There have been a lot of great new books released in 2020, so if you’re looking for new titles to consider for your book club (or maybe just a buddy or group read), here’s the Bibliofile’s roundup of great 2020 picks. From provocative dramas to chilling thrillers, there’s plenty to variety to choose from in 2020!
I’ll be updating this list as books get released, so stay tuned! The list below is ordered by release date.
For last year’s list, see the Best Book Club Books of 2019.
What It's About: Long Bright River by Liz Moore, released January 7th, is a slow-burning family drama about addiction. I want to be clear about this, because it calls itself a mystery, so I went in thinking it was going to be a faster-paced mystery novel. I ended up not really loving it, since I had specifically chosen it since I wanted to read a mystery. There's an element of mystery (the book opens with the discovery of a dead body), but it's not really at the heart of what the book is about. I think if I'd read it in the right mindset, I would have enjoyed this thoughtfully written novel more. If your group likes family dramas though, this book is one to consider.See the Full Summary and Review of Long Bright River Publication Date: January 7, 2020
What It's About: What happens when you do the right thing for the wrong reason?
Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket...See the Full Summary and Review of Such a Fun Age Publication Date: December 31, 2019
What It's About: The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James was released back on February 18th, and I have to admit it wasn't on my radar for a long time. But I've seen lots of positive reviews for this book which sounds just up my alley (billed as a mystery-slash-ghost story), so it's officially on my shortlist of books to read. For book clubs that like mysteries, take a look at Sun Down Motel. I expect my review of this book to be up shortly!Publication Date: February 18, 2020
What It's About: Erik Larson has written another enthralling page-turner, this time about Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz. Larson is a pro at writing accessible and entertaining, but very substantive, historical non-fiction, and the consensus seems to be that this is another winner.
Released on February 25th, The Splendid and the Vile is one for the history buffs.Publication Date: February 25, 2020
What It's About: In September 1969, a fumbling, cranky old church deacon known as Sportcoat shuffles into the courtyard of the Cause Houses housing project in south Brooklyn, pulls a .38 from his pocket, and in front of everybody shoots the project's drug dealer at point-blank range.
In Deacon King Kong, McBride brings to vivid life the people affected by the shooting: the victim, the African-American and Latinx residents who witnessed it, the white neighbors, the local cops assigned to investigate, the members of the Five Ends Baptist Church where Sportcoat was deacon, the neighborhood's Italian mobsters, and Sportcoat himself...See the Full Summary and Review of Deacon King King Publication Date: March 3, 2020
What It's About: “If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it?”
England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen before Jane dies giving birth to the male heir he most craves...Publication Date: March 5, 2020
What It's About: Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.
2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher...Publication Date: March 10, 2020
What It's About: Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table...See the Full Summary and Review of Untamed Publication Date: March 10, 2020
What It's About: From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events–a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island...Publication Date: March 24, 2020
What It's About: “I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”
Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents...Publication Date: April 21, 2020
What It's About: When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?
Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own...Publication Date: May 4, 2020
What It's About: The Vanishing Half tells a very timely story about two twin sisters who run away at sixteen and whose lives diverge. One sister passes for white, while the other raises her black daughters. Released on June 2nd, It's a story about family, race and perception that will likely appeal to lots of readers and book clubs, as many are trying to enhance their understanding of race. I'm reading this right now and will update this with a link to the review when it's up!See the Full Summary and Review of The Vanishing Half Publication Date: June 2, 2020
What It's About: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a gothic-horror-type novel set in a house called the High Place in (you guessed it) the Mexican countryside. To be released on June 30, the early reviews have been very promising. I'm holding off on deciding whether I'll read it or not until after it comes out, but it's one to watch.
Moreno-Garcia writing tends to lean YA-ish at times, so this might appeal more to groups that also read some YA.See the Full Summary and Review of Mexican Gothic Publication Date: June 30, 2020
What It's About: What was it like? Living in that house.
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors...See the Full Summary and Review of Home Before Dark Publication Date: June 30, 2020
What It's About: A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it's not just a story...Publication Date: July 7, 2020
What It's About: Alex North is known for his scary thrillers, so if your book club is up for spine-tingling thrills, then this might be the book for you. To be released on July 7, The Shadows is about a teenage who murdered our protagonist Paul's friends and then was never seen again. At the time, it inspired copycat murders. Now, twenty-five years later his the town of Featherbank, another copycat has cropped up and Paul suspects someone is following him.Publication Date: July 7, 2020
What It's About: Susanna Clarke's debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, was a mega-bestseller, so you can bet this is likely to be a popular title if it's as good as early readers are claiming it to be. It'll be released on September 15 just in time to get included on holiday wishlists.
Get your book club ready! I loved Jonathan Strange, so I'm fairly certain I'll be reading this one as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.Publication Date: September 15, 2020
What It's About: Lesson One of the Scholomance: Learning has never been this deadly.
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.
There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones...Publication Date: September 29, 2020
What It's About: France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world...See the Full Summary and Review of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Publication Date: October 6, 2020
What It's About: A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.
Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they've rented for the week...Publication Date: October 6, 2020
What It's About: Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life...Publication Date: August 13, 2020
I have yet to read the books you listed. Doubt I’d be reading My Dark Vanessa though…too much of Lolita vibes :( I have read The Book of Longings, and loved it! :) Great list, Jennifer!
I’m beyond excited for the next Clarke novel and the Novik one as well. Two fascinating story threads from two fantastically talented authors.
I usually read lists like this and don’t find anything I’m interested in, but I added three of these titles to be TBR! Thank you for sharing