The Best Books Of 2020 — If You Read Anything This Year, Make It One Of These Books

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!

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun (Jan. 7)

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.

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F*ck Your Diet and Other Things My Thighs Tell Me by Chloé Hilliard (Jan. 7)

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.

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Long Bright River by Liz Moore (Jan. 7)

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.

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Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Jan. 7)

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.

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Creatures by Crissy Van Meter (Jan. 7)

As she prepares for her upcoming wedding, three things happen to shake up Evangeline’s carefully constructed hermitage of a life — her fiancé 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.

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Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance by Zora Neale Hurston (Jan. 14)

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.

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Little Gods by Meng Jin (Jan. 14)

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.

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Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener (Jan. 14)

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.

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A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende (Jan. 21)

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.

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Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey (Feb. 4)

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.

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The Resisters by Gish Jen (Feb. 4)

A near-future novel set in what was formerly the U.S., 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.

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Brother & Sister by Diane Keaton (Feb. 4)

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.

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The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams (Feb. 11)

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.

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Weather by Jenny Offill (Feb. 11)

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.

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The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin (Feb. 18)

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.

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Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall (Feb. 25)

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.

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The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel (Mar. 5)

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…

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My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (Mar. 10)

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.

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The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Mar. 17)

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."

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The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Mar. 24)

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.

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Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby (Mar. 31)

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.

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Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (Apr. 7)

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.

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If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (Apr. 21)

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.

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How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa (Apr. 21)

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.

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This post will be updated throughout 2020…

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