Emirates Literature Foundation Blog (ELF)

Can You Guess The Ultimate Best Books Of 2020?

They topped the charts and won our hearts

Have you ever scanned one of the many '100 books to read before you die' lists with a pencil in your hand and a tally on your notepad? Then you know the allure of a good list — and the joys of checking an item off, and the thrills of adding one onto it. With the holidays around the corner, and New Years in sight, it's no surprsed that December is traditionally the month of lists. And when it comes to books, it's not only luminaries like Bill Gates, Barack Obama, or Oprah who are sharing their favourites! Everyone is doing it. 

So if you, like us, love a great list, then you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the recommendations. Who should you listen to? 

The answer to that, is obviously us

Because we have taken some of the best, most prestigious lists published at this time of year and popped them into our super-mega-tabulator, which has carefully calculated the data, applied the finest analytical strategies, and produced the amalgamated list of the finest writing of the year! Not only have these books have been hailed as the best books of the year by The New York TimesThe Guardian, The BBCTime MagazineThe Washington Post, and The Financial Times (among many), but to feature on just one of these lists is incredible and a hardwon feat. To feature on several is almost unheard of! We can only imagine the authors who are celebrating this month will have a very happy Christmas indeed. 

An rare glimpse of our super-mega-tabulator in action!

So without further ado, read on to discover our highly scientific results and find out if any of your favourites have come out on top to earn the title of the Best Book of the Year! 

In joint first place, featuring on five out of six lists: 

  • Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell
  • The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett

In shared second place: 

  • Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart 
  • Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke 
  • This Mournable Body, by Tsitsi Dangaremga 
  • Mayflies, by Andrew O Hagan 
  • Jack, by Marilynne Robinson 
  • Homeland Elegies, by Ayad Akhtar 
  • A Children’s Bible, by Lydia Millet 
  • The Mirror & the Light, Hilary Mantel 

In shared third place: 

  • Inside Story: a Novel, by Martin Amis
  • Summer, by Ali Smith
  • Where the Wild Ladies Are, by Aoko Matsuda
  • Deacon King Kong, by James Mcbride
  • Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker
  • A promised Land, by Barak Obama
  • Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
  • Burnt Sugar, by Avni Doshi
  • The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste
  • Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

Have you read any of these, and will you be adding any of the others to your TBR list? Let us know in the comments!   

For more news on what the Emirates Literature Foundation is up to, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. And to keep up with the rest of our book-filled discussion, you can listen to the latest episode of our Boundless Book Club podcast, featured down below! (We'll be discussing these books and others, as well as if we should be giving books to each other as gifts or not on an upcoming episode of the podcast. So subscribe to make sure you don't miss out!)