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Books to read in 2019

January 12, 2019

Anybody have a New Year’s resolution to read more in 2019? Start here: 12 works of fiction and nonfiction that will make keeping that resolution an absolute cinch.

‘THE FIRST CONSPIRACY’ BY BRAD MELTZER AND JOEL MENSCH

Here’s what they didn’t teach you in your high school American history class: There was an assassination plot against George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Among the players in the 1776 conspiracy were a group of Washington’s bodyguards, the New York City mayor and the New York State governor. Thriller writer Brad Meltzer brings a novelist’s flair to the dramatic story, with an assist from historian Mensch. (Flatiron, Jan. 8)

‘THE DREAMERS’ BY KAREN THOMPSON WALKER

In her new novel, the author of “The Age of Miracles” gives new meaning to Shakespeare’s immortal words “to sleep, perchance to dream.” Students and locals in a small California college town fall into slumber and don’t awake; doctors are stunned to record unprecedented levels of activity in the sleepers’ brains. We predict this one could keep readers up all night. (Random House, Jan. 15)

‘MAID’ BY STEPHANIE LAND

“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.” This is the opening line of Land’s memoir of life on the margins, subtitled “Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.” With a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich (“Nickel and Dimed”), the book tells how Land raised a child while working part time cleaning rich people’s houses and shines a powerful light on the stigma faced by the poor in America. (Hachette, Jan. 22)

‘BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF’ BY MARLON JAMES

Fantasy fiction gets a shot of adrenaline in this first book of the “Dark Star” trilogy, written by the Booker Prize-winning author of “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” Inspired by the richness of African mythology and landscapes, “Black Leopard” tells the story of Tracker, a hunter charged with finding a boy has been missing three years. (Riverhead, Feb. 5)

‘PARKLAND’ BY DAVE CULLEN

Ten years after the publication of “Columbine,” his acclaimed chronicle of the Colorado school shooting that rocked the nation in 1999, journalist Cullen travels to Parkland, Fla., to report on the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This time, however, he focuses on the survivors and the gun control movement they launched, along with young black activists from Chicago, Baltimore and elsewhere. (Harper, Feb. 12)

‘THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON’ BY MALLORY O’MEARA

None but the most diehard of Hollywood fanatics is familiar with the name of Milicent Patrick. But if you’ve seen “The Creature from the Black Lagoon,” you know Patrick’s most iconic creation — for which a jealous male colleague took credit. Filmmaker and podcaster O’Meara resurrects the story of this path-breaking animator, who designed monsters in the special effects makeup department of Universal Studios in its 1950s heyday. (Hanover Square Press, March 5)

‘WE WERE RICH AND WE DIDN’T KNOW IT’ BY TOM PHELAN

Born in Ireland’s County Laois in 1940, Phelan is a former priest, longtime custodian in the Garden City public schools and a novelist. In this evocative memoir, with echoes of Frank McCourt, he recalls his upbringing on an Irish farm without electricity, telephone or indoor plumbing. A glossary of Irish vernacular is helpfully provided. (Gallery, March 5)

‘QUEENIE’ BY CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS

The protagonist of this debut novel has been billed as the “black Bridget Jones” and comes from England buoyed by praise from Jojo Moyes. Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican-British woman, a newspaper reporter in London, forced to re-evaluate her life choices after a bad breakup with her white boyfriend. A trio of girlfriends offers support via text messages; we can’t wait to meet them all. (Scout Press, March 19)

‘LOST AND WANTED’ BY NELL FREUDENBERGER

Professor Helen Clapp receives a text message from an old friend — nothing out of the ordinary, except that Charlotte Boyce, her Harvard roommate, has just died, tragically young, of lupus. Is it really Charlotte? The texter seems to know things only Charlotte could, and the realization rocks Helen’s world. From the author of “The Newlyweds.” (Alfred A. Knopf, April 2)

‘MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE’ BY LORI GOTTLIEB

What happens when a therapist goes into therapy? That’s the story told in this book by the psychotherapist who writes the “Dear Therapist” column for The Atlantic magazine. With total candor, Gottlieb share her own story and those of her patients — a woman diagnosed with breast cancer after returning from her honeymoon, a self-absorbed TV producer who pays Gottlieb in cash so his wife won’t know, a divorced 69-year-old who believes her life has been one long mistake. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2)

‘EXHALATION’ BY TED CHIANG

The Port Jefferson-born science fiction author — winner of several Hugo and Nebula awards — is out with a second collection of mind-bending stories. (A story from his first book, “Stories of Your Life and Others,” was the basis for the film “Arrival” with Amy Adams.) Chiang publishes so rarely — “Stories of Your Life” came out in 2002 — and is so good that this book qualifies as an event. (Alfred A. Knopf, May 8)

‘FLOYD HARBOR’ BY JOEL MOWDY

Raised with 12 siblings in Mastic Beach, Mowdy tells 12 stories of working-class life on the East End in the 1990s. Among the touchstones you’ll find in this collection: Kool cigarettes, bowling alleys, Suffolk County Community College, Greek diners, 7-Eleven hot dogs, LIRR stations. This is an unvarnished Long Island book that many local readers will passionately relate to. (Catapult, May 14)

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