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The New York Times Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2020

The New York Times Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2020

We've got the audiobooks from this year’s notable fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

Playlist Tags: topic best of 2020 topic: best of

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The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison

By Ralph Ellison
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman & John F. Callahan
Length: 49 hours 4 minutes

A radiant collection of letters from the renowned author of Invisible Man that trace the life and mind of a giant of American literature, with insights into the riddle of identity, the writer’s craft, and the story of a changing nation over six decades 

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK

These extensive and revealing letters span the life of Ralph... Read more »

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Sea Wife

A novel

By Amity Gaige
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell, Will Damron & Emily Eiden
Length: 9 hours 45 minutes

Sea Wife

“Wherever you go, your anxieties go with you — even (or especially) if you go live on a boat to sail the world with your spouse and small children. Nothing will ever be the same for Juliet, Michael, and their family after their harrowing year at sea, and no reader will be the same after reading this taut, brilliant novel. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Parnassus Books image Mary Laura Philpott, Parnassus Books
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Saint X

A Novel

By Alexis Schaitkin
Narrated by: Alex Hyde-White, Bailey Carr, Dana Dae, Dave Fennoy, Dean Gallagher, Denise Nelson, Ella Turenne, Josh Petersdorf, Kate Orsini, Melinda Wade, Prentice Onayemi, Ron Butler, Ryan Vincent Anderson & Tristan Wright
Length: 12 hours 25 minutes

Saint X

““....some truths will never be enough...” Unbelievable debut author. The twists and turns lead you to a place you never would have guessed.”

HearthFire Books and Treats image Mollie, HearthFire Books and Treats
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The Saddest Words

William Faulkner's Civil War

By Michael Gorra
Narrated by: Joe Barrett
Length: 14 hours 43 minutes

How do we read William Faulkner in the twenty-first century? asks Michael Gorra, one of America's most preeminent literary critics.

Should we still read William Faulkner in this new century? What can his works tell us about the legacy of slavery and the Civil War, that central quarrel in our nation's history? These are the provocative questions... Read more »

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Red Pill

A novel

By Hari Kunzru
Narrated by: Hari Kunzru
Length: 8 hours 44 minutes

Red Pill

“From academic satire, to fevered paranoia, to the dread-inducing realism of election night 2016, Hari Kunzru has written a novel—maybe THE novel—for these troubled times. Many of the choices Kunzru makes are unexpected, but they are never the easy or obvious choice, and under a lesser writer, the novel might have floundered. But Hari Kunzru is one of those writers I would follow anywhere, and I have, including into paranormal realms (see White Tears, 2017). But perhaps the most interesting point Kunzru seems to be making in this book is this: sometimes novels don't need a bogeyman; sometimes reality is far scarier.”

The Book Table image Rachel, The Book Table
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Real Life

A Novel

By Brandon Taylor
Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
Length: 9 hours 25 minutes

A FINALIST for the Booker Prize, the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the NYPL Young Lions Award, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award 
 
“A blistering coming of age story” —O: The Oprah Magazine


Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York TimesThe Washington... Read more »

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Reaganland

America's Right Turn 1976-1980

By Rick Perlstein
Narrated by: Samantha Desz, Jonathan Todd Ross, Jacques Roy & Gabra Zackman
Length: 45 hours 18 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2020

From the bestselling author of Nixonland and The Invisible Bridge comes the dramatic conclusion of how conservatism took control of American political power.

Over two decades, Rick Perlstein has published three definitive works about the emerging dominance of conservatism in modern American politics. With the... Read more »

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The Quiet Americans

Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War--a Tragedy in Three Acts

By Scott Anderson
Narrated by: Robertson Dean & Scott Anderson
Length: 22 hours 1 minutes

“Enthralling. . . . Lying and stealing and invading, it should be said, make for captivating reading, especially in the hands of a storyteller as skilled as Anderson.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
 
At the end of World War II, the United States was considered the victor over tyranny and a champion of... Read more »

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A Promised Land

By Barack Obama
Narrated by: Barack Obama
Length: 29 hours 9 minutes

A Promised Land

“No one really needs my blurb to help sell this book, but I wanted to give it anyway, especially for the audiobook, narrated by Barack Obama himself. If you want to know his incredible knowledge and wisdom that guided him through major decisions, and also hear him drop a few F-bombs, you need to listen to this fantastically written book. ”

Quail Ridge Books image Amber, Quail Ridge Books
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A Pilgrimage to Eternity

From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith

By Timothy Egan
Narrated by: Timothy Egan
Length: 12 hours 41 minutes

From "the world's greatest tour guide," a deeply-researched, captivating journey through the rich history of Christianity and the winding paths of the French and Italian countryside that will feed mind, body, and soul (New York Times).

"What a wondrous work! This beautifully written and totally clear-eyed account of his pilgrimage will have you...
Read more »

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A Peculiar Indifference

The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America

By Elliott Currie
Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
Length: 6 hours 47 minutes

From a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a devastating exploration of the racial disparities in violent death and injury in America and a blueprint for ending this fundamental social injustice

About 170,000 black Americans have died in homicides just since the year 2000. Violence takes more years of life from black men than cancer, stroke, and diabetes...

Read more »

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Owls of the Eastern Ice

A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl

By Jonathan C. Slaght
Narrated by: Jonathan C. Slaght
Length: 8 hours 43 minutes

Owls of the Eastern Ice

“Ever wonder what it’s actually like on these months-long trips into the field to study wildlife? This fascinating study of the largest owls in the world will take you out over oceans and deep into the taiga of far eastern Siberia. My wanderlust has been officially stoked.”

Tattered Cover image Jeremy, Tattered Cover
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Overground Railroad

The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America

By Candacy Taylor
Narrated by: Lisa Reneé Pitts
Length: 9 hours 29 minutes

The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists

Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the "black travel guide to America." At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn't eat, sleep, or... Read more »

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Notes on a Silencing

A Memoir

By Lacy Crawford
Narrated by: Lacy Crawford
Length: 11 hours 5 minutes

A "powerful and scary and important and true" memoir of a young woman's struggle to regain her sense of self after trauma, and the efforts by a powerful New England boarding school to silence her—at any cost (Sally Mann, author of Hold Still).

Shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

When Notes on a Silencing hit... Read more »

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Monogamy

A Novel

By Sue Miller
Narrated by: Sue Miller
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes

Monogamy

“Bookstore owner Graham is a friend to all and larger than life in every way. His first wife, Frieda, and current wife, Annie, both know and love him for it. But after Graham’s unexpected death, secrets emerge that bring everything Annie thought she knew into question. Daughter Sarah and stepson Lucas help her through her grief, but anger is harder to leave behind. Fans of The Most Fun We Ever Had will love this beautifully written, honest look at the deep but fragile bond of love.”

Lake Forest Book Store image Beth Mynhier, Lake Forest Book Store
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Missionaries

A Novel

By Phil Klay
Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews, Cynthia Farrell, Henry Leyva & Anthony Rey Perez
Length: 14 hours 28 minutes

One of President Obama's Favorite Books of the Year | A New York Times Notable Book | One of the Wall Street Journal Ten Best Books of the Year

"Missionaries is a courageous book: It doesn’t shy away, as so much fiction does, from the real world.” —Juan Gabriel Vásquez, The New York Times Book Review

“A sweeping, interconnected novel of ideas in...
Read more »

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The Mirror and the Light

The Wolf Hall Trilogy: Book #3

By Hilary Mantel
Narrated by: Ben Miles
Length: 38 hours 11 minutes

WINNER OF THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2020 Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 Listen to the long-awaited sequel to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, the stunning conclusion to Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Read by Ben Miles, who played Thomas Cromwell in the... Read more »

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Minor Detail

By Adania Shibli
Narrated by: Siiri Scott
Length: 3 hours 57 minutes

A searing, beautiful novel meditating on war, violence, memory, and the sufferings of the Palestinian people.

Minor Detail begins during the summer of 1949, one year after the war that the Palestinians mourn as the Nakba—the catastrophe that led to the displacement and exile of some 700,000 people—and the Israelis celebrate as the War of... Read more »

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The Mercies

By Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Narrated by: Jessie Buckley
Length: 11 hours 6 minutes

The Mercies

“A chilling and captivating book taking place in a Norwegian village in the 1670s, The Mercies is a story of resilience. It follows Maren, who watched as all the village men died in a storm and has had to find a way to survive those losses, and Ursa, the daughter of a merchant who was married off to a witch hunter before being brought north. When their paths cross, both women’s lives are changed forever. This beautifully written story left me chilled. It is not often that I have to put down a book, but there were several times I had to walk away from this one to just sit and think about it. A must-read!”

Trident Booksellers and Cafe image Katherine Nazzaro, Trident Booksellers and Cafe
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Memorial Drive

A Daughter's Memoir

By Natasha Trethewey
Narrated by: Natasha Trethewey
Length: 5 hours 9 minutes

Memorial Drive

“This is one of those "I'm changed forever" books and having the author, poet Natasha Trethewey read it makes it reverberate in the soul even more. The writing of this memoir is exquisite and the construction of the prose is perfect. The heartbreak and honesty of the author will stay with me. I can't wait to hear back from those I've recommended it to, they're in for a special experience.”

Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery image Jen, Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery
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