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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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Yellow Bird

Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country

By Sierra Crane Murdoch
Narrated by: Sierra Crane Murdoch
Length: 14 hours 56 minutes

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • 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... Read more »

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Writers & Lovers

A Novel

By Lily King
Narrated by: Stacey Glemboski
Length: 8 hours 13 minutes

If you enjoyed How to be both, then you’ll love Writers & Lovers.

“Casey is the writer of our time: in debt, trying to hang on to something like a writers' community, envious of others' successes, trying to choose where to live and how to make money and whom to love, while everything 'certain' around her changes: her restaurant job turns ugly, her apartment lease won't be renewed, her boyfriend isn't the person she thought he was. What's different about Casey's story? The honesty. The unpretentious intelligence. The (actually believable) happy ending, but more importantly, the moments when Casey describes the view from a car window, or a stop on her bike ride, or an awkward moment with a child or a dog, when you know you are sharing with her a moment of perfect clarity that both of you want to capture in words. Perfect for grown-up fans of Anne of Green Gables, or who wanted Sybylla to make it in My Brilliant Career, this novel can also hold its own among Women's Prize winners. With all the raw truth of a first novel and the invisible, but skilled, structure and language of an accomplished author, Writers and Lovers does something that feels impossible in the 2020s: It makes us believe, unironically and lovingly, in hope again.”

The Haunted Bookshop image Nialle, The Haunted Bookshop
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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
Length: 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...

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Why I Don't Write

And Other Stories

By Susan Minot
Narrated by: Alex McKenna, Kristen Sieh & Andrew Eiden
Length: 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 NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK.

A writer dryly catalogs the myriad reasons she cannot write; an artist bicycles through a protest encampment in lower Manhattan and ruminates on... Read more »

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Who Gets In and Why

A Year Inside College Admissions

By Jeffrey Selingo
Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
Length: 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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War: How Conflict Shaped Us

By Margaret MacMillan
Narrated by: Deepti Gupta
Length: 10 hours 41 minutes

Is peace an aberration? The New York Times 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....
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Wagnerism

Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music

By Alex Ross
Narrated by: Alex Ross
Length: 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...

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The Vanishing Half

A Novel

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

The Vanishing Half

“Bennett, by far, exceeded by expectations with her second book. It was completely engrossing with intricately woven prose and compelling characterization. One of the best books I read during lockdown.”

A Great Good Place for Books image Zinna, A Great Good Place for Books
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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
Length: 14 hours 36 minutes

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A captivating exploration of deep time and humanity's search for purpose from the world-renowned physicist and best-selling author of The Elegant Universe

"Few humans share Greene’s mastery of both the latest cosmological science and English prose." —The New York Times

Until the End of Time is Brian Greene's... Read more »

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The Undocumented Americans

By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Narrated by: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Length: 4 hours 53 minutes

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • 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 be... Read more »

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Uncanny Valley

A Memoir

By Anna Wiener
Narrated by: Suehyla El-Attar
Length: 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.”

Sam MacLaughlin image Sam MacLaughlin, McNally Jackson Williamsburg
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Tokyo Ueno Station

A Novel

By Yu Miri
Narrated by: Johnny Heller
Length: 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
Length: 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

LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/JEAN STEIN BOOK AWARD • “Riveting . . . a remarkable feat of reporting.”—The New York Times

Camila is... 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
Length: 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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The Splendid and the Vile

A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

By Erik Larson
Narrated by: John Lee & Erik Larson
Length: 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.”

Raven Book Store image Kelly, Raven Book Store
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Soul Full of Coal Dust

A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia

By Chris Hamby
Narrated by: Gary Tiedemann
Length: 14 hours 1 minutes

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 to... Read more »

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Sisters

A Novel

By Daisy Johnson
Narrated by: Daisy Edgar-Jones & Anna Koval
Length: 4 hours 34 minutes

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

“[A] skillfully crafted gothic mystery . . . Johnson pulls off a great feat in this book.” Financial Times

“It reminded me, in its general refusal to play nice, of early Ian McEwan.” The New York Times Book Review

“Johnson crafts an aching thriller about the dangers of loving too intensely.” Time

...
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The Sirens of Mars

Searching for Life on Another World

By Sarah Stewart Johnson
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 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.”

Bookshop Santa Cruz image Jocelyn Shratter, Bookshop Santa Cruz
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Shuggie Bain

By Douglas Stuart
Narrated by: Angus King
Length: 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.”

Raven Book Store image Mary, Raven Book Store
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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
Length: 9 hours 11 minutes

One of the New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year  • National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist • A New York Times Notable Book 

A timely exploration of what Shakespeare’s plays reveal about our divided land.

“In this sprightly and enthralling book . . . Shapiro amply demonstrates [that] for Americans the politics of Shakespeare are not...
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