As we get ready for the New Year, we also wanted to look back at the annus horribilis of 2020 and try to find the silver linings. It was a year that we’ll always remember for the founding of our Newport bookstore… and hopefully forget everything else. But before we indulge in collective amnesia, we’re here to send off 2020 by highlighting the very best of the very worst year. Here’s our Top 5 favorite books of the year, with a sneak peek at what’s coming in 2021.
Few novels this year were as highly anticipated as this one, Emily St. John Mandel’s follow-up to 2014’s STATION ELEVEN. Brilliantly unfolding the story of a Ponzi scheme’s collapse, Mandel reveals the interconnected relationships of her cast one snapshot at a time. THE GLASS HOTEL is as gripping as a crime thriller but populated with characters of such poignant humanity that readers will luxuriate in every page. Pre-order the paperback, out 2/16/21
A family on vacation finds themselves awakened in the middle of the night by an elderly couple who claims to own the house they’re renting. Something happened in New York and they’d like to stay in their country home until things are better understood. Is this a story of an elderly couple afraid of a blackout, scammers, or something much worse? There is no part of this novel that isn’t tense. It’s damn close to perfect.
I can’t stress enough how much you need to read this book. It follows a newly elected sheriff who, on her first day, must locate a missing girl, deal with a local crime family, and reconcile with her family’s past. The book is funny, thrilling, and keeps the violence, sex, and swears to a minimum (But there’s still enough of all those things to still be interesting.) This isn’t Faulkner, but it puts a neat spin on the modern detective novel.
A boy is only trying to sleep but everyone at his house is still awake – and their thunderous antics progress from the quirkily annoying (tap-dancing to Prince) to the violently disruptive (juggling dinner plates) to the outright surreal (waging a war in France). This is a hilariously bizarre bedtime story that will delight parents as much as tired kids.
The three Fan brothers are picture book magicians. Their stories are fantastic modern fables with darkness tugging at the edges of every page. In this typically gorgeous book, a ‘failed’ Perfect Pet named Barnabus engineers a great escape from the underground lab where he and other imperfect creations were imprisoned.
Coming in 2021 – Pre-Order from Us Today:
International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of THE HATE U GIVE in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood. Pre-orders are already coming in for what will certainly be a YA bestseller in 2021.
Anyone who’s ever read a word of George Saunders – especially his Man Booker Prize winning LINCOLN IN THE BARDO – dreams of dropping in on his MFA classes at Syracuse. With this upcoming collection, we can all can experience a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves—and our world today.
Like Around the World in 80 Days, but refreshingly weird, Asian, and modern, the latest from Pulitzer finalist Chang-rae Lee is told by an aimless New Jersey undergrad as he follows eccentric Chinese businessman Pong on a strange business trip. Every page is unpredictable, but Lee’s unique language is what keeps you turning them.
The prolific Jon Agee is one of our favorite children’s author/illustrators, and we couldn’t be more excited that his early classic is being reissued in a new edition this year. Clousseau’s paintings startle everyone at the Paris exposition when they miraculously come to life, but only fans of Chris Van Allsburgh might guess the plot twist at the end.
This man cannot be stopped. In the past three years, he’s given us bestselling books of essays, poetry (Yes! Bestselling poetry!) and a meditation on A Tribe Called Quest that somehow appealed to every music lover. We can’t wait for his revelations on a topic as expansive as this.
Pulitzer Prize Winner (and South Kingstown-raised) Jhumpa Lahiri drops her first novel in almost a decade this April. We haven’t gotten a look at it yet, but we expect only the best from the author of THE NAMESAKE and INTERPRETER OF MALADIES. Rhode Island represent!