Launched in 2009, the Goodreads Choice Awards is the only major book awards on the planet that gave the privilege for readers of all ages to select or vote for the book of their choice to which they think is the best book in its corresponding category.
According to the Goodreads website, in selecting 15 worthy nominees in 20 categories, it analyzes statistics from the hundreds of millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on the site.
Write-in votes are also accepted during the Opening Round, so readers can vote for exactly the book they want. In this way, receiving a Goodreads Choice nomination is truly an honor that comes straight from the readers.
The election of the annual Goodreads’ best books usually happens in November, and the winners are commonly announced in December. And this year, a record-breaking 5,674,480 votes were tallied.
In the “Best Fiction” category, considerably the closest contest in the awards’ history, with a total of 506,978 votes across all nominated books, Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library won by five votes.
1. The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe, there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed, finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
2. Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them — the bank robber included — desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.
Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope — the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.
3. American Dirt
Author: Jeanine Cummins
Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.
Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day, a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy — two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la Bestia — trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach El Norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
4. Such a Fan Age
Author: Kiley Reid
In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix’s efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.
5. My Dark Vanessa
Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell
Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naive teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.
2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.
2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager — and who professed to worship only her — may be far different from what she has always believed?
Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.
Other nominated books in the “Best Fiction” category are as follows:
6. Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel (35,614 votes)
7. Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom (31,699 votes)
8. Abi Dare’s The Girl With The Louding Voice (28,640 votes)
9. Ann Napolitano’s Dear Edward (25,384 votes)
10. Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer (22,008 votes)
11. Lily King’s Writers and Lovers (7,318 votes)
12. Frances Cha’s If I Had Your Face (5,607 votes)
13. Megha Majumdar’s A Burning (4,840 votes)
14. Raven Leilani’s Luster (4,109 votes)
15. Suzanne Redfearn’s In an Instant (2,680 votes)
16. Margarita Montemore’s Oona Out Of Order (2,414 votes)
17. Akwaeke Emezi’s The Death of Vivek Oji (1,995 votes)
18. Ayad Akhtar’s Homeland Elegies (1,731 votes)
19. Brandon Taylor’s Real Life (1,508 votes)
20. Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations (1,305 votes)