Book Corner: Library Staff, Readers Share Top Picks of 2019

The number of books that exists in this world is absolutely mind-blowing. According to the great wizard of Google, about 130 million books have been published in modern history. So, if you were born today (I’m taking a wild guess that you were not) and live to be 90, you’d have to read 1.44 million books per year to read them all. It’s possible you’ll fall short of that ideal and read considerably fewer, but which of these do you read? More important, which of these do you buy as holiday gifts?

Luckily, we can tap into the vast body of book knowledge contained within your local library staff and our well-read community. Because everyone likes filling out forms about themselves (am I right?), library staff and customers alike had the chance to submit their favorite reads of 2019. Here are some of the top picks of the year to help you find the perfect gift.

Home Work by Julie Andrews
In her first memoir, Home, Andrews recounts her difficult childhood and emergence as an acclaimed singer and performer. Home Work picks up with Andrews’ arrival in Hollywood, recounting her rise to fame and her personal story of navigating a new, daunting world, falling in love, and becoming a parent. Written with daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, Home Work is a charming, intimate journey into an extraordinary life.

Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Farrow to a story told in secret: One of Hollywood’s most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow began to uncover the truth, a campaign of intimidation was mounted against him, threatening his career, following his every move, and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Handsome, charismatic Alex Claremont–Diaz is cast as the American equivalent of royalty when his mother becomes president. The only issue with Alex’s golden image is that Alex has a problem with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. Scandal abounds when the media publicizes a photo of an Alex–Henry altercation. Their “handlers” devise a plan for damage control: stage a truce. And what begins as a falsehood soon turns into friendship, then secret romance, reaching a boiling point as a contentious reelection campaign begins for Alex’s mother.

The Line Between by Tosca Lee Moon
Wynter Roth has just escaped New Earth, a doomsday cult on the American prairie, only to face the apocalypse she’s been taught to fear her whole life. A mysterious outbreak of rapid-onset early dementia has thrown the world into a state of increasing violence. When Wynter’s sister arrives on her doorstep with a possible link between the madness of New Earth and that of the country, Wynter embarks on a death-defying journey to save the world.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Brought up by unfriendly, time-hardened nuns and skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse. She packs up her things, including her sword, and prepares to launch a daring escape. But her childhood enemy won’t set her free without a service.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
You, too, can become a digital minimalist, able to carry on long conversations without surreptitiously looking at your phone. Common-sense tips, such as turning off notifications, aren’t enough, according to Newport, who presents a more thoughtful method of deciding which tools to use and when. He identifies common practices of digital minimalists and teaches how to take back control of your tech-obsessed life so you can rediscover the pleasures of the analog world.

Placemaker by Christie Purifoy
No matter our vocation, we are all gardeners, spending much of our lives tending, keeping and caring. Weaving her family’s journey with stories of botanical wonders and histories of “placemakers” who shaped the land in generations past, Purifoy calls us to cultivate orchards and communities as a way to tend the soul, the land, and the places we share with one another.

Need more gift ideas? Visit for the full list of Staff Picks 2019 and People’s Choice 2019. Or stop by any Central Rappahannock Regional Library branch for help on finding the perfect book. And be sure to mark your calendar for the Adult Winter Reading Challenge, which runs Jan. 1 through March 31. 

Tracy McPeck is the adult services coordinator at Central Rappahannock Regional Library. This column first appeared in the Free Lance-Star newspaper.