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15 Most-Anticipated Books of 2020 You’ll Want to Pre-Order

From a new American classic to a Hunger Games prequel, you'll want to make room on your shelf for this year's upcoming page-turners.

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Goodreads top books

It’s impossible to know which books will blow us away before we read them. But we do know which ones bookworms are dying to get their hands before the ink has even dried. Goodreads has scoured 90 million readers’ “want-to-read” lists to narrow down the 15 most anticipated books of 2020. The results highlight a range of authors, from Hunger Games’ Suzanne Collins (the odds are indeed in her favor) to newcomers like Noé Álvarez. While you wait for these selections to be released, catch up on the most unappreciated books of 2019.

american dirt by jeanine cumminsvia amazon.com

American Dirt

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Beloved author Jeanine Cummins has done it again—American Dirt is already an Amazon bestseller, even before the novel’s January 21 release date. The story of a Mexican mother and son forced to flee their home and find refuge has received praise from the likes of Stephen King and Ann Patchett. Mexican-American writer Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street) says,” “This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times.” Without a doubt, American Dirt will fly off the shelves in its first run later this month. For a list of other classics you don’t want to miss, check out our list of 50 books to read before you’re 50.

the night watchman by louise erdrichvia amazon.com

The Night Watchman

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Based on author Louise Erdrich’s own grandfather, The Night Watchman tells the story of one man’s fight against the removal of Native people from rural North Dakota in 1953. The story comes to life with fictional characters living in an all-too-real situation. Goodreads.com member Esil, who received an advanced copy, wrote, “The Night Watchman is my first Louise Erdrich novel, but it won’t be my last. For me, this was historical fiction at its best.” This beautiful novel is perfect for American history buffs, who will also enjoy these iconic books set in each of the 50 states.

my dark vanessa by kate elizabeth russellvia amazon.com

My Dark Vanessa

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Readers lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa have called is unsettling, disturbing, and—as the title suggests—dark. Told through dual timelines, in 2000 and 2017, high school-aged Vanessa throws herself into a passionate affair with her English teacher while her future self reckons with the news that he has been accused of sexual abuse once again. A psychologically tumultuous picture of the #metoo movement, My Dark Vanessa is the sort of book that readers are eager to love or hate. Whether the masses choose to accept the horror of the story or reject it for its subject matter, thousands are waiting in the wings for the March 10 release date. Until then, pick up one of these hair-raising thriller novels.

a good neighborhood by therese anne fowlervia amazon.com

A Good Neighborhood

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Therese Anne Fowler takes on a gnarly web of social issues—racial profiling, class, white privilege, and sexual abuse—in this story about a small North Carolina town with a new family in the neighborhood. The book is told from multiple viewpoints (presumably several of the neighbors’) and asks questions like “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?” and “How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?” Renowned author Jodi Picoult (one of the most binge-worthy writers of all time) says she devoured the book in one sitting, which is enough to spur readers on to put A Good Neighborhood on their must-read lists.

the glass hotel by emily st. john mandelvia amazon.com

The Glass Hotel

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This is the latest ambitious story from Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Elevenon our list of book club suggestions everyone should read. But unlike Mandel’s last masterpiece, The Glass Hotel is not otherworldly or post-apocalyptic. Instead, it’s a realistic story about a wealthy investment scam gone awry, a woman’s disappearance, and ghosts of the past. Goodreads.com reviewer Blair wrote, “The Glass Hotel reeled me in quietly. There are no big shocks or dramatic twists here, just thoughtful portraits of characters who feel very much like real people…[It’s] everyday magic.”

all adults here by emma straubvia amazon.com

All Adults Here

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According to the synopsis, Emma Straub’s latest book begins when protagonist Astrid Strick is flooded memories of her past after she sees a school bus accident in town. The moment forces her to reckon with her parenting style and the relationships she has with her adult children. The book has already roused a flood of fans clamoring to find out how Astrid’s story ends. Straub’s other book, The Vacationers, made our list of 50 best summer reads of all time.

transcendent kingdom by yaa gyasivia amazon.com

Transcendent Kingdom

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Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom covers a lot of ground through the story of a Ghanaian family in Alabama. The main character, Gifty, spends his time at the Stanford School of Medicine studying patterns of depressions and addition in mice. She begins using her neuroscience research to understand the suffering in her own family, from her brother’s death by heroin overdose to her mother’s chronic depression. Critics say the book takes on big questions about faith, grief, science, and love. Goodreads.com reviewer Jessica Jeffers wrote, “If, in ten years, this doesn’t end up on every ‘Best of the Decade’ list, I don’t know what to believe. This novel is astonishing and I hope it’s one of the biggest books of 2020.” Until this is released on September 15, keep yourself busy by reading the 25 bestselling books from the last decade.

long bright river by liz moorevia amazon.com

Long Bright River

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Positive reviews have been rolling in ever since Long Bright River flooded bookstores on January 7. The book is about two sisters navigating the opioid crisis in Philadelphia. One is locked in an endless cycle of addiction, the other is a cop. Though the siblings are not on speaking terms, a string of murders and one sister’s disappearance propels the other into an obsessive, dangerous hunt for the truth. Paula Hawkins, the author of The Girl on the Train, praised the tome calling it “an outstanding crime novel.” Both books are page-turners you’ll enjoy powering through on your next snow day.

the city we became by n.k. jemisinvia amazon.com

The City We Became

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For lovers of fantasy and urban fiction and the blurred lines between comic book plots and real life, you can’t do better than the first book in N.K. Jemisin’s new series: “The City.” As urban settings go, New York City is a natural pick, yet what is decidedly unnatural about Jemisin’s NYC, according to fans, is the way the city in the book has a soul and mind of its own. The twisty plot follows five New Yorkers who represent the city’s protectors. They come together to thwart an ancient evil bent on destroying their home. If you can’t wait until March 24 for The City We Became, pick up one of the best fantasy books readers can’t put down.

the ballad of songbirds and snakes by suzanne collinsvia amazon.com

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

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Before there was Katniss, there was…what? So far, Suzanne Collins has been tight-lipped about the plotline of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel to the Hunger Games series. The cover, a golden mockingjay and snake, doesn’t reveal much either. What we do know is that Collins will transport readers back to Panem and drop them 64 years before the story of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale—back to the reaping of the tenth Hunger Games. The book will be available at bookstores on May 19. The Hunger Games is one of the 10 surprising books every teen should read before graduating high school.

shuggie bain by douglas stuartvia amazon.com

Shuggie Bain

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Douglas Stuart’s debut novel has already been hailed a success by the New Yorker and KirkusReviews.com. Readers who’ve gotten a sneak peek say it’s impossible to make it to the last page with dry eyes. Shuggie Bain is the story of a lonely little boy in the 1980s in Glasgow, Scotland. Raised by a loving-yet-distant mother who is struggling with demons of her own, Hugh “Shuggie” Bain must learn to navigate poverty, sexuality, and the sometimes-heartbreaking cruelty of the world around him. Don’t forget to pick up a giant box of tissues when you pre-order this one. And if you’re in the mood for a good cry before the February 11 book release, dig into one of these 10 reads that will tug at your heartstrings.

the splendid and the vile by erik larsonvia amazon.com

The Splendid and the Vile

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In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson, author of Devil in the White City, tackles the plight and bravery of Winston Churchill during the London Blitz of 1940 to 1941. World War II buffs will devour Larson’s in-depth portrait of Churchill during his first year in power. Even readers unfamiliar with the mercurial leader’s story will find themselves drawn in by his family members’ drama and reactions to the uncertain world around them. Book reviewer Stacie Lauren wrote, “No other non-fiction author melds quotes, speeches, letters, etc. so seamlessly together that it makes you feel as if you are reading a fictional novel.” Discover the 10 best autobiographies you should have read by now.

you never forget your first by alexis coevia amazon.com

You Never Forget Your First

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Close your eyes and imagine George Washington. Now strip away the pretense and well-worn stories from your high school history class. What’s left? In You Never Forget Your First, Alexis Coe jolts readers with a fresh retelling of the first president. It’s Washington without the pomp—the United States’ first president like you’ve never seen him before. Irin Carmon, co-author of Notorious RGB declares, “Alexis Coe energetically dusts off an old-boys genre to present a life in full, without sentiment or whitewashing. It’s a public service, and it’s also a lot of fun.” The book hits stores on February 4. These are the best biographies you should have read by now.

nobody will tell you this but me by bess kalbvia amazon.com

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me

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This book is billed as a touching, funny, warmhearted tribute to author Bess Kalb’s grandmother. After Kalb lost her 90-year-old grandma, Kalb pieced together voicemails, texts, and conversations to write a book about four generations of women in her family. Goodreads.com readers who received advance copies say the book revived fond memories of their own matriarchs. From bittersweet nostalgia to laugh-out-loud family dynamics, this book rivals these 13 best memoirs written by strong women.

 

spirit run by noe alvarezvia amazon.com

Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land

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In Spirit Run, due out March 3, Noé Álvarez chronicles his experience as a Latino on the Peace and Dignity Journey, a long-distance marathon meant to strengthen cultural relationships across North America. As the four-month run unfolds, Alvarez and the Native American/First Nations runners around him push themselves to the limits. Fans have called the story both “harsh” and “uplifting.” Like any epic journey, the writer’s journey turns inward, into an emotional and spiritual quest as well. Next, read on to find out the 11 best debut novels of the past 50 years.

Leandra Beabout
Leandra Beabout is a freelance journalist and branded content writer with a BA in English education from Indiana University. She writes about travel, health, and literature for Reader's Digest, Lonely Planet, CNN, and Literary Hub, among other publications. She is also a regular contributor to Greatist.com. Leandra is based in Indiana. Follow her on Instagram @LeandraBeabout and LinkedIn Leandrabeabout