Introducing NYPL's Best Books of 2019

By Lynn Ann Lobash, Associate Director, Readers Services and Engagement
November 26, 2019
Best Books of 2019

The New York Public Library is proud to announce its Best Books of 2019, our annual recommendations for kids, teens, and adults which are curated by NYPL's expert librarians.  

This list celebrates the diversity of stories, authors, styles, and genres published in 2019.  From literary fiction to fantasy, picture books to poetry, nonfiction to graphic novels, readers of all kinds and all ages will find books that inspire, engage, and surprise them.   

Here you can explore the Library's top 10 books in five categories: kids, Spanish-language kids, teens, adults, and poetry. Then you can find even more outstanding recommendations in our full lists for kids, teens, and adults.

Best Books for Kids


For over a century, The New York Public Library's expert children's librarians have curated a list of the noteworthy children's books published each year, ranging from picture books to middle-grade fiction and incorporating genres such as graphic novels, poetry, and nonfiction. The committee read thousands of books published from January through October in 2019 in order to select their 100 favorite.   

Below are their top 10, but be sure to  check out the whole list at  And let us know what you think in the comments below, or on social media with the hashtag #BestBooks!

Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Don Tate

Maximillian Fly by Angie Sage

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake

Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith

My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña

The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Don Tate 

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

Best Books for Kids in Spanish

Los Mejores Libros para Pequeños/The Best Books for Kids 

This year, the Library has selected a list of the best books for children in Spanish published in 2019, or Los Mejores Libros para Pequeños. The committee of ten Spanish-speaking librarians read a wide range of titles in order to select their favorites.

Below are their selections for the top 10 Spanish-language children's titles. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or on social media with the hashtag #BestBooks!

¿De dónde eres?, by Yamile Saied Méndez, illustrated by Jaime Kim

Empieza por A, by Félix Jiménez Moreno, illustrated by Ona Caussa Rius

La joven maestra y la gran serpiente, by Irene Vasco, illustrated by Juan Palomino

Luisa siempre va con prisa, by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Gemma Merino 

Mario y el agujero en el cielo: Cómo un químico salvó nuestro planeta, by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Teresa Martínez

Mi papi tiene una moto, by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña

La princesa Inca, by Ana Alonso, illustrated by Jordi Vila Delclòs

Señorita Mariposa, by Ben Gundersheimer, illustrated by Marcos Almada Rivero

Todos Iguales: Un corrido de Lemon Grove, by Christy Hale

¡Los zombis no comen verduras!, by Megan Lacera, illustrated by Jorge Lacera 

Best Books for Teens


A committee of dedicated young adult specialists read (and read and read) this year's teen romances, mysteries, graphic novels, nonfiction anthologies, poetry, sci-fi, and more. Then they debated and voted on these books until they whittled it down to their 50 favorite YA books of the year. 

Here are the top 10 from that list. Check out the full 50at And let us know what you think in the comments below, or on social media with the hashtag #BestBooks.

As Many Nows as I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl

Birthday by Meredith Russo

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable, art by Ellen T. Crenshaw

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

SLAY by Brittney Morris

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama


Best Books for Adults


Staff from across The New York Public Library system shared the titles published in 2019 that they felt represented the best books of the year. The results were as diverse and wide-ranging as our staff and collections, spanning a gripping nonfiction account of the #MeToo scandal to fiction about the bonds between mothers and daughters to a memoir of a home in New Orleans.

Below are the 10 titles that received the greatest number of votes from our staff. Check out the complete list of 100 titles and share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #BestBooks.

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodessner-Aker

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacobs

Normal People by Sally Rooney

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement  by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Three Women by Lisa Tadeo

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino


Best Books for Poetry


While the Library has long made poetry recommendations, this year an official committee of staff members read, evaluated, debated, and discussed books of poetry published in 2019.

Here are their top 10 recommendations. Check out more titles from our Best Books for Adults or share your opinions on social media using the hashtag #BestBooks. 

The Black Condition Ft. Narcissusby Jayy Dodd

The Crazy Bunch by Willie Perdomo

Deaf Republicby Ilya Kaminsky

In Her Feminine Sign by Dunyā Mīkhāʼīl

Library of Small Catastrophes by Alison C. Rollins

Lima :: Limón by Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Soft Science by Franny Choi

Some Girls Survive on Their Sorcery Alone by Thiahera Nurse

Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50 by Lee Ann Roripaugh

The Year of Blue Water by Yanyi

About the Best Books of 2019

Explore the Best Books lists for kidsteens, and adults, or explore the Best Books lists from previous years.

Check out the library staff members behind the lists.

Need a library card? Any person who lives, works, attends school or pays property taxes in New York State is eligible to receive a New York Public Library card free of charge. Sign up for a card today.


Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations.