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!
We only include products that have been independently selected by Bustle’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
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.
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