When we clinked glasses on the eve of a new year, no one anticipated the sharp turn that 2020 would take. And halfway through the world is still reeling. In times like this we tend to take stock of what’s truly important, we are reminded not to take such things for granted—and for the Amazon Books editors—one of those things is stories, and their power to help us make sense of the messiness of life.
As the team debates the best books of each month, and in June, the best books of the year so far, we are cognizant that people read for different reasons. We read to escape or to be inspired, to learn something, or to be transported. We read in order to be comforted. And, like C.S. Lewis said, "We read to know we are not alone." It is our hope that you will find a book on this list—hopefully many books—that will feel like a good friend in these uncertain times. That was part of our selection criteria, too.
Our number one pick for the best book of 2020 so far is Abi Daré’s The Girl with the Louding Voice. In this rousing tale of courage and pluck, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl is sold into servitude by her father when her mother—a proponent of education—passes away. You will root for Adunni as she endeavors to escape her sorry—and often harrowing—lcovot, and applaud the kind strangers who buoy her efforts and her spirits. When we informed Ms. Daré that we had selected her book, she said the news brought "some laughter and color into [her heart]." That is what her novel will do for you.
Rounding out our top three is Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker—a heartbreaking, expertly-told story of an all-American family, the Galvins, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia while still teenagers, and Suzanne Collins’ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the exciting and provocative prequel to her juggernaut Hunger Games series. Our number one pick in the kids’ genre is Black Brother, Black Brother, a timely novel by award-winner Jewell Parker Rhodes about two biracial brothers whose prep school experience is vastly different because of the color of their skin. Black Brother, Black Brother is a thought-provoking read about the effects of racism, and the strength of friendship and family, that invites kids of middle school age to consider how they define themselves.
To view all of our picks for the best books of 2020 so far, visit www.amazon.com/bestbookssofar. There you'll see the overall top 20, plus favorites in over 12 categories from biographies to literary fiction, romance to sci-fi (and everything in between).