I’m currently on book 77 of 2020, but there’s still so much reading to be done before the year ends. 2020 has brought us some incredible new releases in fiction, non-fiction, fantasy and more. But these nine books are required reading if you haven’t picked any of them up yet.
So add these to your ever-growing TBR pile because these books are must-reads before 2020 ends.
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
You’ll devour this novel in one sitting. It’s a provocative rendering of contemporary South Korean society told through the eyes of four women in alternating chapters. Through their stories comes a novel about female strength, spirit, resilience—and the solace that friendship can sometimes provide.
How To Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
2020 is the year of learning and unlearning. If you haven’t begun the work for your anti-racism education, you have to pick up this book before the year is over. I can’t recommend it enough. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
In this enchanting novel, there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe, where each one is the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. Read the story of Nora Seed as she finds herself faced with this impossible decision.
A Burning by Megha Majumdar
One of the most incredible debut novels of our generation, A Burning tells the story of Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums of India. When she witnesses a terrorist attack on an Indian train while it is stopped in a station, she posts a comment to Facebook the next day, drawing the attention of police who arrest her on suspicion of committing the terrorist attack herself.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Caste is one of the most fascinating and eye-opening books to come out of 2020. Written by journalist Isabel Wilkerson, she identifies the eight pillars of caste and goes on to describe the “tentacles of caste”: the various ways in which a caste system society permeates the workings of a society infected by it. In her view, the caste framework also helps explain the participation of lower-caste people in the oppression of their fellow caste members: caste systems self-perpetuate by rewarding those lower-caste people who comply with the system, thereby keeping the lower castes divided.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Anytime Yaa Gyasi puts pen to paper, it should be universal required reading. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief—a novel about faith, science, religion, love. It’s a beautiful follow-up to Homegoing, which you should also read ASAP.
Hood Feminism: Notes From The Women That A Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
All too often the focus of mainstream feminism is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. Meeting basic needs is a feminist issue. Food insecurity, the living wage and access to education are feminist issues. The fight against racism, ableism and transmisogyny are all feminist issues. White feminists often fail to see how race, class, sexual orientation and disability intersect with gender. How can feminists stand in solidarity as a movement when there is a distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others? Insightful, incendiary and ultimately hopeful, Hood Feminism is both an irrefutable indictment of a movement in flux and also clear-eyed assessment of how to save it.
After The Rain: Gentle Reminders For Healing, Courage, and Self-Love by Alexandra Elle
Please don’t end the year without reading this combo memoir/guide from one of our favorites, Alex Elle. In 15 lessons, personal stories and empowering affirmations, Alex guides readers through a soulful journey to help you fall in love with the beauty and joy that life has to offer us.
Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith
This year has been upside down, to say the least. At the start of quarantine, cherished writer Zadie Smith wrote this short, beautiful book of essays that prompt questions we’re all asking ourselves now that we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation. It’s beautiful, thought-provoking and a must-read for 2020.
Add these books to your reading list: