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: In the midst of a family crisis one late evening, white blogger Alix Chamberlain calls her African American babysitter, Emira, asking her to take toddler Briar to the local market for distraction. There, the security guard accuses Emira of kidnapping Briar, and Alix's efforts to right the situation turn out to be good intentions selfishly mismanaged.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: There is a voice of longing inside every woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good mothers, daughters, partners, employees, citizens, and friends. We believe all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives, relationships, and world, and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this?
Four years ago, Glennon Doyle, author, activist and humanitarian, wife and mother of three—was speaking at a conference when a woman entered the room...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, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia...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: A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
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: Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award
From White Review Short Story Prize winner Julia Armfield, a brilliant, provocative debut story collection for fans of Carmen Maria Machado and Kelly Link.
In her electrifying debut, Julia Armfield explores women’s experiences in contemporary society, mapped through their bodies...Publication Date: May 30, 2019
What It's About: 'Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?'
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time...Publication Date: September 29, 2020