What are the top books of 2020? From The New York Times bestsellers to the most popular new releases, here are all of this year’s must-read books.
We are halfway through the year, so it’s time to pick the best books of 2020 … so far.
Why do I get to decide which are the best books of the year?
Since I started book blogging, I’ve become somewhat of an expert in new releases. Already, I’ve read 60 new releases this year, with plenty more on my to-read list. That’s almost as many as I read last year for my best books of 2019 list.
Suffice it to say, I have the qualifications to comment on the top books to read in 2020. But keep in mind, my list is really just a list of opinions. I’d love to hear what books you think are the best of the best.
Before you begin, let me throw in one major caveat. I usually limit my list strictly to 2020 releases, but this year I made one exception. I’m sure you’ll understand why.
Book of the Year
Although published in 2019, I’m just going to go ahead and declare How to Be an Antiracist as the book of the year in 2020. With the renewed interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, Kendi has penned the premier work on racial justice in America. Using history, law, ethics and, science, Kendi shows what an antiracist society would look like and helps illustrate how we can contribute to the building of a more equitable world. Read More →
Top Books of 2020: Contemporary Fiction
After a careless Facebook comment, Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums of India, is accused of a terrorist bombing. Lovely, the only one who can provide Jivan with an alibi, will lose everything if she comes forward. Meanwhile, Jivan’s gym teacher decides to use Jivan’s downfall to improve his own circumstances. Majumdar’s debut novel is a literary tour de force that will rip your heart out and make you want to change the world around you, making it an excellent choice if you are looking for books to read in 2020. Read more →
On a flight from New York City to Los Angeles, 191 people are killed in a plane crash. The sole survivor: 12-year-old Edward Adler. With split narration between Edward’s post-crash years and the time leading up to the fatal accident, Dear Edward shows that surviving is just the beginning. Napolitano hits the emotions just right in this novel, making you deeply care about Edward’s progress while not turning the story into a full-blown tearjerker. A touching tale, Napolitano perfectly conveys Edward’s complicated coming of age years, giving you hope that even amid such tragedy, joy can be found. Read more →
In Mexico, bookstore owner Lydia is charmed to meet Javier, a man who shares her taste in books, only to find he is the local drug lord. When the wrath of the cartel falls upon her family, Lydia and her son Luca must flee all the way to American soil in this mesmerizing story. By far the most controversial book of 2020, American Dirt sparked an important discussion about who can tell what stories. Read more →
After the death of her fiance, Lydia is struggling to cope. Thanks to an experimental sleeping pill, she gets a chance to live the life she would have had with her fiance in her dreams. However, living in her dream life is messing with her waking life. Which life should she choose? Silver does an excellent job showing how much grief has changed Lydia and how dangerous it is to interfere with the grief process. Read more →
One of the most anticipated Spring 2020 book releases is this dark debut novel exploring the relationship between a naive young girl and her manipulative teacher. As a fifteen-year-old, Vanessa began an affair with her 42-year-old English teacher. Now almost two decades later, when allegations arise against Mr. Strane, Vanessa must confront the reality of her past and reassess her first love. In the post #Metoo era, Russell raises questions about such pressing topics as consent and victimhood. Read more →
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Best Historical Fiction of 2020
At the top of my list of books to look out for in 2020 is Ariel Lawhon’s amazing World War II novel. Nancy Wake, a New Zealander living in Paris, becomes a spy for the British and rises to one of the top leaders of the French Resistance and one of the most decorated women of the war. The story is split into two narratives – the first starting with Nancy parachuting into France in 1944 and the second telling of her courtship with her husband, Henri Fiocca, before the war. You’ll fall in love with Henri and cheer on Nancy as she transforms into a fierce fighter and respected commander. As the earlier timeline catches up with the later one, you’ll feel all the emotions of a woman caught up in a terrible war. Read more →
Growing up in a Southern black community obsessed with skin color, the Vignes sisters run away at age sixteen. Though identical twins, their lives end in completely different paths. One returns to live in their hometown while the other secretly passes as white. A fascinating story from beginning to end, Bennett explores more than race, as she contemplates how the past affects future generations when their daughters’ lives intersect. Nuanced and complicated, this through-provoking book is just what you want out of literary fiction and every bit deserving of its spot among the New York Times best sellers. Read more →
Reminiscent of Anita Diamant’s The Boston Girl, Beanland’s debut novel is perfect for fans of literary historical fiction. While training to swim across the English Channel in 1934, Florence Adler drowns off the coast of Atlantic City. After the tragedy, her mother makes a fateful decision – to keep Florence’s death a secret from her other daughter Fannie, on bed rest for an extremely high-risk pregnancy. Rachel Beanland knocks it out of the park with this debut novel based on a true story from her family’s history. With an insightful look at the intricacies of family life, Florence Adler Swims Forever has won itself a spot among the top books of 2020. Read more →
Acclaimed author Sue Monk Kidd imagines a bold narrative about a fierce, intellectual Jewish woman named Ana. Although expected to marry an older widower, Ana instead marries Jesus, who eventually becomes one of the most influential individuals in history. Kidd is a remarkable writer and weaving that fine line between respect and creativity, her story will be a new book club favorite. Read more →
See which books made the New York Times Fiction Best Seller List in 2020!
Best New Thriller Books of 2020
As a child, Olivia disappeared one night while sleepwalking, only to be found safe days later. After years of enduring fame, Olivia moved away and changed her name. With the 20th Anniversary of her miracle rescue coming up, she starts sleepwalking again, only to wake up to the dead body of someone she used to know. An edge-of-your-seat thriller, I couldn’t get enough of this mystery. With well-rounded characters and surprises that just keep coming, it’s one of the best thriller books of 2020. Read more →
On a remote island, the perfect wedding turns deadly in this thrilling mystery. The high profile wedding between a television star and a magazine publisher is supposed to be the perfect event. Set off the coast of Ireland, all the stops have been pulled out. Yet once the guests arrive, past conflicts come into play and someone turns up dead. Was it the bride? The best man? The wedding planner? Foley keeps you guessing until the end, giving each suspect a firm motive to want to commit murder. Looking for something gripping to distract you, The Guest List is the perfect page-turner to read this year. Read more →
Estranged sisters, Mickey, a police officer, and Kacey, a drug addict, live completely different lives in Philadelphia. When Kacey goes missing and drug addicts begin dying, Mickey becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her among the opioid-riddled streets. More a family drama than a gritty detective thriller, Long Bright River‘s slower pace draws you into Mickey’s world of being a single mom and police officer while the flashbacks build a relationship between the sisters. Moore does an excellent job slowly revealing layers of her story, building connections that interlock in surprising ways. While the ending has some action, the story’s strength lies in the characters making this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Read more →
His & Hers
by Alice Feeney
There are two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in-between. BBC correspondent Anna Andrews returns to her hometown to report on the murder of one of her high school best friends. Complicating matters, her ex-husband, DCI Jack Harper, is investigating the case. As the investigation continues, past secrets come to light and both Jack and Anna find themselves suspects in the case. A solid psychological thriller, Feeny keeps you guessing until the end – letting you believe you know the truth, then twisting it until you suspect you finally understand, before twisting it again. Read more →
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The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020
Austin Channing Brown grew up as a Black Christian woman in middle-class white America, and her new memoir bears witness to racial injustice is woven into the very fabric of America. Brown points out how often we often fall short on our goal to promote diversity, and details what we can do to learn to love blackness. With the increased focus on racial justice, I’m Still Here is one of the best nonfiction books to read in 2020, even if it was published in 2018. Read More →
Bestselling author Erik Larson turns his attention to Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister as he unites a nation in the face of the horrors of the London Blitz. With thorough in-depth research, Larson brings Churchill to life – sharing details on his political and personal life. At over 600 pages, you need to love history books to appreciate this thick tome. As long as you are expecting an informative read instead of a thrilling read, you’ll find this one of the top books of 2020. Read more →
After writing about recovering a marriage rocked by infidelity in Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle has a new memoir about her love story with US soccer star Abby Wambach. Doyle details how she found herself by realizing her true power comes from within and not from the expectations others put on her. Part self-help and part-memoir, Untamed has spent months on the New York Times best seller list and was Reese’s Book Club pick for April. Read More →
You can achieve any goal if you just think like a rocket scientist. Former rocket scientist turned law professor, Ozan Varol shares his habits and strategies to make the impossible actually doable. With fascinating anecdotes from the history of science and NASA, Varol makes keen observations about how you can change your mindset and approach problems in new ways. Despite the shameless self-promotion, the insights from the book still made this one of my favorite books to read in 2020. Read more →
Shortly after World War II, Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American Dream, raising their twelve children in Colorado. Until one after another, six of their ten sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Hidden Valley Road is the tale of this American family who became the center of most of our current research on schizophrenia. Read More →
What do you think are the top books of 2020?
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