It doesn’t need to be said that 2020 has been a difficult year however, we have managed to find some solace in the pleasure of reading. Literature has always been a safe haven for bookworms around the world and something that can reignite the fire inside us and provide the inspiration we need to keep going even when it would be easier to give up. This year has focused our attention in many different areas and it has been evident that 2020 has been a great year for books bringing female authors to the fore.
Stuck for what to read over the next few months? Here we highlight five of the best books from 2020 to see you through the winter months.
1. Betty – Tiffany McDaniel
Although the book itself is fiction, McDaniel draws on the experiences and lives of her parents and their upbringing as Cherokee families around the US. Betty herself is a brilliant protagonist; based on McDaniel’s own Mother, she showcases what it’s like to grow up in a family that is far from average. There are some important topics focused on throughout including abuse and racism and McDaniel’s writing is incredibly beautiful. Reading this, we felt as if we were living through everything with Betty and could not put the book down.
2. Quite – Claudia Winkleman
Known mostly for presenting Strictly Come Dancing, Claudia Winkleman has become somewhat of a household name in the UK (this book, however, is not solely about Strictly although there are some mentions). Written in Claudia’s own personal ‘voice’, her personality shines throughout the book and you can easily imagine being transported to her living room, sipping on a cup of tea as she recounts her favourite tales. She covers everything from the best t-shirt fabric to why picnics are terrible; the best friends you will ever meet and the worst men you will ever date. This book is light-hearted, uplifting and very funny.
3. Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
Longlisted for the Booker Prize, this novel is a great coming-of-age story. Set in Philadelphia we follow Emira, a young black woman who is wrongly accused of kidnapping the white child she babysits. Such a Fun Age highlights the ways in which people are treated differently due to inherent bias and racial prejudice.
Alix, the mother of the child, is a prime example of how white privilege manifests itself and the repercussions that this has. Reid’s way of building the characters and telling their story is brilliant and is indicative of the reality faced by many within the black community every day.
4. Intimations – Zadie Smith
Known for her novels, Zadie Smith will be a well-known name to many. However, Intimations is a book of six essays written during Lockdown 1.0 (in the UK at the beginning of 2020) which details Smith’s thoughts, feelings and fears surrounding 2020. Smith’s writing is exactly what you would expect from her; sharp, witty and beautiful. She covers the process of people trying to return home ahead of the lockdown; the life of a writer during a global pandemic and the nature of the human condition. Reading this, you feel almost at one with Smith, knowing that we have all suffered through the same experience simultaneously. It makes you feel that the world is maybe not all bad and that there is still hope out there.
5. The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
When twins Desiree and Stella leave their small hometown of Mallard in Louisiana at 16, the townsfolk think that is the last they will hear of them. However, this is not quite the case; jumping from segregation in the 60s and beyond into the 80s we follow the lives of the twins over 20 years as one tries to escape her past and the other returns to it. This is another great book which centres on some highly important topics: racism, transitioning and abuse. Bennett’s writing is quick yet thoughtful. Not to mention the plot-twists really make this a compelling page-turner.
Written by Karina De-Bourne, EA at FTI Consulting and Ambassador at The Assistant Room.