There is nothing like the feeling of walking into a bookshop and having thousands of books to browse. It can be overwhelming to find your next read, but fear not, they are a great place to meet with other bibliophiles and get recommendations, especially from the staff. So we reached out to a few of our favorite indie bookshops to find out what their favorite books of 2020 were.
Located: Hamburg, Germany
Their team’s favorite books of 2020 are:
Writers & Lovers by Lilly King
Apeirogon by Colum McCann
The Great Believers by Rebekka Makkai
The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy
Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
Keeping an Eye Open: Essays in Art by Julian Barnes
Bowie’s Bookshelf by John O’Connell
Maybe you Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Bleak House Books
Located: San Po Kong, Hong Kong
Owner Albert Wan’s favorite books of 2020 include:
City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong by Antony Dapiran
My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams
The Department of Mind-Blowing Theories by Tom Gauld
The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 by Dorian Lynskey
Aftershock: Essays from Hong Kong by Holmes Chan, Ezra Cheung, Karen Cheung, Rachel Cheung, Hsiuwen Liu, Niceolle Liu, Jessie Pang, Frances Sit, Sum Lok-kei, and Elaine Yu
Books on the Hill
Located: St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK
Their team’s favorites of 2020 include:
Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie
Books on the Hill review: “A wonderful collection of essays that will transport you to a variety of locations such as an archaeological excavation in Scotland and a thawing tundra in Alaska. Perfect for anyone feeling that they want to escape into the world in the comfort of their own home.”
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
Books on the Hill Review: The unforgettable story of young Shuggie is one that will stay with you long after you read it. Beautifully written, this sad story follows Shuggie, whose life in Glasgow in the 1980s reflects how the policies of Margaret Thatcher affected the poor in Scotland. One passage describes how boys were encouraged to leave their homes in Scotland to find jobs in Cape Town. Covering sensitive issues such as the effects of addiction and the erosion of hope, this story may not be for everyone, but it certainly a deserving winner of the Booker Prize.
A Musical Offering by Luis Sagasti, translated by Fionn Petch
Books on the Hill Review: This book has a beautiful lyrical rhythm, making it the perfect read for a Sunday afternoon. You find yourself in the world of music with stories that take you from Bach to Gould to Nazi concentration camps and the Beatles. This book is perfect for music and history lovers.
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
Books on the Hill Review: You are taken to the world of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood in Victorian London following a young Iris who finds herself in a new life of art and love. With unexpected twists, this delightful book will capture your imagination from the first page.
Cincy Book Bus
Located: Cincinnati, Ohio
Owner Melanie Moore told us her favorites of 2020 were:
The Book Of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan
Bear Necessity by James Gould-Boum
Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
Located: Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York
From Bluestocking, we spoke to Matilda, a collective member, and Shulokhana, a book buyer, about what books they loved this year:
The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann
Their review: I loved The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann. The Degenerates is a YA Historical Fiction novel set within the confines of The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded. The impact of YA work is often underestimated, but stories, especially about social justice and inequality that I read as a young person, have stuck with me all my life. That is why I am glad this story, one that does not shy away from the institution’s horrors or the back ward, is being told. Mann manages to capture her young protagonists’ strength, joy, and humanity without glossing over the incredible cruelty they endure.
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Her review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone redefines the concept of love letters. It’s a beautifully rendered sapphic love story between two enemy agents who travel through time and leave each other letters. The epistles begin as taunts, but as the story progresses, they become a testament to their fledgling friendship, and later, a fierce, hungering love. This book is poetry at its finest and one of my favorite books in a year of great reads.
White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad
Her Review: On the non-fiction end, I loved White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad. This is one that I’m taking my time with because every few pages, I am struck with a new revelation to sit with and absorb. Hamad writes in a very accessible manner, and I recommend this to every woman of color who has ever felt trod down in white feminist circles. It’s incredibly validating and healing to read about other women who have had similar, insidious experiences with white feminists.