Jessica's Best Books of 2019

I had a Top 8 friends on MySpace and now I have a top 8 books of the year. If the generational shoe fits, as they say…

The Book That Made Me Cringe

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

If it was at all physically possible, I would have read this in the gaps between my fingers. The true story of the ‘fake heiress’ who took New York by storm, written from the perspective of a friend she scammed. I both couldn’t believe she fell for it, but understood that I probably would, too.

Cringe here.

The Book That Made Me Cry

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

A book doesn’t have to crystallize your experience of the world in its pages to break your heart, but it’s an incomparable feeling when it does. I’m not sure how a book that on the surface tells the story of a privileged man in his 40s going through a divorce spoke so deeply to the roots of my own hopes and fears, but this did just that.

Cry here.

The Book That Made Me Horny

Paul Takes The Form Of A Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor

So many times I wasn’t sure what I was reading, and it just made me want to read more. Paul’s magical gender-shifting capabilities drive a journey through the subcultures of 90s America, fueled by heartbreak, wit, and lots of sex.

Get your horn on here.

The Book That Made Me Dream

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh

This is the book that’s stayed with me most throughout the year, imagining different outcomes for all of the characters and the universe as a whole. I guess you could call it YA sci-fi—it starts off in a training programme for future astronauts—but it’s more universal than that, and well worth a read for people who await NASA’s next reveal with baited breath.

Dream here.

The Book That Made

Me Nostalgic

Saltwater by Jessica Andrews

Poetic and pretty, but eminently readable, Saltwater was the book of the summer that took me back to summers past—complete with Pete Doherty and sticky dance floors and an older man and the desperate certainty for London to be the thing that fixes all of it.

Get your nostalgic fix here.

The Book That Made Me Think

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

My most recommended book of the year, and I’m glad the Women’s Prize agreed. Yes, it provides a reminder of the catastrophic impact of the USA’s racist prison system (if we could ever forget). But more than that, this book takes you so deep inside a shattered relationship that every fragment hurts more than the last.

Feel here.

The Book That Made Me Relate

The New Me by Halle Butler

Dissatisfaction, constant self-comparison and the blurry line between privilege and precarity in a temp-to-perm lifestyle—I liked this book far more than I liked the protagonist. It wasn’t her I related to as much as what she observes so powerfully in those around her. I call this ‘the ultimate depressing millennial office novel’—and I mean that as a compliment when it was so clearly the intention.

Book your temp gig here.

The Book That Made Me Absolutely Incandescent

With Rage

She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

This is a tell-all on a Hollywood story like no other, detailing Harvey Weinstein’s reckoning from the perspective of the journalists who broke the story. But this is about so much more than the actions of one man - terrible and far-reaching as they are. Feeding into the wider #MeToo movement and the impact of the reactions to powerful men finally being held to account, this is a critical homage to investigative journalism in the era we need it most.

Get angry here.

And like any Top 8 list, this one wouldn’t be complete without two that almost made the final cut:

The Book That Made Me Hungry - Supper Club by Lara Williams

The Book That Made Me Wish I Was Seventeen Again - Royals by Emma Forrest