20 of the best books to delve into in 2020

20 of the best books to delve into in 2020

From Colum McCann and Hilary Mantel to Nick Hornby and Rachael English, there are plenty interesting reads on the way over the next few months, writes Marjorie Brennan.

1. American Dirt

Jeanine Cummins (January)

A suspenseful, harrowing and heartbreaking exploration of the human cost behind the border crisis, this timely novel tells the story of Lydia who must flee her comfortable life in Mexico with her young son and join the terrifying ‘la bestia’ freight train in search of a new life in the US.

2. Motherwell

Deborah Orr (January)

Sadly, this much-anticipated memoir will serve as an epitaph of sorts for Deborah Orr who died last October, aged just 57.

Orr blazed a trail through London’s journalism scene and in more recent years was a fierce and funny presence on social media. This reflection on her youth inScotland is characteristically piercing, funny and honest.

3. Apeirogon

Colum McCann (February)

McCann’s acclaimed back catalogue, including the sublime Let The Great World Spin, means this book comes with a guarantee of quality, but the advance word on this novel suggests a level of ambition we may not have encountered yet from the Dublin native.

It explores the Palestine-Israel conflict through the unlikely friendship of two men from either side.

4. The Paper BraceletRachael English (February)

Inspired by real life, RTÉ broadcaster and writer English brings her formidable storytelling skills to bear in this poignant tale of a former nurse in an Irish mother-and-baby home who turns detective and confidante in an attempt to reunite adoptees with their birth mothers.[n]5. Strange Hotel

Eimear McBride (February)

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| Book Review |⁣ ⁣ An unnamed women is in a hotel. We don’t know who she is or why she’s there but we have access to her thoughts. We know that she frequents hotels around the world and indulges in dalliances with various men. She seems confident, assertive and in control. But we also learn that there is something in her past that accounts for her reluctance to form attachments, her desire to move on swiftly from these random exchanges with men. Until eventually, in Austin, one man does something unexpected. ⁣ ⁣ I know that Eimear McBride’s previous novels have a reputation as being challenging, but as I haven’t read them I don’t know if Strange Hotel is more or less so. I initially read 30 pages and put it aside thinking that it was all probably a bit too cerebral for me. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the narrator and the following day I picked it back up again. Yes, there are parts that went completely over my head, but there is also some stunning writing that I read over and over again, sometimes out loud to myself. This is a novel that needs to be engaged with, that requires full attention and concentration and I really admire that McBride demands this of the reader and doesn’t just give it away. ⁣ ⁣ One of the passages that really stood out to me was when our narrator is remembering a man who she had a relationship many years ago. The circumstances around their relationship isn’t fully made clear, but we know that this man has affected her deeply.⁣ ⁣ “I knew it even then. He was more of a switchboard with the wiring ripped out whose adult life had been spent trying to intuit where it all plugged back in. And I had listened to him. And some of the details were very gruesome. And I was very young. And I still thought the house that the past lived in had a padlock on the door. That open didn’t mean open eternally after. And even this imagined self comes too soon to be able to understand. I don’t doubt though she’s doing the very best she can. I should really get back to her.”

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Expect something out of the ordinary from the author (pictured above) of the acclaimed A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.

McBride’s third novel follows a nameless woman’s journey through a series of hotel rooms, which reflect aspects of her lifeand self.

6. The Mirror And The Light

Hilary Mantel (March)

There’s eagerly anticipated and then there’s the maniacal fervour that comes with the arrival of a new book by Hilary Mantel.

Mantel’s sweeping series on Thomas Cromwell already encompasses bestsellers Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and The Mirror and The Light, out in March, deals with Cromwell’s final years.

Spoiler: it doesn’t end well for him.

7. A Thousand Moons

Sebastian Barry (March)

Barry’s Days Without End entranced readers with its lyrical rendition of the American West and two men who fall in love amid the carnage of the native American genocide.

John Cole and Thomas McNulty return in AThousand Moons, in which Barry continues his exploration of identity and dislocation.

8. My Dark Vanessa

Kate Elizabeth Russell (March)

In this Me-Too era take on Lolita, the titular protagonist must re-evaluate her schoolgirl relationship with a teacher when new information comes to light, almost two decades later.

An explosive and challenging read, this is sure to polarise readers as much as the Nabokov classic continues to do.

9. Our Little Cruelties

Liz Nugent (March)

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📚 Book Review 📚 Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent Genre: Literary Fiction/Thriller Publication Date: 26 March 2020 (Ireland and UK) . I was seriously, seriously excited to read Liz Nugent's latest book (huge fan!) and so here it is, book 126 and my final book of 2019 and I'm going out on a high! . Nobody writes dysfunctional families like Liz Nugent. She seems to get into the very fabric and woven seams of despicable and self centred, self serving characters and the result? A fourth book that is utterly compelling, wildly entertaining and really, just brilliant. . Brian, Will and Luke are the three sons of a self obsessed "star" of the Irish scene, Melissa. They all grow up competing for her love, with some getting more than their fair share. As adults, their competitiveness and familial "little cruelties" towards each other means they can never be happy if one appears to get further ahead of another and so, three brothers are at a funeral, one is in the coffin, but which one? . With multiple perspectives and varying timelines, the story is really well paced with some serious OMG moments. At all times it is riveting, sensational and compulsive with a truly unforgettable ending that is fast coming Ms Nugent's trademark, I highly highly recommend you read this book ASAP. A fantastic 5++/5⭐ . Thanks to Penguin Ireland and Ms Nugent, and Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for my honest opinion . . . . . #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bookworm #bookaddict #bibliophile #bookish #rosbc #booklover #kindle #instabook #booksofinsta #bookreview #igreads #ourlittlecruelties #bookcommunity #ilovebooks #netgalley #booknerd #currentlyreading #booksbooksbooks #lovebooks #crimethriller #irishbookblogger #fivestarreads #amreading #dublin #goodreads #bookaholic #liznugent #instagramireland

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Nugent is queen of the pacy page-turner and her latest is sure to be no different. Brothers Will, Brian and Luke are in constant competition growing up — a rivalry which ends up with one of them dead.

10. Exciting Times

Naoise Dolan (April)

The buzz has been building around this debut novel from Irish writer Dolan for quite a while, with the Sally Rooney comparisons flowing thick and fast.

Protagonist Ava teaches English to the children of the Hong Kong elite, while navigating her relationships with non-committal banker Julian and earnest lawyer Edith. Millennial cynicism smartly rendered.

11. As You Were

Elaine Feeney (April)

Feeney is one of Ireland’s brightest literary talents and her debuter novel comes with an inventive premise, featuring at its centre a young property developer with a terrifying secret which she confides to a magpie.

12. The Ratline

Philippe Sands (April)

20 of the best books to delve into in 2020

Sand’s previous book, East West Street, interweaved the author’s family origins in eastern Europe with the Nuremberg trials following World War II.

In this book, based on the gripping podcast of the same name, Sands tracks a Nazi provincial governor as he tries to escape justice after the war — helped by a growing friendship with the Nazi’s son,who still believes his father was a good man.

13. The Cutting Place

Jane Casey (April)

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Last but by no means least is this beauty from Sunday Times bestseller Jane Casey. The Cutting Place is published on 16th April 2020. @janecaseyauthor . . . You've got to be in the club to know the truth. Everyone's heard the rumours about elite gentlemen's clubs, where the champagne flows freely, the parties are the height of decadence . . . and the secrets are darker than you could possibly imagine. DS Maeve Kerrigan finds herself in an unfamiliar world of wealth, luxury and ruthless behaviour when she investigates the murder of a young journalist, Paige Hargreaves. Paige was working on a story about the Chiron Club, a private society for the richest and most privileged men in London. Then she disappeared. It's clear to Maeve that the members have many secrets. But Maeve is hiding secrets of her own – even from her partner DI Josh Derwent. Will she uncover the truth about Paige’s death? Or will time run out for Maeve first? . . . #bookpost #bookmail #authorlife #bookproof #crimefiction #janecasey #thecuttingplace #harpercollinsuk #harperfiction

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Casey is one of the leading proponents of Ireland’s flourishing crime fiction genre and has won a legion of devoted fans with her Maeve Kerrigan series.

In the latest instalment, the indefatigable detective sergeant tackles toxic masculinity and domestic abuse when she probes the murder of a young journalist.

14. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Suzanne Collins (May)

The taut and thrilling Hunger Games books were among the last decade’s top sellers, spawning a hugely successful movie franchise and launching the career of Jennifer Lawrence. In this prequel Collins revisits the world of Panem, 64 years before Katniss Everdeen took up her bow, and centres on the competitors of the 10th Hunger Games.

15. Nothing But Blue Sky

Kathleen MacMahon (May)

20 of the best books to delve into in 2020

This is How It Ends by the Dublin-based former journalist was a deeply affecting and beautifully written meditation on grief and loss. In her latest novel, a husband discovers there’s no such thing as a perfect marriage when he must confront his wife’s secrets after her death.

16. Love

Roddy Doyle (May)

20 of the best books to delve into in 2020

One of Ireland’s best-loved writers returns with this humorous and poignant examination of friendship and the meaning of love. Former drinking buddies Davy and Joe meet up for a pub crawl as old memories resurface to comfort and haunt them.

17. The Lying Life of Adults

Elena Ferrante (June)

Speculation continues to swirl over the actual identity of the author but die hard fans will only be interested in getting their hands on this English translation of Ferrante’s latest novel, which was published in her home country of Italy in November, with fans queuing up to buy copies at the stroke of midnight.Reviews suggest readers won’t be disappointed.

18. Curtis Sittenfeld (July)

Details such as the title of Sittenfeld’s new book are thin on the ground, but that won’t matter to the many fans of her finely drawn portraits of contemporary American life, from Prep to Sisterland.

What we do know is that the new book takes Hillary Clinton as its inspiration; this echoes the criminally under-rated American Wife, which was based on the life of Laura Bush.

19. Just Like You

Nick Hornby (September)

20 of the best books to delve into in 2020

Hornby may now be better known as a screenwriter in some quarters — he adapted Brooklyn and Wild for the screen — but his first novel in five years will kindle interest among those who fell in love with the effortless charm of his earlier books such as HIgh Fidelity.

Just Like You is being flagged as another astute analysis of relationships, but with an added layer of complexity added to the mix: the swirl of the Brexit referendum forms the background to the narrative.

20. Ghosts

Dolly Alderton (October)

20 of the best books to delve into in 2020

The Times columnist and podcaster’s witty memoir Everything I Know About Love was a huge word-of-mouth hit, so expectations for her first novel will be high.

It follows food writer Nina, whose huge success online is not mirrored in her increasingly fragile reality.

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