Get caught up on this year’s most popular titles! This month’s features are the top picks from readers across the United States from a variety of genres.
Fredrik Backman, 2020
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage.
Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them–the bank robber included–desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson, 2020
In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.
Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people–including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others–she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day.
The Midnight Library
Matt Haig, 2020
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
The Guest List
Lucy Foley, 2020
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
Home Before Dark
Riley Sager, 2020
Twenty-five years ago, Maggie Holt and her parents moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. Three weeks later they fled in the dead of night, an ordeal her father recounted in a memoir called House of Horrors. His story of supernatural happenings and malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity–and skepticism.
Maggie was too young to remember any of the horrific events that supposedly took place, and as an adult she doesn’t believe a word of her father’s claims. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When she inherits Baneberry Hall after his death and returns to renovate the place and sell it, her homecoming is anything but warm. The locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous, and human characters with starring roles in House of Horrors are waiting in the shadows.
Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself–a place where unsettling whispers of the past lurk around every corner. And as Maggie starts to experience strange occurrences ripped from the pages of her father’s book, the truth she uncovers about the house’s dark history will challenge everything she believes.
The Answer Is…
Alex Trebek, 2020
Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Last year, he made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the Jeopardy! studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.
For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story. This wise, charming, and inspiring book is further evidence why Trebek has long been considered one of the most beloved and respected figures in entertainment.
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
Christopher Paolini, 2020
During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human. While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope…
The Vanishing Half
Brit Bennett, 2020
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
The Jane Austen Society
Natalie Jenner, 2020
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate.
With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people–a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others–could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A Life on Our Planet
David Attenborough, 2020
In this scientifically informed account of the changes occurring in the world over the last century, award-winning broadcaster and natural historian shares a lifetime of wisdom and a hopeful vision for the future.
I am 93. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary. As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day — the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.
I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake — and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so.
House of Earth and Blood
Sarah J. Maas, 2020
Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life–working hard all day and partying all night–until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.
Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose–to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.
As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion–one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.
Nathan W. Pyle, 2020
Straight from the mind of #1 New York Times bestselling author of NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette and 99 Stories I Could Tell Nathan W. Pyle, Strange Planet is an adorable and profound universe in pink, blue, green, and purple, based on the phenomenally popular Instagram of the same name.
With dozens of never-before-seen illustrations in addition to old favorites, this book offers a sweet and hilarious look at a distant world not all that unlike our own.
Emily Henry, 2020
A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.
Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.They’re polar opposites.In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.
Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.
Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, 2020
From their faithful camper van to boats, kayaks, bicycles, and motorbikes, join stars of Outlander Sam and Graham on a road trip with a difference, as two Scotsmen explore a land of raw beauty, poetry, feuding, music, history, and warfare.
Unlikely friends Sam and Graham begin their journey in the heart of Scotland at Glencoe and travel from there all the way to Inverness and Culloden battlefield, where along the way they experience adventure and a cast of highland characters. In this story of friendship, finding themselves, and whisky, they discover the complexity, rich history and culture of their native country.
Sarah Andersen, 2020
Elsie the vampire is three hundred years old, but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets Jimmy, a charming werewolf with a wry sense of humor and a fondness for running wild during the full moon. Together they enjoy horror films and scary novels, shady strolls, fine dining (though never with garlic), and a genuine fondness for each other’s unusual habits, macabre lifestyles, and monstrous appetites.
First featured as a webcomic series on Tapas, Fangs chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different. This deluxe hardcover edition of Fangs features an “engraved” red cloth cover, dyed black page trim, and 25 exclusive comics not previously seen online. Filled with Sarah Andersen’s beautiful gothic illustrations and relatable relationship humor, Fangs has all the makings of a cult classic.
Margaret Atwood, 2020
In Dearly, Margaret Atwood’s first collection of poetry in over a decade, Atwood addresses themes such as love, loss, the passage of time, the nature of nature and – zombies. Her new poetry is introspective and personal in tone, but wide-ranging in topic. In poem after poem, she casts her unique imagination and unyielding, observant eye over the landscape of a life carefully and intuitively lived.
While many are familiar with Margaret Atwood’s fiction–including her groundbreaking and bestselling novels The Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments, Oryx and Crake, among others–she has, from the beginning of her career, been one of our most significant contemporary poets. And she is one of the very few writers equally accomplished in fiction and poetry. This collection is a stunning achievement that will be appreciated by fans of her novels and poetry readers alike.