The time has come to look at the Get Booked podcast‘s most recommended books of 2020! Amanda and I have wrapped recording for the year, and I am not going to lie, I’m a big fan of this year’s top picks.
For those of you who might not know, the Get Booked podcast is our reading recommendations show and we have a rule that no single title can be recommended more than three times in a single year. Each year we have at least ten titles that we max out, and this year is no exception.
But before we dive into the list, here are some stats for those who also love data. In 2020, we recommended 587 distinct titles (so many!!) over the course of 50 shows. We only repeated 57 titles, which is less than 10%, which I am calling a huge win (y’all, it’s so many books).
On to the picks: some of these were shared between Amanda and me and some were beloved of just one of us, but regardless of whose favorite a particular book might have been, we’re delighted to recommend these ten titles.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
If you’re looking for a meditation on nature and humanity’s relationship with it, look no further! Kimmerer is a botanist and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and she weaves together Indigenous knowledge and western science alongside her own personal experiences in beautifully written essays. Bonus: there’s a gorgeous new hardcover gift edition.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Do you love weird sci-fi/fantasy, the weirder the better? Do you love complicated dark and twisty relationships? Are you a horror fan? Please meet Gideon, a swordswoman who just wants to get the hell off her home planet and away from the jerks she lives with, who then ends up in a locked-planet murder mystery and has to try to unravel a tangled web with her brain instead of just stabbing things.
Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
This was all me this year, and there wasn’t one particular ask that prompted my recommendation; it’s more accurate to say I was looking for opportunities! I love this romance, which has all of my favorite things: two people recovering from their own traumas together through Using Their Words, supportive friend groups, extended family hijinks, and an inclusive cast. So much to love!
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
Quite a few folks were looking for fantasy heists in 2020 (can’t blame ’em), and this is an Amanda favorite. Sancia has stolen a magical object, everyone is out to get her, and she has to assemble a ragtag band of allies to save herself and maybe the day. Page-turner, found family, diverse characters, lots of world-building, you’re welcome.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
This book knocked our socks off, and well deserved its Booker Prize win. It follows 12 characters in the UK, mostly Black women, is written in a sort of free verse style, and will rip your heart out but also maybe make you believe in people again. The characters deal with so many difficult life moments—infidelity, assault, racism, violence of all kinds—and while they’re far from perfect, they are each unforgettable in their own way.
The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
We get lots of questions for family stories, and this book was read and loved by many Rioters this year. Two sisters, both Black and from the South, are living two very different lives, and the reasons why—and what happens when those divergent lives come back together—make this an incredibly compelling read.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Did you want a rompy fun book with a supernatural mystery and social justice as part of it? Here you go! A group of Southern women go from reading about vampires in their book club to suspecting that one has moved into town and is targeting marginalized children. They fight both the patriarchy and the Forces of Darkness, and it’s a wild ride.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Many of our listeners were looking for reads to help them or their loved ones feel more empowered this year, and Doyle’s latest memoir does exactly that. She chronicles leaving her marriage, finding new love, and unlearning all of the toxic behaviors that had become part of her daily life. Lots of food for thought here on those looking to start fresh.
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung
Readers looking for books about women in STEM and for historical fiction both got pointed at this one. Following Katherine, a mathematician and Asian American whose parents are hiding secrets that go back to WWII, it examines what it means to be a genius along the dark sides of academia and generational family trauma.
Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie
Space boyfriends on the run! That’s all we really need to say here, right? Alright, fine, here’s a little more. Ettian and Gal are roommates at a military academy in a galactic empire, and when their classmates try to murder Gal, the two have to start being honest with each other about who they are—and eventually, how they feel about each other.