Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was the most loved book of 2019.
In an era of Trump and terror, climate change and catastrophe, readers more than ever are seeking refuge between the covers of life-affirming novels, according to the Dymocks list of our 101 favourite books for 2019.
This trend towards uplifting literature – dubbed UpLit by the book industry – is one of the major themes in the list, published today.
Dymocks' Kate Mayor defined UpLit as "a story with a protagonist that has to go through a level of darkness to reach an ultimately redeeming end".
Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – the ultimate UpLit novel, according to Ms Mayor – has been voted most-loved book of the year in a poll involving 11,500 Australians.
“The fact this book has taken the top spot shows this trend is not going anywhere," said Ms Mayor. "We go on this journey with her of friendship and having career aspirations, and there's a lot of darkness for Eleanor in order for us to end up in an uplifting place with her."
Australian author Graeme Simsion came in at number 27 on the list with his hugely popular series The Rosie Trilogy.
Aussie author Graeme Simsion came in 27th on the Dymocks 2019 Top 101. Credit:Paul Jeffers
The books follow the travails of socially awkward geneticist Professor Don Tillman in his search for a partner. With the optimistic worldview of his protagonist, Simsion says his novels happily sit in the UpLit genre.
"The political environment we’ve built, particularly in the world that buys English language books, has been pretty toxic," he said. "A flight to hope seems only reasonable."
Literary agent Fiona Inglis has also detected a rise in authors writing stories that "make you feel good".
"We are always seeing doom and gloom, and it's like for God's sake, can't we see something a little more heartwarming?" she said. "We are so bombarded with news that is rarely good, so we just want those stories that make us feel happy."
This year also saw an increase in the number of Australian authors represented in the list, with 39 titles up from 31 last year.
Author Markus Zusak believes Australian readers resonate closely with authentic characters. Credit:Tim Bauer
Local author Markus Zusak has featured on the list for the 12 years it has been running. His hit novel The Book Thief came in fourth this year, while his most recent work, Bridge of Clay, was 19th.
"You can't sit there and think when writing, what is going to resonate with Australian readers," he said. "What I found if you focus less on what might please them, and more about the people inside the book, you write naturally about ideas and people that Australian readers recognise."
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