Fiction Favorites: 43 Novels and Story Collections for the Reader on Your List

Welcome to the third installment in our 2019 gift guide series! If you haven’t already, check out our nonfiction picks and poetry favorites. This post is dedicated to fiction in its many forms — literary, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, short story, and even graphic novel. Not that readers need a reason to get whisked away to another time and place, but the bustle of the holiday season can make it that much more satisfying to tuck into a really good book. Here are 40 staff-picked recommendations — including some new releases and some of our very favorites from earlier in the year.

Speaking of fiction and the holiday gifts, our special offer on new First Editions Club subscriptions ends this Sunday, Dec. 8! Buy a pre-paid 6- or 12-month subscription, and get a $15 gift card (for 6-month) or $30 gift card (for 12-month). (Offer god for new sign-ups only.) Now, on to the books!

Recommended by Karen (and everyone)

The Dutch House: A Novel Cover ImageThe Dutch House

The purchase of the Dutch House by Cyril Conroy as a gift to his wife unintentionally sets into motion the disintegration of his family. Danny, Cyril’s son, is the narrator of this story. Patchett reveals through his coming of age, how collective memories are distinctively shaped by their owners and can change the course of future events. I am a sucker for a book that starts in an eccentric, rambling old house, but this book delivers on so many more levels.

Recommended by Ben

Christmas in Austin Cover ImageChristmas in Austin

When the Essinger clan reunites for the holidays, there’s bound to be drama with so many siblings, partners, children, and in-laws in such close proximity. Action takes a backseat to dialogue and internal monologues (complete with plenty of ellipses), which illuminate the nuances of family relationships rather well. I also enjoyed the solidity of place; Markovits really nails the feel of Austin and central Texas.

Recommended by Kathy

A Single Thread: A Novel Cover ImageA Single Thread

England between the Wars, one of my favorite settings. This is the story of a “surplus woman” who finds a new life of friendship and love in an extremely unusual place

Recommended by Kevin

The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth's Past #1) Cover ImageThe Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1)

By Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu

OK, clearly I’m four years behind on my sci-fi reading list, but as readers of the genre know, time is relative. Thankfully it’ll never be too late to pick up the Three-Body Problem, a masterful concoction made from one part mind-bending speculative physics, two parts geopolitical thriller. I gulped down the trilogy in two weeks.

Recommended by Cat

The Guardians: A Novel Cover ImageThe Guardians

Give the gift any legal-thriller lover will cherish: a signed John Grisham novel!

Recommended by Steve

Toni Morrison Box Set: The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved Cover ImageToni Morrison Box Set: The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, Beloved

The great Toni Morrison left us this year, but what a legacy she left us with. Three of her indelible novels — The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved — come boxed together. A great gift for readers new to Morrison or those in need of fresh copies to revisit.

Recommended by Cat

Disappearing Earth: A novel Cover ImageDisappearing Earth

For anyone who wants an immersive, fully transportive novel with a cast of fascinating characters and the mystery of two missing sisters tying them all together, this is the book for you. Let Phillips whisk you away to the remote Russian peninsula of Kamchatka and in an out of the lives of the characters she bring to life.

Recommended by Sissy

The Family Upstairs: A Novel Cover ImageThe Family Upstairs

I hope there’s a sequel to this story. While the tale is told from several points of view, my favorite narrator is the brother. I guarantee you’ll be surprised and want more!

Recommended by Marcia

The Revisioners Cover ImageThe Revisioners

Using a history that spans generations and a narrative that travels back and forth in time, The Revisioners explores the relationships between mothers in the same family. It’s a powerful statement on race, wealth, and power dynamics.

Recommended by Andy

Under Occupation: A Novel Cover ImageUnder Occupation

A new one from one of my favorites, set within the French Resistance in occupied Paris.

Recommended by Erin

The Flight Girls Cover ImageThe Flight Girls

For the person looking for their next WWII novel, this novel about the Women Airforce Service Pilots program shines a light on this little-known piece of American history.

Recommended by Andy

The Accomplice: A Novel Cover ImageThe Accomplice

In spy master Kanon’s latest, a CIA agent is on the trail of a Nazi war criminal long thought dead.

Recommended by Cat

The Shadow King Cover ImageThe Shadow King

A gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Weight of a Piano: A novel Cover ImageThe Weight of a Piano

This is a mesmerizing story of a piano’s journey — from 1962 Soviet Union to modern-day California — and the two families it connects. Out now in paperback. I loved it!

Recommended by Erin

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Cover ImageThe 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

This extra-twisty Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day mystery will stump even the smartest sleuth on your gift list (and now it’s in paperback).

More of our 2019 favorites:

If you’re near Nashville, come to our special After-Hours Shopping Event this Sunday, Dec. 8 at 6:15pm. Get book recommendations from Ann Patchett, store manager Andy Brennan, adult fiction and nonfiction buyer Catherine Bock, and children’s manager Rae Ann Parker — plus wine and light refreshments! A $5 ticket is required for entry, but comes with a voucher for $5 off a purchase of $15 or more. Tickets are available on our website.

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Make sure it gets there! Holiday ordering deadlines for shipped gifts:

  • Media mail rate: December 12
  • Priority rate: December 19

Want it gift wrapped? We’re happy to wrap any orders FREE — just let us know in the “notes” section at checkout. All wrapped gifts must be shipped via priority mail. (Media mail won’t allow anything but books in the package — not even wrapping paper.)