We're six months into 2020, which means Amazon just released its list of the best books of 2020 so far, as chosen by its book editorial team. Having read hundreds of titles over the last six months, the team named Abi Daré’s critically-acclaimed debut novel The Girl with the Louding Voice as the best book of 2020 so far.
“Determining the Best Books of the Year So Far took on even greater importance this year as many of us spent months at home and often turned to books to better understand our new normal or seek reprieve in another person’s story," said Sarah Gelman, Editorial Director, Amazon Books. "In every page and chapter of these profound books, we found opportunities to escape to different worlds, travel through time, and remind ourselves of the things that connect us all. For the Amazon Books editors, The Girl with the Louding Voice stood out thanks to its unforgettable characters and message of hope and determination when all feels lost. It’s impossible to walk away from this book without feeling hopeful.” See the full top ten—along with Amazon's plot summaries—below.
1. The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel 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.
2. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker:
Hidden Valley Road is a heartbreaking, expertly told story of an all-American family, the Galvins, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia while still teenagers. Relying on exhaustive research, Kolker weaves together cultural, medical and family history to show the ravages of mental illness on the six Galvin boys, their parents and, perhaps most movingly, their other siblings.
3. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games Novel by Suzanne Collins:
The 10th anniversary of the Hunger Games is beginning, and 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow—President Snow, when we met him decades later in The Hunger Games—has an important role to play. Nearly impossible to put down, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an exciting and thought-provoking novel that goes outside the arena to ask interesting questions about human nature and ambition.
4. Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride:
Set in the 1960s, this propulsive and darkly comic neighborhood epic features a cast of characters that are beguiling, boozed-filled, and larger than life. National Book Award-winner McBride weaves a fictional story of one Brooklyn project, but in doing so tells a broader tale of race and religion, getting by and getting out, and how grudges and alliances become embedded in the foundations of our lives.
5. Pretty Things: A Novel by Janelle Brown:
When a second-generation grifter, Nina, and her shady boyfriend move to Lake Tahoe, they collide with a woman from Nina’s past, heiress Vanessa Liebling. Behind a glittering façade of old money and fast living, a darker story of social climbing, social media, revenge and betrayal starts to take menacing shape.
6. Writers & Lovers: A Novel by Lily King:
Writers & Lovers is about the uncertainty of relationships, and of pursuing the creative life, in a world that values success and stability. Life is not waiting for Casey to fulfill her dream of being a novelist, so she works as a waitress and she dates, and she tries to figure it out as she goes. Love and art require frequent, often imperceptible, leaps of faith—and this book captures that perfectly.
7. 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 the year so far. 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.
8. The City We Became: A Novel by N. K. Jemisin:
Five strangers unexpectedly become the living embodiments of New York City’s boroughs and must battle an evil entity that threatens the city. Jemisin infuses this live-wire love letter to the New York’s diverse denizens with reality-ripping storytelling.
9. Oona Out of Order: A Novel by Margarita Montimore:
Oona Lockhart is celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982 and the eve of her 19th birthday, but at midnight she passes out and wakes up as a 19-year-old trapped in the body of a 51-year-old. Thus begins Oona living life out of order. Although Oona Out of Order could be a fun romp through the adage “youth is wasted on the young” (and it is), it’s also a deeper look at destiny, love and family.
10. The Mercies: A Novel by Kiran Millwood Hargrave:
There isn’t much that's forgiving about the far-flung and frigid town of of Vardø, Norway, including the sea that surrounds it, which swallows the majority of its male population in an epic storm while they’re fishing. Accusations of witchcraft quickly infect this grieving but resourceful community, threatening what hard-won normalcy they’ve regained. The Mercies is infuriating, baleful, but full of stubborn hope.