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Books Are Magic's Favorites of 2020

These are the books that Emma Straub of Books Are Magic loved this year -- some are old, some are new, and some are forthcoming. We've included her own excellent novel, too!

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The Last Kids on Earth

The Last Kids on Earth: Book #1

By Max Brallier
Narrated by: Robbie Daymond
Length: 2 hours 52 minutes

A Netflix Original series!

The New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, with over 5 million copies in print!

"Terrifyingly fun! Delivers big thrills and even bigger laughs."--Jeff Kinney, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Diary of a Wimpy Kid


Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, average thirteen year old Jack Sullivan has... Read more »

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Mac Undercover

Mac B., Kid Spy

By Mac Barnett
Length: 1 hours 19 minutes

The precious Crown Jewels have been stolen, and there's only one person who can help the Queen: her newest secret agent, Mac B. To help her, he must travel around the globe in search of the stolen treasure...but will he find it in time?From secret identities to Karate hijinks, this fast-paced, witty, and historically inspired chapter book will... Read more »

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Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea

By Meena Harris
Narrated by: Meena Harris
Length: 8 minutes

“A must read for little girls around the world.”
—Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts

“An inspiring tale.”
—Stacey Abrams, Former Minority Leader, Georgia House of Representatives; Founder and Chair, Fair Fight Action

“I love this book.”
—Megan Rapinoe, Co-Captain, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

Meena Harris debuts with an empowering... Read more »

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Gustavo, The Shy Ghost

By Flavia Z. Drago
Narrated by: Marisa Blake
Length: 7 minutes

Gustavo is good at doing all sorts of ghostly things: walking through walls, making objects fly, and glowing in the dark. And he loves almost nothing more than playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo is shy, and some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye scream or making friends with other monsters.... Read more »

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The Ugly Cry

A Memoir

By Danielle Henderson
Length: TBA

An uproarious, moving memoir about a grandmother’s ferocious love and redefining what it means to be family
 
“Painfully good. I loved it.” --Jenny Lawson, bestselling author of Furiously Happy
 
"The Ugly Cry is the funniest memoir I have ever read. It is also achingly sad. And powerfully redemptive." --Augusten Burroughs, #1 New York...
Read more »

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Wow, No Thank You.

Essays

By Samantha Irby
Narrated by: Samantha Irby
Length: 10 hours 3 minutes

A new rip-roaring essay collection from the smart, edgy, hilarious, unabashedly raunchy, and bestselling Samantha Irby.

Irby is forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin despite what Inspirational Instagram Infographics have promised her. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and... Read more »

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Good Talk

A Memoir in Conversations

By Mira Jacob & Full Cast
Narrated by: Mira Jacob, Kivlighan de Montebello & Full Cast
Length: 2 hours 46 minutes

A bold, wry, and intimate graphic memoir about American identity, interracial families, and the realities that divide us, from the acclaimed author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing.

“By turns hilarious and heart-rending, it’s exactly the book America needs at this moment.”—Celeste Ng

How brown is too brown?

Can Indians be racist?
What does... Read more »

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In the Dream House

A Memoir

By Carmen Maria Machado
Narrated by: Carmen Maria Machado
Length: 5 hours 28 minutes

In the Dream House

“A masterful look at the complexity of the queer experience. Machado employs a kaleidoscope approach to examine her relationship with an old partner, a woman who verbally, physically and emotionally assaulted her, her own personal experiences that led her to stay “in the dream house” of abuse, and society’s role in the oppression and devaluation of women, especially queer women and women of color. Through a mix of long and super short chapters, examples of old folk tales and pop culture, and more realistic narrative, Machado digs deep into the confusing, distorted and contradictory aspects of a toxic relationship, in which the victim begins to doubt her own reactions and motives. It’s a #fivestarreview for us, and #requiredreading! And the @librofm #audiobook features Machado reading! Amazing amazing amazing. ”

Bel Canto Books image Jhoanna, Bel Canto Books
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Social Purpose Annual Report

Social Purpose Annual Report

As we look to the future as a Social Purpose Corporation, we’re committed to serving readers and independent bookstores. Read our 2020 Annual Report to see an overview of the year.

Read the Report

So You Want to Talk about Race

By Ijeoma Oluo
Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 7 hours 41 minutes

A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide

In So You Want to Talk about Race, editor-at-large of the Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in... Read more »

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White Feminism

From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind

By Koa Beck
Narrated by: Koa Beck
Length: 11 hours 44 minutes

A timely and impassioned exploration of how our society has commodified feminism and continues to systemically shut out women of color—perfect for fans of White Fragility and Good and Mad.

Join the important conversation about race, empowerment, and inclusion in the United States with this powerful new feminist classic and rousing call for... Read more »

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Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning

By Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
Narrated by: Jason Reynolds
Length: 4 hours 11 minutes

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

“What an amazing, passionate and fast-paced take on Kendi’s original Stamped from the Beginning! It takes you on a journey of racist ideas from then to now, the how and why it still lingers on. Reynolds’s engaging way with words will connect with young adults, and everyone else too. This is a book for everyone to read, so that we all can do better in identifying and stamping out racist thoughts.”

Newtonville Books image Anne, Newtonville Books
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Me and White Supremacy

Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

By Layla F. Saad
Narrated by: Layla F. Saad
Length: 5 hours 19 minutes

Me and White Supremacy

“Want to learn how to be a good ancestor? Need to address your privilege and feel uncomfortable about talking about racism? You need to read and work through Me and White Supremacy.”

Avid Bookshop image Rachel, Avid Bookshop
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A Year Without a Name

A Memoir

By Cyrus Grace Dunham
Narrated by: Cyrus Grace Dunham
Length: 4 hours 38 minutes

A Lambda Literary Award Finalist: from "an extraordinary new voice," a "passionate and clear-eyed and unputdownable" meditation on queerness, family, and desire (Mary Karr).

For as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. Their life was a series of imitations -- lovable little girl, daughter, sister,... Read more »

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The Fixed Stars

By Molly Wizenberg
Narrated by: Erin Mallon
Length: 6 hours 21 minutes

The Fixed Stars

“I have enjoyed Molly Wizenberg’s writing for years, and this book was no exception. I loved the mix of science and research with confessional truth-telling about longing and identity. As a mother of two small children, I clung to this story of discovery. And as a human, I cherished Wizenberg’s exploration of the realization that our stories are never done being written. This book was a balm for my soul.”

Downbound Books image Sarah Fischer, Downbound Books
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Intimations

Six Essays

By Zadie Smith
Narrated by: Zadie Smith
Length: 1 hours 50 minutes

Intimations

“Strongly recommend this book of six short essays written in the wake of pandemic shut-downs and ensuing isolation and racial injustice and protests. Smith is always a favorite, but this collection is profound, thought-provoking, and one to revisit again and again.”

Leaves Book and Tea Shop image Tina, Leaves Book and Tea Shop
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Leave the World Behind

A Novel

By Rumaan Alam
Narrated by: Marin Ireland
Length: 7 hours 26 minutes

If you enjoyed A Children's Bible, then you’ll love Leave the World Behind.

“Riveting! I hurried through this apocalyptic novel about two families thrown together during an earth shattering event. Alam builds tension even during a relaxing family day at the beach and expertly paces the reader through idle, dreamy stages and amps up the speed during stressful times. A thought-provoking study of humanity.”

The Well-Read Moose image Melanie, The Well-Read Moose
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The Vanishing Half

A Novel

By Brit Bennett
Narrated by: Shayna Small
Length: 11 hours 33 minutes

The Vanishing Half

“Within the first few pages of The Vanishing Half, I knew I was reading something special. In this slow-burn novel, twins Desiree and Stella grow up in Mallard, a small black community in segregated Louisiana that prides itself on the lightness of its people’s skin. At sixteen, the twins flee from Mallard after their mother pulls them out of school to work cleaning white people’s houses, sacrificing the familiarity of home, the safety of their community, and the predictable trajectory of their lives. In New Orleans, the twins begin their new lives together, but eventually Stella takes off on her own, choosing to live the rest of her life “passing” as white; Desiree marries a dark-skinned man, has a child who looks like him, and ends up living back in Mallard. The consequences of the twins’ life choices unfold throughout the book, from the 1950s to the 1990s, and include the lives (and perspectives) of their daughters, Kennedy and Jude. The Vanishing Half is a fascinating story about family relationships, identity, and belonging, and I savored every page.”

Phinney Books image Anika, Phinney Books
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One Last Stop

By Casey McQuiston
Narrated by: Natalie Naudus
Length: TBA

"Dreamy, other worldly, smart, swoony, thoughtful, hilarious - all in all, exactly what you'd expect from Casey McQuiston!" - Jasmine Guillory, New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Date and Party for Two

Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn’t believe in much. She doesn’t believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or... Read more »

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Yolk

By Mary H. K. Choi
Narrated by: Joy Osmanski
Length: 13 hours 5 minutes

From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they’ll go to save one of their lives—even if it means swapping identities.

Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June’s three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an... Read more »

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Every Body Looking

By Candice Iloh
Narrated by: Candice Iloh
Length: 2 hours 53 minutes

A Finalist for the National Book Award

When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her... Read more »

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