November 24, 2020  | 

Best books to gift in 2020

By Sian Babish

Searching for gift ideas for bookworms? It can be challenging to choose a book for a bibliophile, especially if you’re not sure if they've read it yet. To give you a leg up this holiday season, here’s a list of the best new books to gift in 2020.

 

An engaging historical fiction novel

addie larue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

Addie LaRue escapes an unwanted arranged marriage in 1714 with a magical turn of events that makes her immortal. 300 years later, her quiet, solitary life of anonymity is upended by a chance meeting with a mysterious man at a bookstore.

Deciding the fate of magical kids

the house in the cerulean sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

There are half a dozen magical kids that are about to destroy the world in this humorous fantasy novel. Find out whether Linus Baker is successful at deciding their fate or if Arthur Parnassus, master of the orphanage, manages to protect them at all costs.

An exciting sci-fi humanity-at-war story

obliteration

Obliteration: An Awakened Novel by James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth

The world is safe again thanks to NYC Mayor Tom Cafferty and his heroic team — or is it? Unfortunately, he finds a nest beneath the Nevada desert and discovers there’s a war brewing against the human race — and needs help from his sworn enemy to win it.

A moving story about perseverance

cemetary boys

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Yadirel’s traditional Latinx family has difficulty accepting his true gender. Determined to prove himself, Yadriel performs the ritual of summoning the ghost of his murdered cousin. Things don’t go according to plan, and Yadriel ends up with a different yet familiar ghost instead.

Tough conversations about race

antiracist baby

Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi pens this board book to help budding readers understand critical conversations about anti-racism. It lays out nine easy steps to help kids understand how they can play an important role in building a better, inclusive, and justice-filled world around them.

Uplifting for young girls

just like me

Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

This new poetry collection by author-illustrator Brantley-Newton is an affirming, supportive work that encourages young girls to embrace their uniqueness. Each poem reads as highly personal and honest while remaining approachable for girls of all ages.

Misadventures from a favorite family

diary of a wimpy kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End by Jeff Kinney

Loyal fans of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series will dig this fifteenth installment that takes place at a less-than-desirable RV park in the summertime. As expected, misadventures ensue as soon as the Heffleys arrive — and their vacation gets complicated quickly.

A book for budding bibliophiles

escargot

A Book for Escargot by Dashka Slater

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cuter book than this charming tale of a bibliophile snail. Follow Escargot's cultured little journey through a library as he thinks long and hard about the exciting books he’d like to check out, including a French cookbook.

A classic meets children’s literature

dog man

Dog Man: Grime and Punishment by Dav Pilkey

Yes, this is a kid-friendly version of the classic Dostoevsky story. In this compelling Dog Man story, kids find out whether he can prove himself worthy enough to get back on the force after an unfortunate turn of events costs him his badge.

Important lessons for elementary-age kids

The Cool Bean

The Cool Bean by Jory John

Can kids learn from a bean who goes to school? They sure can, especially when he goes through similar hardships of trying to fit in and make friends. Funny, vibrant, and engaging, it teaches the valuable lesson that it’s way cooler to be kind to others.

A family brought together by tragedy

clap when you land

 

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Tragedy strikes sisters who live worlds apart when their father dies in a plane crash. When Camino and Yahaira meet for the first time to grieve for their father, the girls uncover years of secrets that could either bring them together or pull their families apart.

An inspiring story about female empowerment

the girl with the louding voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Adunni is a young Nigerian girl growing up in a poverty-stricken village with big dreams to get an education and use her voice for empowerment. Follow her journey in this inspirational story that keeps you on the edge of your seat — and on the verge of tears.

A touching family saga

transcendent kingdom

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

This intimate family portrait about a Ghanaian immigrant family is about Gifty, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience, who studies addiction to understand suffering in the world around her. It’s a must-read work on modern issues about family, addiction, religion, and self-discovery.

A crime thriller with modern conversations

long bright river

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

In this gut-wrenching police procedural, Mickey is a beat cop whose caseload is about to hit close to home when her sister is found dead in opioid-afflicted Philadelphia. While it’s praised as this year’s must-read thriller, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

A provocative tale about privilege

Such a fun age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This provocative debut novel tells the story of two women whose race and privilege afford them different lives, yet their paths are deeply intertwined. With an adrenaline-pumping turn of events, Alix and Emira find out more about themselves and each other.

Discovering family secrets

the vanishing half

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

When the Vignes twin sisters escape their small Black community at age 16, their lives take dramatically different paths as they drift apart. The sisters’ worlds collide years later at the intersection of deep family ties, racial identity, and history.

A paranormal novel of ethereal beauty

eye of the rushes

Eye of the Rushes by James Morgan-Jones

Readers become thoroughly invested in this riveting, prismatic fourth installment of the “Glasswater Quintet.” Two characters born over 100 years apart share the uncanny, haunting ability to see color. Find out why Eva, a member of a film crew documenting a harrowing incident, is so drawn to the peculiar house in question.

A dark comedy with modern problems

anxious people

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

A motley crew of prospective home buyers end up holed up in a hostage situation with a failed bank robber. Hilarity ensues as they share personal stories in this dark comedy that illustrates everyone needs a little bit of saving, including failed bank robbers.

A story about self-love

felix ever after

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

In a sad twist of irony, Felix Love hasn’t been in love before. While he’s working on self-discovery as a black, queer, and transgender individual, Felix begins receiving anonymous transphobic messages that make him even more determined to work on his relationship with himself.

An emotional journey about healing

real life

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Wallace, a young, black, queer introvert leaves his family to attend college a world away in a Midwest university. Follow Wallace as he navigates complex relationships with friends and confrontations with colleagues while he heals deep, still-searing wounds from his childhood.

An introspective read about fighting racism

stamped

Stamped: A Remix by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi takes on the toughest conversations about race today and turns them into teachable moments in this updated edition of the bestseller. The book analyzes racism at its core and inspires readers to dig deeper and identify and stamp out racist ideology in their daily lives.

A gripping true-crime story

we keep the dead close

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper

This haunting true crime memoir chronicles the 1969 murder of rising Harvard graduate Jane Britton. Nearly four decades later, undergraduate Beckey Cooper dives into the still-unsolved murder and finds injustice at the deepest levels during her investigation. 

Life advice from a billionaire

open book

Open Book by Jessica Simpson

This singer-turned-billionaire with a sprawling fashion empire has much to share. Jessica Simpson’s latest memoir speaks from the heart as she shares stories (some embarrassing) to impart advice and life lessons.

A first memoir from a revered athlete

one life

One Life by Megan Rapinoe
Get to know Megan Rapinoe beginning with her first memory kicking a soccer ball at age four. Rapinoe speaks personally to readers through an introspective look at her involvement in professional sports, the LGBTQ+ community, and social justice causes.

A moving political memoir

a promised land

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Dive into this intimate first volume of Barack Obama’s life, where the former president reflects on early political aspirations as well as poignant moments of his presidency. Candid and honest, the memoir is considered a must-read for any decision-maker or political hopeful.

Diving into self-awakening

untamed

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Doyle’s latest memoir is a masterful meditation on ripping into convention to embark on self-discovery. Her inspirational story is strung together with moments of self-awakening on her journey toward self-love and personal empowerment.

Get whisked away

migrations

Migrations: A Novel by Charlotte McConaghy

This stunning landscape-driven story is about Franny Stone, a wanderer whose personal battles bubble to the surface as she embarks on a journey to find the world's last flock of Arctic terns — but not without a wealth of obstacles.

An unexpected quest

ready player two

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Touted as a nostalgic follow-up novel to the best-selling novel and hit movie, readers join Wade Watts in yet another quest. With powerful new rivals and unexpected twists and turns, Cline’s latest release is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat in this page-turner.

A haunting adventure story

how much of these hills

How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang

In this deeply layered story, Lucy and Sam are left alone after the sudden deaths of their beloved parents. With no place to call home, the siblings embark on finding a new place to live while they grieve and tackle complex racial and class issues in an expanding nation.

Between life, death, and library shelves

the midnight library

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nora Seed finds herself at a crossroads in life when it comes to healing and making big decisions. In the middle of her struggle, Nora stumbles across the Midnight Library, which helps her see alternate paths to determine where her heart truly wants to go.

An introspective read

caste

Caste by University Press

Considered one of the most introspective titles of the year, it raises awareness of persistent human biases. By the end of this book, readers are empowered to fight their biases to become kinder people that contribute to societal healing.

A brand-new poetry anthology

the best american poetry

The Best American Poetry 2020 by David Lehman and Paisley Rekdal

Indulge your literary palate with a dose of fresh, new poetry in this latest anthology guest-edited by Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal. The carefully curated collection features a variety of poetry discussing today’s relevant and contemporary issues.

All about comfort cooking

modern comfort food

Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten

Discover tasty recipes with a new cookbook from the Barefoot Contessa that features turned-up versions of classic comfort foods, such as Banana Rum Trifle and Creamy Tomato Bisque. With mouth-watering recipes that are easy to follow, this cookbook is appreciated by novice and experienced cooks alike.

A relevant scientific read

clean-the new science of skin

Clean: The New Science of Skin by James Hamblin

In a time when hygiene matters the most, Hamblin, a preventive medicine physician, dives into the subject at the microscopic level. It covers the history of hygiene as well as new and changing attitudes about common practices, like hand washing and skincare.

For Mandalorian fans

star wars

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters Vol. 1: Galaxy’s Deadliest by Ethan Sacks

Those that love “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ will have a blast with this graphic novel featuring a Boba Fett storyline. Find out whether the legendary bounty hunter outsmarts a slew of assassins to capture the Lash, who has rubbed just about everyone in the galaxy the wrong way.

 

Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. 

 

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

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