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The best books we read in 2020

By Kobo • December 25, 2020Staff Picks

In 2020, even the most avid readers struggled to find the time and focus amid new routines to immerse themselves in the comfort of books.

Fortunately, some of us found a way through and got to spend time reading great things -- and we’re happy to share them with you here.

Some of these are books that came out this year and spoke to some aspect of what we were going through, some were plucked from a towering to-read pile during idle hours, and some were just the thing we needed to break our reading (or non-reading) ruts.

Hear all about our picks on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Jen loved the narration by the smart sassy sarcastic heroine.

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Luster by Raven Leilani

Courtney wanted something that felt like “a beach read” and still satisfied her appetite for literary fiction -- plus a good mix of “salacious sex writing.”

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Open Book by Jessica Simpson

After listening to this, Elizabeth could speak about nothing but Jessica Simpson for months. And she may never listen to John Mayer again.

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Shit, Actually by Lindy West

Deandra had to stop in the middle of the street doubled over laughing while listening to Lindy West’s reviews of "classic" movies.

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The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Tracy thought this was “vintage Patchett” and loved character-driven novel’s treatment of family strife and tension.

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A Life by Simone Veil

Jean Marc sees French political icon Simone Veil as “a true hero,” and this book as a carefully crafted reflection of her impressive mind.

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How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Benji re-visited this classic after reading it 7 years ago. He thinks it’s a useful guide to “living a life with less friction and more joy.”

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Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Vanessa loved this retelling of the classic fairy tale, and recommends it to readers slightly older than the “young adult” audience it was written for.

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Moustache by S. Hareesh

Parmeet loved this fantastical tale of a moustache growing to epic proportions and terrorizing local authorities.

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Network Effect by Martha Wells

Trevor thought the sarcastic and vulnerable inner monologue of the AI at the centre of this book was relatable and reflected thoughts that go through his own mind sometimes.

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Oona Out Of Order by Margarita Montimore

For Dani, this inventive story of a woman looping through time made her think more about focusing on the present.

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Open City by Teju Cole

For Jesse, this was the perfect audiobook to savour chapter by chapter over months on his walks through Toronto under lockdown.

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Eat A Peach by David Chang

Lee loves Chang’s restaurants and food writing in general, and he thought this was an "honest" and "real" book that he devoured in a single day.

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The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

This mystery about a podcast host turned sleuth kept Laura guessing through every twist and turn.

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Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade

During a summer of reading a variety of books about oceans, Tara was fascinated by this story about a shipwreck in a “megastorm” assembled from interviews with survivors and the ship’s “black box”.

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They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib

Nathan found Hanif Abdurraqib’s poetic writing about music and pop culture was the cure for his pandemic reading rut.

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