Book News List

Books to Be Published in 2021

Which Book Should You Read First in 2021?

This quiz from Book Riot can help you answer the question. “Personally, I’m usually looking for something I think will be a 5-star read to start off the year,” writes quizster Rachel Brittain.

13 New Books to Watch For in January

News flash! There’s a new book arriving this month about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. (1849) and her sister, also a physician. Elizabeth was the major figure about whom I wrote my dissertation, so I’m excited and have preordered this book.

2021 in books: what to look forward to this year

I place this one near the top of the list because it provides a monthly list of literary events, from specific book publications to award announcements and film/TV adaptations. (Publication dates in countries other than the U.K. might differ from those listed here.)

27 Debuts to Look Forward To in the First Half of 2021

From Electric Literature: “Start off the new year by pre-ordering books from new and emerging authors.”

Books We’re Excited to Read in 2021

A list of 40 upcoming publications from Penguin Random House.

Rick Morton, Alice Pung, Stan Grant, Anita Heiss and others: the books to look forward to in 2021

“Every year an abundance of new titles beg for a spot on your crammed bookshelf. Here are some highlights from Australian authors.”

Is It 2021 Yet? All the Books We’re Looking Forward to Next Year

The folks at Off the Shelf advise, “If you pre-order these fabulously gripping reads now, you’ll thank yourself when the books arrive in the new year, and you’ll have plenty to look forward to throughout 2021.”

22 of the Best Books Arriving in 2021

From BookBub: “From swoon-worthy romances like One Last Stop and Act Your Age, Eve Brown to fantastic fantasies like Hall of Smoke and The Gilded Ones, 2021 is packed with exciting releases.”

25 Book-to-Movie Adaptations to Look Forward to in 2021

List compiler Ann Foster writes, “Several of these works featuring all or mostly-white characters in print have been adapted to change some characters to POC, but the dearth of adaptations of books by BIPOC and women is notable yet again in 2021.”

Winter Fiction Preview: 20 Novels for 2021

From AARP.

Tantalizing Translation Recs for 2021

At Literary Hub, Heather Cleary shares the titles of translated works she’s looking forward to in 2021.

Our critic picks 20 of the most eagerly awaited books of 2021

From Moira Macdonald, book critic for the Seattle Times.

12 books we’re excited about this year

From CNN. I’m especially excited about the last book listed here, Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine, by Olivia Campbell, due out in March. 2021 seems to be THE year for interest in the history of women in medicine, with The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine by Janice P. Nimura coming out later this month. (See my latest 6 Degrees of Separation post.)

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Book Recommendations List Personal

The Best Books I Read in 2020

Most of the annual best books of the year lists refer only to books published during the stated calendar year. But my annual list always refers to books I read this year, regardless of when they were published.

Here, then, are the 10 best books I read this year, listed alphabetically by author, plus 5 more honorable mentions.

The Best

Alam, Rumaan. Leave the World Behind

Clark, Julie. The Last Flight

du Maurier, Daphne. The House on the Strand

Fowles, John. The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Mandel, Emily St. John. The Glass Hotel

Moore, Liz. Long Bright River

Murakami,Haruki. 1Q84

Reid, Iain. I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Shute, Nevil. On the Beach

Toews, Miriam. Women Talking

Honorable Mention

Brodesser-Akner, Taffy. Fleishman Is in Trouble

Connelly, Michael. The Law Of Innocence

Foley,Lucy. The Guest List

McCarthy, Cormac. The Road

Wrobel, Stephanie. Darling Rose Gold

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Book Recommendations List

Lists: More Best Books of 2020

The Ultimate Best Books of 2020 List

You could check out all the lists below. Or you could just start here and be done with it. Emily Temple of Lit Hub has scoured all the “best books of the year” lists to find out which books appeared most often.

The 10 Best Literary Adaptations of the Year

From Lit Hub editor Emily Temple: “I’ve polled the Lit Hub staff to settle on the ten best literary adaptations that debuted on small or large (ha ha) screens in this bizarre death spiral we’ve called 2020.”

The Best Books of 2020

BookBrowse presents its award winners in these categories: nonfiction, fiction, debut, and young adult.

And below those titles are the top ten best books of 2020 as voted by BookBrowse subscribers (more than 9,400 people voted).

The 10 best books of 2020

From the Los Angeles Times.

10 great books that got lost in the noise of 2020

Also from the Los Angeles Times, because “a lot of smart, important, moving literature was lost in the chaos” of this tumultuous year. The list contains memoirs, short stories, novels, and essays.

Best biographies and memoirs of 2020

From Amazon Book Review.

 Electric Lit’s Favorite Short Story Collections of 2020

Lamenting “that the New York Times list of 100 notable books from 2020 only included one short story collection,” Electric Literature offers its list of several more.

Electric Lit’s Favorite Nonfiction Books of 2020

“Staff and contributors voted for the best memoirs, essays, and reported work.”

Electric Lit’s Favorite Novels of 2020

Finally, here’s Electric Literature’s favorite novels of 2020 as voted by staff and contributors.

The 10 Best Books of 2020

According to Vulture.

Our critic’s picks: The best mystery books of 2020

Oline H. Cogdill for Florida’s Sun Sentinel.

The Best of 2020: The Top 10 Reviews of the Year

From Off the Shelf: “These books are among the very best that compelled us to gush our praise out to the world.”

The ‘superlative’ books of 2020

“When the BookPage editors finished creating our lists of the best books of 2020, we found we just couldn’t stop! Here we’ve rounded up amazing 2020 books we love for very specific reasons.”

Reader’s choice: Your favorite books of 2020

From BookPage.

The Best True Crime Books of 2020

From Crime Reads.

Readers on their favourite books of 2020: ‘I’ve given it to everyone I know’

The Guardian asked readers about their favorite books of 2020. “From fiction to philosophy, sci-fi to crime, here are some of the best.”

Barack Obama lists his favorite books of 2020

CNN reports.

My Favorite Fiction of 2020

Katy Walkman, book critic for The New Yorker, has a refreshing approach to compiling her list:

I regret to announce that I will not be declaring the ten best fiction books of the year. Such lists are malarkey. I’d be delighted to boss you around—I assume that’s why you’re here, to receive direction or fight—but please just think of the titles below as ten worthwhile books, milestones of a sort, published in this Very Weird Year.

The Most Borrowed Books of 2020 in NYC

OK, this is not exactly a list of best books. But according to Nicole Saraniero, “The most checked-out titles reflect the way New Yorkers were feeling about the historic events and cultural movements that have occurred over the past twelve months. Many books that earned top spots tackle subjects like social justice and isolation, while others offer pure escapism.”

This article avoids merely listing titles by commenting on and attempting to explain the significance of the data.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Book Recommendations List

Lists: Best Books of 2020

Publishers Weekly: Best Books 2020

Publishers Weekly started the annual parade off before Halloween with its lists. This page offers a portal to categories such as mystery/thriller, poetry, romance, various children’s levels, and YA.

Barnes & Noble: The Best Books of 2020

Barnes & Noble got in on the action during the first week of November. Here’s its portal to various lists.

Fortunately, when it comes to recommending good books, there are no mistakes.

—Ron Charles, Washington Post book columnist
Book Club Newsletter, 11/6/2020

RIF’s Favorite Books of 2020


Announcing the Amazon Editors’ Best Books of 2020

Bill Buford, the writer and former fiction editor at The New Yorker, once said: “Stories protect us from chaos, [and are] essential to the way we make sense of our lives.” Given the tumult of this past year, we’ve needed stories more than ever. And fortunately, while 2020 has fallen wildly short of many expectations, it’s been a boon for readers who enjoy great books. 

From Erin Kodicek, editor of Amazon Book Review, comes this list of the top 10 books of the year. The list includes both fiction and nonfiction. And, since it’s from Amazon, you’ll find many links to other lists that might suit you.

The 10 best books of 2020

Both fiction and nonfiction choices from the book folds at The Washington Post, with links to associated “best books of 2020” links.

50 notable works of fiction in 2020

Another offering from The Washington Post, also with associated links.

50 notable works of nonfiction in 2020

And here’s The Washington Post’s list of the year’s best nonfiction.

These Are the Best Books of 2020, According to O, The Oprah Magazine

Yes, Oprah weighs in with fiction and nonfiction titles.

100 Notable Books of 2020

This list from The New York Times includes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

The End of the World Review’s 100 Notable Books of 2020

“The End of the World Review” formulated this list to contrast with the New York Times list above, which is heavily weighted toward the giant publishing conglomerates.

The New York Public Library: Best Books of 2020

The New York Public Library offers lists for adults, for kids, and for teens. There are also Spanish lists and information on books available in accessible formats (e.g., digital talking books and braille editions).

The Ten Best Books About Food of 2020

“From cookbooks to grocery-store exposés, these new books will tempt palates and fuel curiosity”

From Smithsonian Magazine.

The best books of the year 2020

From the BBC Culture desk.

Best books of 2020

From The Guardian, this is the portal page to lists in fiction, children’s books, crime and thrillers, science fiction and fantasy, memoir and celebrity books, politics, ideas, sport, nature and science, poetry, comics and graphic novels, art, food, and stocking fillers.

The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020

Recommendations from Sophie Roell, editor and one of five founders of Five Books.

AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2020

This page features the best of the best. 

The Best Books We Read in 2020

“The fiction and nonfiction, old and new, that kept us going.” From The New Yorker. The books that comprise this list are not necessarily new publications from 2020.

Best Books of 2020

This is BookRiot’s portal to its lists of best books in these categories: children’s, comics, fantasy, fiction, horror, mystery/thriller, nonfiction, poetry, romance, science fiction, young adult.

Our columnist picks his 10 favorite crime novels of 2020

Choices from Adam Woog, crime and mystery fiction columnist for The Seattle Times.

The best mysteries and thrillers of 2020

This list contains only a few titles, with a link to the full list of 20. I’ve included this link because the article begins with a brief description of how the Amazon Book Review selects its best books of the year: “there’s no formula. It’s just us, reading new books by authors we love, reading books recommended by publishers, or reading books because we just like the look, or the description, of that particular book.”

NPR’s Book Concierge

NPR offers a big list of books that allows you to apply all different kinds of filters to find something that’s just right for you or for some lucky gift recipient. And just in case you can’t find anything published this year that quite fills the bill, you can also consult the best books of years past (back to 2013).

The Best of 2020: Our Top Ten

AudioFile has its list of the best audiobooks of 2020. Here Audible, the audiobooks arm of Amazon, offers its list of the top 10. At the bottom of the page are links to other categorical lists, such as fiction, comedy & humor, memoir, self-development, and mysteries & thrillers.

Times Critics’ Top Books of 2020

“The Times’s staff critics give their choices of the best fiction and nonfiction works of the year.”

From The New York Times.

Our Top Five Picks For Best Mystery & Suspense of 2020

From Jamie Canavés for Novel Suspects: “The way I judged this year’s list was rather simple: what are the thriller books and mystery books published this year that I read and am I still thinking about? In a year that felt a decade long, it seemed like a good way to set the bar.”

The best books of 2020 – picked by our acclaimed guest authors

Here’s another list from The Guardian: “Our panel of writers – who all published books this year – share their favourite titles of 2020.”

Our 65 Favorite Books of the Year

From Emily Temple for LitHub: “We Lived Through 2020 and All We Got Were These Really Good Books.”

Of all the unique occurrences of 2020 that Temple lists (and the first paragraph is worth reading just for this list), my favorite is this one: “We all watched every TV show ever created and then complained about them on the internet.” I say this after watching all seven seasons of The 100, a show with an interesting premise that outlived that premise by four seasons and ended up with a totally stupid conclusion. 

The Best Books to Elevate Your Reading List in 2020

From Esquire: “The best fiction and nonfiction of the year covers everything from teenage sexuality to Big Tech, while also telling deeply human stories of identity, romance, and family.”

Goodreads Choice Awards: Best Books of 2020

I always take special interest in this list because the books are chosen not by critics or professional associations but by ordinary readers like you and me.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Audiobooks Book Recommendations List Reading

Books You Can Read in One Day

I must read five books in December to complete my Goodreads Challenge, so I’m turning to the list of books that can be read in one day. Here are some titles I’ve collected throughout 2020 because I knew I’d probably end up needing them when I turned the calendar page to December. 

The books in the first section all weigh in at around 200 pages. The second section offers a list of articles you can consult if you need more selections to choose from.

Henry James: A Critical Biography by Rebecca West

Bright Lights, Big City by Jan McInery

Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader by Vivian Gornick

The Late Work of Margaret Kroftis by Mark Gluth

The Conversations by César Aira (translated by Katherine Silver)

The World I Live In by Helen Keller

Love by Hanne Ørstavik

This Thing We Call Literature by Arthur Krystal

Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction by Benjamin Percy

The Middleman and Other Stories by Bharati Mukherjee

My Life as a Villainess: Essays by Laura Lippman

fancy scroll


“I’ve defined ‘short’ here as ‘about 200 pages or less’ (readable in one sitting)” writes Namera Tanjeem, compiler of this list that can help you knock off both the sheer number game and the classic book genre.


This list was designed to fit a category in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2020: “read a sci-fi or fantasy novella that’s under 120 pages.” But there’s no reason why you can’t repurpose these suggestions to fit your own needs.


No specification of page length here, but Elliot Riley assures us: “The novels on this list are not only short, but highly engrossing. 

The 14 Best Short Books to Binge-Read in One Day

No maximum page length given here, but the author asserts these are “14 quick reads that you can start with your morning coffee and finish with a midnight pint of ice cream.”

Unforgettable reads: Short books to read in a day

Books You Can Read in a Day


The 50 Best Contemporary Novels Under 200 Pages

5 Audiobook Story Collections Offering Quick Literary Escape

From June, the time of COVID-19 isolation, comes this list of short audiobooks to help readers escape from the overwhelming news crush. The longest of these is just over five and a half hours, and most are considerably shorter than that.

14 New Books to Read in One Sitting

“This selection of new short books all weigh in at roughly 300 pages or less.”

15 Extraordinary Books You Can Read in One Sitting

7 Single-Sitting Stunners

Very Short Books You Can Read In A Day

32 Short, New Books to Help You CRUSH Your Reading Challenge

From Goodreads: “Every book here was both published this year and has fewer than 250 pages.” Includes both fiction and nonfiction.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Book Recommendations Fiction Film List Personal

Happy Halloween!

Because I was having trouble cranking up much enthusiasm for Halloween this year, here’s a collection of items I’ve collected. I hope you’ll find something here to help you get into this weekend’s holiday spirit.

Read What You Need: 9 Gothic Novels for Every Mood

This is the one that first inspired me. Did you ever see a display in a bookstore—back in the days when we could actually go into a bookstore—of offerings for “a blind date with a book”? These are books wrapped in paper with a tag describing the contents from which you can choose. Here Isabelle Popp describes how, when she worked at a library, she did a similar thing with books from the collection and called it “Read What You Need.” 

She does the same thing here with suggestions of various forms of gothic literature to read for Halloween. An added bonus is a section labeled “gothic sidebar” in which she explains several ways in which the term gothic can be applied to literature. Read her descriptions, then choose a book from the type of gothic literature that most appeals to you.

Despite the deep history and heavy themes, gothic literature is expansive. The best writers can deftly expose monsters both literal and metaphorical while delivering a thrilling reading experience that can suit a variety of moods. Here are nine varied Gothic novels so you can read what you need.

8 Books About Hexing the Patriarchy

First, a few key terms. Patriarchy is not, at the end of the day, defined by the gender of one’s leaders. It’s a societal model based on the rigid binaries and hierarchies necessary to divide, conquer, and control—e.g., men over women, men over nature, straight and cis over queer and trans, rich over poor, and, often, white over Black and Brown. Magic is energy moved with the intention of transforming reality. Therefore, for our purposes, #HexingThePatriarchy is channeling energy to dismantle this hierarchical world order and then cast a new, freer world.

Ruth Franklin on the novels of Shirley Jackson: “She never did the same thing twice”

Ruth Franklin: A decade of Shirley Jackson

Discussion of Shirley Jackson, author of “The Lottery,” The Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, among many other works, always comes up at this time of year because of the haunting, spooky nature of her work. In these two essays from Library of America, Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, discusses the author and her iconic works.

Read Shirley Jackson’s Eerily Contemporary Letter About Fear

“Author Shirley Jackson often responded to readers’ letters; this one, written in 1962 after republication of her historical fiction for juveniles, The Witchcraft of Salem Village, seems uncannily prescient for our times.”

Meh! Halloween! A Bookish Guide to a Low-Key Halloween

Sarah Hannah Gómez, who thinks “horror movies are fun all year long anyway,” has trouble getting charged up for Halloween. “If you find that you are one of those in-betweenies who wants to participate in holiday fun without losing your cred as an iconoclast, here are some ironic, trope-destroying, or meta selections that might allow you to find common ground with your Halloween enthusiast friends.”

Which Scary Books Should You Pair with Scary Movies This Halloween Weekend?

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to stay home this Halloween, “that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy our haunted holiday,” writes Rachel Harrison. Here she shares her list of some of the best new horror books of 2020 paired “with horror movies that I feel compliment them in tone.” 

The 40 Most Terrifying TV Episodes to Watch This Halloween

Brian Tallerico’s got you covered if you’d prefer watch TV all weekend. His includes episodes from shows such as Black Mirror, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Fringe, and Lost

Monster Mythology

Here’s Atlas Obscura’s gateway to 10 articles about various monster myths. 

They Scream! We Scream!

Even the venerable New York Times gets into the Halloween spirit.

“What’s more fundamental to scary movies than the bone-chilling shriek? But delivering a terrifying wail isn’t easy. It’s an entire art with a history and a world of its own.

NASA offers ‘creepy’ playlist of space sounds for Halloween

“The sounds you’re hearing have been translated into something humans can hear and appreciate. They are not actually sounds that the universe emits, but a different way of appreciating the data NASA collects,” said Kimberly Arcand, visualization and emerging technology lead for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory space telescope.

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Book Recommendations List

It’s Time for Spooky Reading

One of the reasons why we read is to practice life, to look at particular circumstances and wonder what we’d do if we found ourselves in them.

For example, I don’t think I’d ever kidnap a child. But what if someone called me and told me she had kidnapped my daughter, and to get my child back I’d have to kidnap another child to replace her? I’m pretty sure I know what I’d do: the same thing Rachel Klein does in the novel The Chain by Adrian McKinty.

And as the ghosts come out for the approach of Halloween, we get the opportunity to meet some characters, see some settings, and have some experiences we hope never to have in real life. Here are some lists to help you choose your seasonal reading while you still have some reading time before Halloween arrives.

10 Eerie Books for Autumn

48 Books That Scared the Bejesus Out of Readers

“These books are great for joining in on the autumnal fun, without reading anything too scary or gory.”

The Most Terrifying Books: 15 Titles Not for the Faint of Heart

11 of Our Favorite Horror Books

From the folks at Mental Floss: “From genre classics that should be on everyone’s list to a few offbeat entries—including a must-read comic starring a spectacularly creepy ice cream man—here are our favorite horror books you should pick up.”

The 40 Most Popular Horror Novels of the Last 5 Years

Forget Sleep. These 7 Gripping Horror Stories Will Keep You Up All Night Reading

14 Scary Books So Terrifying, Readers Wish They Never Read Them

Take that title seriously.

8 Eerie Reads From the Literary Fiction Shelves

“scary seasonal books [that] fall outside traditional horror or mystery formats.”

© 2020 by Mary Daniels Brown

Book Recommendations Libraries List

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Some holiday reading . . .

50 States of Love

“From sea to shining sea, here’s a tour of unforgettable fiction that explores matters of the heart.”

125 Books We Love

As the New York Public Library celebrates its 125th anniversary, “125 Books We Love honors all the books from the past 125 years that made us fall in love with reading.”

Happy reading!

Book Recommendations List

The Best of 2019: The Top 10 Book Lists of the Year

I swore that I was through with “Best Books of 2019” lists. But then the folks at Off the Shelf hit me with this post:

The Best of 2019: The Top 10 Book Lists of the Year

Ah, the thematic book list. Nothing makes up leap for a new read like discovering a gem hidden in a historical fiction round-up or psychological thrillers listicle. This year, we even explored new sub-genres like domestic thrillers, historical fantasy and mystery, dysfunctional family dramedies, and even books Stephen King has blurbed. Here are just 10 of our favorite book lists we ran on Off the Shelf this year.

If you love lists as much as I do, here you’ll find links to the following lists:

  • 14 Books You Wish You Could Read for the First Time Again 
  • A Cozy Winter Getaway: 9 Perfect Novels You Need to Bring
  • Stephen King Recommends: 14 Books He Wants You to Read
  • 7 Domestic Thrillers to Binge-Read Right Now
  • 11 Books That Are Guaranteed Page-Turners
  • 9 International Thrillers to Sink Your Teeth Into
  • 12 Historical Novels to Transport You to Uncommon Eras
  • The Mister Rogers TBR: 10 Books You’d Find in the Neighborhood Today
  • 9 Beautiful Novels That Will Inspire You to Be a Better Person
  • 8 Books We Can’t Stop Thinking About
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And Ron Charles, who writes about books for The Washington Post, examined 11 trends that changed the way we read this decade recently.

And editors at The Amazon Book Review list a few books “that we will be moving back to the top of that TBR pile” in The books that (almost) got away in 2019.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown

Book Recommendations List Personal

The Best Books I Read in 2019

Because I read more books this year than I had in any recent year, paring down my list of the year’s favorites was much harder than usual. I always try to reduce the list of 10 best and 5 honorable mentions, but this year I couldn’t decide which should be the final title to get moved from best to honorable mention. I therefore present 11 best and 4 honorable mentions, although the differences between the two groups are indeed very slight.

As always, these are the best books I read this year, regardless of when they were published. They’re listed alphabetically by author’s last name.


Crouch, Blake. Recursion: A Novel

Franklin, Ruth. Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

Harper, Jane. The Lost Man

Kim, Angie. Miracle Creek

Lippman, Laura. Lady in the Lake

Michaelides, Alex. The Silent Patient

Obama, Michelle. Becoming

Quinn, Kate. The Alice Network

Reid, Taylor Jenkins. Daisy Jones & The Six

Turton, Stuart. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad

Honorable Mention

Berney, Lou. November Road

Dugoni, Robert. My Sister’s Grave

Kushner, Rachel. The Mars Room

McTiernan, Dervla. The Ruin

You can find links to lists of the best books I read each year from 1996 to 2019 on the Year’s Best Books page.

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown