The 12 Greatest Books of 2020


Our favorite novels of the year, plus an essay book from a legend, a poetry collection from a new breed of Instagram favorite and two extraordinary memoirs.

  • <em>chandelier</em> by Raven Leilani “/><br />
<h3>Shine by Raven Leilani </h3>
<p>Raven Leilani’s debut novel is about a 20-year-old black woman named Edie who works in publishing (until she is fired for being “sexually inappropriate” – read an excerpt) and has stopped pursuing her art (she is a talented painter as she is) Leilani himself).  When we meet Edie, she has just started dating Eric, who is 23 years older than her, in an open marriage and White.  But perhaps the most interesting relationship in the book is between Edie and Eric’s wife, Rebecca, who is a medical examiner.  (We read Luster for the Goop Book Club in August. You can see the conversation with Leilani here.)</p>
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    My autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland

    This inventive treatise by Jenn Shapland is a National Book Award finalist and has won the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Outstanding Nonfiction. She talks about the love letters she found while working as an archive intern. The letters were between Carson McCullers (best known for her 1940 novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter) and a woman named Annemarie. Shapland, who identifies as a lesbian, sees herself in her words. And she decides to find out who McCullers really was – and if there’s a reason she was never described as a lesbian. What follows is a succinct, thought-provoking exploration of women’s sexuality and the language that has been used to describe and limit our desires throughout history.

  • <em>Hamnet</em> by Maggie O’Farrell”/><br />
<h3>Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell</h3>
<p>A ravishing drama about an impulsive and passionate marriage and a boy who history has forgotten.  Set in England in the 1580s, Hamnet is a historical fiction that transports you through time and space and makes you feel like the action is now dissolving in front of you.  The story begins when a young Latin teacher (William Shakespeare, do you know him?) With little money and a few demons meets Agnes, who is walking through her family’s land with a kestrel in hand.  Agnes is seductive and intuitive, maybe a little wild, maybe an extraordinary healer, maybe destined to be a devoted mother, and maybe the power that will shape this man’s life, career and legacy.  (We also read this for the goop Book Club – in November.)</p>
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