It can be hard to know what books are worth adding to your to-be-read list when so many great books already are on shelves — and more are being added everyday. To help, we thought we’d share our most-anticipated books of 2019 — the first half, anyway. Of all the books coming out over the next six months, these are the ones our staff members can’t wait to read.

  • Sing to It, Amy Hempel: The first collection in 10 years by a master of the short story form is worth a look. (March)

  • Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi: If you like fairytales, this is a reimagining of Hansel & Gretel. Mercantile Book Advisor Hillary Copsey still is thinking about Oyeyemi’s last fairytale retelling, Boy Snow Bird, years after reading it. (March)

  • A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell: This is the true story of an American woman who joined Winston Churchilll’s spy organization in WWII after getting rejected from the U.S. Foreign Service because she used a prosthetic leg. Executive Director John Faherty predicts this book is destined to be adapted into a critically acclaimed Netflix show. (April)

  • Working by Robert Caro: Although Caro works hard, his fans probably wish he’d work a little faster. Mercantile Business Manager Chris Messick said anyone who heard Caro speak about his writing process a few years at the Niehoff lecture is likely to be interested in learning more, and this book delivers. (April)

  • Life of David Hockney by Catherine Cusset: This is a fictionalized biography of real-life English painter, David Hockney. If that structure weren’t interesting enough for you, it’s also a book in translation. French author Cusset will speak at the Mercantile on May 30. (May)

  • Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry: According to the Montreal Gazette, “If Roddy Doyle and Nick Cave could procreate, the result would be something like Kevin Barry.” Chris, who loved Barry’s novel, Beatlebone, said that’s accurate — except Barry is funnier. (June)

  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: Yes, this is the woman who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. She’s more than that book. Her fiction is phenomenal, and she calls this novel, set in the New York City theater scene in the 1940s, her lightest and funniest work. (June)

  • Fleischman Is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner: This is a debut novel, but you’ve likely read the author’s work. She’s a celebrity journalist whose profiles — most recently of Bradley Cooper, Ethan Hawke, and Melissa McCarthy — often appear in the New York Times. (June)

  • Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett: Hillary’s particularly excited for this debut novel because Arnett is hilarious and insightful on Twitter and the book is set in Florida, where strange things are bound to happen — in life and in fiction. (July)

  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: Whitehead won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for his last novel, The Underground Railroad. In his latest, he moves forward in time to the Jim Crow era to tell the story of two boys banished to a Florida reform school described as ” a grotesque chamber of horrors.” It will undoubtedly be a tough book to read, but we expect it will be more than than worthy of your time. (July)

  • March Sisters: On Life, Death, and Little Women: Four authors — Jenny Zhang, Jane Smiley, Carmen Maria Machado, and Kate Bolick, a friend of librarian Al Lloyd — write about Alcott’s classic novel and why it has mattered for American readers for 150 years. (August)

  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: This is a much-anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. But any new book from Atwood is cause for celebration. (September)

We’d love to hear what books you’re looking forward to this year. Email Hillary ( with the books you’re most anticipating reading.

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