If there’s one good thing to come out of 2020, it’s the incredible books published this year. I spent a good chunk of my quarantine devouring books and have a lot of thoughts about what came out this year. I proudly and humbly present to you my top 10 books published this year. You should definitely check them out if you haven’t already!
10. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
The premise: Lydia Perez is forced to flee her hometown of Acapulco, Mexico with her son after her husband is brutally murdered for speaking out against a famous drug cartel. Their road is long and dangerous, but she knows her only option is to get to America and ensure their safety.
Why I love it: This book will break you. The emotions behind each and every character will have you feeling the deepest love, fear, and pain as the narrative evolves. Shrouded in controversy, this book is a must read and incredibly well done.
9. Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
The Premise: Daphne Berg is living her best life as a plus-sized influencer until her ex-best friend shows up one day with a big ask. Drue Cavanaugh is getting married in the biggest social event of the season and needs Daphne to stand up in her wedding. Will she risk reliving her old life just to make Drue happy?
Why I love it: It’s your classic girl power, feel good book with a huge twist that will leave your jaw on the floor.
8. Untamed by Glennon Doyle
The Premise: Glennon Doyle tells it how it is in this raw and powerful book. She speaks on her experiences with social norms, addiction, marriage, divorce, and self acceptance. A true eye-opener for our current culture.
Why I love it: Untamed is not your typical self-help book because there aren’t very many how to lessons in it. Doyle uncovers the reasons behind many women’s feelings in a way that is relatable and jarring.
7. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
The Premise: One seemingly normal day in Nigeria, Vivek Oji is left for dead on his parents’ doorstep. From that time forward, his friends and family try to piece together the events that led to his murder. They uncover a life filled with pain, curiosity, confusion, and secrets they were never expecting.
Why I love it: This was by far the most deeply literary book I read all year. The writing is beautifully lyrical and the characters are so multifaceted you can’t help but become engrossed in this story.
6. Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
The Premise: Virgil Wounded Horse is the self-made vigilante of the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The jobs he is hired for are usually pretty black and white until heroin makes its way onto the reservation and his nephew is directly affected. Virgil will stop at nothing to make sure the dealers are brought to justice and to keep his nephew, and the rest of the reservation, safe.
Why I love it: Winter Counts is an incredibly unique story as there aren’t a lot of Indian authors writing about experiences on the reservations. Heska wrote a fast-paced and engrossing story that will have you cheering on the characters and hoping for justice to be served.
5. The Guest List by Lucy Foley
The premise: A unique and somewhat unlikely cast of characters gathers together for a wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland. Everything is going as planned, until jealousy and events from the past bubble on the surface and someone ends up dead.
Why I love it: This book is a sleeper and not to be missed. I originally passed up the opportunity to read it because it sounded too much like other suspense novels to be unique. You’ll have to tear yourself away from the story and you’ll never believe who did it.
4. A Good Neighborhood by Therese Ann Fowler
The Premise: In the South Carolina town of Oak Knoll, two families who share a fence line are pitted against each other. The wealthy Whitmans build an expansive home and destroy the surrounding vegetation and a centuries-old tree. Valerie Alston-Holt, a professor of forestry, believes the Whitmans had no right to build in her backyard. When their teenage children begin a budding relationship, their patience for each other wears thinner by the day.
Why I love it: This book explores so many of the issues we are faced with in 2020: race, class, money, gender norms, and human decency. I love how the story is told from multiple points of view and that the tension is palpable from the opening pages.
3. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
The Premise: An unlikely cast of characters looking at an apartment for sale find themselves held hostage. But the bank robber can’t manage to successfully pull off the heist and these hostages aren’t exactly the brightest individuals. Riddled with grief, complaints, psychological issues, and secrets, this group of people is destined to remember this day for the rest of their lives.
Why I love it: This was the most relatable book I read this year. The characters, ranging from a young man to an old woman, each have something about them that allows for the reader to make a deep emotional connection to them. On top of it all, the book is funny and sad at the same time, and the timeline is brilliantly crafted.
2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
The Premise: It’s 1714 in France. In a moment of desperation, Addie LaRue makes a deal with the devil to live forever. The catch is that no one will ever remember her and she’s cursed to live a life void of relationships and human connection. 300 years later, Addie is living in New York City, when something unexpected happens that turns her centuries-old life upside down.
Why I love it: Addie’s story is heartbreaking and powerful. As she lives through the years, she adapts to new challenges and learns how to become a new person over and over again. The story will have you gripped from the opening pages and breathless through the ending.
1. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The Premise: The Vignes sisters are twins by birth but their lives diverge in unexpected ways. After they choose to run away from their close-minded town in the Deep South, they split ways and everything changes: their identities, their families, their race. Their stories are told beginning in the 1950s and continuing through the 1990s in a historical portrait of how family bonds, community standards, and racial lines can be blurred and put back together again.
Why I love it: This book is perfection. From start to finish you’re invested in the characters and their decisions. As the years roll on, their stories become more complex, adding family members and more generations to the mix. The historical aspect of this book paints the landscape for how the sisters are feeling in various stages of their lives and is incredibly well done.