As we close out 2020, we’re glad to be done with the year, but we’re not necessarily glad that these books had to end. These represent the best books that alternately made us or completely broke our hearts or just took us out of this world for a glorious afternoon.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
A modern-day fairy tale for sure, but a dark one at that, and also a wonderfully complicated look into the relationship between artist, audience, and inspiration. Addie LaRue should be the girl everyone is talking about this year. Read our full review here.
Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
Maybe a story about isolation and mental health feels a little too real right now, but it could also be a sign that Death in Her Hands has serious staying power. Moshfegh’s trademark weirdness pervades the entire life of an old woman slowly becoming obsessed by a mystery she herself invented. Read our review here.
Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth
One could certainly call Barn 8 an “odd duck” but a chicken would clearly be more appropriate for this satirical novel about the egg industry and the Midwest. The jokes here are only as sharp and funny as they are because there’s so, so much truth to them. Read our review here.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu
Sometimes a short story collection feels a Greatest Hits album, but then, sometimes it feels like International Superhits! Liu’s bizarre tales represent the cutting edge of fantasy and science fiction. Read our review here.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
The creepy aetherworld of what could have been surrounds Vincent, her brother Paul, and her con man husband Jonathan. It’s impossible not to get lost in the beautiful prose of this alluring, but suspenseful novel. Read our review here.
Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The summer that seemed too good to be true turns out to be nightmarish for eighteen-year-old Viridiana. This thriller set in Baja California is a trip into a yesteryear of resort towns and silver screen romance. Read our review here.
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
If Food Network ever decides to include dramatic content, they should call on J. Ryan Stradal. Stradal weaves a story about sisterly love and forgiveness into a novel about about the intersection of the brewing industry and the craft beer world. Read our review here.
Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett
The action-packed sequel to 2018’s Foundryside, Shorefall brings readers further into the steampunk-Renaissance world of Tevanne, where thief Sancia and her friends program reality itself into whatever they like. This elaborate world offers a labyrinth for readers to wander into again and again since this 600 page book reads so fast, that you’re done before you know it. Read our review here.
New Atlantis by Lavie Tidhar
Lavie Tidhar’s author bio indicates that he’s a citizen of the world (he has lived in the U.K., Israel, Vanuatu, among others) but nobody on Earth sees the crazy universe he can. This novella looks far out into the future and imagines a Europe completely redone by ecological disaster and how humans must survive it. Read our review here.
The Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
The fourth book in the Stormlight Archive branch of Sanderson’s sprawling Cosmere series immerses readers in another intricate fantasy rollercoaster of a novel. The level of detail built into these worlds should wow even the biggest fans of shared universes.