Shared booklist

BKLYN BookMatch: Our Favorite Books from 2020

It was a difficult year, to put it mildly, but at least we had books. In this list, BPL librarians and staff recommend their absolute favorites from 2020, in every genre and age group. Most books were published this year, some were published earlier, and all were a much-appreciated distraction.

50 items

Writers & lovers : a novel

King, Lily, author. |

A portrait of the artist as a young woman, yes! It's funny even when it focuses on death, it grapples with grief and creative pursuits and financial hardship, and it is SO romantic. I plan to reread it often.


Bieker, Chelsea |

Surprising, sad and intense, full of sparkly capes and unforgettable characters. The ending made me cry!


Rapoport, Nessa | Book

A shiva story, a love story, a sister story, a mystery, and an ode to book-loving, Type B girls everywhere.

A burning

Majumdar, Megha, author. | Book

Strong, individually-voiced characters; devastating story; couldn't put it down!

Vesper Flights

MacDonald, Helen | Book

A stunning, captivating essay collection about birds and boars, migration and meadows, butterflies and deer and so much more.

The city we became

Jemisin, N. K, author. |

NYC literally comes to life and fights against unseen evil, and isn't that the energy we need now?

So we can glow : stories

Cross-Smith, Leesa, 1978- author. |

Bite-size, lyrical, delicious stories with titles like “Tim Riggins Would’ve Smoked” and “Girlheart Cake with Glitter Frosting.” I opened this collection every time I needed to counteract the news.


Bertino, Marie-Helene, author. | Book

A bride-to-be is suffering from cold feet when her dead grandma returns to her in bird form. The story is fast-paced and the writing is incredible, you'll want to jot down every line.

The cult of smart : how our broken education system perpetuates social injustice

deBoer, Fredrik, author. | Book

This book explains how heuristics and private money have led us down the wrong road in education.

Pizza girl : a novel

Frazier, Jean Kyoung, author. | Book

Sad, funny, weird, unexpected: a wild ride! This is also my favorite book cover of 2020.

I want to be where the normal people are

Bloom, Rachel, 1987- author. | Book

I laughed so hard reading this essay collection I nearly broke out in song.

Solutions and other problems

Brosh, Allie, author, illustrator. | Book

The long-awaited return of Allie Brosh! These laugh-(and sob)-out-loud autobiographical comics cover everything from love and sickness to babysitting and pet ownership.

If you come to Earth

Blackall, Sophie, author, illustrator. | Book

A beautiful and ultimately hopeful story about our world and the people in it.

Big friendship : how we keep each other close

Sow, Aminatou, author. | Book

An entire book putting into words why we can and should take friendships seriously? Yes, please!

Four Sisters 1 : Enid

Ferdjoukh, Malika/ Baur, Cati | PRINTED MATL

A stunning French graphic novel about family that is hyper-realistic and specific with a tinge of magic. Gorgeous art.

Race the Sands

Durst, Sarah Beth |

A twisty, perfectly-paced adventure for readers who want their high fantasy with a dose of mystery.

Tam Lin

Dean, Pamela, 1953- |

Annual autumnal read of this Tam Lin retelling set in the 1970s. Magical but believable.

Plain Bad Heroines

Danforth, Emily M./ Lautman, Sara (ILT) | Book

Half Victorian boarding school novel, half celesbian gossip satire—queer, creepy and atmospheric.

How to win in a winner-take-all world : the definitive guide to adapting and succeeding in high-performance careers

Irwin, Neil, author. |

This looked intimidating, but turned out to have thoughtful advice about success in today's economy.

Deacon King Kong : a novel

McBride, James, 1957- author. |

Fantastical tale of Brooklyn in the vein of Kurt Vonnegut or John Kennedy Toole. Lovable, imperfect characters.

Not so pure and simple

Giles, L. R. (Lamar R.), author. |

This book is a hilarious and honest discussion of religion, masculinity, sexuality and friendship.


Offill, Jenny, 1968- author. |

Beautiful prose about a librarian in Brooklyn. I am not made of stone.

Begin Again : James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own

Glaude, Eddie S. |

This book shows Baldwin as an American prophet, his words as vital as a sunrise.

Tweet cute

Lord, Emma, author. |

An unexpectedly delightful story of mistaken identity, social media feuds, baking and fast food.

Go With the Flow

Schneemann, Karen/ Williams, Lily |

Destigmatizing periods, addressing period poverty and even a few LOLs in one graphic novel!

In a Holidaze

Lauren, Christina | Book

It's Groundhog Day meets The Family Stone. How can you resist?! Cozy perfection.

The passion economy : the new rules for thriving in the twenty-first century

Davidson, Adam, author. |

An inspirational view of entrepreneurship—today, anyone can launch a niche business!

Red, white & royal blue : a novel

McQuiston, Casey, author. |

I've never laughed with, cried over, or rooted so hard for a couple in my life.

Lovely War

Berry, Julie | PRINTED MATL

A World War I love story as told though the Greek Gods who control them. Moving, thoughtful, fun.

Six of crows

Leigh Bardugo. |

2020 called for escapism and what better escape than an unlikely crew pulling off an impossible heist.

No Visible Bruises : What We Don?t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us

Snyder, Rachel Louise |

This book examines domestic violence from all angles and ends on hopeful note.


Serizawa, Asako, author. | Book

A beautifully written, multi-generational family saga about trauma, war, and identity.

Nancy Drew. The Palace of Wisdom The palace of wisdom

Thompson, Kelly, 1976- author. |

A brilliant graphic-novel update for the Nancy Drew canon. Such fun!!

Hollowpox : the hunt for Morrigan Crow

Townsend, Jessica, 1985- author. | Book

This series balances storytelling and worldbuilding with a lovely imagination and resists the expected.

The invisible life of Addie LaRue

Schwab, Victoria, author. | Book

An empowering, perfectly-plotted fantasy that subverts and defies expectations. A must read.

Everything sad is untrue : (a true story)

Nayeri, Daniel, author. | Book

A funny, touching look at past and present, history and loss through the eyes of a 12-year-old Persian refugee.

Rodham : a novel

Sittenfeld, Curtis, author. | Book

This novel is essentially political fan-fic but with great writing and a deeply satisfying ending.

Beach read

Henry, Emily, author. |

A professional rivalry is the backdrop to a surprisingly poignant exploration of love and grief.

The glass hotel : a novel

Mandel, Emily St. John, 1979- author. |

Beautiful writing: ghosts, a pyramid scheme like Madoff's, and an amazing, imaginary place in Canada.

Sharks in the time of saviors

Washburn, Kawai Strong, 1980- author. |

I loved the family dynamics in this book and the use of family legends and Hawaiian folklore.

The Five : The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

Rubenhold, Hallie |

As Rubenhold writes, both Victorian society and the modern day owe these women an apology.


Ken Jennings. |

The cheerful blend of Jeopardy! insider tales and trivia cheered me up in the middle of lockdown.

A deadly education : a novel

Novik, Naomi, author. | Book

The magic school experience that 2020 deserved. By turns hopeful and horrific, a great cast and world.

Harley in the Sky

Bowman, Akemi Dawn |

An ode to the beauty and work of circus life as seen by someone who loves every aspect of it.

Black girl unlimited : the remarkable true story of a teenage wizard

Brown, Echo, author. |

A gut-wrenching account of how Echo shakes off all the things that are holding her back.

Juliet takes a breath

a Gabby Rivera novel. |

Hilarious, bold and queertastic!

Cemetery boys

Thomas, Aiden, author. | Book

A novel about Latinx culture, love, family and friendship. So much queer rep and queer joy in this book!

The house in the cerulean sea

Klune, TJ, author. |

This book is a big, warm, queer hug that gave me exactly what I needed in a tough year.

Dress coded

Firestone, Carrie, author. | Book

Fierce girls taking ownership and taking back their autonomy.

The starless sea

Morgenstern, Erin, author. |

I loved slipping through time, worlds, tunnels and masquerades in this heady ode to literature and NYC.