Want to spice up your TBR with the best books of 2020 so far? You're in luck, because Bustle has put together an ongoing list of the finest books the year has to offer below. Whether you're looking for your next great read, or making sure you haven't missed a sleeper hit, this is your one-stop shop for great books in 2020.
We're all still reeling from last year's great releases, but 2020 has already made a splash for readers everywhere, and it still has more in store for you! Loads of fantastic titles were released in January alone, and the reading just gets better with each passing month.
The books on the list below come from all corners of publishing. We've got books in translation, debut novels, long-awaited releases, YA and genre fiction, memoirs, and new works of nonfiction — and we're just getting started. No matter what kind of books tickle your personal fancy, you'll find plenty to choose from here. Don't restrict yourself to your reading comfort zone, though, because half the fun's in finding something new.
Check out the best books of 2020 so far below, and be sure to share your favorite titles of the year with us on Twitter!
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Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun
Ada Calhoun's Why We Can't Sleep began as a search for answers about why she and the other Gen-Xer ladies she knew were mentally and physically exhausted in middle age. The result is this new book, which fills a critical gap on women and aging.
F*ck Your Diet and Other Things My Thighs Tell Me by Chloé Hilliard
An irreverent essay collection about diet culture and the author's personal relationship with her body, Chloé Hilliard's F*ck Your Diet is essential reading for anyone who knows — or needs to learn — that there's more to life than losing weight.
Long Bright River by Liz Moore
A timely thriller set in the midst of the opioid epidemic, Long Bright River follows Mickey, a Philadelphia cop, as she investigates two, potentially connected cases — a series of local homicides and the disappearance of her sister, Kacey, who sleeps rough and lives with substance addiction.
Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey
A slim debut novel perfect for fans of Sally Rooney's Normal People, Miranda Popkey's Topics of Conversation follows an unnamed narrator as she moves through two decades of her life, having conversations with other women about the ways in which we create and become ourselves.
Creatures by Crissy Van Meter
As she prepares for her upcoming wedding, three things happen to shake up Evangeline's carefully constructed hermitage of a life — her fiance disappears, seemingly lost at sea; her estranged mother shows up on her doorstep; and a beached whale dies, permeating the area with the stench of decay. These events force Evie to confront the realities of her upbringing and all of the life choices that led her to now.
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston
This collection unearths eight forgotten stories from Their Eyes Were Watching God author Zora Neale Hurston's body of early work, begun during her time at Barnard College in the mid-1920s.
Little Gods by Meng Jin
Recently orphaned at 17 years old, Liya is tasked with delivering her late mother's ashes to China. As Liya sorts through her memories of Su Lan, two other people who knew her — Zhu Wen, who spoke with her just before she left for the U.S. when Liya was an infant, and Liya's father, Yongzong — offer their own stories of the woman whose death and memory drive Meng Jin's debut novel.
Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
In her debut memoir, New Yorker tech culture writer Anna Wiener examines her time working at startups on both coasts at the height of the tech bubble. Uncanny Valley offers an insider's take on Silicon Valley and New York at the brink of collapse.
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende's new novel, The Long Petal of the Sea, follows a young couple thrown together by circumstance in the wake of Franco's coup. Army doctor Victor marries Roser, the widowed mother of his brother's child, not out of any kind of affection, but as a necessity in their flight from Europe to Chile — a journey facilitated by Pablo Neruda. But as the two of them make the perilous journey toward building a life together, something like love begins to bloom.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
Esther's lover is dead, executed for treasonous acts of publishing. Her betrothed is a vicious man she can't bear to marry. So when two Librarians ride through Esther's town with government-approved reading material, she seizes her chance and stows away on their wagon. Paired up with a third woman, an Apprentice Librarian named Cye, Esther begins training to become a Librarian herself. She's determined to remain on the law's good side, to avoid ending up like the woman she loved, to be a good Librarian, but she can't deny her feelings for Cye. As Esther will soon learn, however, that these Librarians are anything but "good" in the eyes of the fascist state.
The Resisters by Gish Jen
A near-future novel set in what was formerly the United States, Gish Jen's The Resisters centers on a lower-class family whose daughter's preternatural abilities make her a hot commodity in the upcoming Olympics. At turns funny and frightening, this is a novel to watch for in 2020.
Brother & Sister by Diane Keaton
Acclaimed actress Diane Keaton examines her relationship with her younger brother, Randy Hall, and the disparate paths of their lives in this new memoir. Combining Keaton's words with Hall's art and poetry, Brother & Sister is a deeply moving story of family bonds and affections.
The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams
Caroline Hood is the only female teacher at Birch Hill, a newly founded school for young ladies that harbors the secrets of its own grim past as a failed utopia. One of the school's most promising students, Eliza, is far more interested in what happened at the old Birch Hill than in keeping up with her lessons. But when Eliza contracts a mysterious illness that spreads through the student population like wildfire, and eventually infects Caroline, as well, the school's headmaster — and Caroline's father — calls in a physician whose ideas may endanger the lives of all the girls in the school.
Weather by Jenny Offill
From Dept. of Speculation author Jenny Offill comes this new novel about a degree-less librarian who moonlights as a fake psychiatrist. Living an unconventional life already, Lizzie takes a side gig answering fan mail for her former mentor's podcast. As her family begins to crumble under the weight of various pressures, however, Lizzie starts to realize that she can't do everything for everyone.
The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin
Set in a Charleston, South Carolina hospital, Kimmery Martin's The Antidote for Everything centers on co-workers and BFFs Georgia Brown and Jonah Tsukada, who find themselves in an ethical quandary after their employer institutes a new policy preventing them from treating transgender patients.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
This new release from the author of Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists calls out the white feminists whose privilege allows them to ignore the needs of women of color, poor women, and women with disabilities, among others.
The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel brings her Thomas Cromwell trilogy to a close with The Mirror & the Light, which focuses on the final years of Cromwell's life. With Cromwell's attempts at civil diplomacy unsuccessful, Anne Boleyn has now been tried and executed to make way for her widower's new wife, Jane Seymour. Cromwell is at the height of his power, but nothing so good could ever last for long...
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
Nearly 20 years after she was sexually involved with her high-school English teacher, new circumstances force Vanessa Wye to re-examine her relationship with the man, who has now been accused of sexual abuse by another of his students.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
New York City's avatar has been gravely injured in battle with the city's enemy — an old and evil threat, recently revived — which means that each of the five boroughs must put forth a warrior. Only through intense cooperation can the chosen five humans save the city, but Staten Island's Irish-American avatar has no interest in working with her ethnically diverse compatriots. That's exactly what the enemy wants in The City We Became, a novel born from N.K. Jemisin's short story, "The City Born Great."
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
A brother and sister, though estranged, remain in each other's orbit in Emily St. John Mandel's long-awaited follow-up to Station Eleven. Vincent has just disappeared somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean near Mauritania. Her husband, Jonathan, has finally been held accountable for running a Ponzi scheme, and has subsequently broken with reality. More important, however, is Vincent's brother, Paul — a man who has only just begun to recover from heroin addiction and start a life for himself when his kid sister vanishes.
Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life author Samantha Irby has an all-new book out in 2020. In its collected essays, Wow, No Thank You tracks Irby's change of scenery as she relocates her wife and their children to a conservative corner of Michigan, feels out of place in L.A., and reckons with being one of the country's top writers to know.
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
Still reeling from her husband's death and her sister's unexplained disappearance, recently retired college professor Antonia Vega finds herself called to action when a young, undocumented couple enter her life. Afterlife is Julia Alvarez's first novel for adults since 2006's Saving the World, making it one of the year's most-talked-about books.
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
In Frances Cha's debut, four women — Kyuri, Miho, Ara, and Wonna — must sort out the complexities of their existences while living in the same apartment building in Seoul, South Korea. If you're looking for a novel that sucks you right into its characters' lives, you've found it in If I Had Your Face, where plastic surgery, financial woes, and obsession line the pages.
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
In the title story of this collection focused on immigrant experiences, a man attempts to help his daughter with her homework, with painful ramifications. Somehow barebones and surreal, Souvankham Thammavongsa's How to Pronounce Knife is a collection whose stories will stay with you long after you've closed the book's cover.
Our Riches by Kaouther Adimi
Originally published in French in 2017, Kaouther Adimi's historical novel, Our Riches, is finally available in English this year. The story centers on Edmond Charlot, the real-life founder of Algiers' Les Vraies Richesses: an all-in-one bookstore, publisher, and library. As a young man, Charlot struggles to keep his enterprise afloat, but his story reveals deeper issues inherent to French colonialism in Africa. Our Riches is a deeply moving and thought-provoking novel that English speakers can finally read for the first time in 2020.
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin
A viral fad turns against its adherents in Fever Dream author Samanta Schweblin's new novel. The tiny, wheeled, robotic companions known as kentukis are everywhere, and the world just can't get enough of them. Whether you have one that follows you around the house all day, or you sign up to remotely pilot someone else's kentuki, there's a good chance you've interacted with one of the little critters already. Through these Internet-age pets, Schweblin explores the magic we can make — and the damage we can do — in our hyperconnected lives.
A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet
From Pulitzer Prize-nominated novelist Lydia Millet comes this work of literary, cli-fi suspense. When several families convene at a lakeside retreat, the adults succumb to substance abuse while their 12 children, one of whom is the novel's narrator, are left to their own devices. While the narrator's brother searches in an antique Bible for answers to the climate crisis, the children decide to flee their parents' custody in the midst of a severe storm, in the pensive and haunting new novel, A Children's Bible.
Stray by Stephanie Danler
Sweetbitter author Stephanie Danler's memoir of abuse and recovery is one of the year's must-read books. Stray traces Danler's unhappy childhood, marred by alcoholism and absentee parenting, through a troubled adolescence and young adulthood — periods she found herself thrust back to in the wake of her novel's publication. A powerful look at the legacy of family trauma, Stray doesn't shy away from confronting all the painful little details, each of which Danler renders in her signature prose.
This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman by Ilhan Omar
At age 12, she immigrated to the United States after four long years spent fleeing war in Somalia. She's the first Somali-American elected to Congress, and one of only a few Muslim representatives to serve in U.S. history. Now, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has shared her life story with readers for the first time in This Is What American Looks Like. Looking back on an adolescence marked by war, racism, and Islamophobia, the congressional representative turns toward a new, better future in this striking memoir.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
The sophomore novel from The Mothers author Brit Bennett, The Vanishing Half centers on four women — identical twin sisters Desiree and Stella, and their daughters, Jude and Kennedy — whose lives have been shaped by colorism. As the dark-skinned daughter of a light-skinned mother, Jude has always known just how deep other people's prejudices can run. But nothing prepares her for a chance encounter with Stella, her mother's white-passing sister, who has never disclosed her ethnicity to her white husband and friends. That unplanned run-in puts the sisters and their daughters on a collision course in this can't-miss new novel.
Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America by Stacey Abrams
The gubernatorial nominee from Georgia's Democratic Party in 2018, Stacey Abrams continues to be politically active in the state. In her new book, Our Time Is Now, Abrams outlines a plan for political action to end voting rights violations in the United States. Her campaign against voter suppression may be more important now than ever, at a time when Black Americans and their allies are standing up and speaking out against racial injustice in all 50 states. As we head into the November 2020 elections, Our Time Is Now is a must-read.
The Margot Affair by Sanaë Lemoine
Seventeen-year-old Margot has had enough of her family's double life. The lovechild of a politician and actress, she lives with her mother, sees her father frequently, but can never publicly acknowledge him. Now, Margot's prepared to do the unthinkable: force her father to leave his wife and be with her and her mother instead. Joining forces with two journalists, whose intentions may not be entirely honorable, Margot recklessly navigates her transition to adulthood in Sanaë Lemoine's debut.
Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
A nameless widow in possession of a strange note takes center stage in this new novel from the author of Eileen and My Year of Rest and Relaxation. The note reads: "Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn't me. Here is her dead body." The problem is, there's no body to be found. There is only the note, which Ottessa Moshfegh's protagonist will use to fuel her new obsession, in Death in Her Hands.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
When her cousin, newly married to an Englishman, writes her a frantic, fearful letter, Noemí packs her bags and heads for High Place: her new cousin-in-law's Mexican country home. The socialite arrives to find her relative affected by an apparent mental illness, her new family concerned. But is Noemí's cousin hallucinating the evils of High Place, or is her story strange, but true?
True Love by Sarah Gerard
Binary Star author Sarah Gerard's new book, True Love, centers on Nina, a flighty, selfish young woman looking for love in all the wrong places. But as she pursues creative projects with both her longtime boyfriend and another man, it becomes clear that Gerard's protagonist may not be the best narrator of her own experiences.
Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford
Kelli Jo Ford's debut novel follows four generations of Cherokee women — Granny, Lula, Justine, and Reney — across the late-20th and early-21st centuries. Justine moves her daughter out of Indian Country in the 1980s, in pursuit of a new life in Texas. But when new problems intermingle with the family's old ones, the four women must make tough decisions, many of which hinge on the things they can control... and the things they can't.
Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Set in an alternate version of the pre-WWII United States, Alaya Dawn Johnson's Trouble the Saints focuses on three people of color, all with magical powers, all working for a Russian mobster. Phyllis, Tamara, and Dev's abilities make them valuable to their boss and dangerous to his enemies. But as the war heats up, the three of them will be forced to reckon with the lives they've ended.
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline
A woman searching for her missing husband stumbles upon a revivalist preacher who looks just like him in Cherie Dimaline's Empire of Wild. A Métis woman largely disconnected from her ancestral traditions, Joan suspects that something is dangerously amiss when the man who is so obviously her husband doesn't recognize her. Working with allies more steeped in Métis lore than she, Dimaline's protagonist throws herself into the mystery of her husband's disappearance and what came after.
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
The son of an Indian mother and a Nigerian father, Vivek Oji always stood out from his neighbors and family members. More interested in hanging out with the foreign wives than with his male cousins, Vivek grew up different. He grew up queer. Then he died, and his family realized they may never have known him at all. Akwaeke Emezi's latest novel takes a retrospective view of one young person's life.
No Offense by Meg Cabot
A small-town children's librarian finds herself at odds with the local sheriff in this new rom-com from Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot. The discovery of an abandoned newborn in the library bathroom has everyone in town talking. Sheriff John Hartwell wants to find the person who gave birth and charge them with a crime, but Molly Montgomery begs to differ. No Offense is a heartwarming must-read this summer.
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
Madeleine Ryan's #OwnVoices debut follows an autistic Melbourne woman to a party, where she runs into people she knows and people she doesn't — including the man she invites home. Told from its protagonist's perspective, A Room Called Earth sheds some light on how autistic people mask their autism in front of their neurotypical neighbors.
Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig
Disability advocate Rebekah Taussig's debut memoir is out in 2020, and it's a must-read. Through the essays contained in Sitting Pretty, Taussig explores her late-90s, early-2000s childhood as a disabled person, and what's its like to interact with able-bodied people as an adult.
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Yadriel's family doesn't want to accept him for the trans brujo he is, but he's determined to prove himself. With some help from his BFF, he tries to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin... but a different spirit shows up. Yadriel's just summoned his bad boy classmate, Julian, who has some unfinished business to attend to. Yadriel agrees to help him, but finds himself wanting Julian to stay on Earth for just a little longer in Cemetery Boys.
That Time of Year by Marie NDiaye
A vacationing Parisian finds himself trapped in paradise in Marie NDiaye's That Time of Year. Herman was getting ready to head home when he realized that his wife and child were missing. Now he's stuck in unfamiliar territory as he tries to investigate their disappearance, but finds nothing but hostility and strangeness at every turn.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Piranesi lives in a house he cannot escape — a labyrinthine collage of rooms that flood at a moment's notice. The only other living creature in his strange abode is The Other, a man who wants Piranesi to locate A Great and Secret Knowledge within the house. As Susanna Clarke's hero plumbs the depths of his home in search of answers, however, he turns up a dark secret that will change everything he thinks he knows.
The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
After surviving a plane crash, a married woman fixates on rekindling an old love affair in Jodi Picoult's The Book of Two Ways. Dawn hasn't seen Wyatt in 15 years, but she knows she can find him on a digsite in Egypt. Recuperating from the crash, Dawn has a choice to make: fly home to her husband and daughter, or head back to Wyatt after all this time.
Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
Daughter wakes up with a new tail after Mother tells her the story of Hu Gu Po: the child-devouring tiger spirit. Shortly thereafter, strange holes begin to appear in their backyard, producing letters from Daughter's grandmother. She and another neighborhood girl, Ben, who has powers of her own, throw themselves into the mystery of the letters — and nurse a fledgling romance — in K-Ming Chang's Bestiary.
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Marcus was a big fan of the Gods of the Gates books, but the TV series leaves a lot to be desired. That's particularly bad news for him, because he plays Aeneas. As the star of the show, Marcus can't air his grievances publicly, so he limits himself to posting on his anonymous fandom account: Book!AeneasWouldNever. When April's Lavinia cosplay goes viral, Marcus winds up on a convention date with her... only to find out that she's Unapologetic Lavinia Stan: Book!AeneasWouldNever's BFF. He can't tell her who he is, because that would mean risking his career. But can Marcus stand to let a chance at romance with April slip through his fingers?
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Maryse Boudreaux is out to save the world, or die trying. Years after D.W. Griffith cast a grim spell over the United States with Birth of a Nation, the Ku Klux Klan has a plan to summon demons across the country and return the country to the days of slavery. It's up to Maryse — armed with a sword — and her allies to beat the KKK into submission, but doing good works in a country under an evil spell isn't easy.
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
Jebi doesn't want to fight, but they've just been conscripted to paint magical symbols on the army's robot troops. It's just a job... until Jebi learns where the pigments in their paints come from. Now that they can't turn away from what they know, there's only one option left: steal a dragon robot and fight on the right side of history.
The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg
Once upon a time, Whistle Stop, Alabama was Bud Threadgoode's whole world. Now his mother, Ruth, and his Aunt Idgie are both dead, and Whistle Stop's nothing but a boarded-up town full of specters from the Great Depression. But Bud's stopping in to check on his hometown, one last time, and he's about to uncover a wealth of new stories, just waiting to be told.
Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko
Kerry Salter has spent years avoiding her family and the law, but the three of them are about to collide anyway. Her grandfather is dying, and their family's ancestral land is slated to become the build site for a brand-new prison. Back at home in New South Wales, she must decide whether to stick around or hit the road again, as her patriarch's health continues to decline, and the march of "progress" stomps closer to home.
We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper
The culmination of a 10-year-long investigation and a 50-year-old secret, Becky Cooper's We Keep the Dead Close is a compelling work of journalism like no other. Attending Harvard as an undergrad, Cooper heard the tragic story of Jane Britton, a 23-year-old grad student whose brutal murder in her Cambridge apartment had gone unsolved since 1969. Diving deep into the case, parsing legend from fact, Cooper's We Keep the Dead Close is perfect for tested true-crime fans and newcomers to the genre alike.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
This Romeo and Juliet retelling recasts the Montague and Capulet clans as rival criminal families in 1920s Shanghai. The young heirs to the White Flowers and the Scarlet Gang must work together to prevent a destructive plague from putting an end to both families' businesses. But can Juliette and Roma trust each other when darkness and danger lurk around every corner?
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
A trans boy looking for a new name connects with his late mother through the work of a missing artist in this new novel from the author of The Map of Salt and Stars. A graffiti artist working in Manhattan's Little Syria, Zeyn Joukhadar's protagonist — who ultimately chooses the name Nadir — stumbles upon a decades-old mystery when he finds the journal of another Syrian American artist, Laila Z, who went missing 60 years before. When Nadir discovers a tenuous connection between Laila Z's disappearance and his mother's tragic death, however, he's called to a higher purpose in The Thirty Names of Night.
Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley
From Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley comes this uplifting new novel about an escaped racehorse and her newfound family of misfits. Curious about the wider world, Paras wanders out of her stall and onto the Parisian streets. Making friends with a dog, a raven, and two ducks, she eventually falls in with a human boy who desperately wants to keep her a secret, even as Paras' keepers creep closer to finding her.
The Mermaid from Jeju by Sumi Hahn
In Sumi Hahn's The Mermaid from Jeju, a haenyeo diver must work through her grief and find the strength inside herself to carry on in the wake of her mother's death. Junja and her mother swapped roles so that the teenager could see Korea's mountains, where her family trades seafood for pork. But when Junja's mother is killed on a dive that she would have taken, had they not traded places, the girl's family begins to drift away, leaving her to make her own way through the world.
This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano
A college-bound teenager convinces her parents to let her out of the house, even though she's technically grounded for the summer, to join a Quidditch league in Anna Meriano's coming-of-age novel. Ellen planned to spend the last few weeks before college joined at the hip with her BFFs. But as her friends become engrossed in their own summertime fun, and Ellen draws closer to her Quidditch team, it becomes clear that the girls' relationships to one another may be in the process of radical change.
Wound from the Mouth of a Wound by torrin a. greathouse
The winner of the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry, torrin a. greathouse's Wound from the Mouth of a Wound is a densely packed treasure trove of verse. Bodies rise up here as sites of gender, trauma, ability, and violence. A gut punch you won't soon shake off, this is one of 2020's absolute best releases.
A Spy in the Struggle by Aya de León
After she rolls over on her bosses in the wake of an F.B.I. raid, Harvard Law grad Yolanda finds herself working for the Feds, permanently. Tasked with infiltrating an African American activist organization, whose mission is to expose government exploitation in their community, Yolanda goes undercover... and risks it all when she falls in love.
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