Happy New Year! Here’s a Peek at 2019 Reading Fun

Lynn and Cindy: Happy New Year from Bookends! ALA Midwinter and the big Youth Media Awards for the 2018 publishing year are just a few weeks away. Here at Bookends, we are simultaneously winding up our 2018 reading recommendations and ramping up for hot-off-the-press 2019 books. Watch for our annual “Bookends Favorites” lists, which are coming soon, and our reports from Seattle later this month.

We’ve been receiving 2019 galleys for several months already and we can promise that it’s going to be a great year for readers! So while we frantically alternate between the remaining 2018s on our to-read stacks and the new deliveries, here’s a quick peek at seven of the 2019s we are eager to share.

The Neighbors by Einat TsarfatiLynn: Who hasn’t wondered what lies behind the closed doors of our neighbors’ apartments? In Einat Tsarfati’s funny picture book The Neighbors (January), a little girl imagines exotic mysteries behind each door. The door with muddy tracks must conceal the home of an old explorer and his pet tiger, while the door with the bicycle wheel outside it surely conceals a family of acrobats working on their exciting act! Each interior contains delightful details to savor, while the girl’s own “boring” apartment offers a surprising twist at the end.

Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt

With four starred reviews already, Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt (February) is at the top of my to-read stack. Schmidt, a local Michigan author, is a Bookends favorite—and the jacket blurb is irresistible! Carter Jones’ first day of middle school is not looking good: “Carter’s little sisters are fussing, there’s no milk, his mom is frantic and the Jeep won’t start.” Then the doorbell rings, and there stands an English butler—complete with bowler hat and purple Bentley—who walks in and sorts everything out. See what I mean? You want to read it immediately, too!

Spin by Lamar GilesI love mysteries and books about music and music performance; when you combine the two, you’ve got my attention. Lamar Giles’ new book Spin (January) sounds like it is right up my turntable. When a rising hip-hop DJ is found dead, her discarded pre-fame best friend and her chief groupie have to team up to solve the murder. Trouble is, the two girls loathe each other! Giles, a founding member of We Need Diverse Books and an Edgar Award finalist, is playing my song here. I can’t wait to give this exciting teen mystery a spin.


Cindy: First up for me is a nonfiction book delving into events that will see hundred-year anniversaries this year. Martin W. Sandler’s 1919: The Year that Changed America (January) is a perfect book to launch the new year. 1919 saw the passing of both the Eighteenth Amendment, launching Prohibition, and the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, as well as the Red Summer of racist aggression and labor strikes for better working conditions. Sandler is a favorite nonfiction author and I’m eager to read his report on this pivotal year.

As an avid hoops fan, I was excited to get my hands on a new basketball book that is advertised as “Judy Blume meets Mike Lupica.” Nikki on the Line (March), from debut author Barbara Carroll Roberts, features an eighth-grade girl who wonders if she is out of her league after she’s selected for an elite club team. Other conflicts regarding friends, family, and school add to the story. Sports for teens are high-stakes ventures today and good female sports fiction is hard to find. I’m hopeful this story will be a slam dunk.

Elizabeth Acevedo wrote a popular and already highly acclaimed debut last year, the verse novel The Poet X. She has a cult following among our high-school girls and teachers. I know I’m going to be popular when I share her upcoming prose novel With the Fire on High (May), which is about a teenage mother who has a talent for cooking—but first, I get to read it!

Since I’m teasing you with a book that won’t be available for months, here’s a bonus title available in just days that you won’t want to miss reading or ordering for your teens: Holly Black’s The Wicked King (publishing January 8) is the sequel to The Cruel Prince, one of my favorite books of 2018.




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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