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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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Memorial

A Novel

By Bryan Washington
Narrated by: Bryan Washington & Akie Kotabe
Length: 8 hours 19 minutes

Memorial

“Maybe it's because I listened to this book on Libro.fm and the author was the narrator, but this novel felt so personal a story, that I kept thinking it was a memoir. The story follows two men, Benson and Mike, who live together and are in a tense, emotionally distant relationship. While Mike's mom is arriving from Japan for a long stay and visit in their home, Mike is getting on a flight to Japan to care for his father, with no plans to return anytime soon. We follow Benson, the boyfriend left behind, as he meets Mike's mother for the first time and struggles to welcome her into their home while her son leaves her behind with a stranger. The awkwardness of the characters ring so true in this story. I loved Washington's writing that allows us to peek into their very private lives, some stories they won't even tell each other. As Benson's story gets more complicated, dealing with his own family and his loyalty to Mike, the story pivots and we get to see Mike in Japan, awkwardly trying to rekindle a very strained relationship with his stoic father who is slowly dying of cancer. Both characters are nuanced, with plenty of learning and change throughout their stories, we also get glimpses into life in Japan, life as immigrants, and the lives of gay men in modern times.”

BookBar image Jessica, BookBar
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The Man Who Ran Washington

The Life and Times of James A. Baker III

By Peter Baker & Susan Glasser
Narrated by: Michael Quinlan
Length: 26 hours 35 minutes

From two of America's most revered political journalists comes the definitive biography of legendary White House chief of staff and secretary of state James A. Baker III: the man who ran Washington when Washington ran the world.

For a quarter-century, from the end of Watergate to the aftermath of the Cold War, no Republican won the presidency... Read more »

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Man of My Time

By Dalia Sofer
Narrated by: Navid Navid
Length: 11 hours 53 minutes

Set in Iran and New York City, Dalia Sofer's second novel, Man of My Time, tells the story of Hamid Mozaffarian, who is as alienated from himself as he is from the world. After decades of ambivalence about his work for the Iranian, Hamid travels to New York, where he encounters his estranged family and retrieves the ashes of his father - who was... Read more »

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Luster

A Novel

By Raven Leilani
Narrated by: Ariel Blake
Length: 6 hours 39 minutes

Luster

Luster centers on Edie, a young black woman working in New York publishing and barely making rent each month, who finds herself navigating a suburban white couple’s open marriage. This novel is filled with unexpected turns taken at breakneck speeds. It seamlessly examines the plight of millennials living under capitalism along with the complications of intimacy and race, all while finding both the humor and profound sadness in those things. This is a multifaceted and brilliant book, as well as an extraordinary debut from Raven Leilani.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Billy Butler, Bookshop Santa Cruz
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Little Eyes

A Novel

By Samanta Schweblin
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 7 hours 3 minutes

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

"Her most unsettling work yet — and her most realistic." --New York Times

Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York TimesO, The Oprah Magazine, NPR, Vulture, Bustle, Refinery29, and Thrillist

A visionary novel about our interconnected present,...
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The King at the Edge of the World

A Novel

By Arthur Phillips
Narrated by: Euan Morton
Length: 9 hours 32 minutes

Queen Elizabeth’s spymasters recruit an unlikely agent—the only Muslim in England—for an impossible mission in a mesmerizing novel from “one of the best writers in America” (The Washington Post)

“Evokes flashes of Hilary Mantel, John le Carré and Graham Greene, but the wry, tricky plot that drives it is pure Arthur Phillips.”—The Wall Street...
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Jack (Oprah's Book Club)

A Novel

By Marilynne Robinson
Narrated by: Adam Verner
Length: 10 hours 26 minutes

"Robinson’s slow prose is the star here, and narrator Adam Verner gives great depth of emotion to Jack’s raw suffering and ethical dilemmas...Come for the love story; stay for a couple who learn to find the beauty in broken humanity, and what grace can look like for those who love each other." -- Booklist

This program includes a bonus...

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The Inevitability of Tragedy

Henry Kissinger and His World

By Barry Gewen
Narrated by: Paul Woodson
Length: 18 hours 46 minutes

A new portrait of Henry Kissinger focusing on the fundamental ideas underlying his policies: Realism, balance of power, and national interest.

Few public officials have provoked such intense controversy as Henry Kissinger. During his time in the Nixon and Ford administrations, he came to be admired and hated in equal measure. Notoriously, he... Read more »

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How Much of These Hills Is Gold

A Novel

By C Pam Zhang
Narrated by: Catherine Ho & Joel de la Fuente
Length: 9 hours 8 minutes

How Much of These Hills Is Gold

“In post-Gold Rush California, a Chinese-American family struggles to make money to improve their lives. When bad things get even worse, 10 and 11-year old Lucy and Sam take off on a stolen horse and head east, living off the land. Sam takes off on her own, and Lucy ends up in a town but never feels really at home. The two sisters meet up again several years later and decide to try to fulfill their mother's dream—traveling to China where they might finally find Home. With lyrical style that cloaks the narrative of a chain of miserable events in a dream-like quality, Zhang's writing evokes the real sense of alienation that many immigrants and displaced people feel as they search for a place to belong. The writing is beautiful. Recommended.”

Blue Willow Bookshop image Alice, Blue Willow Bookshop
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Homeland Elegies

A Novel

By Ayad Akhtar
Narrated by: Ayad Akhtar
Length: 10 hours 19 minutes

Homeland Elegies

“A masterful blend of memoir and fiction, this is an unforgettable journey through the lives of a Muslim family finding their place in a post-9/11 America. A searing navigation of the loves we try to reconcile — familial, religious, societal — and the definition of home. Written with wisdom, wit, and unsparing honesty, this an important book that you will continue to contemplate for a very long time. Both intimate and epic, this is a must-read.”

East Bay Booksellers image Pam Stirling, East Bay Booksellers
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His Only Wife

By Peace Adzo Medie
Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
Length: 9 hours 3 minutes

A REESE WITHERSPOON x HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK CLUB PICK
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A Time Magazine Must-Read Book of 2020
One of BuzzFeed's "29 Books We Couldn’t Put Down This Year"

A Must-Read Novel: The New York Times Book Review * BuzzFeed *  Marie Claire * Parade * Travel + Leisure * Ms. Magazine * Bustle * The Millions * Book...

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Hidden Valley Road

Inside the Mind of an American Family

By Robert Kolker
Narrated by: Sean Pratt
Length: 13 hours 8 minutes

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
ONE OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL TOP TEN BOOKS OF THE YEAR
PEOPLE'S #1 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
ONE OF GQ's TOP 50 BOOKS OF LITERARY JOURNALISM IN THE 21st CENTURY
Named a BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, TIME, Slate,...
Read more »

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Hamnet

By Maggie O'Farrell
Narrated by: Ell Potter
Length: 12 hours 42 minutes

Hamnet

“In this acclaimed new novel, author Maggie O’Farrell takes one small detail from the life of William Shakespeare and spins it into a complex and wonderful love story and family saga, set during an outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1590’s England. Ell Potter's audiobook performance brings these characters to life, adding a layered intimacy to the experience of this subtle and beautifully written story.”

Oblong Books image Noelle, Oblong Books
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The Hardhat Riot

Nixon, New York City, and the Dawn of the White Working-Class Revolution

By David Paul Kuhn
Narrated by: Bob Souer
Length: 12 hours 26 minutes

In The Hardhat Riot, David Paul Kuhn tells the fateful story of when the white working class first turned against liberalism, when Richard Nixon seized the breach, and America was forever changed. It was unthinkable one generation before: FDR's "forgotten man" siding with the party of Big Business and, ultimately, paving the way for presidencies... Read more »

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The Glass Kingdom

A Novel

By Lawrence Osborne
Narrated by: Sura Siu
Length: 9 hours 20 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • A tense, stunningly well-observed novel of a young American on the run, from Lawrence Osborne, “an heir to Graham Greene” (The New York Times Book Review)
 
“Bangkok is the star of this accomplished novel. Its denizens are aliens to themselves, glittering on the horizon of their... Read more »

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Felon

Poems

By Reginald Dwayne Betts
Narrated by: Reginald Dwayne Betts
Length: 1 hours 21 minutes

A searing volume by a poet whose work conveys “the visceral effect that prison has on identity” (New York Times).

Felon tells the story of one man in fierce, dazzling poems― canvassing his wide range of emotions and experiences through homelessness, underemployment, love, drug abuse, domestic violence, fatherhood, and grace― and, in doing so,... Read more »

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Fallout

The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed It to the World

By Lesley M.M. Blume
Narrated by: Fred Sanders
Length: 6 hours 52 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2020

New York Times bestselling author Lesley M.M. Blume reveals how one courageous American reporter uncovered one of the deadliest cover-ups of the 20th century—the true effects of the atom bomb—potentially saving millions of lives.

Just days after the United States decimated Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear... Read more »

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Exercise of Power

American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World

By Robert M. Gates
Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 16 hours 58 minutes

From the former secretary of defense and author of the acclaimed #1 bestselling memoir, Duty, a candid, sweeping examination of power, and how it has been exercised, for good and bad, by American presidents in the post-Cold War world.
 
Since the end of the Cold War, the global perception of the United States has progressively morphed from... Read more »

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Everywhere You Don't Belong

By Gabriel Bump
Narrated by: Korey Jackson
Length: 7 hours 15 minutes

Everywhere You Don't Belong

“Young Claude is being raised by his grandma in Chicago’s changing South Shore, and folks in his life — his parents, friends, neighbors — are disappearing. There’s little he can count on besides his grandma, her friend Paul, and his not-quite girlfriend Janice. The violence that was once at a safe distance is now on their doorstep, with corrupt and racist police coming from one direction and the Redbelters gang from the other. It’s hard not to imagine Claude wanting to escape, too, but trouble is likely to follow, even to college in Missouri. Told in episodic bursts and filled with emotional resonance, Everywhere You Don’t Belong is a powerful coming-of-age debut that will stick with you.”

Daniel Goldin image Daniel Goldin, Boswell Book Company
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The End of Everything

(Astrophysically Speaking)

By Katie Mack
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman & Katie Mack
Length: 6 hours 21 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2020
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY * THE WASHINGTON POST * THE ECONOMIST * NEW SCIENTIST * PUBLISHERS WEEKLY * THE GUARDIAN

From one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics, an “engrossing, elegant” (The New York Times) look at five ways the universe could end, and the mind-blowing lessons each... Read more »

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