Award-Winning Books for Adults

book cover collage of books listed below

Year's Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry from the Notable Books Council

Fiction

The Innocents by Michael Crummey

On an isolated cove along the Newfoundland coastline, the lives of two orphaned siblings unfold against a harsh, relentless, and unforgiving landscape.

Dominicana by Angie Cruz

In this vivid and timely portrait of immigration, a young woman summons the courage to carve out a place for herself in 1960s New York.

Everything Inside: Stories by Edwidge Danticat

This searingly emotional collection explores the complexities of the Haitian diaspora.

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine 

This debut collection captures and preserves the beauty in the lives of Latinas of Indigenous descent working through change, violence, love, and family in a gentrifying Denver and the American West.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

This powerful and unforgiving portrait of a school for boys in Florida sheds light on the cruel and dehumanizing legacy of the Jim Crow Era.

Nonfiction

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson

An examination of aging and the human condition, this call to action challenges the U.S. medical system to rethink how to care for patients.

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

A bold, new voice combines theory and the everyday to explore race, feminism, and culture.

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century by Jason DeParle 

Experiencing cultural differences, long separations, and triumphs, a group of Filipinos leave their families and homes behind for better jobs in other countries, including the United States.

Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Themselves by Frans De Waal 

Readers are led through research showing that other living creatures have their own range of emotions.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells 

A dive into the climate apocalypse illuminates the myriad devastations that await us.

Deaf Republic: Poems by Ilya Kaminsky 

This single narrative begins with a soldier shooting a deaf boy and the gunshot rendering the occupied town deaf.

 

Best-Of Genre Fiction from the Reading List Council

The Passengers by John Marrs (Adrenaline)

After their driverless cars are hacked, eight passengers have two and a half hours to live. One will be set free based on the votes of a captive jury and the will of the world’s social media population – but each has secrets that could condemn them.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Fantasy)

In Jazz Age Mexico Cassiopeia’s dull life takes an adventurous and life-changing turn when she must help a Mayan death god vanquish his brother and regain his throne in the underworld.

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (Horror)

Brimming with spookiness, paranoia, and a single-minded bloodhound, this devilishly wicked tale of folkloric horror set in the woods of North Carolina is inspired by Arthur Machen’s “The White People.”

The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair (Mystery)

In post-World War II London, Iris Sparks (perhaps a wartime spy) and Gwendolyn Bainbridge (a society widow) have teamed up to matchmaker singles with The Right Sort Marriage Bureau. When one client is accused of murdering another, Iris and Gwendolyn decide the police have the wrong man and start investigating

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (Romance)

Tiffy needs a place to live and Leon works nights, so they come to an unusual arrangement: sharing an apartment (and a bed!) but never seeing each other. Communicating via post-it note, they begin to rely on each other in ways they never imagined.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (Science Fiction)

In this conspiracy-filled novel, a determined ambassador desperately tries to survive her new diplomatic assignment while investigating the murder of her predecessor on a planet with rules she doesn’t understand.

 

Outstanding Audio from the Listening Council

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. Narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. 

Voicing an endearing Vietnamese American couple, Zeller treats listeners to a steamy-sweet romance. With skill and sensitivity, she crafts both autistic Khai’s reserved tenor and immigrant Esme’s beginner’s English, as they negotiate a potential arranged marriage and Esme’s desire to remain in the U.S.

Good Talk: a Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob. Narrated by an ensemble cast. 

Jacob’s candid conversations with her young son about race and identity illuminate insecurities faced by people of color in contemporary America. Multiple voices and sound effects make this groundbreaking audio graphic memoir a treat for the ears.

Notes from a Young Black Chef: a Memoir by Kwame Onwuachi and Joshua David Stein. Narrated by Kwame Onwuachi. 

How do you make it as a chef? Hard work and a willingness to be bold and embrace failure. Onwuachi forges his own path from his mother’s kitchen in the Bronx to high-end D.C. dining with a raw, authentic self-narrated memoir that will appeal to listeners beyond the foodie.

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams. Narrated by Shvorne Marks.

Reeling from a dramatic breakup, British-Jamaican Queenie makes a series of questionable decisions and leans on her friends for support. Marks captures a variety of accents and tones, adding further depth to this vivid, engaging story about a 25-year-old woman trapped between cultures and trying to fit in.

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin. Narrated by Dion Graham.

Veteran narrator Graham throws himself into a performance that fully embodies this dystopian debut’s brooding, complex lead. With acute emotion and sly humor, he invites listeners into the mind of an African American father in the satirical, segregated, near-future South–where anyone with too much melanin faces a life of impossible odds.

Winners were announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting by the Reference and User Services Association.