There’s no denying that 2020 has been a year unlike any other. Despite it all, however, there have been some silver linings — one of those being the opportunity to spend more time at home in our favorite comfy clothes curled up with some of the year’s most exciting new books. From stunning new author debuts to highly anticipated series additions, this year’s new releases have captivated the hearts and minds of readers of all ages and in every genre. Which is why, if one of your resolutions for 2021 is to read more, there’s no better place to start than Amazon’s Best Books of the Year list.
“One of 2020’s brightest spots has been the release of incredible books each month that helped us discover more about the world and ourselves,” says Sarah Gelman, the director of Amazon Books editorial. “Amazon’s books editors narrowed down the list of top books to include the titles we could not stop thinking about or talking about, but also were varied enough that there was something for every kind of reader, genre or interest.”
Whether you’re looking to close out 2020 with a heartwarming modern love story like “Memorial” by Bryan Washington or a spooky and seductive mix of horror and fantasy like Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Mexican Gothic,” Amazon’s Best Books of the Year list will surely bring 2020 to a close — or open up 2021 — in the best way possible. Scroll down to find out more.
‘A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom’ by Brittany K. Barnett (starting at $13.99, originally $28; amazon.com)
A No. 1 bestseller in its category on Amazon, “A Knock at Midnight” is undoubtedly one of this year’s most evocative and eye-opening reads. This memoir follows author Brittany K. Barnett during her time as a young law student. When she comes across the case of Sharanda Jones, a mother torn away from her daughter who’s serving a life sentence without parole for a first-time drug offense case, Barnett sets out to help her gain her freedom.
Through her efforts, she discovers firsthand the ugly truth behind America’s incarceration system. This coming-of-age story highlights the racial injustices, failures and inequalities in the broken criminal justice system while providing inspiration for change, hope, humanity and resilience.
‘Migrations’ by Charlotte McConaghy (starting at $13.99, originally $26.99; amazon.com)
“Migrations” follows the story of Franny Stone, a woman who sets out to track what might be the last migration of Arctic terns. On her quest, she boards a fishing boat in which she and the crew travel to the ends of the Earth, but as they sail farther from land and safety, her personal history of a passionate love affair, an absent family and a devastating crime come to light. This beautifully thrilling adventure is full of heartbreak, redemption and suspense that will have you eagerly turning each page.
‘Blacktop Wasteland’ by S.A. Cosby (starting at $13.99, originally $26.99; amazon.com)
Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an African American man living in the rural South trying to take care of his family and make an honest living as a mechanic. But his past as a legendary getaway driver and career criminal comes back to haunt him when an old colleague offers him the chance to take part in one last jewelry heist that would set him and his family up for life. “Blacktop Wasteland” is equally as thrilling as it is heartbreaking, and sure to be a book you won’t want to put down.
‘Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life’ by Christie Tate (starting at $13.99, originally $27; amazon.com)
Christie Tate’s debut memoir will leave you laughing and crying — possibly at the same time. Despite her academic and personal achievements, Tate finds herself fantasizing about her own death and enrolls in a psychotherapy group with Dr. Rosen. Her foray into group therapy starts off strange and terrifying, but through Dr. Rosen’s directives, Tate finds herself discovering what trust, human connection and intimacy truly mean and ultimately how they can save her.
‘The Vanishing Half’ by Brit Bennett (starting at $13.99, originally $27; amazon.com)
New York Times bestselling author Brit Bennett brings us an engrossing tale that follows the Vignes sisters, twins who run away from their small Southern Black community at the age of 16. As adults, their lives end up vastly different: From their families to their racial identities, the two sisters’ paths are black and white. That is, until their daughters’ paths unknowingly cross, bringing their worlds crashing back together. This story of race, identity, family and history will tug at your heartstrings in the best way possible.
‘Fifty Words for Rain’ by Asha Lemmie (starting at $13.99, originally $26; amazon.com)
Noriko Kamiza is the abandoned child of a married Japanese aristocrat and an African American soldier whose grandparents have abused her and raised her hidden away in an attic — out of fear that she’ll tarnish the family’s royal pedigree. But when Nori’s older half brother shows up to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, she forms a surprising bond with him. Through their unlikely allyship, Nori discovers hope, joy and most importantly freedom in this inspiring tale.
‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’ by Isabel Wilkerson (starting at $14.99, originally $32; amazon.com)
“Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” is one of this year’s bestselling books — and for good reason. Through stories about real people (like Martin Luther King Jr.) and intense historical research, author Isabel Wilkerson links the underlying and hidden caste systems of America with India and Nazi Germany, and examines the solutions that are necessary in order for the country to move forward. This thought-provoking novel is eye-opening, informative and an absolute must-read.
‘The Girl With the Louding Voice’ by Abi Daré (starting at $13.99, originally $26; amazon.com)
This epic tale follows Adunni, a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village, who wants nothing more than an education. Despite insurmountable obstacles that come her way, Adunni manages to escape poverty in order to build the life she dreamed of — all while helping other young girls do the same. This inspiring story of determination and hope will teach you about the power of reaching for your dreams and never giving up.
‘Memorial’ by Bryan Washington (starting at $14.99, originally $27; amazon.com)
Looking for a modern love story? Then “Memorial” by Bryan Washington is for you. Japanese American chef Mike and his partner, Benson, a Black day care teacher, hit a rough patch in their relationship. Just as Mike’s mother is due for an extended visit, his estranged father falls ill, leading Mike to take a last-minute trip to visit him in Osaka. In his absence, Benson finds himself on a new path of discovery. But can Benson and Mike’s love for each other withstand their separate (and major) life changes? You’ll have to read to find out.
‘Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family’ by Robert Kolker (starting at $14.99, originally $29.95; amazon.com)
Bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker tells the true story of the Galvin family, one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health, and what has become their extraordinary contribution to the research of schizophrenia and mental illnesses. With six out of 12 children in the family diagnosed with the disease, this book explores not only the effects and trauma of the illness experienced by the children themselves but of the family members as well.
‘Mexican Gothic’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (starting at $12.99, originally $27; amazon.com)
Noemí, a glamorous debutante, leaves cosmopolitan Mexico City to travel to a remote estate called High Place after receiving a strange and frantic letter from her newlywed cousin. Noemí thinks her cousin is losing her mind until she too begins to hear voices. After digging deeper, she discovers that her cousin’s new husband and his family are full of dark secrets, violence and madness. This captivating tale is a spooky and seductive mix of horror and fantasy, and will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
‘Dear Child’ by Romy Hausmann (starting at $13.99, originally $26.99; amazon.com)
When Lena, a girl who disappeared without a trace 14 years prior, finally escapes her captor from a windowless shack in the woods, she is desperate to start her life over. But her family isn’t convinced she is who she says she is, and a little girl who escaped with her isn’t sharing what she knows. This psychologically thrilling story is full of twists, turns and suspense, and it’s one that you’ll have trouble putting down.
‘A Burning’ by Megha Madjumdar (starting at $12.99, originally $25.95; amazon.com)
Based in contemporary India, this gripping tale follows the story of three strangers — Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums; PT Sir, a gym teacher who becomes involved with a right-wing political party; and Lovely, a quiet outcast — and how their lives become intertwined after a deadly terrorist attack on a train. This unforgettable cast of characters and their story of hope, humor, fate and justice will leave you mesmerized.
‘Luster’ by Raven Leilani (starting at $13.99, originally $26; amazon.com)
Edie is a struggling Black artist in her 20s, living in Bushwick and working a mediocre job. When she begins a relationship with Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey and a wife with an open marriage, her world is turned upside down — especially after she loses her job and Eric’s wife invites her to live with them and their adopted daughter. This sensational coming-of-age story is dark, sexy, full of humor and impossible to put down.
‘Oona Out of Order’ by Margarita Montimore (starting at $2.99, originally $26.99; amazon.com)
When Oona Lockheart faints on New Year’s Eve in 1982, the night before her 19th birthday, she awakes to find herself 32 years in the future in her 51-year-old body. With each year, Oona leaps to another age and another life at random, hopping through decades, countries, relationships and more. This heartwarming story of time, family and enduring love will become an instant favorite that you’ll want to read over and over again.
‘Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In’ by Phuc Tran (starting at $2.99, originally $27.99; amazon.com)
Phuc Tran’s stunning memoir details his journey of immigration from Saigon to Pennsylvania in 1975 and his struggles with teenage angst, abuse, racism and tragedy while finding self-acceptance, peace and solace through punk rock and classic literature.
‘Pretty Things’ by Janelle Brown (starting at $12.99, originally $28; amazon.com)
In this mesmerizing tale of deceit, the lives of Vanessa, a young heiress and Instagram influencer; Nina, a con woman from LA trying to help her sick mother in any way she can; and Nina’s Irish boyfriend, Lachlan, all intersect at a mountain estate on the shores of Lake Tahoe. What could go wrong? “Pretty Things” is a riveting thriller full of revenge, twists and turns on every page.
‘Deacon King Kong’ by James McBride (starting at $14.99, originally $28; amazon.com)
When an old church deacon named Sportscoat shoots a neighborhood drug dealer at point-blank range in broad daylight, the lives — and secrets — of everyone involved become intertwined. From the witnesses to the cops and even the Italian mob, this dark, funny and compassionate tale brings the meaning of truth, faith, humanity, hope and love to the forefront.
‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ by V.E. Schwab (starting at $13.99, originally $26.99; amazon.com)
In 1714, Addie LaRue made a bargain to live forever. Since then, she’s traveled the globe trying to leave her mark on the world — but when you live for centuries, it’s hard for anyone to remember your name. That is, until she meets a man in a hidden bookstore hundreds of years later who does. This time-traveling tale will fill your heart with magic and wonder and captivate you from beginning to end.
‘Midnight Sun’ by Stephenie Meyer (starting at $14.99, originally $27.99; amazon.com)
“Midnight Sun” was one of the most highly anticipated books of 2020, and it certainly does not disappoint. In this fifth companion book to the popular “Twilight” series, readers get a glimpse into the vampire Edward Cullen’s perspective on his seductive relationship with Bella Swan, accompanied with details of his past and inner thoughts. Fans of the series will finally be able to see and understand the star-crossed lovers’ tale as a whole.