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10 unmissable new books we can’t wait to read in 2020

by Erin Lindsay
08th Jan 2020

The 2020 literary scene is shaping up nicely — here are the new books what we can’t wait to read this year

I don’t know about you, but my first port of call every new year is to stock up on my book supply for the months ahead. I’m aiming to adopt the One Book a Month method for 2020, which admittedly isn’t very ambitious, but anything is better than the mindless scrolling that’s been taking up my evenings til now. The stack of books is ready, all I have to do is get started.

Thankfully for the rest of you bookworms, 2020 is shaping up to be a great year for new release reads. In both fiction and non-fiction, topics like climate change, fast fashion, #MeToo, Irish culture, familial relationships, murder, intrigue and fantasy are all on the agenda, and we can’t wait to sink our teeth into them as the year goes on.

If your Kindle Wishlist is looking a little empty, and you’re stuck for literary inspiration this January, take a leaf out of our book (sorry) with this list of ten offerings that are bound to make waves for 2020.

Such a Fun Age — Kiley Reid (out now)

Released just this week to worldwide critical acclaim, this is a debut that everyone will be talking about this month. U.S author Reid examines the relationship between a wealthy white couple and their broke black babysitter when she is accused of kidnapping the couple’s daughter while shopping with her one night. The novel examines the tensions that emerge in their relationship, and looks at class, race, privilege and the pursuit of wokeness in modern society, in a deeply thoughtful first offering.

Our House is on Fire: Scenes from a Family and a Planet in Crisis — Malena & Beata Ernman, Svante and Greta Thunberg (out March 5)

We can all look back at 2019 as the year the world finally began to wake up to climate change, but it means nothing if we don’t begin to act. This incredible history of one of the world’s most recognisable teenagers shows Greta’s journey from the very beginning, and how she and her family rose to the challenge of becoming the face of an issue larger than any other — the climate crisis.

Actress — Anne Enright (out February 20)

Powerhouse of the Irish literary scene Anne Enright returns next month with Actress, telling the story of theatre legend Katherine O’Dell, as written by her daughter Norah. Spending a life watching from the wings as her mother performs for an audience, Norah goes on her own journey to uncover her mother’s, and her own secrets, and the dark side of the bright lights of show business.

Verge — Lidia Yuknavitch (out February 4)

From one of America’s strongest and most urgent voices, Verge tackles what life is truly like for those living on the margins of society, in this collection of short stories. Spinning from schoolyard bullies to grief-stricken roadtrips to the underground black market, we can’t wait to delve into Yuknavitch’s mind in this collection.

My Dark Vanessa — Kate Elizabeth Russell (out March 10)

Featured in must-read lists everywhere from Buzzfeed to Cosmo, My Dark Vanessa is promising to be one of the most gripping novels of the year. The book flies back and forth between 2000, where Vanessa, a 15-year-old student, begins a relationship with her charismatic English teacher, and 2017, where Vanessa, as an adult, must grapple with the great love story of her life in a new light under #MeToo. Thought-provoking and powerful, the book captures the shift in societal norms and attitudes towards sexual abuse, and the how perspective can evolve with age.


Exciting Times — Naoise Dolan (out April 16)

A new voice in Irish literature, Naoise Dolan tackles emigration and forbidden romance in this funny, whip-smart debut. Our protagonist Eva moved to Hong Kong for a new life, but spends it teaching English to rich children and avoiding her housemates in a cramped apartment. When she meets Julian, a charming British banker offering her a life her small salary could never offer, Eva ignores her better judgement and dives in — until Edith arrives.

How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right: & Other Essays on Modern Life — Pandora Sykes (out July 16)

We’re big fans of Sykes’ hit podcast The High Low (with co-host Dolly Alderton), so when it was announced that the journalist would be releasing a book of essays on modern life, we added it to our wishlists straight away. Happiness, wellness, womanhood and consumerism are all tackled in typical scrutinising fashion by Sykes, all the while with the eternal millennial worry in the background — how do I know if I’m doing it right?


How to Break Up with Fast Fashion — Lauren Bravo (out January 9)

If your new year’s resolution is to tackle your fast fashion habit, you’re not alone — and there is plenty of help available in this guide from Lauren Bravo. How to Break Up with Fast Fashion chronicles just how damaging the fashion industry is to the planet, and provides judgement-free, simplified ways to tackle your habit and make a change to the environment.

Big Girl Small Town — Michelle Gallen (out February 20)

Described by fellow novelist Sinead Moriarty as ‘Milkman meets Derry Girls’, this story from Michelle Gallen has shot to the top of our wishlists. It tells the story of Majella, an autistic teenage girl living in Northern Ireland as she navigates adolescence — mostly from her bed watching Dallas. But when her grandmother dies, and her life is thrown into flux, Majella faces that there may be more to life than the chipper she works in, and gives her an opportunity to escape the stasis of life since her dad disappeared.

Lost, Found, Remembered — Lyra McKee (out April 2)

In April of 2019, the island of Ireland mourned the death of one its brightest young voices when journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead aged just 29 during a riot in Derry. This anthology will piece together the writing that showcased her voice as one of the most promising in Ireland, with both well-loved and previously unpublished works.

Note: All release dates are according to Amazon