The Top 50 from the Best Books of 2020 List of Lists

Presenting the 2020 Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2020-Book-Lists-Before-December-31 top 50 books.

(This is my annual community service to book-bloggers – a list of the books that appear most frequently on the 52 lists that I listed on Best Books of 2020 – A List of Lists – enjoy!).

Books that made seven lists –

His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende
Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Books that made eight lists –

Just Us by Claudia Rankine
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
Minor Feelings by Cathy Hong
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-garcia
The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

Books that made nine or ten lists –

The Cold Millions by Jess Walter
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Wow No Thank You by Samantha Irby
What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez

Books that made 11 lists –

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
Jack by Marilynne Robinson
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Russell
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Books that made 12 or 13 lists –

A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet
Cleanness by Garth Greenwell
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker
The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Books that made 14 or 15 lists –

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang
Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

Books that made 16 or 17 lists –

A Burning by Megha Majumdar
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Weather by Jenny Offill
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Memorial by Brian Washington
The Glass Hotel by Emily Mandel

Books that made 18, 19 or 20 lists –

Deacon King Kong by James McBride
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Book that made 23 lists –

Luster by Raven Leilani

Book that made 30 lists –

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett


I’ve read five (King, Offill, Sittenfeld, Ferrante, and Moore); have another three in the TBR stack (Stuart, Nunez and Cha) and I am busting to read another four (Kolker, Weiner, Irby, and Reid). Will I read the ‘winner’? I’m not sure… I was underwhelmed by The Mothers but surely thirty reviewers can’t be wrong?!

Do you agree with the critics – will any of these titles make your ‘Best of 2020’ list?


24 responses

  1. Thank you, as ever, for slogging through all the lists for us. Lots not yet published here in the UK that are already on my books to look out for lists. I agree with you about The Mothers but I’m sure I’ll be reading The Vanishing Half eventually.

    • I’ll probably read The Vanishing Half eventually as well. Surprised to hear that lots not yet published in UK – I suspect that because Australia is in the ‘middle’, we get things pretty much as they appear in both the US and the UK.

  2. I’ve heard of maybe half a dozen. I bought one – Ferrante. And I wouldn’t read Rodham in a fit. She really had nothing going for her except that she was female (Bernie Sanders would have won!)

    • Lots I hadn’t seen this year as well Bill – reckon it’s because I haven’t been able to hang out in bookshops!
      I didn’t enjoy Rodham however thought it was very interesting from a creative perspective.

  3. I’m always impressed at your determination in putting this together, and especially how you make the image collage reflect the frequency of the books making a list. I’ve read 13 of these books and a lot of them will be on my personal best-of, too. But then there are also 4 that I DNFed… Anyway, look at how many of the top half are by BIPOC!!

  4. I’ve read two – Hamnet and Mirror & The Light and they are both in my top 5 books for this year. I have three more on the shelves to read but none of them make it to the categories beyond appearances in 18 lists. Loads of the titles I’ve not even heard of….

    thanks once again for doing this on our behalf. I wouldn’t like to think how many hours it took you. A real labour of love. 🙂

  5. I love this round-up! Thanks so much. Hamnet, Transcendent Kingdom, and Vanishing Half were three of my favorites this year. Also really liked Writers and Lovers, My Dark Vanessa, and Addie LaRue.

  6. Oh I wish I’d read The office of historical corrections this year, because then in My life in books I could say “My fantasy job is [working in] The office of historical corrections! (I don’t think we could say My life is lockdown was Such fun age!!)

    Seriously though an interesting list with a handful of books I’ve heard of like Brit Bennet’s, Maggie O’Farrell’s, and Marilynne Robinson’s for a start. (Not to mention Barack Obama, of course!)

    • Oh darn, excuse the typos .. Supposed to be (I don’t think we could say My life in lockdown was Such a fun age!!)

      And, I didn’t say that I didn’t see any there that I’ve read! Such was my Covid-19 year.

  7. I just finished Vanishing Half and thought it was good but the best? No way. I really liked Weather. So creative and oddly funny. I liked, not loved Writers and Lovers. On my list to read: Jack; Hamnet; Deacon King Kong; Caste; A Promised Land; The Glass Hotel; and A Children’s Bible. I’m surprised that Interior Chinatown, the National Book Award (USA) wasn’t on the list. Thanks for compiling this list every year. I will be linking it on my blog for my readers to find. Thank you.

  8. I’ve read the grand total … drum roll please…


    ONE book 🙄

    (The Nunez)

    Mind you, I have 6 in my TBR, which I might get around to reading before you put together your an SIL list for 2021. 😆

  9. Thank you once again, Kate, for compiling this very impressive list. I always wish there were more books in translation and more ‘hidden gems’, but I guess they’re hidden gems for a reason!

    For once, I have read the most reviewed book. I really enjoyed it and was disappointed my book group didn’t seem to get into it as much as I did. It will be in my top 20, if I get around to compiling it…

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