I’m just going to come right out and say that I’m expecting my 2020 reading year to be absolutely insane. After completing my Masters in September 2019 I got a Christmas job at Waterstones which made me aware of the upcoming releases and popular titles. Luckily I picked up some later 2019 releases, such as Bridget Collins’ The Binding, but I’ve also got a list of previous releases which I’m hoping are going to become new favourites judging from the BookTube reviews including such casual reads as V. E. Schwab’s Vicious and Villians, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series as I caught the hardback of Starsight. To add even more to that rapidly growing list, this post details fifteen books to be released in 2020 which I simply cannot wait for. This list does focus more on early year releases, however, due to the timely nature of the publishing industry which also explains the lack of information for the later releases. As I mentioned above this list is mainly inspired by my efforts last year to be far more conscious of recent releases and those heavily marketed in stores like Waterstones and Foyles. For example, I read quite a few authors below for the first time in 2019, loved that book and so want to continue to support them and their publishers.
Also, I’m going to say ahead of the list that I am very aware that Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell sequence will be coming to a close with the release of The Mirror and the Light on the 5th of March. This is a hugely anticipated moment in the publishing industry as the two previous instalments in this series, Wolf Hall (2009) and Bring Up the Bodies (2012), made history as Mantel became the first woman to be awarded the Booker Prize twice and she was not joined by Margaret Atwood until 2019. If The Mirror and the Light follows the previous instalments it would make Mantel the only author to win the award three times. I do read historical fiction and I have a huge interest in the Tudor era, however, my consumption of Tudor historical fiction has been exclusively through the audiobooks of Philippa Gregory’s novels meaning that, since reading Wolf Hall a few years ago, I’ve been reading exclusively from the perspective of Tudor women. So, I haven’t dedicated a place to The Mirror and the Light as my plan is to get both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies on audiobook, see how I get on with them, and decide if I want to prioritise reading The Mirror and the Light and whether I’ll do this through a physical copy or the eventual audiobook. I will be keeping my eye on this release and I’m so interested to see the marketing and the reactions surrounding it but I don’t expect to be jumping on it immediately.
I waited a little while to publish this list as I wanted to take into account the ‘Most Anticipated’ lists from a couple of my favourite BookTubers, especially BooksandLala, and the very detailed lists complied for The Guardian and Waterstones which I’ve linked below. I’ve also included links to both Goodreads and Waterstones below each summary but these are in no way connected to any sponsorship or contact of any kind. I simply find Waterstones to be a more reliable source for UK release dates and purchase options. For one book at the end of this list, I’ve only linked Goodreads as I cannot find many UK release details. I’ve listed these books by release date bar the final one as I’m not sure how its UK date will match up to the date given on GoodReads.
The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page (23rd January)
This book is the definition of a surprise. I haven’t read The Lido (2019) and I had no idea that this book was being published until I picked it up on a whim and read the blurb whilst working at Waterstones. This book has the potential to be highly relatable for me as I’ve just entered a transitional phase between structure through education and the unpredictability of job applications. The titular 24-hour cafe is Stella’s Cafe and Libby Page invites the reader to spend twenty-four hours with waitresses Hannah and Mona who must decide if it is time to step outside and make their own ways. I love the idea of experimenting with the time frame of a novel, especially the specificity of twenty-four hours, so I’m curious to see just how much this book can cover and how attached I will get to the characters and their journeys.
Published by Orion Publishing [ISBN: 9781409175247]
Pine by Francine Toon (23rd January)
I’m intrigued by Francine Toon’s debut as she’s also an editor so I’m curious to see the craft driving the writing style and the plot. I cannot wait to dive into Francine Toon’s debut as she’s also an editor and I’m curious to see the crafted writing style and plot. Especially due to the recent success I’ve had with the atmospheric Scottish highland setting after loving Lucy Foley’s Hunting Party, also a Scottish Highland set mystery thriller, in 2019. The promise of a rural gothic and folk horror completely sealed the deal for me.
Lauren and her father Niall live alone in a small village in the highlands surrounded, appropriately, by a pine forest. They’re driving home from a search party one Halloween night when a woman stumbles out onto the road. Whilst they drive her to their home in the morning she’s gone. As Lauren looks for answers, and the ability to know her father’s turbulent mind, in her tarot cards she learns that neighbours let on more than they know. This all comes to a head when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing and it’s no longer clear who she can trust.
Published by Transworld Publishing [ISBN: 2928377008499]
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (4th February)
I will be the first to admit that this is going to be an experimental read for me. Both Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed are authors I hear mentioned consistently through BookTube recommendations and reviews, however, I’ve never read any of their books. Thanks to some other authors on this list I’ve also started to try some romantic comedies to allow myself a lighter side of my reading as my academic profession landed in the darkest of dark reading territory. However, these generally lighter reads have often been confined to audiobooks simply due to time constraints and my commute so I’m making an effort to push this further into my physical reading and to pick up some new offerings. This book also promises to help me diversify my reading as it features a quirky love story between awkward teens traversing cultural difference and a vexed world of local activism. I really want to broaden my reading of experiences so I’m so looking forward to reading Maya Rehman’s character and representation.
Published by Simon and Schuster [ISBN: 9781471184666]
The Guest List by Lucy Foley (20th February)
This is entirely an author-informed choice. I loved The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley when I picked it up in November 2019 between the writing style, plotting and setting. To then find out that Foley was going to employ a similarly closed circle in the setting of a wedding… of course, it was going on this list! Especially, and I found this hilarious, in the year when my own best friend gets married.
Again, Foley offers a group of old friends with past grudges, happy families and hidden jealousies attending the “the wedding of the year” between Jules Keegan and Will Slater. Thirteen guests. One body. This book offers a classic closed circle as a storm unleashes its fury on the island and everyone is trapped with a secret and a motive for the murder.
Published by HarperCollins Publishers [ISBN: 2928377002237]
Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (5th March)
This book sounds right up my alley. As I’ve said my academic reading has allowed me to focus on quite a few darker books mainly those which involve mysteries, thrillers and mainly dead bodies and murder which are pretty integral when you’re writing on ghosts who are intrinsically connected to their corpses. This book details the investigation of Malcolm Kershaw who owns a mystery bookshop called Old Devils. He has recently published an article online titled ‘My Eight Favourite Murders’ and there appears to be a deadly link between the deaths on his list and those unsolved murders being investigated by FBI Agent Gwen Mulvey. His list includes Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and the killer must be stopped before all eight murders have been re-enacted.
Please be aware that this book is also going to be published under the name Eight Perfect Murders. Published by Faber & Faber [ISBN: 9780571342358]
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (31st March)
I’ll be the first to admit that this is a release I did not see coming. I’ve just spent a good half of my Master’s writing on Shakespeare drawing together years of the odd essay here and there. So it makes sense that I would read a 2020 release about the bard as well, right? Well, there is a vital difference here. Maggie O’Farrell resurrects the short life of Hamnet Shakespeare, Willam Shakespeare’s only son and the assumed source of inspiration behind the bard’s most famous play Hamlet. This is going to be an interesting read for me as it does touch on grief and loss which are subjects that could make me feel a lot of emotion but it is also written in a lyrical style which I’ve never picked up before so I’m really interested both by the topic and just to see what I think of the style.
Published by Headline Publishing [ISBN: 9781472223791]
The Switch by Beth O’Leary (30th April)
Moving on from a book which I’m fully expecting to make me cry to one which I’m expecting will be the pick me up/breath of fresh air needed in my reading. I picked up the audiobook of Beth O’Leary’s Flatshare and I loved it which I wasn’t expecting as it was my first conscious dip into an Adult Rom-Com title. It made for the perfect listen whilst I was travelling in summer and I could, and do, have it on repeat. I do own the physical copy but because I fell in love with the audio I know deep down it just wouldn’t be the same. However, when it comes to her next book The Switch I just can’t wait so I’m going to dive into the physical book and the audio. This new release, similarly to The 24-Hour Cafe, sounds like it’s going to be just the right plot for this transition period in my career and education so that’s gotten me even more excited.
Leena Cotton is an overachiever. She’s also been ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work so she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house from some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. Once Leena learns that Eileen is open to a second chance at love, in spite of the slim pickings of her Yorkshire village, she proposes a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love while Leena takes in all things rural in Yorkshire. However, Leena takes on more than she originally anticipated causing a long-distance romance, an annoyingly perfect and handsome teacher, gossiping neighbours to complicate the swap.
Published by Quercus Publishing [ISBN: 9781787474994]
Fake Law: The Truth About Justice in an Age of Lies by The Secret Barrister (30th April)
The Secret Barrister unmasked the corruption and deficiencies of a broken British legal system and he has continued his message and work on Twitter relating it to the most current of current affairs. Fake Law exposes the lies and misinformation spread by those who would seek to keep the general public in ignorance of their rights. As you can imagine this is an incredibly timely read. I picked up The Secret Barrister whilst considering the trend that all of the protagonists in my Dissertation texts, those who encounter the ghost and the corpse, were legal professionals (or in the case of Rebecca, worked very closely with legal professionals who opened routes of information). However, I found so much more than I was bargaining for. When considering my backlist TBR I really want to re-take the chances my degree offered me to read from different experiences relating to race, the LGBT+ community and class but, even though I knew I would read this based on my enjoyment of their previous book, the description of this new release made me realise that here I have the opportunity to reconsider the experience of our consumption of information. As I’ve grown-up interacting with social media more and more and with the emergence of fake news (or laws in this case) during my time at University this is my chance to truly sit down and see what is going on as it relates to the law as an area I have a strong previous interest in.
Published by Pan Macmillan [ISBN: 9781529009941]
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (19th May)
This is another announcement which caught me off guard and it’s going to be such a touch and go one for me. I’m still going to anticipate it and give it a chance though. I’m a little sceptical simply because it’s been so long since I’ve read any of the Hunger Games novels and, while I do remember large aspects of the plot, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do anything more than re-watch the films before this release comes along. Saying that I do think this is going to be one I’m going to wait for and see some of the non-spoiler reviews before picking it up. Similarly to the Hilary Mantel novel I discussed above, though, that doesn’t mean I won’t be highly anticipating this release.
I’ll be the first to admit that the fact that this is a prequel interests me perhaps more than a sequel would. This release starts a saga promising to flesh out the pivotal Dark Days that followed Panem’s failed rebellion. Starting on the morning of the reaping for the Tenth Hunger Games The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will revisit Panem sixty-four years before the events of The Hunger Games.
Published by Scholastic [ISBN: 9780702300172]
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (4th June)
This is the one I’m waiting for with bated breath. My favourite classic author is Victor Hugo who is the mind behind my favourite novel of all time The Hunchback of Notre-Dame [Notre-Dame de Paris] and Les Misérables and this new release draws inspiration predominately from the latter but features a Court of Miracles also featured in Hugo’s Les Misérables but often associated with the former. Kester Grant takes us to the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris as the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds forming the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier’s life revolves around midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s violence and watching over her adopted sister Cosette (Ettie). I’m so intrigued to see the execution of this wonderful idea especially as, even in the world-famous musical adaptation of Les Misérables I love seeing the tiny moments between Eponine and Cosette.
I don’t know exactly how I’m going to handle the wait for this one but I’m sure it’s going to be such an awesome ride once it’s here!
Published by HarperCollins Publishers [ISBN: 9780008254773]
Beach Read by Emily Henry (9th July)
This is another lighter read on this list and follows a mini-theme of books about books. January and Augustus (brilliant names!) are both broke, suffering from writers block and need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer. Their solution, having just met whilst retreating, is to make a bet and see who can get their book published first with the catch of swapping genres. This is compared to The Flat Share, which I loved, and Our Stop, which I’m crawling through the audiobook of but liking enough, but generally I think the literary aspect is going to draw me in and fingers crossed a lovely plot and some good characters will keep me hooked!
Published by Penguin Books [ISBN: 9780241989524]
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (3rd September)
I love pointless and especially Richard Osman’s wit, timing and knowledge. You can imagine my excitement when I found out he is now going to publish a crime/mystery thriller with a title like that! This is also going to be the start of a series so I’m really hoping that this is going to lead to other anticipated releases.
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings. But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Published by Penguin Books [ISBN: 9780241425442]
House of Music by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason (September)
I have next to no information about this book to put in here. As of writing this, it doesn’t even have pre-order links, as far as I’m aware, on either Waterstones or GoodReads. However, the one sentence on the Guardian’s ‘2020 in Books’ list was enough to get me quite excited as I had no idea that this was even being written. House of Music is written by Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason who is mother to “Britain’s most musical family” as she raised seven children who all became classical musicians including Sheku Kanneh-Mason MBE who, among other performances, performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year for 2016. Whilst I’m nowhere near skilled to play myself I adore anything and everything related to the violin and by extension, I really enjoy orchestral music with noticeable string contingents and I am completely fascinated by those who are talented enough to play.
Published by Oneworld.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton (1st October)
Stuart Turton’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was my favourite read of 2019. So it stands to reason that Turton’s next book would be on this list. However, I’m rarely drawn to books set on the “high seas” so there is still going to be a point of experimentation with this read.
There has been a murder committed on the high seas and a demon who may or may not exist. The Devil and the Dark Water is set in 1634 and follows the world’s greatest detective, Samuel Pipps, who is transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not have, committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arnet Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend’s innocence. But no sooner are they out to see than devilry begins to blight the voyage as a twice-dead leper stalks the deck, strange symbols appear on the sails and livestock is slaughtered.
I adored the ideas and intricate writing style which made Seven Deaths so fascinating and I’m interested to see if this is going to translate into this second book.
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing [ISBN: 9781408889640]
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power (July 2020)
Rory Power’s Wilder Girls was certainly an interesting read for me in 2019 as it combined my love of body horror, medical body interest and an all-female Lord of the Flies inspired narrative. Now Rory Power’s Burn Our Bodies Down is a twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery until she returns to her mother’s hometown and history begins to repeat itself. Ever since Margot was born it’s been just her and her mother and none of her questions about the past will be answered. But Margot wants a family and now she has a photograph pointing her in the right direction towards a town called Phalene. Margot’s mother left for a reason. Can we also please appreciate how gorgeous the cover is!
So there are all of the gorgeous books which I cannot wait to read throughout 2020 and, more than likely knowing my reading speed and backlist, beyond. If you have any new releases on your radar or have discovered anything from this list or those I’ve linked to please leave a comment below or get in touch with me to discuss all things bookish!
You can see my complete To Read list over on my GoodReads here!
2020 in Books: A Literary Calander by The Guardian
This list is incredibly detailed and includes so many books but also features film and television adaptations, some award dates, and interesting dates relating to authors.
Waterstones have also published individual lists for Children’s Books (including YA), Non-Fiction and Fiction.
For this list I also drew from the releases mentioned by BooksandLala here:
Please be aware that Lala is a Canadian BookTuber so please take this into account when searching for release dates and purchase options.