Amazon’s 10 best books of the year so far: Ann Napolitano’s 'Hello Beautiful' tops list

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The year is only half over, but our to-be-read book pile is so tall it’s about to fall over.

That pile’s only going to get bigger, thanks to Amazon Books' just-announced list of the 10 best books of the year so far (with a bonus 10 runners-up). Sitting pretty at the top spot is Ann Napolitano’s bestselling novel “Hello Beautiful,” an homage to Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic “Little Women.” Napolitano's book is about a young man marked by tragedy who’s taken by a spirited young woman and her vivacious family, and it also has the coveted distinction of being an Oprah’s Book Club pick.

Sarah Gelman and Al Woodworth, editorial director and senior editor at Amazon Books respectively, say the novel was a natural fit for No. 1.

"'Hello Beautiful’ is such an emotional read that’s so hard to get out of your head. I think it’s one of those books that you read and all you want to do is tell your friends about it,” Woodworth says. It’s an especially resonant book for anyone with siblings, she adds, and those who understand how complicated family is. “This one is such a tearjerker … so many of us just felt like it was a book that grabbed you emotionally and didn’t let go.”

"Hello Beautiful" at Amazon for $14.

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Gelman knew as soon as she read it that it was her favorite book of the year so far. “All of us just love this book so much,” she says.

Also making the Top 10 are S.A. Cosby’s thriller “All the Sinners Bleed,” Paul Kix’s riveting account of the 1963 Birmingham Campaign “You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America” and Emily Henry’s enchanting new beach read “Happy Place.”

Gelman and Woodworth say the Amazon Editors and team work hard to create a balanced list of different genres and viewpoints. But what they hope the books all have in common is that you can’t stop thinking about them once the final page is turned.

They also hope to bring more attention to great books that haven’t yet gotten the media attention and sales numbers they deserve. For Woodworth, that book is Helen Elaine Lee “Pomegranate,” a novel about a queer Black woman working hard to heal after she’s released from prison.

“They’re the most exquisite sentences I’ve probably read all year,” says Woodworth.

"Pomegranate," by Helen Elaine Lee.
"Pomegranate," by Helen Elaine Lee.

Gelman, meanwhile, is obsessed with Rachel Heng’s historical novel “The Great Reclamation.”

“It’s just such a beautiful book,” Gelman says. “I want everyone to read it.”

With the first half of the year ranked, the team at Amazon Books can now turn their attention to the books coming out in the second half of 2023, and already they’ve got their sights set on some gems they can’t wait for the rest of us to read, including Colson Whitehead’s “Crook Manifesto,” James McBride’s “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store” and Ann Patchett’s “Tom Lake.”

Here’s the complete list of Amazon’s Top 10 books of the year so far, as well as the 10 runners-up.

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Amazon’s Best Books of the Year So Far

  1. “Hello Beautiful,” by Ann Napolitano.

  2. “All the Sinners Bleed,” by S.A. Cosby.

  3. “Generations: The Real Differences between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents – and What They Mean for America's Future,” by Jean M. Twenge.

  4. “Weyward,” by Emilia Hart.

  5. “You Have to Be Prepared to Die Before You Can Begin to Live: Ten Weeks in Birmingham That Changed America,” by Paul Kix.

  6. “Pomegranate,” by Helen Elaine Lee.

  7. “Age of Vice,” by Deepti Kapoor.

  8. “The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder,” by David Grann.

  9. “The Covenant of Water,” by Abraham Verghese.

  10. “Happy Place,” by Emily Henry.

Amazon's best books runners-up

  1. “King: A Life,” by Jonathan Eig.

  2. “Lady Tan’s Circle of Women,” by Lisa See.

  3. “Small Mercies,” by Dennis Lehane.

  4. “Hang the Moon,” by Jeannette Walls.

  5. “Symphony of Secrets,” by Brendan Slocumb.

  6. “Warrior Girl Unearthed,” by Angeline Boulley.

  7. “The Great Reclamation,” by Rachel Heng.

  8. “Poverty, by America,” by Matthew Desmond.

  9. “Yellowface,” by R.F. Kuang.

  10. “Romantic Comedy,” by Curtis Sittenfeld.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ann Napolitano’s 'Hello Beautiful' tops Amazon's best books list