Penguin.co.uk trending books 2019

Spanning subjects like climate change, gender equality and social justice, they reflect what has been talked about in the wider world – whether that’s feminism and politics or the sassy British star of a bona fide TV phenomenon.

It’s also doubled as a great recommending reading list to take you into 2020. Here’s the top ten.

Naturally Tan by Tan France

Admit it: Tan’s your favourite. All the stars of Netflix’s smash-hit Queer Eye are brilliant in their own way, but the Brit-born stylist achieved national treasure status thanks in part to his memoir, which offered fans even more of his trademark warmth and relatable British sense of humour while also delving into his often emotionally-fraught upbringing.

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Recently, campaigns like #MeToo and ‘Time’sUp’ ensured women’s rights have been front and centre of the news agenda. But there is still work to be done, including addressing gender bias that’s harder to spot. Caroline Criado Perez’s data-science backed Invisible Women was full of such surprises: did you know, as a woman, the office is 5°C too cold for you? Or that your smartphone, at 5.5 inches, is simply too big for your hand? Or more disturbingly, that you’re 47% more likely than a man to be seriously injured in a car accident because the vehicle you drive is designed for a man? Invisible Women helped set a new conversation in the cause of gender equality.

 

This is Not a Drill by Extinction Rebellion

It’s been hard to avoid Extinction Rebellion this year. From protests to blockages to occupations, the group forced the climate change onto the news agenda and created a social movement of unprecedented scale as they demanded net-zero carbon emissions and government accountability. Their official handbook collected essays and thought-provoking ideas from some of the most influential thinkers in the environmental science arena, to show how we can tackle climate change, both individually and collectively.

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

One of our preeminent fiction writers released a fascinating work of speculative fiction this year that offered a look at the troubling rise of artificial intelligence. Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me stepped back in time to 1982 with a historical ‘what if’ in which the UK loses the Falklands War, forcing Thatcher from office and triggering a wave of events not dissimilar to Brexit. Alongside all that, science has created robots that are humanlike enough to live alongside – and even fall in love with.

Underland by Robert Macfarlane

Renowned for his deeply lyrical explorations of nature, in his latest bestseller Robert Macfarlane journeyed underground to the catacombs of Paris and through Greenlandic glaciers to our landscape at a time we’re in most danger of losing it. Written over the last decade, Underland is, in all senses of the word, a darker read than his previous work and struck a chord with people fearful of our environmental future.

It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue And Other Lies curated by Scarlett Curtis

At present, one in four adults experience some form of mental illness. The follow up to activist Scarlett Curtis’s anthology Feminists Don’t Wear Pink highlights the epidemic through a series of essays that dismantle the taboo around the topic. It includes contributions from the likes of Lena Dunham, Simon Amstell and James Blake to show that no one is immune from the struggle, regardless of their success or status.

The Mister by E L James

It wasn’t all gloom and doom for online readers this year… E L James once again serenaded her erotica-hungry fans desperate to satisfy the Christian Grey-shaped hole in their lives since Fifty Shades was last published in 2017. A slight change in tempo from the series, there’s still the usual swoon-worthy (and occasionally rough-and-ready) romance, though it’s slightly more fairy tale-esque. Those rusty handcuffs and S&M sessions have been swapped for long, loving gazes on riverside walks, that, regardless of their slightly more PG nature, more than satisfied James’ devotees. 

The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan

An expert at weaving ancient myths into the awkward lives of modern mortal teenagers, Rick Riordan’s YA dramas have garnered a literary fan base to rival Game of Thrones. The Tyrant’s Tomb saw a return to Percy Jackson’s world with the fourth and penultimate book in his Hidden Oracle series. It’s all rather complicated, but in a nutshell: a devastated but determined Apollo, cast out by his father Zeus, travels to Camp Jupiter where he must learn what it is to be a hero, or die trying. An example of readers trying to escape the modern world? Who could blame them.

Hinch Yourself Happy by Mrs Hinch

Ah, 2019 – the year of Boris’s Brexit blunders, climate chaos, and… Hinching. The year when a cleaning revolution side-lined the #Influencers selfies to crown a new Instagram queen with her enviously-organised shelves and immaculate, silver-hued abode. If you’re left in any doubt, know that as well as appearing on this list, Hinch Yourself Happy became the second fastest-selling non-fiction book ever. The secret? An army of 2.9 million Hinchers and some good old-fashioned elbow grease.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Between the TV interviews, the joint Booker victory and the green handmaids wandering in and out of book shops across the country, it was hard to escape Atwood-mania this year. The reason was the brilliant book at the centre of it, The Testaments, the author’s sequel to her classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale. A story with extraordinary resonance, both because of its TV adaptation and the way it has been appropriated by women’s rights movements around the globe, The Testaments was the publishing event of the year and ‘trended’ in every sense of the word.

Related articles