As we start digging into our holiday shopping lists, let’s not forget the best books of 2020: and we have one for everyone on your list, be it a prickly family member or a friend who needs a new perspective. We also have great fiction, revealing non-fiction, and plenty of poetry and memoirs for those introspective souls looking to step into someone else’s shoes for a day or two.
As you start thinking about the best books to give as gifts for your friends and family, start here, and don’t forget to choose one for yourself, too!
1. Here For It (Or, How To Save Your Soul in America) by R. Eric Thomas
In these personal essays about our current political age, R. Eric Thomas explores what it means to be young today, his time as a gay Black student at a white prep school, and living in the margins. A great book for those seeking to learn more about Black Lives Matter, hear other people’s perspectives, or for those who enjoy digging into a good essay.
2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jane De Hart
Looking for a tell-all biography on one of history’s most iconic figures? There couldn’t be a better time to give RBG’s life story as a gift for anyone curious, inspired, or missing the great supreme court justice. De Hart writes with vigor and enthusiasm about Ginsburg’s life, having researched and interviewed for fifteen years to create a comprehensive study of the core passions of Ginsburg’s life: her activism, her quest for gender inclusivity, and her thirst for justice.
3. The Ultimate Sneaker Book
This immense collection of sneakers and their origins is a great gift for anyone obsessed with shoes, foot ware, or as they’re more commonly know as: sneakers. Cataloguing every debut, photo, and article about sneakers in the last fifteen years, The Ultimate Sneaker book is a must-have for any shoe fanatic in your life.
4. NFL 100
Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about football is here in NFL 100. The players, the fans, the history; it’s all here and it’s the best gift for any football fan. Told with precise details about the story of the game and its origins along with high quality photos of athletes and their best moments. A no-brainer gift for the footballer in your life.
5. David Yarrow Photography
A collection of some of David Yarrow’s most breathtaking portraits of the animal kingdom in black and white, this book is stunning and will suit anyone’s coffee table assortment. Sure to please for its striking gazes, intimate portrayals, and jaw dropping beauty, David Yarrow is a photographer you’ll want to hang on your walls. A great gift for anyone who appreciates animals, photography, or for someone who needs a reminder that there’s more to the world than humans and politics.
6. Infinite Wonder: An Astronaut’s Photographs from a Year in Space
Know anyone fascinated with space, the planets, the moon, and everything up there? This is a beautiful book that captures one astronaut’s photos from a year spent in space. In rich detail, amazing color and insight, these photographs will leave your mind wandering in directions you haven’t experienced before. Take in all the beauty with Infinite Wonder, a great gift for those curious for adventure.
7. Burn It Down! Feminist Manifestos for the Revolution
Spanning across four movements of feminism, this collection includes essays from the best feminist voices of our time. A unique collection for every feminist’s bookshelf, as well as for those who need a little reminder of what it’s all about.
8. Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes by Alison Roman
This beautifully designed cookbook is full of easy, simple, and delicious recipes for those of us tired of eating out or ordering in. Exhausted or daunted by the idea of dinner? Allison Roman provides beautiful and yummy dishes for every night of the week. A great gift for any aspiring chef in the family and a great gift for yourself as well.
9. Luster by Ravel Leilani
Probably the most talked about fiction book of 2020, Leilani’s debut novel follows a young Black woman in New York City who takes on a married man in an open marriage. When she goes broke and loses her apartment, she ends up with him and his wife and their adopted Black daughter in the suburbs. Exploring race and what it means to be young in America, this is a stunning, must-read debut from a new writer you soon forget. A great gift for any reader of any age.
10. Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing
These intricate essays are spiral around art, the artists themselves, and the author’s conceptions and misconceptions of art and what it is. Art is needed in the emergency that is 2020 and this book will give you a slice of solace as we navigate it. A great gift for a budding artist or someone who enjoys criticism and wit. A must-read, Olivia Laing is a treasure.
11. Having and Being Had by Eula Biss
For anyone interested in the intersections of capitalism and personal life, Eula Biss tackles both subjects head-on with her deeply personal essays about our current society. What is capitalism and why are we enamored with it and hate it at the same time? How does it affect our daily lives? Biss’s fourth book, this is an excellent gift for the person in your life who’s obsessed with capitalism, the concept of work, and who we are at the end of the day.
12. The Wild Iris by Louise Gluck
Recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Gluck’s most famous volume of poems from 1993 should be on anyone’s must-read list, if they haven’t read it already. A winner of ’93 Pulitzer Prize, her volume of poems in The Wild Iris will leave you breathless, inquisitive, and curious. A beautiful book for anyone looking for a spectacle and a good read.
13. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
These essays are all about New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino’s obsession and misconceptions of the internet. How did she end up living online? She explores her own history of being on a television reality show, becoming a writer, the controversy of her alma mater’s most politicized rape trial, and more in these brilliant essays. She goes deep and then she goes deeper which will leave you wondering more about the internet. A great book, well written, and full of theory, Tolentino is a writer of her generation. An excellent book for anyone deluded by the internet.