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2020 FICTION FAVORITES As CURATED BY YOUR HOST, LESLIE LINDSAY


By Leslie Lindsay 

My top fiction reads for 2020. Agree or disagree. Give them. Gift them. Keep one for yourself. photo of cup beside books

Photo by Claire Morgan on Pexels.com

~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~

2020 FICTION ROUND-UP

2020 has been an unprecedented year. A pandemic. A very charged election year. Equality and violence. Natural disaster. Personal ones, too.

I am beyond grateful to be by your side every week, sharing these fabulous books with you. Because I think reading is healing. It helps us cross bridges and become more sympathetic. We can live another person’s life or experiences for a short period of time. That, in turn, makes us more multidimensional, more relatable. Reading is not just about words on a page. It’s not just about the story we ingest at that moment, but the residue, the residual it leaves in its wake.

A year ago, I had no idea COVID-19 would upend our lives as we knew it. I had no idea bookstores would close. I had no sense that debut authors and bestseller authors would have to go on tour remotely, via Zoom. They didn’t, either. No one did. With that said, 2020 has been a challenging year to be a book reviewer. Some publishing houses shut down completely. That meant no advanced copies where going to people like me. It meant publicists and authors were overworked, their bandwidth taxed trying to remote/home-school their children while meeting deadlines and dealing with technology challenges. But we learned to adapt. And hooray for that.

Fiction might be an escape, yes, but there’s truth in fiction. And while I’ve read near 85 books this year–not all fiction, mind you–I have selected a few that really stand out. 

My criteria: 

  • I can’t stop thinking about it, even when I’m doing something else. 
  • I want to talk with someone about it, all the time. 
  • I want to write something like it, whether in theme, language, or structure. 
  • I recommend it to my book club. 
  • I’ve given it a five-star rating on on-line review platforms. 

Other notes:

  • I’ve included books from fiction sub-genres: historical fiction, speculative fiction, short fiction/linked stories, and also ‘older fiction,’ meaning not originally published in 2020. 
  • Some books I read this year were ‘hot’ 2020 reads. They may have made many lists or came out in paperback, or be by a author with a large social media platform. If the story really resonated, or I’m still thinking about it, it makes the list. 
  • Just because it was a 5-star read for me, doesn’t mean you’ll agree. 

Here goes, in alphabetical order by title: 

AND YET THEY WERE HAPPY

Helen Phillips 

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“Haunted and lyrical and edible all at once.”

—Rivka Galchen

See my review| Read my Q&A| Order Links

NIGHT THEATER

Vikram Paralkar

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“Otherworldly . . . [Paralkar’s] prose is sharp and melodious, and within these enchanting passages is a haunting contemplation of life, death, the liminal space in between, and the dogged search for resurrection . . . A beguiling and unforgettable fable.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

See my review|Read my Q&A| Order Links

ONCE REMOVED: Stories 

Colette Sartor

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See my review|Read my Q&A| Order Links

THE BOOK OF V

Anna Solomon 

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“Compulsively readable . . . blending real history and radical fiction into one enthralling whole.”

Entertainment Weekly‘s Top Ten Books of 2020 So Far

See my review|Read my Q&A| Order Links

THE EXILES

Christina Baker Kline

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“Celebrating the bonds between women, the novel explores how lives that seem destined for pain might persevere.”

— Real Simple

See my review|Read my Q&A| Order Links

THE HOURS

Michael Cunningham 

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“Cunningham has created something original, a trio of richly interwoven tales…his most mature and masterful work.”

The Washington Post Book World

See my review|Read my Q&A|Order Links

[Note: I did not actually review or interview Michael Cunningham, though maybe I should! The impetus for reading this was because I was studying structure of novels, particularly the interlinked stories, how they build, and intersect. Also, THE BOOK OF V is structured and loosely inspired by this concept]

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

Matt Haig 

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An uplifting, poignant novel about regret, hope and second chances”

—David Nicholls, author of One Day

See my review|Read my Q&A| Order Links

UNSEEN CITY 

Amy Shearn 

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“Gripping, moving, and vital, Unseen City asks how human life might defy its lifespan—in the throes of love, the conviction of belief, and each person’s mark upon a city that will survive them. […] I couldn’t put this brilliant book down until its perfect final line.”

Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, bestselling author of June and Bittersweet

See my review|Read my Q&A| Order Links

WRITERS & LOVERS

Lily King 

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“Writers & Lovers stole my heart from its first pages. I am in love with this book. In. Love. This deep dive of a novel will stay with me forever.”

Elin Hilderbrand, author of Summer of ‘69

See my review|Read my Q&A|Order Links

[Note: Here’s another I read for pleasure but also to learn. I wanted to dissect the structure, and that’s what I did. I also read this on a road trip to the Rockies and wanted it to be purely pleasure, and it was]. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, OR TO CONNECT WITH ME, LESLIE LINDSAY, PLEASE VISIT: 

IMG_1175ABOUT YOUR HOST: 

Leslie Lindsay is the award-winning author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) and former Mayo Clinic child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. She is at work on a memoir. Her writing has been published in Pithead ChapelCommon Ground ReviewCleaver Magazine (craft and CNF), The Awakenings Review, The Nervous Breakdown, Ruminate’s The WakingBrave Voices Literary MagazineManifest-Station, and others. Her cover art was featured on Up the Staircase Quarterly in May 2020, other photography in Another Chicago Magazine (ACM) and Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal; poetry in the Coffin Bell Journal, and CNF in Semicolon Literary Magazine and The Family Narrative Project; the 2nd edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA will be available this fall. Leslie has been awarded one of the top 1% reviewers on GoodReads and recognized by Jane Friedman as one of the most influential book reviewers. Since 2013, Leslie has interviewed over 700 bestselling and debut authors on her author interview series. Follow her bookstagram posts @leslielindsay1.

 

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~UPDATED, 2nd Edition of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA available from WOODBINE HOUSE!~

Represented by Catalyst Literary Management: MODEL HOME: Motherhood, Madness & Memory

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LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#fiction #literaryfiction #roundup #bookrecommendations #amreading #alwayswithabook #authorinterviews #favoritebooks #2020readingroundup 

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[All book cover images designed and photographed by me, Leslie Lindsay. Join me on Instagram for more like this]

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