Recommended by Stephanie Kelley

"What do I look for in a good book? I thought about this a lot over 2019. As the endlessly churning book publicity mill proclaims every notable new release the “best!” or “first of its kind!”, it can be hard to tell the difference between deserved buzz and overhype. Even more difficult is judging whether a book everyone is reading (e.g. Fleishman is in Trouble; Normal People; Ducks, Newburyport, to take a few 2019 examples) is just good—which isn’t a knock!—or simply unforgettable. I approach every reading decision with the same question: not just ‘Will this be good?’ but ‘Even if it’s good, will I wish that I’d spent those hours rereading Middlemarch instead?’"