When Ellen finds four-year-old Pamela abandoned on a bus, she feels compelled to take the girl into her home. As their bond strengthens, the idea of losing Pamela becomes increasingly abhorrent. But all is not fair in love and war. Be prepared to weep…
Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
Not for the faint-hearted, this disturbing tale expertly weaves together murder, sex and mystery for a plot with added bite.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
A man is found dead in the outback and it looks like a bizarre suicide, but his brother’s not convinced…
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
When a painter shoots her husband and stays quiet, it’s up to psychotherapist Theo to get her talking.
The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor
From the author of The Chalk Man comes an equally creepy story about missing children.
The Secretary by Renée Knight
Obsession is at the heart of this menacing tale, which unpicks the relationship between boss and employee.
Little Liar by Lisa Ballantyne
A pupil accuses her teacher of abuse, but all is not as it seems. A thought-provoking book.