A month-by-month guide to the titles we loved this year, from novels to non-fiction to books for kids.
A month-by-month guide to the titles we loved this year, from novels to non-fiction to books for kids.
Long Bright River by Liz Moore (9 Jan)
A thriller set in the underworld of Philadelphia where two sisters are living contrasting lives: Kacey, gripped by addiction and Mickey, walking the streets on her police beat. When the former vanishes and a string of murders begin, the latter finds herself in a race against time to find both her sister and the culprit.
Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton (9 Jan)
The latest from the Sunday Times bestselling author explores the best and worst in human nature. Set over three intense, exhilarating, and harrowing hours, this novel follows a rural Somerset school under siege in the middle of a blizzard, documenting the experience of those both inside and out. An edge-of-your-seat read.
Baby by Philippa Rice (16 Jan)
A collection of comics by New York Times bestselling graphic novelist Philippa Rice based on real-life moments with her baby that chronicles the everyday moments of parenthood.
The Other People by C.J. Tudor (23 Jan)
C.J Tudor's debut The Chalk Man became an instant bestseller and The Other People is her third novel. This is the story of a five-year-old girl who is kidnapped, and the father who never gives up his search to find her.
Agency by William Gibson (23 Jan)
A speculative thriller set in a world where Brexit never happened and Trump lost the election, this is the latest work from William Gibson, the visionary author of Neuromancer.
Miss Austen by Gill Hornby (23 Jan)
The question of why Cassandra Austen burned a treasure trove of family letters – mostly ones written by her deceased sister Jane – has puzzled academics for centuries. This novel, set in 1840, attempts to unlock some of those secrets and is a must-read for Austen fans.
Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson (23 Jan)
We all remember the one that got away, but what if we got a second chance? This is a love story between Ali and Dan, who exchange songs across their phones and reminisce about young love, missed opportunities and the everlasting pull of a gifted mixtape.
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara (30 Jan)
In one of the 2020's most promising debuts novels, award-winning journalist Deepa Anappara draws on her experience reporting from her native Kerala in southern India to tell the story of nine-year-old Jai, who decides to use his crime-solving skills – picked up from episodes of Police Patrol – to find a school friend who has gone missing.
The Squiggly Career by Helen Tupper, Sara Ellis (9 Jan)
This book helped us re-imagine our career paths. The Squiggly Career embraces the fluidity and frequency of moving between roles and industries and is packed with insights from experts about the changing shape of work.
Mindfulness for Mums by Izzy Judd (9 Jan)
In her first book, Dare to Dream, Izzy Judd shared her personal account of fertility struggles and IVF. Now a mother of two, Judd brings together a brilliant and inspiring collection of simple activities and exercises to help mothers find their own piece of calm.
Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley (9 Jan)
As we become more aware of how our eating habits can impact the planet, Melissa Hemsley, one half of the Hemsley + Hemsley sister duo, is on a mission to nudge us in the right direction. With recipes that focus on UK-grown and easy-to-buy ingredients, they promise to cut down on our food waste as well as being affordable and extremely tasty too.
Minimal by Madeleine Olivia (9 Jan)
Environmental influencer Madeleine Olivia has amassed a huge following on YouTube with her simple but powerful message of how minimalism can be attainable for everyone. Her new book continues this message and provides an aspirational guide with practical steps on how to care for yourself and declutter your life while looking after the Earth too.
Unfree Speech by Joshua Wong (30 Jan)
At age 14, Joshua Wong made history by staging the first-ever student protest in Hong Kong to oppose National Education – and won. Since then, he has founded Demosisto, led the Umbrella Revolution and spearheaded the Extradition Bill protests. Unfree Speech is a manifesto for global democracy by a revolutionary activist.
You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy (23 Jan)
New York Times journalist Kate Murphy is known for her accessible way of explaining complex subjects. This book draws on conversations she has had with subjects ranging from priests to CIA interrogators to her friend’s toddler to make the case why the simple act of listening properly is more difficult – and important – than you might think.
A is for Avocado: An Alphabet Book of Plant Power by Carolyn Suzuki (2 Jan)
We all know the perils of trying to convince little ones to try a new fruit or vegetable. But despair no more. This alphabet book not only teaches tots their ABC, but also helps them learn about the power of those ‘yucky’ foods you keep trying to give them.
Unlocking the Universe by Stephen and Lucy Hawking (9 Jan)
How did the universe begin? How did we get humans to land on the moon? Unlock your mind with this collection of essays, incredible facts and astonishing photographs from Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest scientists of our time.
The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray (6 Feb)
The year is 2059 and the world has stopped turning. One half of the earth’s surface is endless frozen night, the other nothing but burning sun. Only a slim twilit region offers hope of survival. The Last Day is the debut novel from Andrew Hunter Murray who is a veteran QI Elf as well as co-host of the much-loved No Such Thing As A Fish podcast.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (6 Feb)
This surrealist story set in the pre–Civil War deep South by the award-winning author of We Were Eight Years in Power became a New York Times bestseller in 2019, with book-club queen Oprah Winfrey describing it as no less than ‘one of the best books I have read in my entire life.’
Grown Ups by Marian Keyes (6 Feb)
A happy family gathering turns sour when Cara suffers a concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. What follows is a hilarious and jaw-dropping read about the repercussions when everyone’s secrets are revealed, from one of Britain's funniest and best-loved authors.
Bad Island by Stanley Donwood (13 Feb)
From the primaeval wilderness to towers of stone and smoke, Bad Island is a starkly beautiful graphic novel made in the cult designer's distinctive monochromatic, lino-cut style that is also a stark parable about environmentalism.
Actress by Anne Enright (20 Feb)
Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright returns with a story about the highs and lows of fame. Norah’s mother Katherine is a star, but as she starts to uncover some family secrets their lives unravel with disastrous results. An examination of the corrosive nature of celebrity.
The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd (20 Feb)
A psychological thriller from an exciting new voice, this cat-and-mouse novel follows a disturbed adolescent called Elijah and a young girl, Elissa, whom he stumbles across after she's been abducted. Tense, creepy and impossible to predict, The Memory Wood is not for the faint-hearted.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (20 Feb)
Those afraid of flying look away now. This is the story of Edward, a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash, and later discovers sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers. A gripping story with a life-affirming message at its heart.
The Book of Echoes by Rosanna Amaka (27 Feb)
Debut author Rosanna Amaka began writing The Book of Echoes 20 years ago in an attempt to give a voice to the Brixton community that was fast disappearing. It follows two young people, a boy from south east London and a girl from Lagos, as they escape their past and examines the impact of history and politics on present-day black lives.
The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts (6 Feb)
Explore the snow-bound wilderness of Siberia where humanity survives in a hostile landscape. Here, travel writer Sophy Roberts explores the country through the pianos dotted throughout this remote land, from grand instruments created in the boom years of the nineteenth century to the Soviet-made uprights found in modest homes.
How To Go To Work by Lucy Clayton and Steven Haines (6 Feb)
A whip-smart book for those starting in the workplace, How to Go to Work is a guide for making those first days, and first impressions, count. Written by the best in the business while drawing on insight from an array of minds such as CEOs, activists, and professionals in multiple industries, it's a humourous, whistle-stop tour of the workplace that will jump-start your career.
Wintering by Katherine May (6 Feb)
Novelist Katherine May advocates for how the natural world can benefit our mental and emotional wellbeing in this account of her own year-long journey through a difficult winter.
A Delayed Life by Dita Kraus (6 Feb)
Dita Draus was a librarian who smuggled books past guards in Nazi Germany and became the bestselling novel The Librarian of Auschwitz in 2012. This is her real story, from growing up in Prague to the unimaginable horror she faced during her imprisonment to the life she rebuilt after the war.
Dresden by Sinclair McKay (6 Feb)
During the Allied bombing of Dresden, an estimated 25,000 citizens were killed and a whole city was destroyed. Here, author and historian Sinclair McKay draws on never-before-seen sources to relate the untold stories of those who survived.
The Remarkable Life of Skin by Monty Lyman (20 Feb)
Dr Monty Lyman is on a mission to show us just how remarkable the skin is, our most underrated and unexplored organ. Through science, sociology and history, he examines our microbiome, from our love of tattoos to scrutinising whether beauty products really work. He reveals how the skin is far stranger and more complex than you’ve ever imagined.
Losing Eden by Lucy Jones (27 Feb)
Losing Eden is a journey into the groundbreaking science of how our bond with the natural world affects our mental wellbeing. Vital reading at a time of rising concern over the climate crisis.
The Changing Mind by Daniel Levitin (27 Feb)
We have long been encouraged to think of old age as synonymous with deterioration. But recent studies show that our decision-making skills improve as we age, as does our happiness levels. The Changing Mind offers a fresh perspective on what happens to our brains as we get older and offers tips to follow during each decade of life.
The Mathematics of the Gods and the Algorithms of Men by Paolo Zellini (27 Feb)
Philosopher Paolo Zellini offers a brief cultural and intellectual history of mathematics showing how its evolution is linked with philosophical, existential and religious questions. Forget those gruelling algebra lessons and jump in with the bestselling author of A Brief History of Infinity.
Topsy and Tim: On the Farm anniversary edition by Jean and Gareth Adamson (6 Feb)
Can you believe it’s been 60 years since we met Topsy and Tim? In this special anniversary edition – with original artwork – the twins are off to the farm to help collect eggs, milk cows and feed a calf.
Charlie Morphs Into a Mammoth by Sam Copeland & Sarah Horne (6 Feb)
It may be Charlie McGuffin’s third adventure, but he’s still struggling to control his ability to turn into animals. And it doesn’t help that his parents keep arguing. And that animals keep disappearing around town. And that he doesn’t have a date to the school dance…
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (13 Feb)
Everyone’s favourite doctor heads for the high seas with his assistant Tommy Stubbins. But they end up shipwrecked on the mysterious Spidermonkey Island where they meet the equally mysterious Great Glass Sea Snail.
Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray & Manuel Sumberac (20 Feb)
If you're bereft after finishing His Dark Materials, try this fantasy debut. Set in the last city of a drowned world, the citizens are instantly suspicious when a mysterious boy washes in with the tide. Is he the Enemy? The god who tried to drown them all? Only young inventor Ellie believes he is not to be feared…
The Song of the Tree by Coralie Bickford-Smith (5 Mar)
Lyrically written and beautifully illustrated, this new fable from Coralie Bickford-Smith is about growing up and exploring the world. Completing the bestselling trilogy that began with The Fox and the Star, The Song of the Tree is a book for young and old that celebrates community and the natural world.
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver (5 Mar)
A new romance for fans of PS I Love You and Me Before You, this story follows Lydia whose partner Freddie dies on her twenty-eighth birthday, forcing her to slowly go back out and face the world again.
Aria by Nazanine Hozar (12 Mar)
Lauded as 'a Doctor Zhivago of Iran' by no less than Margaret Atwood, this is the story of a driver named Behrouz who discovers an abandoned baby in an alleyway and decides to adopt her, changing the course of his life profoundly.
Dragman by Steven Appleby (12 Mar)
A debut, long-form graphic thriller inspired by the superhero comics the author read as a child and informed by his own secret life as a transvestite. The hero, August Crimp, gains his superpowers by wearing women’s dresses as he battles greed, evil and his own self-doubt.
The Boy From The Woods Harlan Coben (19 Mar)
From the bestselling author and creator of the hit Netflix drama, The Stranger, comes a new thriller about a man called Wilde who, having spent his own youth lost in the backwoods of New Jersey, is called upon to help find a child who has gone missing in similar circumstances.
Keeper by Jessica Moor (19 Mar)
Keeper is the story of a woman pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot. The police decide it’s an open-and-shut case but the residents of Widringham women’s refuge don’t agree.
Marilou is Everywhere by Sarah Elaine Smith (26 Mar)
A haunting debut about identity and disappearance involving two girls on the margins of society in rural Pennsylvania, one beautiful, intelligent and mixed-race and the other so-called 'white trash'.
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld (26 Mar)
Sarah, accused of being a witch, is fleeing for her life. Ruth, in the aftermath of the Second World War, is navigating a new marriage and the strange waters of the local community. Six decades later, Viv, still mourning the death of her father, is cataloguing Ruth’s belongings in the now-empty house. The lives of three women weave together across four centuries in the dazzling new book from award-winning author, Evie Wyld.
Our House is on Fire by Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Thunberg, Svante Thunberg (5 Mar)
Greta Thunberg’s one-person school strike grew into a global protest that changed the conversation around climate change. Written as a family, Our House is on Fire is the extraordinary story of her journey from the inside.
Table Manners: The Cookbook by Jessie and Lennie Ware (5 Mar)
Musician Jessie Ware and her mum have won legions of fans with their hit food podcast Table Manners. From the sausage and bean casserole they made Ed Sheeran to the blackberry and custard tarts served to Nigella, this book is packed with delicious recipes and celebrity stories.
This Too Shall Pass by Julia Samuel (5 Mar)
If change is the natural order of things, why do so many of us struggle with the milestones of life, from first jobs and first loves to children leaving home and retirement? Acclaimed psychotherapist Julia Samuel shares stories about everyday people to help us understand how we approach life's biggest challenges.
How to be Narstie by Big Narstie (10 Mar)
Politics, drugs, race, Poundland – Big Narstie, host of Channel 4’s The Big Narstie Show, tackles all the important topics in this hilarious part-memoir, part-guide to his world.
Cured by Jeff Rediger (19 Mar)
For years, doctors and academics have been encouraged to think about instances of spontaneous recovery with deep suspicion but, Dr Rediger, a Harvard medical faculty member was deeply curious and cautiously, and privately, conducted his own research, keen to understand these ‘Olympians of healing’ and what we can all learn from them.
Explaining Humans: What Science can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships by Camilla Pang (23 Mar)
Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of eight, Camilla Pang has struggled to understand the world around her and the way people work. Now armed with a PhD in biochemistry, she explores social customs and what it really means to be human.
Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley (26 Mar)
Falastin is a love letter to Palestine, the land and its people; an evocative collection of over 110 recipes and stories from the co-authors of Jerusalem and Ottolenghi SIMPLE. Expect stunning food and travel photography interwoven with stories from unheard Palestinian voices.
Mummy Fairy and Me: Mermaid Magic by Sophie Kinsella & Marta Kissi (5 Mar)
Ella’s mummy may be a fairy, but her magic keeps going wrong. However, Ella doesn’t mind too much, especially when it means she gets to swim with real mermaids... This fourth book in the series is perfect for five to seven-year-olds.
Find The Spy by Zoë Armstrong & Shelly Laslo (19 Mar)
Ever wanted to have a go at being a spy? Well, now you can. Find the real-life spies hidden throughout this book, and learn some amazing facts and top-secret skills during your search – such as coding messages and dressing in disguise.
Pablo: Pablo and the Noisy Party and Pablo: Goodnight Pablo (19 Mar)
Pablo has autism so he thinks differently. Parties can be too loud and overwhelming, and night-time can be scary. But luckily, his friends and family always rally around to help him. This uplifting series by writers with ASD is a great way to help children better understand how others with autism see the world.
You People by Nikita Lalwani (2 Apr)
Lalwani’s first novel, Gifted, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her new story follows Tuli, the proprietor of an Italian restaurant in London, and his employee Shan who, having fled the Sri Lankan civil war, is desperate to find his family.
The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves (2 Apr)
The story of a marriage on the brink of collapse. The silence between Frank and his wife Maggie is deafening and only after a heartbreaking turn of events does Frank start to reveal the secrets that have been troubling him.
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler (9 Apr)
This new novel from the bestselling author of A Spool of Blue Thread is a wry love story about mis-steps and second chances. It follows the eccentric but content Micah Mortimer whose life is disrupted when a teenager shows up at his door claiming to be his son. A new work from one of the most celebrated American authors of her generation.
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley (16 Apr)
A life-affirming debut about six strangers who are led on an extraordinary journey of friendship and forgiveness with the help of a little green notebook.
The Better Half by Sharon Moalem (7 Apr)
In this game-changing book, Dr. Sharon Moalem makes the case that genetic females are the stronger sex at every stage of life. Drawing on a lifetime of medical research, from neonatal studies to clinical drug trials, it's a book that pushes us to reconsider our male-centric view of medicine and health, to see humanity anew.
You Are an Artist by Sarah Urist Green (14 Apr)
Curator and host of The Art Assignment, Sarah Urist Green shows us that you don't need to draw well or know how to stretch a canvas to be an artist, by looking at the work of over fifty contemporary figures from around the world.
The Prosecutor by Nazir Afzal (16 Apr)
Nazir Afzal OBE is a former Chief Crown Prosecutor and Chief Executive of the UK’s Police & Crime Commissioners, who prosecuted some of the most high-profile cases in the country, from the Rochdale sex ring to the earliest prosecutions for honour killing and modern slavery. The Prosecutor is the compelling memoir of the man who has brought Britain’s most dangerous criminals to justice.
Life: A User’s Manual by Julian Baggini, Antonia Macaro (16 Apr)
Renowned philosophers Antonia Macaro and Julian Baggini cover topics such as bereavement, luck, free will and relationships as they guide us through the wisdom of some of the greatest thinkers in human history, from the Stoics to Sartre.
What Have I Done? by Laura Dockrill (23 Apr)
The award-winning author and illustrator shares her devastating experience of being diagnosed with postpartum psychosis in the months after the birth of her first child. It's an unflinching memoir that breaks the silence around postnatal mental health and offers hope to all new parents.
What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen (2 Apr)
Twelve-year-old Libby Monroe is an aspiring scientist with a big heart. Literally in her case, as she has Turner syndrome. But that doesn’t get in the way of Libby’s plan to help her big sister Nonny out when she’s struggling financially. Fans of Wonder will love this beautiful and educational middle-grade debut.
Tales for Climate Rebels by Ben Lerwill (16 Apr)
Calling all climate rebels! Read about some of the humans fighting to protect the Earth, from the well-known Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough to Len Peters, protector of the leatherback sea turtle. There’s still time to change the story.
Little World: On the Beach and Little World: At the Airport by Samantha Meredith (30 Apr)
The world is big. So, introduce little ones to it slowly with these bright and charming push-and-pull books. Tots can explore the beach in the footsteps of a lifeguard. Or journey through an airport terminal – ideal to soothe any anxiety about flying.
The Glass House by Eve Chase (14 May)
When a baby is found outside a remote Manor House in an idyllic wood, she’s taken in by the Harrington family. They’ve been grieving, and the presence of the baby fills their house with joy. Desperate not to lose her to the authorities they keep her secret in a world where the law doesn’t seem to apply. But their dreams of a perfect family shatter when a body is found dead in the grounds. Years late, someone will need to piece the truth back together.
Yes to Life in Spite of Everything by Viktor Frankl (7 May)
Viktor Frankl was a prominent Viennese psychiatrist before the Second World War and his deportation to numerous ghettos and concentration camps. It was an experience that inspired him to write the worldwide bestseller Man’s Search for Meaning. This new collection of uncovered work explores his maxim ‘Live as if you were living for the second time’ as well as his conviction that every crisis also includes an opportunity.
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (30 Jun)
The bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians is back with a new satire. When Lucie Tang Churchill meets George Zao at a lavish Capri wedding, she can’t stand him, partly because she’s worried about what her family will think of the Hong Kong surfer boy. On her return to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she meets Cecil, a billionaire more concerned with his Instagram account than the planet, who she thinks will help her forget George. Decadent and romantic, this is a delicious look at wealth, society and love.
Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Summer Holiday (25 Jun)
Is it even a summer holiday if you don’t have a flamingo inflatable? Peppa Pig and her family are off to enjoy some sun, sea and sand. Peppa can’t wait! She may even get the chance to make some new friends...
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld (9 Jul)
One of our back modern writers reimagines the life of Hillary Rodham Clinton in her new, highly anticipated novel. When Hillary goes to Yale Law School, she catches the eye of the handsome and charismatic Bill Clinton. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary very firmly turns him down. Rodham is an alternate history looking at how things might have turned out for Hillary, Bill, America and the world if Hillary hadn’t married Bill.
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (23 Jul)
If I had Your Face is set in contemporary Seoul and follows the stories of four young women struggling to survive as they navigate their modern but harsh city. A dark and unsettling debut.
Miss Benson's Beetle by Rachel Joyce (23 Jul)
In Joyce’s Booker Prize-longlisted debut, An Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, the protagonist sets out to post a letter and ends up walking from one end of the country to the other. In a similar moment of madness, Margery Benson – the heroine of Joyce’s new book, abandons her sensible job and travels to the other side of the world in search of a beetle she isn’t even sure exists. This is a story that is less about what can be found, than the belief it might be found.
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (30 Jul)
In her youth, Tara abandoned her loveless marriage to join an ashram, had a brief stint as a beggar, and spent years chasing after a dishevelled, homeless ‘ rtist’. And she did all of it with her child in tow. Now older, she’s forgetting things, and her grown-up daughter is faced with caring a woman who never cared for her. This is a dark and sharp debut about love and betrayal between a mother daughter.
How Do We Know We’re Doing It Right by Pandora Sykes (16 Jul)
Journalist and co-host of the no.1 weekly culture podcast, The High Low, brings us essential reading for those searching for contentment by interrogating all the choices our modern world throws at us and questions what does the best life look like? Covering wellness, womanhood, consumerism and more, Sykes offers insight to encourage us to find our own happiness.
Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood by Trixie Mattel and Katya Zamolodchikova (16 Jul)
The RuPaul’s Drag Race legends, stars of UNHhhh, and expert biological women share the secrets of their feminine mystique in this satirical guide to beauty and homemaking.
Anti-social by Nick Pettigrew (23 Jul)
In a time when government cuts have brought all public services to breaking point, it is often the social worker who has the job of picking up the pieces. Anti-social is a timely, rage-inducing but often hysterically funny diary of a life spent working with the people society wants to forget.
Fear Less by Dr Pippa Grange (23 Jul)
We all were hooked when England reached the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup. Now meet the psychologist who helped transform the team, in her first book that shows us that by starting to live with less fear, we can find our real passions and deeper fulfilment.
Who Cares Wins by Lily Cole (30 Jul)
Lily Cole, model, actress, philanthropist and environmental activist provides a radical guide to thinking differently about the world and initiating change. Exploring issues from fast fashion to renewable energy, this book features interviews with figure-heads in their field such as Sir David Attenborough and Extinction Rebellion co-founder Professor Gail Bradbrook.
Mabel and the Mountain by Kim Hillyard (9 Jul)
Small but mighty – that’s the best way to describe Mabel. Even though she’s a little fly, Mabel has big plans. She’s going to climb a mountain, host a dinner party, and make friends with a shark. Easy enough, right?
The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar (16 Jul)
Aleja wants to be an explorer. Trouble is, she’s a girl. Girls can’t be explorers. But according to the crew of the Ship of Shadows, that’s not true. This band of women are on a journey to find something priceless. And Aleja is joining them.
The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke & Ayesha L. Rubio (23 Jul)
In the autumn of 1886, five babies were all abandoned by their parents. Fast forward 12 years, these babies – Lotta, Egg, Fenna, Sem and Milou – have since formed their own family. But then a mysterious and menacing gentleman turns up at the Little Tulip Orphanage and threatens to tear them apart. This calls for one thing – a daring escape across Amsterdam towards a new home...
Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Dinosaur by Rhiannon Fielding & Chris Chatterton (23 Jul)
Do you have a reluctant sleeper on your hands? Help them drift off by counting down to ten with Rumble the triceratops. Rumble would much rather go on an adventure than sleep. But adventures can be very tiring…
Summer by Ali Smith (6 Aug)
In 2015 Ali Smith began a project to capture the essence of real-time politics set within four novels. Her Booker-shortlisted Seasons cycle is completed this year with her final book, Summer.
Sisters by Daisy Johnson (13 Aug)
With its roots in psychological horror, Sisters is a taut, powerful and deeply moving account of sibling love that cements Daisy Johnson’s place as one of the most inventive and exciting young writers today, following the shortlisting of her debut novel, Everything Under, for the Booker prize.
The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blakemore (13 Aug)
The Favourite meets an 18th-century Talented Mr Ripley with this high-octane, darkly funny and richly detailed historical page-turner about the thrill of first love and the devastating power of scandal.
Anxious People by Fredrick Backman (20 Aug)
The curious story of a bank robber who takes a group of people hostage while on the run. But when he sets everyone free and the police storm the apartment, he has seemingly vanished into thin air. Part comedy, part mystery, this is a literary locked room.
Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi (20 Aug)
One of 2020’s most meta books, a former writer lives a life of seclusion but when his work is being republished, his new, ambitious editor comes to visit. She quickly realises all is not what it seems in his murderous stories and the detail seems to contain clues to a real-life, unsolved crime. An intelligent murder mystery with a twist.
Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh (27 Aug)
Booker Prize-longlisted author Sophie Mackintosh has created a dreamlike and intense dystopian world in her new book, Blue Ticket. Its protagonist is Calla, who lives in a world that runs on a lottery system. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to find out what type of woman you’ll be. Those who get white tickets have children, those who have blue tickets get freedom. And there’s no going back, even if the life you’re given is the wrong one. A look at motherhood and free will, this book is already garnering comparisons to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Bunker by Bradley L. Garrett (4 Aug)
An exploration of ‘prepping’ culture, where urban explorer Bradley Garrett examines the global and rapidly growing movement. From doomsday bunkers in the American mid-West to eco-fortresses in Thailand, Bunker explores humanity’s greatest fears, including climate change and nuclear war.
Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan Slaght (4 Aug)
As one of the world's foremost experts on the Blakiston's fish owl, Jonathan Slaght tells the story of his decades-long quest to safeguard the world's largest and most elusive owl from extinction in Eastern Russia. A breathtaking nature and adventure story, Owls of the Eastern Ice is a timely meditation on our relationship with the natural world and what it means to devote one's life to a single pursuit.
Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell (6 Aug)
A family memoir covering one woman’s exploration of a German grandmother’s experiences during the Second World War. Inge's War listens to the voices that are often missing from our historical narrative – in this case, that of a German woman caught up on the wrong side of history.
Intimations by Zadie Smith (6 Aug)
There have been hundreds of pieces written already about the pandemic and its effects, including the lockdown, but few are as clear-sighted as these essays by Zadie Smith. This short collection of six essays is a personal and powerful look at lockdown, and the period just before. Reviewing the book in The Guardian, Tessa Hadley said it would "endure as a beautiful thing”.
A Dutiful Boy by Mohsin Zaidi (20 Aug)
A coming-of-age memoir about growing up queer in a strict Muslim household – Mohsin Zaidi was the first person from his school to go to Oxford University where he studied law before becoming a top criminal barrister. Although Zaidi’s story takes harrowing turns it is full of life and humour, and it ends inspiringly. If you enjoyed Tara Westover's Educated then this is the book for you.
Dreaming in a Nightmare by Jeremiah Emmanuel (20 Aug)
At just 20 years old, Jeremiah Emmanuel is already a pretty impressive person: a former deputy young mayor of Lambeth and member of the UK Youth Parliament, he’s an activist and entrepreneur who’s rubbed shoulders with the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson. In Dreaming in a Nightmare, Emmanuel writes about growing up in an area of South London where he saw violence and poverty every day, and discusses the problems faced by a new generation of young people. Honest and inspiring, this is a book about to make the world a better place.
Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut by Samantha Cristoforetti (27 Aug)
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti spent two hundred days orbiting around Earth on the International Space Station. In her memoir, she chronicles her journey to fulfilling her dreams, from the years of training to the many years spent travelling around the world experiencing new languages and cultures, technology and nature.
Jonathan the Magic Pony by Stuart Heritage & Nicola Slater (20 Aug)
Jonathan claims to be a brilliant magician but his tricks are kind of... bad. Sure, he can wave his magic wand and make things disappear. That’s impressive. The problem is making them reappear. And Jonathan has just magicked away Sarah’s beloved bear…
Us Three by Ruth Jones (3 Sep)
Ruth Jones’ debut, Never Greener, became a number one bestseller in 2018 and now she returns with a story about friendship. Us Three follows three besties whose bonds are shaken to the core after a trip of a lifetime.
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (3 Sep)
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron meet every week in their peaceful retirement village to investigate unsolved murders. But when a brutal killing takes place on their doorstep, they find themselves thrust into their very first live case. The four might be pushing 80, but they’ve still got a few tricks up their sleeves, and are determined to track the killer down. This is the first novel from television presenter Richard Osman, and is perfect for fans of his dry wit, as well as crime and thriller lovers.
Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain (10 Sep)
This novel for the senses will take you from the confines of an English tearoom to the rainforests of a tropical island via the slums of Dublin and the transgressive fancy-dress boutiques of Paris, as the bestselling author of The Road, explores the human urge to seek sanctuary.
V2 by Robert Harris (17 Sep)
Robert Harris’ latest thriller is set during the Second World War, where Rudi Graf and his friend Werner von Braun have helped create the world's most sophisticated weapon - the V2 ballistic missile. In 1944, Graf finds himself in a bleak seaside town in Occupied Holland where he’s tasked with firing the V2s at London. Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the WAAF who joins a unit on a mission to locate and destroy the V2 launch sites. Harris deftly weaves history with fiction in a story that will have you glued to the page.
Just Like You by Nick Hornby (17 Sep)
What if your perfect match – someone with the same background, same age, same interests – is wildly disastrous? Where do you go from there. In his tender and funny novel Just Like You, Nick Hornby gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person, who’s nothing like you at all.
English Pastoral by James Rebanks (3 Sep)
James Rebanks’ grandfather taught him to work the land in the old way, but by the time he inherited the family farm in the Lake District hills, the landscape had changed. English Pastoral is Rebanks’ story of how rural landscapes around the world were brought close to collapse, but it’s also a hopeful book about a farmer who used the past to guide him to salvage a tiny corner of English and leave a legacy for the future.
AZADI by Arundhati Roy (3 Sep)
Azadi is the Urdu word for freedom, and the meaning of freedom is at the centre of this essay collection by award-winning author Arundhati Roy. From the freedom struggle in Kashmir to the rise of Hindu nationalism and a world gripped by a global pandemic, Roy challenges us to reflect on what freedom actually consists of in a world of growing authoritarianism.
Nadiya Bakes by Nadiya Hussain (3 Sep)
Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain returns to her baking roots in her new book, which will teach you how to bake incredible cakes, pastries, pies and puddings for every occasion. The book includes both classics and twists on established recipes, in true Hussain style.
Metropolis by Ben Wilson (3 Sep)
Metropolis is a dazzling, globe-spanning history of humankind’s greatest invention: the city. Rich with individual characters, scenes and snapshots of daily life, the book combines scholarship and storytelling in a terrifically engaging, stylishly written history of the world through an urban lens.
To be a Gay Man by Will Young (3 Sep)
Will Young is passionate about raising awareness and helping others so they don’t have to go through what he did – depression, anxiety, addiction to alcohol, porn, shopping and even love, plus a sizeable bill for therapy. The million-selling pop star and co-host of influential podcast Homo Sapiens is calling for an end to society’s legacy of gay shame, revealing the impact it had on his own life, how he learned to deal with it and how he learnt to be gay and happy.
More Than a Woman by Caitlin Moran (3 Sep)
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a decade since Caitlin Moran’s game-changing How to be a Woman, which looked at feminism, the patriarchy and the general difficulties of growing up.
Now Moran is turning her gaze onto middle age, a period of her life when she thought she’d have everything sorted. But there are now a whole new set of questions to be answered, from whether feminists can have Botox to what mean are really thinking and why there isn’t such a thing as a “Mum Bod”. Funny and astute, More Than a Woman is a guide to getting older, and a celebration of middle-aged women.
Just Us by Claudia Rankine (8 Sep)
In a world that seems increasingly divided and confrontational, how do we have conversations which could help solve our problems? In Just Us, Claudia Rankine tries to provide the answer. The book is a collection of essays that explores whiteness and white supremacy, and how we can breach the silence, guilt and violence that surround whiteness. Also including images and poems, Rankine’s own text is accompanied by facing-page notes and commentary. Intimate and true, this is a valuable read for anyone who wants to stop arguing and start listening.
Tomorrow Will be a Good Day by Captain Tom Moore (17 Sep)
In April 2020, at the heigh of the Covid-19 pandemic and in the middle of a lockdown in the UK, then 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore undertook a challenge to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking laps of his garden. The Second World War veteran ended up raising more than £30m. In Tomorrow Will be a Good Day, Moore tells the story of the man behind the news stories, covering his years in the Armed Forces, how he competitively raced motorbikes and more. An inspirational read, this is a book to give us hope in a year that has been filled with sorrow.
No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer (24 Sep)
From unlimited holidays to abolishing financial approvals, Netflix offers a fundamentally different way to run any organization. For anyone interested in creativity and productivity, this innovative culture is something close to a holy grail. Here the CEO, Reed Hastings, shares the secrets that have revolutionised the entertainment and tech industries.
This Land by Owen Jones (24 Sep)
Journalist Owen Jones turns an unflinching eye to the Left’s attempt to upturn the established political order, an attempt which came to a halt in December 2019 when Jeremy Corbyn led Labour to its worst electoral defeat since 1935. This honest look at the movement is also a journey through a tumultuous decade in British politics, and a plea to learn from our past if we’re to try and build a better future.
The Puffin Book of Big Dreams (3 Sep)
Our younger cousin Puffin turns 80 this year! And the celebrations are in full swing. They’ve put together this bumper anthology of stories, poems and illustrations from some of our favourite children’s authors, including Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman, Tom Fletcher and Humza Arshad. This is a magical book that both new and long-time Puffin readers will enjoy.
Into the Spotlight by Carrie Hope Fletcher & Kiersten Eagan (17 Sep)
Carrie Hope Fletcher’s new novel is a beautiful contemporary tale that follows three adopted girls who live in an old theatre with their eccentric Great Aunt Maud. Inspired by Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes and Carrie’s own West End roots, at its core this is a story about finding the courage to be what you want despite where you come from.
Ten Minutes to Bed: Little Unicorn's Birthday by Rhiannon Fielding & Chris Chatterton (17 Sep)
Twinkle the unicorn from our much-loved Ten Minutes to Bed series is back and it’s her birthday. She’s having a sleepover and has such a fun evening planned ahead. There’s going to be presents, cake, party games and even fireworks. With all this excitement going on, how does her dad expect her and her friends to go to sleep? A gentle tale that is perfect for winding down little ones at bedtime.
Trio by William Boyd (8 Oct)
In the summer of 1968 – the year of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, riots in Paris and a Vietnam War that is out of control – three artists in Brighton are all hiding secrets. Elfrida is drowning her writer's block in vodka; Talbot, coping with the daily dysfunction of making a film, is hiding something in a secret apartment; and the glamorous Anny is wondering why the CIA is suddenly so interested in her. As their private worlds begin to take over their public ones, inevitably one or all of them are going to crack.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton (15 Oct)
The author of Everything I Know About Love turns her hand to fiction for the first time with Ghosts, a story about a 30-something food writer. Nina Dean is successful and has loving friends and family but her 30s have not been the liberating and uncomplicated period she expected. When she meets Max, who tells her on the first date that he’s going to marry her, she knows the time is perfect for a relationship. A novel about missed opportunities, moving on and a life of change, this is deftly observed.
Love by Roddy Doyle (15 Oct)
Two friends meet for a catch-up over a pint in a Dublin bar, but when Joe recounts a secret, it leads the two men on a bender back to their regular beer-fused haunts... A hymn to love and youth from one of Ireland’s leading authors.
Troy by Stephen Fry (29 Oct)
In a continuation of his retellings of myths and legends – previous books are Mythos and Heroes – Stephen Fry turns his attention to the kidnapping of Helen and the 10-year-long siege of a city. In Troy, Fry retells the story of the war between the Greeks and the Trojans for the modern age. Troy’s heroism and hatred, desire and despair, will speak to us as much as they did to ancient audiences.
The S S Officer’s Armchair by Daniel Lee (1 Oct)
After discovering a stash of personal documents covered in swastikas and sewn into the cushion of an armchair, Daniel Lee follows the trail of cold calls, coincidences and family secrets, to uncover the life of what seemed to be just another Nazi officer. But as he delves deeper the life of one Dr Robert Griesinger from Stuttgart, reveals to be much more sinister. Through his investigation, Lee attempts to understand how regimes like the Nazis' are made not by monsters, but by ordinary people.
A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough (1 Oct)
Naturalist and British legend David Attenborough new book is a vision for the future of our world that takes a look at our slow destruction of it over decades. The 93-year-old TV presenter will talk about the loss of Earth’s wild places and some of its biodiversity, and see how we came to be in a situation where the survival of our planet is at risk. But A Life on Our Planet is not all doom and gloom – Attenborough believes we still have a chance to set things on the right course, and this book will show us the way.
The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris (1 Oct)
This pocket-sized treasure of natural spell-poems and artwork is the perfect jolt of magic into our everyday lives. The “spells” in the book take their subject from common animals, trees and flowers, including the Barn Owl, the Silver Birch and the Red Fox. Written to be read out loud, The Lost Spells is about summoning back that which has been lost from our natural environment, and celebrating our sense of wonder at nature.
Making a Psychopath by Dr Mark Freestone (15 Oct)
Find out what truly makes a psychopath, from the leading expert who helped to create Killing Eve’s Villanelle. Dr Mark Freestone has worked on some of the most interesting, infamous and disturbing psychopath cases of recent times and is now sharing his phenomenal insight.
Limitless: The Autobiography by Tim Peake (15 Oct)
Astronaut Tim Peake has inspired thousands, and in his autobiography he’ll tell his story in fascinating and personal detail. Limitless will chart Peake’s surprising path to becoming an astronaut, and will also take readers on a journey to space. Peake will write about the sacrifices astronauts make, and the experiences they go through to create a book that is about the power of following your dreams.
The Purpose of Power by Alicia Garza (22 Oct)
The co-founder of Black Lives Matter tells both her own story and the story of the movement in The Purpose of Power. Alicia Garza gives readers an insight into how grass roots organising can deliver basic needs, which also talking about her experience of life a Black woman. An essential and urgent look at how we can build movements to create a just and equal world.
Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson (29 Oct)
Few people can make food sound decadent and delicious through writing, but thank goodness that Nigella Lawson is one of them.
Cook, Eat, Repeat is a book of narrative essays about food, covering topics including what a recipe is, the death of the “guilty pleasure” and a defence of “brown food”. And of course, there are plenty of recipes – from Brown Butter Colcannon to Rhubarb and Custard Trifle – for all seasons and tastes. Yum.
Really Saying Something by Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward (29 Oct)
Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward met in the school playground when they were four, and years later became known across the world as the pop group Bananarama. This memoir tells their story, from living in a YMCA to being immersed in Soho’s thriving club scene to teaming up with Siobhan Fahey to form Bananarama. Filled with never-before-seen photographs and brimming with anecdotes, this is a must for all music fans.
The Danger Gang by Tom Fletcher & Shane Devries (1 Oct)
Franky has just moved to a new town with his family and things get weird, pretty quickly. Following a strange storm that batters the town with green lightning and earth-shattering thunder, Franky and the other kids on his street find themselves feeling different. You might even say a little superhuman…
Frostheart: Escape From Aurora by Jamie Littler (1 Oct)
The sequel to Jamie Littler’s thrilling Frostheart continues to follow Ash and his friends as they search for his parents. The crew find themselves at the extraordinary stronghold of Aurora; majestic, immense, bustling, it’s unlike anything Ash has ever experienced. But Aurora is not a safe place and a vicious attack soon leaves Ash and his friends stranded on the ice. Will they ever reach safety?
Captain Sir Tom Moore: One Hundred Steps by Captain Tom Moore & Adam Larkum (1 Oct)
Captain Tom become a national hero earlier this year when he raised nearly £40 million for the NHS in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. And so, it’s only fair we tell the story of this amazing man. Beautifully illustrated by Adam Larkum, you’ll learn about Tom’s humble beginnings in Yorkshire, his adventures around the world, and how he came to raise such a staggering sum.
Serpentine by Philip Pullman & Tom Duxbury (15 Oct)
We can’t think of a better story for the winter months than Serpentine, which takes us back to the world of Lyra Silvertongue and her daemon Pantalaimon. In this story, which takes place after the events of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra and Pantalaimon return to the North to visit an old friend and discover things aren’t exactly as they seem. The book is illustrated throughout by Tom Duxbury and is perfect for existing fans of His Dark Materials and those who want a quick introduction to the world.
The Witches by Roald Dahl & Quentin Blake (29 Oct)
As we all know, witches look like ordinary women. But they’re not. They really hate children and are determined to exterminate every single child! Grab a copy of Roald Dahl’s well-loved tale before the new film – starring Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock – comes out this year 2020. We all need to be on the lookout.
Mr Wilder and Me by Jonathan Coe (5 Nov)
Award-winning author Jonathan Coe’s new novel is set in the heady summer of 1977, when a naive young woman called Calista sets out from Athens to venture into the wider world. On a Greek island that has been turned into a film set, she finds herself working for the famed Hollywood director Billy Wilder. As Calista embarks on a new adventure, Billy is living with the realisation that his star might be waning. A coming of age novel that is also a reimagining of history: Wilder was a real film director whose career spanned more than five decades.
Because They Wanted To by Mary Gaitskill (5 Nov)
This collection of short stories was first published in the 1990s, and was a bestseller at the time. It explores connection and disconnection in families, between friends and between ex-lovers, and is a perfect collection about alienation in modern times.
The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde (5 Nov)
Feminist writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde died of cancer in 1992. The story of her illness is told, in her words, in The Cancer Journals. From biopsy to mastectomy, this book moves between journal entry, memoir, and essay, with Lorde melding the personal and political to look at the many questions breast cancer raises. This is a beautiful and intimate look at survival and self-acceptance.
Poor by Caleb Femi (5 Nov)
Caleb Femi’s Poor is an extraordinary combination of poetry and original photography, which combine to explore the trials, tribulations and joys of young Black boys growing up in 21st Century Peckham. A nuanced look at gentrification, inspirational people and the world that shaped Femi, who told Penguin.co.uk that he sees himself as an archivist.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama (17 Nov)
It’s probably no exaggeration to say that this was the most anticipated book of 2020, even if at the beginning of the year very people knew it would be released.
In this first volume of his memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his earliest political aspirations through to the end of his first term in office. The book taught us lots of surprising things, and built upon the legacy of the Obama family.
Unbound by Kasia Urbaniak (19 Nov)
Lessons in power, influence and persuasion from a former dominatrix and nun. Yes, you read that right. On her 17-year long journey to become a nun, Kasia Urbaniak also worked as a high-paid dominatrix in NYC. She shows how to cut through self-doubt and function in an unequal world.
Couch Fiction by Philippa Perry and Flo Perry (26 Nov)
Psychotherapist and bestselling author Philippa Perry and illustrator Flo Perry – author of How to Have Feminist Sex – have created this graphic novel guide to therapy. Annotated with footnotes, this book is a witty and thought-provoking exploration of the therapeutic journey.
Blue Planet II by Leisa Stewart-Sharpe & Emily Dove (5 Nov)
The underwater wonders seen in the hit TV series have been brought to life on paper. Our planet is unique in that 71 per cent of it is covered by ocean, yet there is still so much that we do not know. But what we do know is awe-inspiring. Illustrated by Emily Dove, you’ll be taken on a journey through coral reefs, roam the oceanic forests and gardens, discover the inhabitants of the deep – and that’s only the beginning.
The Puffin Keeper by Michael Morpurgo & Benji Davies (12 Nov)
Inspired by the Puffin man himself, master storyteller Michael Morpurgo writes this inspiring and heart-warming new tale. Benjamin Postlewaithe is dedicated to his work as a lighthouse keeper on Puffin Island. One stormy night, a ship is driven by angry seas to the rocks and so Benjamin rows back and forth bringing all the passengers safely to land. He unwittingly forms a lifelong friendship with the young boy he saves, and many years later they rescue an injured Puffin together.
Understanding issues such as depression, anxiety and burnout can be an important first step to coping during difficult times, and helping others do the same. Here is a selection of books that offer clarity and insight into important areas of well-being.
From novels about parenting to making love last, here are some great books to read in your forties.