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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 topic best of 2020

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Yellow Bird

Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country
By Sierra Crane Murdoch
Narrated by Sierra Crane Murdoch /  14 hours 56 minutes

The gripping true story of a murder on an Indian reservation, and the unforgettable Arikara woman who becomes obsessed with solving it—an urgent work of literary journalism.
 
“I don’t know a more complicated, original protagonist in literature than Lissa Yellow Bird, or a more dogged reporter in American journalism than Sierra Crane... Read more »

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$35.00 USD

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Writers & Lovers

A Novel
By Lily King
Narrated by Stacey Glemboski /  8 hours 13 minutes

Writers & Lovers

“Casey is the brilliant and vulnerable protagonist in this well-written novel. She is a writer and is striving to have her novel published. When not writing, Casey is waiting tables in Cambridge. She finds herself torn between two lovers. One prospect is a famous writer who is a widower with two children. The other is Silas, who is a teacher and the less stable of the two suitors. He shows up whenever he feels like it. Through the book, Casey suffers a health scare which enables her to focus on what she really wants and needs in her life. The writing is spectacular. As I listened to this book, I wanted to take notes of the extraordinary language. The narrator was up to the task and did an exemplary job.”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Melinda, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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$17.96 USD

Retail price (USD): $19.95

Discount: 10%

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A Woman Like Her

The Story behind the Honor Killing of a Social Media Star
By Sanam Maher
Narrated by Deepti Gupta /  9 hours 21 minutes

The murder of a Pakistani social media star exposes a culture divided between accelerating modernity and imposed traditional values—and the tragedy of those caught in the middle.

In 2016, Pakistan’s first social media celebrity, Qandeel Baloch, was murdered in a suspected honor killing. Her death quickly became a media sensation. It was both... Read more »

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$22.94 USD

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Discount: -15%

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Why I Don't Write

And Other Stories
By Susan Minot
Narrated by Alex McKenna, Kristen Sieh & Andrew Eiden /  4 hours 38 minutes

A superb collection of short fiction--her first in thirty years and spanning many geographies--from the critically acclaimed author of Monkeys, Evening, and Thirty Girls

A writer dryly catalogs the myriad reasons she cannot write; an artist bicycles through protests in lower Manhattan and ruminates on an elusive lover; an old woman on her... Read more »

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$21.00 USD

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Who Gets In and Why

A Year Inside College Admissions
By Jeffrey Selingo
Narrated by Sean Patrick Hopkins /  10 hours 11 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2020

From award-winning higher education journalist and New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Selingo comes a revealing look from inside the admissions office—one that identifies surprising strategies that will aid in the college search.

Getting into a top-ranked college has never seemed more impossible, with... Read more »

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$22.99 USD

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War: How Conflict Shaped Us

How Conflict Shaped Us
By Margaret MacMillan
Narrated by Deepti Gupta /  10 hours 41 minutes

Is peace an aberration? The bestselling author of Paris 1919 offers a provocative view of war as an essential component of humanity. 

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“Margaret MacMillan has produced another seminal work. . . . She is right that we must, more than ever, think about war. And she has...
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$28.00 USD

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Wagnerism

Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music
By Alex Ross
Narrated by Alex Ross /  28 hours 20 minutes

This program is read by the author, and includes excerpts from Richard Wagner's musical compositions throughout.

A New York Times Notable Books of 2020

Alex Ross, renowned New Yorker music critic and author of the international bestseller and Pulitzer Prize finalist The Rest Is Noise, reveals how Richard Wagner became the proving ground for... Read more »

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$51.74 USD

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The Vanishing Half

A Novel
By Brit Bennett
Narrated by Shayna Small /  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.”

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$31.50 USD

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Until the End of Time

Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe
By Brian Greene
Narrated by Brian Greene /  14 hours 36 minutes

Instant New York Times Best-seller

From the world-renowned physicist and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe comes a captivating exploration of deep time and humanity's search for purpose.


"Few humans share Greene’s mastery of both the latest cosmological science and English prose."
The New York Times (notable book of 2020)

Until the End... Read more »

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The Undocumented Americans

A Homecoming
By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Narrated by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio /  4 hours 53 minutes

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • One of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard reveals the hidden lives of her fellow undocumented Americans in this deeply personal and groundbreaking portrait of a nation.

“Karla’s book sheds light on people’s personal experiences and allows their stories to be told and their voices to... Read more »

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Uncanny Valley

A Memoir
By Anna Wiener
Narrated by Suehyla El-Attar /  8 hours 44 minutes

Uncanny Valley

“Like Joan Didion or Renata Adler, Ben Lerner or Sally Rooney, Anna Wiener writes with dead-on specificity, scalpel-sharp analysis, deep sensitivity, and an eye for the absurd. She headed west into the modern gold rush that is the tech boom and now returns with gleaming ingots of insight, weaving tales of a strange land where boy-CEOs ride ripsticks and hoover up your data. An essential and very human look at the forces shaping who we are and how we behave.”

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$22.99 USD

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Tokyo Ueno Station

A Novel
By Yu Miri
Narrated by Johnny Heller /  3 hours 58 minutes

WINNER OF THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN TRANSLATED LITERATURE

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

A surreal, devastating story of a homeless ghost who haunts one of Tokyo's busiest train stations.


Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Japanese Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial... Read more »

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This Is All I Got

A New Mother's Search for Home
By Lauren Sandler
Narrated by Lauren Sandler /  10 hours 3 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • From an award-winning journalist, a poignant and gripping immersion in the life of a young, homeless single mother amid her quest to find stability and shelter in the richest city in America

“A lesson for us all, and a testament to the bigness of the small story, to the power of intimate narratives to speak to... Read more »

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The Third Rainbow Girl

The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia
By Emma Copley Eisenberg
Narrated by Emma Copley Eisenberg /  10 hours 32 minutes

The Third Rainbow Girl

“In this thoughtful and immersive chronicle of the 1980 murders that thrust West Virginia’s Pocahontas County into the national spotlight, Eisenberg seeks to better understand not only the crimes and their aftermath, but also the lasting impact the region (which she came to know independent of her inquiry) had on her. A complex and captivating read, The Third Rainbow Girl weaves true crime with memoir to stunning effect.”

Powell's Books image Tove Holmberg, Powell's Books
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$5.98 USD

Retail price (USD): $29.88

Discount: 80%

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The Splendid and the Vile

A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
By Erik Larson
Narrated by John Lee & Erik Larson /  17 hours 48 minutes

The Splendid and the Vile

“What riveting trip through the war on the capable albeit somewhat eccentric shoulders of Churchill. Not only does Larson provide a top-notch history of World War II, but he also provides an intimate look at the man and the family and associates of that one man, that unlikely hero, who now seems the only one who could have led Britain through the fight against Hitler. Highly recommended.”

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This holiday season is crucial for bookstores weathering the financial challenges of 2020—it could determine whether they remain open or are forced to close their doors.

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Soul Full of Coal Dust

A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia
By Chris Hamby
Narrated by Gary Tiedemann /  14 hours 1 minute

In a devastating and urgent work of investigative journalism, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hamby uncovers the tragic resurgence of black lung disease in Appalachia, its Big Coal cover-up, and the resilient mining communities who refuse to back down.   Decades ago, a grassroots uprising forced Congress to enact long-overdue legislation designed... Read more »

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$25.98 USD

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Sisters

A Novel
By Daisy Johnson
Narrated by Daisy Edgar-Jones & Anna Koval /  4 hours 34 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

ONE OF THE TOP TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEARPUBLISHER'S WEEKLY

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—VULTURE

“Daisy Johnson is the demon offspring of Shirley Jackson and Stephen King.” The Observer

“Builds a gothic plot to an artful and shocking climax.”The New York Times

“Ends with a magnificent twist.” The...
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The Sirens of Mars

Searching for Life on Another World
By Sarah Stewart Johnson
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell /  7 hours 56 minutes

The Sirens of Mars

“I loved this quietly gorgeous book. Sarah Johnson Stewart brings her characters to vivid life —philosophers and scientists from the annals of Western history, family and teachers from her own life, or the dusty dunes of the ‘red planet’ itself — with clear, almost poetic prose, detailing the history of humanity’s fascination with Mars, as well as her own. You will leave these pages with a deeper understanding of interplanetary science and the wonder of humanity’s next discovery.”

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Shuggie Bain

By Douglas Stuart
Narrated by Angus King /  17 hours 30 minutes

Shuggie Bain

“Shuggie Bain is sad, but there’s so much more to it than that. Hugh “Shuggie” Bain is different—he’s gentle and polite and lonely, a poor boy growing up in 1980’s Glasgow. His glamorous mother, Agnes, is an alcoholic, but she embodies her dignity when she needs it most. In one notably humorous scene, she drunkenly collects her son from his good-for-nothing father, upon checking herself out of the psych ward, and breaks the windows of his house while neighborhood boys whoop and holler at her boldness. Shuggie runs to his savior and clings to her with unconditional love. Eventually, he and his mother pledge to be “brand new” upon moving back into the city—she’ll stop drinking and Shuggie will be “normal.” But no matter how many football statistics he memorizes, Shuggie will never be like other boys, and his mother will never stop drinking. Their relationship is beautiful and overflowing with love, deeply humanizing those who struggle with substance abuse. I’ll never forget Shuggie Bain.”

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$24.99 USD

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Shakespeare in a Divided America

What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future
By James Shapiro
Narrated by Fred Sanders /  9 hours 11 minutes

A New York Times Notable Book

From leading scholar James Shapiro, a timely exploration of what Shakespeare’s plays reveal about our divided land, from Revolutionary times to the present day

The plays of William Shakespeare are rare common ground in the United States. They are read at school by almost every student, staged in theaters across the... Read more »

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