Here at Really Rather, we are suckers for a good novel. Non-fiction is fine, but we spend all day writing in that genre, so when it comes to our own relaxing/inspiring/entertaining/escaping leisure time, we want something that will take us away from the everyday and show us something different and new to us.
And we read volumes. Some of us knock off a novel per week. We read before we go to bed, in the middle of the night when we can’t sleep, we sometimes sneak in a few pages when we wake up too early to rise in the morning, and we read after work when we just need to settle down. We also read when we’re waiting for something, any time, anywhere. E-readers, mostly Kindles, facilitate this.
Regardless of whether you listen to your books, devour them in the classic print and paper format, or absorb them through a screen, we think you’ll enjoy perusing these five fascinating favorites that were published in 2020 — they’re some of the better things to emerge from this unfortunate year. Take a look at what we consider to be the 5 best novels of 2020, and vote on your favorites in our poll at the end.
5 Best Novels of 2020
5. Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel by Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon
Yes, it’s raucous and raunchy. Yes, it’s puzzling and confusing: Is it a memoir? Is it fact or fiction? It’s a little of one and a lot of the other, and while it’s definitely among the weirdest books we read all year, this ultra inside Hollywood book is also one of the most mesmerizing, and we can’t shake it. It revolves around the musings and adventures of a completely self-involved actor who starred in films like The Truman Show and Ace Ventura, and his A-list Hollywood buddies including Sean Penn, Anthony Hopkins and Nicholas Cage. If you’re wondering if it’s fact or fiction, keep in mind that one of its highlights is an absolutely hilarious alien apocalypse.
Available on Amazon.
4. The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Heart-rending and powerful, this is a story of remarkable courage, written from the point of view and in the voice of Adunni, a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl, born in a village where women are valued little more than melon rinds. She narrates the harrowing tale of her monumental efforts to overcome the brutal patriarchy of her culture, with the ultimate goals of finding her voice through education. Daré’s style is fresh, original and authentic, and will move you to the core.
Available on Amazon.
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
Best selling, prize winning author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks) follows the rise and fall of a fictional London rock band in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Feels a bit like one of our favorites of the past, Daisy Jones & the Six, yet it’s completely original and compelling, and includes brushes with real life musical icons of the era thrown in for good measure. Mitchell fans will thrill at the threads tying back to his other works. Anyone who’s ever read liner notes on an album cover will be entranced, but younger readers who enjoy a good story well and provocatively told will also find much to love here.
Available on Amazon.
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
If you’re not familiar with James McBride’s superlative work, your next read should be The Good Lord Bird, recently made into an outstanding limited series that aired on Showtime and starred Ethan Hawk.Or just dive right into Deacon King Kong, which may be among our favorite novels ever. It immerses us in the world of the 1960’s Brooklyn Projects, when a bumbling but lovable drunk named Sportcoat staggers up to the biggest, baddest drug dealer in the neighborhood and shoots him in broad daylight. The local church community, the Italian mob, an Irish policeman and more become entangled in this warm, woolly and wonderfully humorous web. Available on Amazon.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
This is the harrowing, gut-wrenching, nail biting tale of a Mexican woman and her gifted son fleeing a brutal cartel and attempting to head northward across the border to the broken promised land. They inhabit a violent world where small kindnesses are found in the most unexpected places. Your ride along with Lydia is one you will never forget. The film adaptation, from the folks behind Clint Eastwood’s The Mule and the screenwriter from the Leonardo DiCaprio drama Blood Diamond, can’t get here soon enough. Available on Amazon.