2020 has been a bumper year for books. During lockdown, time spent reading almost doubled, with crime and thrillers on the top of most people’s reading lists. New books were put on hold in summer, but September saw one of the biggest publishing days ever as over 600 titles hit the shelves in one day.
I’ve picked five books that offer romance, thrills and thought-provoking narratives in their exceptional storytelling. They also make for a great Christmas gift if Santa needs a subtle hint.
POPULAR FICTION >>
One August Night by Victoria Hislop, £14.99
This much-awaited sequel to The Island returns to Spinalonga to follow the aftermath of the closure of its leper colony. We’re reunited with sisters Anna and Maria and find out what happened to them when the island was evacuated.
Hislop’s love of Greece and its people fills every page, and this is the perfect escapist novel if you want to imagine the warm sun on your face.
LITERARY FICTION >>
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, £14.99
Nora Seed finds herself between life and death in the Midnight Library. She has a chance to do things differently, to see if small changes in her life would have made her happier, more fulfilled or successful.
As her time in the library runs out, she must decide which choices result in the best way to live. This is a stunningly beautiful novel. You’ll question every decision you’ve ever made while reading it but end with a life-affirming certainty about what really matters.
Rules for Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson, £12.99
A series of unsolved murders are linked by a resemblance to the killings featured in eight classic mystery novels. Those killings are described in a blog post by bookshop owner Malcolm Kershaw, which leads the police to pin him as the prime suspect.
This is a devilishly clever thriller packed with twists, turns and playful references to vintage crime fiction. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and you’ll not be disappointed by the dramatic climax.
HISTORICAL FICTION >>
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, £20
This is the story of a set of twins. The boy dies (that’s not a spoiler, don’t worry!) and the girl has to come to terms with his loss.
It’s set in 1596 and is based on the death of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet, whose name was given the most famous play in the world, Hamlet. O’Farrell won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for this extraordinary novel about love, loss and duty.
Its exploration of the plague echoes our current battle with COVID-19.
A Life on our Planet by David Attenborough, £20
This book is David Attenborough’s witness statement to the decline of biodiversity he has seen during his career. He carefully lays out the mistakes we’ve made and how we can – if we act together and act quickly – restore the planet’s natural resources.
It’s a powerful manifesto for change and collective responsibility; both qualities we should eagerly embrace in 2021.
What’s your favourite book? Let us know via Instagram, @TheLuxeMagazine.