She’s always looking to perfect her reading nook, talks about exploding llamas and loves to read books to her sons. Sarah Gelman from Amazon Books joins us to talk the best books of 2020 so far.
Today, Amazon announced its choices for 2020’s Best Books of the Year So Far, selecting Abi Daré’s debut novel, The Girl with the Louding Voice, as the top pick.
Press Release from Amazon :
Throughout the year, the Amazon Books editorial team pores over thousands of pages to determine the Best Books of the Month, Best Books of the Year So Far, and Best Books of the Year, debating new releases across various categories—including literary fiction, mystery and thriller, biography, children’s books, and young adult—all to help customers find their next great book. For Best Books of the Year So Far, the Amazon Books editorial team read and selected titles released between January 2020 and June 2020. This year’s list includes the first adult novel of a longtime children’s book author, a sought-after tattoo artist’s memoir on assimilating to American culture after leaving Vietnam, and a gripping true story of a family trying to understand how schizophrenia has affected their lives and future.
“Determining the Best Books of the Year So Far took on even greater importance this year as many of us spent months at home and often turned to books to better understand our new normal or seek reprieve in another person’s story. In every page and chapter of these profound books, we found opportunities to escape to different worlds, travel through time, and remind ourselves of the things that connect us all,” said Sarah Gelman, Editorial Director, Amazon Books. “For the Amazon Books editors, The Girl with the Louding Voice stood out thanks to its unforgettable characters and message of hope and determination when all feels lost. It’s impossible to walk away from this book without feeling hopeful.”
The Girl with the Louding Voice’s altruistic protagonist resonated with readers as well, as the most highlighted passage from the Kindle edition of the book spoke to a desire to make an impact on oneself and others: “My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice, Ms. Tia. I want a louding voice,” I say. “I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking. I want to live in this life and help many people so that when I grow old and die, I will still be living through the people I am helping.”
Upon hearing the news that her debut novel is at the top of the Best Books of the Year So Far list, Abi Daré said: “I am completely mind-blown by this! At a time when the world feels weightless and the days an endless, timeless thing filled with uncertainty, this news brought some laughter and color into my heart. A huge thank you to the brilliant editors at Amazon, who have read countless other fabulous books this season, and have loved and selected The Girl with the Louding Voice for this accolade. Thank you for shining a light on Adunni’s inspiring and beautiful story with your very powerful beam! I am beyond thrilled and utterly grateful.”
Here are the Amazon Books editorial team’s top 10 picks of 2020 so far:
- The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Daré: In this rousing tale of courage and pluck, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl is sold into servitude by her father when her mother—a proponent of education—passes away. You will root for Adunni as she endeavors to escape her sorry—and often harrowing—lot, and applaud the kind strangers who buoy her efforts and her spirits.
- Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker: Hidden Valley Road is a heartbreaking, expertly told story of an all-American family, the Galvins, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia while still teenagers. Relying on exhaustive research, Kolker weaves together cultural, medical, and family history to show the ravages of mental illness on the six Galvin boys, on their parents, and, perhaps most movingly, on their other six siblings.
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games Novel by Suzanne Collins: The 10th anniversary of the Hunger Games is beginning, and 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow—President Snow, when we met him decades later in The Hunger Games—has an important role to play. Nearly impossible to put down, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an exciting and thought-provoking novel that goes outside the arena to ask interesting questions about human nature and ambition.
- Deacon King Kong: A Novel by James McBride: Set in the 1960s, this propulsive and darkly comic neighborhood epic features a cast of characters that are beguiling, boozed-filled, and larger than life. National Book Award-winner McBride weaves a fictional story of one Brooklyn project, but in doing so tells a broader tale of race and religion, getting by and getting out, and how grudges and alliances become embedded in the foundations of our lives.
- Pretty Things: A Novel by Janelle Brown: When a second-generation grifter, Nina, and her shady boyfriend move to Lake Tahoe, they collide with a woman from Nina’s past, heiress Vanessa Liebling. Behind a glittering façade of old money and fast living, a darker story of social climbing, social media, revenge, and betrayal starts to take menacing shape.
- Writers & Lovers: A Novel by Lily King: Writers & Lovers is about the uncertainty of relationships, and of pursuing the creative life, in a world that values success and stability. Life is not waiting for Casey to fulfill her dream of being a novelist, so she works as a waitress and she dates, and she tries to figure it out as she goes. Love and art require frequent, often imperceptible, leaps of faith—and this book captures that perfectly.
- Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran: Sigh, Gone is one of the funniest and most profound memoirs of the year so far. Without rose-colored glasses and with a flair for humor, Tran recounts his childhood as a Vietnamese kid growing up in a small Pennsylvania town: the racism, dislocation, and violence that surrounded him, how he fought to fit in, and how he fell in love with literature.
- The City We Became: A Novel by N. K. Jemisin: Five strangers unexpectedly become the living embodiments of New York City’s boroughs and must battle an evil entity that threatens the city. Jemisin infuses this live-wire love letter to the city’s diverse denizens with reality-ripping storytelling.
- Oona Out of Order: A Novel by Margarita Montimore: Oona Lockhart is celebrating New Year’s Eve 1982 and the eve of her 19th birthday, but at midnight she passes out and wakes up as a 19-year-old trapped in the body of a 51-year-old. Thus begins Oona living life out of order. Although Oona Out of Order could be a fun romp through the adage “youth is wasted on the young” (and it is), it’s also a deeper look at destiny, love, and family.
- The Mercies: A Novel by Kiran Millwood Hargrave: There isn’t much that is not unforgiving when it comes to the far-flung and frigid town of Vardø, Norway, including the sea that surrounds it, which swallows the majority of its male population in an epic storm while they’re fishing. Accusations of witchcraft quickly infect this grieving but resourceful community, threatening what hard-won normalcy they’ve regained. The Mercies is infuriating, baleful, but full of stubborn hope.
The Girl with the Louding Voice joins the Amazon Book editors’ past Best Book of the Year So Far selections, including Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls, Tara Westover’s Educated, and Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness.
To view the complete list of the Best Books of the Year So Far spanning literary fiction, cookbooks, children’s books and more, visit www.amazon.com/bestbookssofar.