Most Anticipated Books of 2020!

Books Are Magic
Jan 21 · 9 min read

We asked our staff to choose one book from the first half of 2020 that they were most excited for — some chose a few since there are just too many to choose from! See Emma’s picks here!

Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch (Release date Feb 4, 2020)

A powerful and visceral collection from one of today’s most unique voices that will take you out of your comfort zone. Yuknavitch focuses on the subject of the body; bodies trying to find comfort, bodies trying to become whole, bodies destroyed, bodies as an object, how they are connected to one another, how they can be broken, and how much they are worth. To dive into this collection is to let a cinderblock tied to your leg drag you down into unknown watery depths and instead of trying to loosen the knot, you hold tight and let the waters consume you. -Anthony

This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers by Jeff Sharlet (Release date Feb 11, 2020)

A book of photos and accompanying essays, I’m excited for this book for the same reason I get excited when I meet a cool rando, the same reason Humans of New York has a cult following. -Annina

After Me Comes the Flood by Sarah Perry (Release date Mar 17, 2020)

Perry has proven her excellence as a wordsmith and the eerie plot of her upcoming book seems so fresh and tantalizingly disturbing! -Lindsay

Docile by K.M. Szpara (Release date Mar 3, 2020)

Docile is not a gentle book. It doesn’t pretend to be; it opens with one of the main characters, Elisha, preparing to slip away from his home in the dead of night to sell himself into sex slavery to relieve his family’s 3 million dollar debt, and save his little sister from the same fate. I did not have a single moment while reading this incredible novel that my heart was not clambering up my throat because of the wrongness of everything happening. And yet, despite it all, I caught myself slipping just as Elisha slips; believing that it’s not so bad, that Elisha and Alex are happy, that love can bloom even on the capitalist battlefield. Surprise: it can’t. K. M. Szpara skillfully sets up what reads like a collection of well-loved romance tropes — a prince and a pauper, a debt incurred, a shared living space, opposing goals and ideals — and takes them to their horrifying, inevitable ends. There is no room to breathe. I adored it. I’ll be thinking about Docile for a long time to come. -Abby

Sharks In the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn (Release date Mar 3, 2020)

I’m buying multiple copies of this book and sending it to my family in Hawai’i and in diaspora. Washburn is massively talented in his ability to describe what, to me, were the indescribable particulars of being a modern Kanaka Maoli. I was floored by this book. I’m still horizontal! -Serena

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (Release date Mar 3, 2020)

These poems are immensely tender, uncompromising, by turns sensual and cerebral, they explore all the ways giving and receiving love makes us known, make us both bestial and beautiful: “Like any desert, I learn myself by what’s desired of me — / and I am demoned by those desires.” Diaz grants permission to the lover, the reader, even herself, to honor our multitudes and view pleasure as a site of endless decolonizing possibilities. -Serena

New Waves by Kevin Nguyen (Release date Mar 10, 2020)

New Waves is Kevin Nguyen’s debut novel, the story of two employees at a tech startup who decide to steal the company’s user database. It deals with identity, racism, privacy, and how these intersect in the age of the internet and big tech. I can’t wait for its release! -Michael Chin

The Patient by Jasper DeWitt (Release date July 7, 2020)

Upon finishing this horror novel, I looked around at the people on the train and felt I was in mortal danger. I dare you to read this book and not feel the same way. -Danni

Maafa by Harmony Holiday (Release date Mar 27, 2020)

I’m extremely keen on this new collection from the brilliant Harmony Holiday, whose experimental and iconographic work continues to push the boundaries of poetry, art, and language. Maafa is the Swahili word for holocaust, and is also the name of the collection’s black epic heroine, whose journey is modeled after that of Odysseus. This feminist allegory deals with themes of diaspora, erasure, intergenerational trauma, black femininity, and ultimately, redemption, reclamation, and rebirth. I adored her previous books and suspect this one will be equally as rigorous in its effort to heed previously erased, or unimagined, perspectives from the margins, amplifying them with reverence and virtuosity. -Serena

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker (Release date Apr 7, 2020)

I loved this smart examination of a large American family dealing with multiple cases of schizophrenia. Kolker’s chronicle of the family’s struggle and the concurrent investigations into the causes of the disorder is moving, profound, and glimmers with moments of hope. I found this exceptionally useful when thinking about the history and future of mental health care. A perfect companion to Susannah Cahalan’s The Great Pretender and Esme Wang’s Collected Schizophrenias. -Margaret

A Luminous Republic by Andrés Barba — translated by Lisa Dillman (Release date Apr 14, 2020)

I already read it twice. It is sick. -Nick

The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe (Release date Apr 28, 2020)

I couldn’t be more excited for The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe (Dear Fang with Love, The Girls from Corona Del Mar), which promises to be a tender novel about friendship and queer coming-of-age. -Will

All Adults Here by Emma Straub (Release date May 5, 2020)

Here are a few things I know to be true: 1. This is Emma’s best novel yet. 2. She worked so hard on this book and we opened a bookstore (this bookstore!) while she was writing it. 3. While, yes, I am married to her, and so I am biased, here is why I think you should read it: All Adults Here is about being in a family. No matter how hard you try, nothing is ever perfect and mistakes are made. We do the best we can with what we have and still end up having to apologize. It’s about apologizing. It’s funny. It’s heartbreaking. It’s Emma’s best novel. Did I already say that? -Mike FS

Untold Day and Night by Bae Suah (Release date May 5, 2020)

A hallucinatory novel about a woman facing an uncertain future in Seoul at the height of summer, I was immediately hooked. Come this spring, I’ll be recommending this to everyone. -Nika

Eat a Peach by David Chang (Release date May 19, 2020)

This memoir by renowned chef David Chang is less a traditional memoir and more about the trials and tribulations of opening your own business, how to build and maintain a team of people, and all the ups and downs of what it feels like to have all the weight on your shoulders. I relate to his story, and anyone who’s ever tried to build something from nothing will feel like Chang is speaking directly to them. I loved this book. -Mike FS

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier (Release date Jun 9, 2020)

Folks are comparing this novel about a pregnant eighteen year old pizza delivery person who becomes obsessed with a customer to Convenience Store Woman, and that is all I need to be sold. It promises to be wild and tender — exactly what I’d like to prioritize on my reading list this year. -Maritza

Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (Release date Jun 23, 2020)

This is the second title in The Brown Sisters series. I absolutely fell in love with Dani’s no-nonsense attitude and inability to not say exactly what’s on her mind in the few scenes we were granted in Chole’s story and I can’t wait to dive into her life next. Also, THIS COVER! Fun Fact: This title is one of Oprah Magazine’s 22 Romance Novels That Are Set to Be the Best of 2020! -Daisy

Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes (Release date Jul 7, 2020)

The second in a trilogy that combines lacerating social commentary with punk rock sensibilities for a delightfully depraved and hilarious series. I devoured the first in the series, which followed Vernon’s journey from record shop owner to homelessness to coveted source, and I cannot wait for more! -Nika

Luster by Raven Leilani (Release date Aug 4, 2020)

I know it’s early, but this might be one of my favorite books of the year already. It’s so deliciously smart and brutal, sexy and gut wrenching. I couldn’t put it down. Luster feels like peak millennial writing, and I mean that in the best way possible. If you like Ottessa Moshfegh and Halle Butler, this one is for you. -Colleen

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (Release date Sep 8, 2020)

Like so many others, I fell in love with Gyasi while reading her debut Homegoing in 2016 and have been eagerly awaiting her next book. Transcendent Kingdom promises to be another knockout, following a Ghanaian neuroscience student in Alabama studying depression and addiction while reconciling with the faith of her childhood. -Colleen

Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston (Release date Oct 20, 2020)

Imagine a mash-up of Wilder Girls and Beauty and the Beast: that’s what you’re getting from this novel. In turns tender and terrifying, Among the Beasts and Briars is a truly stellar YA fantasy romance that had me hooked from beginning to end. Ashley Poston’s writing is gorgeous, her worldbuilding thorough but seamless, and the tension carefully built between the two unlikely leads, Cerys the gardener’s daughter and Fox the now-reluctantly-human, is engrossing. Woven through this compelling romance is a story of legacy; of thinking critically about the stories you’ve been spoon-fed your whole life; of imagining the world how it could be in spite of the way that it is. And when the world is cursed and chaotic and hungry, striving to fix it is no small feat. -Abby

    Books Are Magic

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    The musings from a bookstore in Brooklyn

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