National Book Lovers Day 2020: Best Books Of 2020 Scary Mommy

Celebrate National Book Lovers Day By Reading The Best Books By Women & Non-Binary Folks In 2020

August 8, 2020 Updated November 17, 2020

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We all know that National Book Lovers Day (August 9) is every day, but since it’s official and everything, let’s celebrate with this list of phenomenal must-reads, some of which, by the way, have been featured in our very own Scary Mommy Book Club. Especially if you’re not sure what to dive into for this last quarter of pandemic summer, we’ve got some thoughtful suggestions for you, no matter what genres you love most. (Our current book club pick is Pizza Girl, FYI, and it ain’t too late to join!)

The best books by women in 2020 for National Book Lovers Day:

"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half follows the Vignes twin sisters, who are born and raised in a small Louisiana town called Mallard, where its Black community places extreme value in the lightness of skin. Stella and Desiree Vigne, who come from a prestigious lineage that’s only grown lighter through marriage, are simultaneously admired for their complexion and reminded of the realities of racism and violence in the 1950s when they witness their father getting lynched by a group of white men. As they grow older, their desire to escape Mallard intensifies, until one day, the twins agree to finally do it together, just like how they do everything. Except, years later, only Desiree returns to Mallard for good to escape an abuse marriage — with her dark-skinned daughter in tow. Stella ends up in Los Angeles, married to a white man and passing for a white woman. Although the story begins in the ‘50s, the journey sprawls into the ‘90s, bridging the long disconnected path between the Vignes twins in unexpected, devastating ways. The Vanishing Half is, at its core, a book about family and identity, but it also smartly examines colorism — yet another type of discrimination the Black community grapples with. If you read any book this year, make it Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half. There’s a good reason why HBO snatched up the rights to the story for a seven figure deal. (Released June 2)

$23.92 AT BOOKSHOP.ORG



"A Burning" by Megha Majumdar

Jivan, a Muslim girl raised in poverty, yearns for mobility and has gigantic dreams. She ends up spending a year of her life in jail because of a comment a corrupt gym teacher, PT Sir, makes on a Facebook post. In it, he accuses Jivan of committing a terrorist attack on a train. Jivan’s key to freedom is in the hands of Lovely, a bright and hopeful character who has an alibi that would prove Jivan’s innocence. At a devastating cost. A Burning takes place in India, where author Megha Majumdar showcases the identities of the powerless, whose choices are dictated by their class, government, and those who use their calculation to gain control and power in its ugliest form. (Released June 2)

$23.87 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

"Pizza Girl" by Jean Kyoung Frazier

The titular protagonist of Pizza Girl is an eighteen-year-old unnamed, pregnant pizza delivery girl who lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles. To cope with her unexpected pregnancy and the death of her alcoholic father, she forms an obsessive relationship with Jenny, a stay-at-home mom with a love for pickle-adorned pizzas. The girl becomes so infatuated with Jenny, it consumes her in dark and damaging ways. At the heart of Pizza Girl is a young woman who is trying to claw her way out of a confusing and messy life she struggles to navigate. Jean Kyoung Frazier captures the subtleties of young adult emotions and our tender flaws as humans just trying to figure shit out. (Released June 9)

$22.95 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

"Pretty Things" by Janelle Brown

Pretty Things follows Nina and Vanessa, two women who form an unlikely (and complicated) relationship when con-artist Nina Ross needs money to help treat her sick mother. Her prey, Vanessa, who comes from an affluent family that’s wronged Nina in the past, is a social media influencer who is — surprise! — actually really lonely. Filled with fun twists and turns, Pretty Things is the perfect read if you want to unwind and get sucked into a scam plot that’s refreshing and hilarious. (Released April 21)

$25.76 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG



“Take a Hint, Dani Brown” by Talia Hibbert

If you need a light-hearted romantic comedy read in your life, Take a Hint, Dani Brown should be a book you add to your list. Danika Brown is a woman who is confident in her life choices: She prioritizes her career and academic successes, but the whole dating business? Blegh. Dani sees romantic relationships as a pure waste of time that only serve as barriers to what she really wants out of life. But she wouldn’t mind the intimacy every once in awhile, so she aims for a friends-with-bennies situation that will simultaneously fulfil all her needs and allow her to continue pursuing a life devoid of codependency. But when security guard Zafir Ansari saves her from a scary situation at work, that moment turns into something bigger. Like, a lot bigger. It literally turns into a viral moment someone captures on video. Now, Dani has been pulled into a very public movement that involves the entire world rooting for the “couple.” So, no, this is no simple friends-with-benefits story — and that’s what makes it so much fun. (Released June 23)

$14.71 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

"Luster" by Raven Leilani

Luster’s protagonist Edie is an awkward twenty-something who balances a job she’s not truly passionate about, a series of bad sexual choices, her secret desire to pursue art, and a complicated relationship with a married man named Eric. She resents just about every aspect of her life (embittered by racial politics at work and in life, her tiny salary, the lingering salmon smell and boxes of Rice-A-Roni left in the bathroom in her shared apartment) except for Eric, who tells her, from the get-go, that he and his wife are in an open marriage — that comes with specific rules. Except things get complicated. Fast. After Edie loses her job, she moves in with Eric and his family, befriending his wife and becoming a mentor to their adopted Black daughter, Akila. Navigating the tender foibles of young adulthood through the lens of a Black woman, readers are given access to Edie’s unfiltered thoughts that have gotten her into trouble with other romantic partners as well as her employees. Luster has been one of the most highly-anticipated novels from the immensely talented Raven Leilani. (Released August 4)

$23.92 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG



"Wow, No Thank You" by Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby, author of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life and creator of the successful (and delightful) blog Bitches Gotta Eat, is back at it again, and we are so grateful she is. In the collection of essays Wow, No Thank You, Irby writes about her 40s, feeling weird in her own body, and what life is like in Michigan, where she lives with her wife and two step-kids in a right-wing town where she gets to host book clubs. But she also gets to take trips to Los Angeles, a place in which she also doesn’t feel like she quite belongs either. Prepare to endlessly laugh and wish Irby had written 100 more books. (Released March 31)

$14.67 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“The Death of Vivek Oji” by Akwaeke Emezi

Although we know what happens to Vivek Oji from the get-go, the pages leading up to his death give us a timeline that unravels the identity of a person who is at odds with their own being, sexuality, and gender — topics that are violently disregarded in Nigeria, where The Death of Vivek Oji takes place. As Vivek grows older, he suffers from mysterious blackouts and intense moments of disorientation between himself and his surroundings. The only one who has an inkling as to what’s going on is his cousin, Osita, who secretly grapples with his own sexuality and tries to suppress it in fear of what could happen if he is discovered. As Vivek transforms, growing his hair long and becoming more and more secluded, his concerned and loving Indian mother believes she is doing him a favor by sending him to church, where they beat the “demons” out of him. As Vivek’s family yearns to learn what happened to their son after his body is delivered to their doorstep, readers come to discover the consequences of a society that gives no resources to those who feel displaced and alienated from their bodies, wants, and needs. (Released August 4)

$24.84 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“The Glass Hotel” by Emily St. John Mandel

It’s been six whole years since Station Eleven came out, but author Emily St. John Mandel has blessed us with a new novel, The Glass Hotel — which is just as breathtaking and dream-like. The Glass Hotel follows Vincent, who’s a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a glass and cedar palace located on an island in British Columbia. Another character, Jonathan Alkaitis, owns the hotel and manages its finances. The two worlds collide when Jonathan gives Vincent his card. Thirteen years later, Vincent disappears from a ship, a ship which Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for Neptune-Avramidis, sails. In the background, is the 2008 financial crisis, which plays a big part in the narrative. There’s also the collapse of a major Ponzi scheme. (Released March 24, 2020)

$24.79 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG



"Self Care" by Leigh Stein

From targeted ads trying to sell us supplements that promise “better” versions of ourselves, to posh co-working spaces for women that guarantee inclusivity and networking (with a $200+ monthly price tag) all in the name of self care, we’ve all been sold the idea that the harder we work and invest in ourselves, the more serious we are about our emotional and physical health. Self Care is here to dismantle the corruption that leaks like poisonous gas in the wellness industry by introducing us to characters Maren and Devin, the two co-founders of a wellness social media startup called Richual. After Maren tweets something inappropriate about the president’s daughter, Devin forces her to take a “digital detox” so she can deal with the PR shitshow. Meanwhile, the company’s board member, Evan Wiley, is about to get exposed for his sexual misconduct. Behind the scenes is the hardworking head of content, Khadijah Walker, who’s been scared to bring up a secret that, once exposed, reveal just how “inclusive” and “feminist” Richual really is. (Released June 30)

$14.72 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth Russell

My Dark Vanessa follows 15-year-old Vanessa Wye who finds herself in a relationship with her 42-year-old English teacher, Jacob Strane. In 2000, Vanessa is a smart teenager who has ambitions and dreams. She desperately wants to be a grown up, and so when she falls prey to a man who takes advantage of her, it doesn’t feel that way. In fact, Vanessa feels special and wanted. Fast-forward seven years: Strane has been accused of sexual assault by another former student who is not Vanessa. This woman contacts a now adult Vanessa, who internally struggles with what’s real and what really happened. Did she have agency in her relationship with her teacher, or was she groomed and abused herself? How could she possibly betray a man who she believed she loved, a man who she believed loved her back? A story about the deep complexities of victimhood, My Dark Vanessa is thought-provoking, maddening, tragic, and transforming. (Released March 10)

$25.75 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“All Adults Here” by Emma Straub

After Astrid Strick watches her friend get mowed down by a bus one day, she suddenly has an epiphany: She was a terrible parent to her now-adult children who are navigating raising their own children. Emma Straub excels in the dysfunctional family genre, and this is yet another tender and sharply funny novel that examines what being a “good” parent means. Astrid’s children are all flawed in their own (mostly) harmless ways. One drops his daughter off at Astrid’s house after she’s expelled from school, leaving the preteen feeling betrayed and abandoned. Another, a flailing entrepreneur, plans on dismantling the quaint upstate New York town he and Astrid both live in by installing in a major chain he knows will rattle the community to its core. The third, Astrid’s only daughter, decides to become pregnant on her own, yet can’t stop sleeping with her married ex-boyfriend. Astrid herself has a secret she’s been hiding from her children for quite awhile. But now’s the time for the truth to come pouring out — no matter what happens. Family is family, right? (Released May 4)

$24.84 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG



“Afterlife” by Julia Alvarez

Afterlife focuses on Antonia Vega, an immigrant writer who, after deciding to retire from her English professor job, experiences the loss of her husband, Sam. And if that wasn’t enough to completely destroy her, her sister disappears into thin air, and a pregnant, undocumented teen shows up in her home with no warning. Using her brilliant love of language and dependency on storytelling Antonia wades into the waters of the unknown in order to not lose faith in the world around her — or herself. (Released April 7)

$23.87 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982” by Cho Nam-Joo

Although technically Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 was published in 2016, it was translated into English in 2020. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 has sold millions of copies and is credited to starting a feminist revolution in Korea. The novel follows Kim Jiyoung, a “millennial everywoman” who leaves her job so that she can become a stay-at-home mother and care for her child and home. But soon, she develops alarming symptoms, like hallucinations, and feeling completely dissociated from her own body. Her husband, shocked by what his wife has become, sends her to a psychiatrist, who is a man. Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is a fascinating, nearly clinical read that examines societal pressures on women, especially women in Korea, where many archaic cultural norms are still in place. (Released April 14)

$-4.6 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

"Weather" by Jenny Offill

Jenny Offill, author of the smartly written Dept. of Speculation, is back with a novel that follows Lizzie Benson, a woman who recently has gone back to her job as a librarian while also supporting her mother and addict brother. She also works as an assistant to podcast host Sylvia, who’s recent focus is on doomsday preppers. Weather’s choppy and meditative style isn’t for everyone, but Offill’s love of language and its ebbs and flows shine brightly here. (Released February 11)

$22.03 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG



"Anna K: A Love Story" by Jenny Lee

It’s about time Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy’s whopper of a Russian classic drama got a modern-day makeover. This time, Anna K. is a seventeen-year old New Yorker, living the elite life in Manhattan with her dull boyfriend Alexander W, and proving herself to be the perfect daughter to her Korean-American father. To balance things out, Anna’s brother Steven and his girlfriend are involved in a sexting scandal, and everyone is secretly in love with someone else. Including Anna, who meets and falls for Alexia “Count” Vronsky, a selfish boy who dates around and does things that feel good…just because. He’s the polar opposite of Anna, but she can’t seem to get enough. If you’ve read the original Anna Karenina, then you know teen Anna will be forced to make a decision — does she stay put in her perfect orbit, or does she dare herself to float into the unknown? (Released March 3)

$17.47 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“How to Pronounce Knife: Stories” by Souvankham Thammavongsa

In this book of short stories, How to Pronounce Knife introduces readers to lives of Laos immigrants and their families. Souvankham Thammavongsa paints everyday moments in a beautiful and thoughtful light, introducing a young girl who asks her father how to pronounce a difficult word in the story the collection is named after, a mother who becomes infatuated with a singer, and the bizarre experience of trick-or-treating in the U.S. How to Pronounce Knife is one of those books you’re allowed to take a lot of time with. Read it on a Sunday morning with your coffee, absorb a few stories in the bath — you won’t want to rush through this one. (Released April 21)

$23.92 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“When No One Is Watching” by Alyssa Cole

When No One Is Watching follows Sydney Green, who grew up in Brooklyn. As she grows older, she witnesses her neighborhood change overnight. Neighbors start selling their homes for exorbitant prices, shiny and out-of-place condos dominate the community, and this is only the beginning of a gentrification nightmare. Sydney ends up meeting her new neighbor, Theo, and the two navigate what goes from being a plot about the pitfalls of community “renewal” to a freakish and deadly thriller. (To be released September 2020)

$15.62 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG



“The Girl With The Louding Voice” by Abi Daré

Abi Daré’s debut novel is a stunner. The Girl With The Louding Voice follows a 14-year-old Nigerian girl named Adunni. Adunni yearns for an education, something she knows will propel her forward. An education is the only way, as her mother puts it, for her to get a “louding voice,” which is the ability for Adunni to make her own life choices. The girl’s plans come crashing down when her father sells her to a man who will make Adunni his third wife, a common cultural practice in Nigeria that helps ensure wives provide as many male heirs as possible. Adunni doesn’t accept this fate, and runs away to the city, only to become a servant to a rich family. As she claws her way out of a destiny she knows is not written for her, Adunni knows that she needs to keep sharpening her “louding voice” if she wants the power she craves — and deserves. (Released February 4)

$23.92 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

“Beach Read” by Emily Henry

Beach Read is about two writers: January Andrews who’s a romance writer who’s become so jaded with IRL romance she can’t fathom to pen another character who falls in love, and Augustus Everett, a “serious” literary fiction author who is dealing with some major writer’s block. The two couldn’t be more dissimilar, but their one common theme is that they have no idea what they’re doing with their craft anymore. Living side-by-side on the beach, the two have an epiphany: They’ll switch genres. January will try her hand at writing the next “Great American Novel,” while Augustus will do his best with a story drenched in earnest yearning. The end result? Absolutely delightful. (Released May 19)

$14.72 AT BOOKSTORE.ORG

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SHOP THE STORY
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"The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett
$23.92
"A Burning" by Megha Majumdar
$23.87
"Pizza Girl" by Jean Kyoung Frazier
$22.95
"Pretty Things" by Janelle Brown
$25.76
"Under the Rainbow" by Celia Laskey
$
“Take a Hint, Dani Brown” by Talia H...
$14.71
"Luster" by Raven Leilani
$23.92
"Wow, No Thank You" by Samantha Irby
$14.67
“The Death of Vivek Oji” by Akwaeke ...
$24.84
“The Glass Hotel” by Emily St. John ...
$24.79
"Self Care" by Leigh Stein
$14.72
“My Dark Vanessa” by Kate Elizabeth ...
$25.75
“All Adults Here” by Emma Straub
$24.84
“Afterlife” by Julia Alvarez
$23.87
“Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982” by Cho Nam-...
$-4.6
"Weather" by Jenny Offill
$22.03
"Anna K: A Love Story" by Jenny Lee
$17.47
“How to Pronounce Knife: Stories” by...
$23.92
“When No One Is Watching” by Alyssa ...
$15.62
“The Girl With The Louding Voice” by...
$23.92
“Beach Read” by Emily Henry
$14.72