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- The year will soon be coming to an end, and Amazon's book editors have marked the occasion with a curated list of the best books of 2020.
- The list of 20 top reads encompasses titles of all genres, including profound memoirs, heart-racing thrillers, courageous and captivating novels, and everything in between.
- We rounded up all the books that made this year's list below, with captions provided by Amazon's book editors.
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It's difficult to sum up any year in a distilled "best of" list, but particularly a year like 2020. For so many, this year has completely defied any and all expectations that may have been set way back in January, instead unraveling into a world upended by the novel coronavirus, racial injustice, and a news cycle often filled with bleak news of wildfires and other natural disasters. Still, Amazon's book editors have come together and curated a diverse and thoughtful list of the top books of the year.
While reading may not be able to reverse the hardships 2020 has thrown our way, it can play a vital role in education, coping, and sparking important discussions. Many of the books on Amazon's list do just that.
The top choice this year among Amazon's book editors is "A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom" by Brittany K. Barnett, which Al Woodworth describes as "urgent, necessary, hopeful — and a knockout read." The list also includes deeply powerful memoirs like "Group," which vulnerably and compassionately explores author Christie Tate's experience in group therapy.
Plus, there are plenty of tearjerking novels, spine-chilling thrillers, and even triumphant returns of major franchises like "Twilight." Regardless of preference, it's our hope that these stories can help make a bit more sense, or add a bit of relief, to a particularly challening year.
Here are Amazon's best books of 2020:
Captions have been provided by Amazon's book editors.
"A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom" by Brittany K. Barnett
At times, Brittany K. Barnett's memoir reads like page-turning crime fiction; at others, a galvanizing and redemptive portrait of a lawyer trying to defend Black lives that were never protected in the first place. Urgent, necessary, hopeful — and a knockout read. —Al Woodworth
"Migrations" by Charlotte McConaghy
Teeming with adventure, darkness, love, and loss, "Migrations" is a novel that's impossible to put down as you learn about the life of Franny Stone — a sharp, flawed, and determined woman who will stop at nothing to regain what she's lost. —Al Woodworth
"Blacktop Wasteland" by S.A. Cosby
"Blacktop Wasteland" is a pedal to the metal thriller about a retired getaway driver, caught between the rock of poverty and the hard place of Southern racism, who gambles on one last heist to get him ahead. Toggling between high-stakes action, and quiet — even tender — family scenes, this is Southern noir with heart. —Vannessa Cronin
"Group" by Christie Tate
Christie Tate was a summer intern at a law firm and at top of her class, and yet her memoir opens with her sitting in her car alone, wishing someone would shoot her. Written with the gift of hindsight, "Group" is an honest, heart-breaking, and hilarious look at reaching rock bottom and climbing your way back to life. —Sarah Gelman
"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett
Ideal for book clubs, "The Vanishing Half" examines sisterhood, personal identity, starting fresh, and what it means to be Black (and white) in America. Bennett is known for creating taut family dramas, and like her brilliant debut, "The Mothers," this novel shows just how strong the bonds of sisters are, even at their weakest. —Al Woodworth
"Fifty Words for Rain" by Asha Lemmie
Set in post-WWII Japan, this sweeping story about a love child left with her scandalized, and brutal, grandparents will have you rooting for its resilient heroine, Nori, who must summon the courage to assert her own identity and live life on her own terms. This is a debut you don't want to miss. —Erin Kodicek
"Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson
Ten years after her award-winning "The Warmth of Other Suns," Wilkerson argues that our entire social structure is built upon an unrecognized caste system. White people — whether their ancestors were slave owners or abolitionists — have been able to live and thrive under these set assumptions of inequality. This is a mind-expanding book. —Chris Schluep
"The Girl with the Louding Voice" by Abi Daré
In this rousing tale of courage and pluck, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl is sold into servitude by her father when her mother — a proponent of education — passes away. You will root for Adunni as she endeavors to escape her sorry — and often harrowing — lot, and applaud the kind strangers who buoy her efforts, and her spirits. —Erin Kodicek
"Memorial: A Novel" by Bryan Washington
Told in a loose style, "Memorial" unfolds with depth, humor, and telling detail. Mike is a Japanese-American chef. His partner, Benson, is a Black daycare teacher. When Mike leaves Houston to visit his ailing father in Osaka, his mother comes to live with Benson. You will laugh, cry, and ask yourself: What makes a family? —Chris Schluep
"Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family" by Robert Kolker
"Hidden Valley Road" is a medical mystery story — with twists and reveals to rival any thriller— that shows how an all-American family was ravaged as an elusive, centuries-old mental illness caught and kept them in its crosshairs for decades. —Vannessa Cronin
"Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The gothic novels of today are not like those of yesteryear: Female protagonists are smart and proactive, and vaguely disquieting events become truly terrifying. Put plenty of me-time on your calendar, because you won't want to stop for breaks while you race through Silvia Moreno-Garcia's creepy, glorious read that is pitch-perfect for today's audience. —Adrian Liang
"Dear Child" by Romy Hausmann
In the hands of Romy Hausmann, an age-old premise — a woman escapes her captor — is given a modern twist, which will make your heart beat fast and your palms go sweaty. Burning with anticipation, fear, and the disquieting revelation that not all is what it seems, this thriller is impossible to put down. —Al Woodworth
"A Burning" by Megha Majumdar
A thoughtful, thought-provoking debut set in modern India. Told from three points of view, the story mostly follows Jivan, a young Muslim woman who leaves an innocuous Facebook comment that will haunt her. Majumdar explores important themes, but never at the cost of the inner lives of her colorful characters. —Chris Schluep
"Luster" by Raven Leilani
"Luster" is exciting, surprising, sometimes sad, at times awkward, even shocking. And it's funny. Any discomfort you experience will mirror the discomfort the characters feel — about age, status, race, sex, salaries, you name it. "Luster" has an energy and an honesty that makes the words practically shimmer on the page. —Chris Schluep
"Oona Out of Order" by Margarita Montimore
It's New Year's Eve 1982 and moments before Oona Lockhart's 19th birthday when she passes out and wakes up trapped in the body of a 51-year-old. A fun romp through the adage "youth is wasted on the young," "Oona Out of Order" is also a deeper look at destiny, love, and family. —Sarah Gelman
"Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In" by Phuc Tran
"Sigh, Gone" is one of the funniest and most profound memoirs of 2020. Without rose-colored glasses and with a flair for humor, Tran recounts his childhood as a Vietnamese kid growing up in a small Pennsylvania town: the racism, dislocation, and violence that surrounded him, how he fought to fit in, and how he fell in love with literature. —Al Woodworth
"Pretty Things" by Janelle Brown
Proving that "all that glitters isn't gold," two women with Insta-perfect lives clash in Pretty Things and it's up there with House Lannister vs. House Stark. But this is also a slow-build, cat-and-mouse thriller — loaded with reveals and twists — where it's far from easy to tell the cats from the mice. –Vannessa Cronin
"Deacon King Kong" by James McBride
A rowdy cast of beguiling, booze-filled, and larger than life characters collide in 1960s Brooklyn in this unforgettable, laugh-out-loud novel. "Deacon King Kong" tells a broader story of race and religion, getting by and getting out, and how grudges and alliances become embedded in the foundations of our neighborhoods. —Al Woodworth
"The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" by V. E. Schwab
In the 1700s, Addie LaRue makes a deal with the devil — she will live forever, although her immortality comes with the curse of being forgotten by everyone, until one day she meets a man who changes everything. This deeply satisfying and cinematic novel rivals contemporary classic "The Time Traveler's Wife" in concept and scope. —Sarah Gelman
"Midnight Sun" by Stephenie Meyer
In Stephenie Meyer's latest novel, she returns to the story that changed a genre, redefined vampires, and put a whole new spin on dangerous obsession and star-crossed love. There are two sides to every story and we've long had Bella's — now, thanks to "Midnight Sun," we can see the whole picture. —Seira Wilson
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