See the best books of 2020, voted by Goodreads readers. Winners in the 2020 Goodreads Choice Awards include books by Barack Obama, Ina Garten and more.

This year’s Goodreads Choice Awards saw more votes than ever before, beating last year’s total by roughly 1 million. In all, 5,674,480 votes were cast for the most popular books across 20 categories during the annual populist literary spectacle, in which Goodreads users are invited to vote for their favorites among finalists.
According to a spokesperson, the Goodreads editorial team curated 15 books per category, each having been published between Nov. 16, 2019 and Nov. 17, 2020 and each sporting at least a 3.5-star average rating. That was followed by several voting rounds and culminated in the Dec. 8 announcement of the winners below. To give you an idea of both winner and runners up, we include below the top voted as well as the three next-in-line books per category. Happy reading.

  • 4.25-star average rating, more than 41,200 ratings

From Goodreads: This years Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction was the closest contest in the history of the awards. Your winner by five votes is The Midnight Library, author Matt Haigs wildly inventive blend of literary and speculative fiction. The quick gist: Imagine a library in which each book represents a different path your life could have taken. Now imagine spending eternity in that library. Its a Goodreads kind of dream
Mystery & Thriller

  • 3.86-star average rating, over 152,000 ratings

From Goodreads: Lucy Foley ran away with this years Mystery & Thriller award by inviting us to the best wedding ever! And by best we mean most terrifying. Jules and Will have chosen to hold their wedding on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Then the storm hits. Then the body is found. Its like the old Irish adage: Its not a party until somebody ends up dead.
Historical Fiction

  • 4.29 star-average rating, more than 156,600 ratings

From Goodreads: Longlisted for the National Book Award, Brit Bennetts ambitious novel follows two identical twin sisters from a small Southern town. One stays home in her Black community; the other passes for white in the wider world. Provocative and compassionate, Bennetts book traces fascinating threads of American identity and is our hands-down winner for the 2020 Historical Fiction award.

  • 4.43 star-average rating, more than 88,900 ratings

From Goodreads: Goodreads voters in the Fantasy category tended toward the dark and sticky side this year, and the 2020 win goes to House of Earth and Blood, author Sarah J. Maas introduction to her new Crescent City series. Stitched through with threads of romance and suspense, the novel follows complex heroine Bryce Quinlan and fallen angel Hunt Athalar as they track a lethal demon through the city.
Next three fantasy finalists:

  • 4.43 star-average rating, over 37,900 ratings

From Goodreads: This years Goodreads Choice Award for Romance comes from the exhilarating perimeters of the genre, where romance intersects with dark fantasy and paranormal intrigue. Veteran author Jennifer L. Armentrout tells the story of Poppy, a.k.a. The Maiden, a warrior destined by the gods to live a life of solitude, never to be touched. But then theres Hawke, her fellow Guard. Forbidden passion is the best way to bust up destiny.
Next three romance finalists:
Science Fiction

  • 3.91 star-average rating, over 6,300 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Christopher Paolini earns his first Goodreads Choice Award with this sustained gaze into the future of humankind. While scouting an as-yet-uncolonized planet, scientist Kira Navárez discovers an alien relic that will change the fate of Earth and its colonies. A resounding critical and commercial success, Paolinis innovative story brings delightful new twists to the venerable first contact sci-fi template.
7. “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  • 3.75 star-average rating, more than 65,000 ratings

From Goodreads: If it seemed like everyone you knew was reading Mexican Gothic this year, thats because they were. Author Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination) collects the Horror prize for 2020 with a pitch-perfect Gothic horror story in the old-school mode, but with contemporary perspectives on race and colonialism. Spooky mansions! Opulent decay! Bumps in the night!
Next three horror finalists:

  • 4.33 star-average rating, over 22,600 ratings

From Goodreads: Writer and cartoonist Nathan W. Pyle found mad success online with his Instagram series Strange Planet. Now anthologized into a series of books, Pyles delightful creation has a Goodreads Choice Award, too. Strange Planet features blue aliens who think and act just like us humans, but with a hilarious kind of specificity (and emotional intelligence). Its deceptively simple and really quite brilliant.
Next three humor finalists:

  • 4.59 star-average rating, more than 23,300 ratings

From Goodreads: This years winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Nonfiction, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is an adaptation for middle grade readers of Ibram X. Kendis 2016 National Book Awardwinning Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. An exhaustively researched and passionately argued statement on the history of racism, its good nutrition for young minds.
Next three nonfiction finalists:
Memoir & Autobiography

  • 4.49 star-average rating, over 6,300 ratings

From Goodreads: Former president Barack Obama has led a rather accomplished life, it can be said, and now hes got a Goodreads Choice Award to add to the shelf. Hugely anticipated around the globe, A Promised Land delivers with a surprisingly intimate look back at Obamas historic journey from young community organizer to 44th president of the United Statesthe first African American to hold the nations highest office. Hail to the chief.
History & Biography

  • 4.63 star-average rating, more than 19,000 ratings

From Goodreads: From Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in journalism, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents continues a discernible theme in this years awards: books that take a long, hard look at America itself. Wilkerson argues, persuasively, that Americans are mired in an outdated and dangerous hierarchy system that goes even deeper than race and class. The silver lining: Its not too late for meaningful change.
Science & Technology

  • 4.62 star-average rating, over 1,500 ratings

From Goodreads: With his definitive witness statement of life on planet Earth, naturalist, journalist, and planetary defender David Attenborough wins this years Goodreads Choice Award in Science & Technology. Sir Attenboroughs book is part testimony, part memoir, and part urgent call to arms. It provides a vision for the future in which, through collective action, we can still save Earths wild places. But well have to act fast.
Food & Cookbooks

  • 4.38 star-average rating, 580 ratings

From Goodreads: Author and alpha foodie Ina Garten takes the Food & Cookbooks prize with a collection of recipes perfect for the quarantined lifestyle of 2020. The 85 dishes featured heremany of them childhood favoritesare easy to make and meant to provide culinary comfort in this strangest of times. Cheddar and Chutney Grilled Cheese! Creamy Tomato Bisque! Banana Rum Trifle! Were feeling better already.
Graphic Novels & Comics

  • 4.65 star-average rating, more than 26,400 ratings

From Goodreads: Winner of the 2020 Goodreads Choice Award for Graphic Novel & Comics, Alice Osemans Heartstopper: Volume Three continues the love story of Charlie and Nick, now open and out and ready to meet the world. Osemans ongoing serialized webcomic has won universal praise for its insightful exploration of LGBTQ+ themes and its quiet celebration of those universal mysteries: love, friendship, and loyalty.

  • 3.89 star-average rating, more than 995 ratings

From Goodreads: This years Goodreads Choice Award for Poetry goes to the indefatigable Margaret Atwood, who is surely one of our planets most priceless commodities. Her first collection of poetry in more than a decade, Dearly is like a sustained twinkle in Atwoods ever-observant eye. The poems carom about inside Atwoods fertile imagination, bouncing from the personal to political to genuinely funny.
Next three poetry finalists:
Debut Novel

  • 3.85 star-average rating, more than 188,000 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Kiley Reids fascinating debut brings dry and sometimes dark humor to a story about the everyday domestic biases that we dont even know we have. African American babysitter Emira encounters escalating weirdness when her upper-crust white employer finds disastrous new ways to deploy her good intentions. Reids assured debut has won her rave reviews, chart-topping sales, and now a coveted Goodreads Choice Award.
Young Adult Fiction

  • 4.37 star-average rating, more than 31,500 ratings

From Goodreads: Elizabeth Acevedo wins this years Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction with a powerful novel-in-verse about love, loss, and family. Camino and Yahaira Rios didnt even know they were sisters until their father died in a plane crash. Now theyre learning more than they want to know about the ties (and knots) that bind families together. Bonus trivia: Acevedo is a National Poetry Slam champion, too.
Young Adult Fantasy

  • 4.35 star-average rating, more than 115,500 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Holly Black celebrates back-to-back wins in the YA Fiction category with The Queen of Nothing, her follow-up to last years winner The Wicked King. This final installment in Blacks wildly popular series reveals the ultimate fate of Jude, exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, and a girl with extremely interesting problems. Shakespeare can tell you: Politics is lethal in the world of the Fae.
Middle Grade & Children’s

  • 4.58 star-average rating, more than 10,770 ratings

From Goodreads: Category godfather Rick Riordan once again takes the prize for Middle Grade and Childrens Books with the final installment of The Trials of Apollo series. Inspired by Greco-Roman mythology, The Tower of Nero chronicles the final adventures of the Greek god Apollo, incarnated on Earth as hapless teenager Lester Papadopoulos. For those keeping score at home, this is Riordans 10th consecutive victory in the Goodreads Choice Awards.
Picture Books

  • 4.24 star-average rating, more than 2,290 ratings

From Goodreads: Author Ibram X. Kendi reaches out to the youngest of readersand the grown-ups in their liveswith this innovative picture book dedicated to creating a more equitable future for everyone. This is Kendis second 2020 Goodreads Choice Award; he also picked up the Nonfiction prize for his similarly themed book for middle grade readers. Illustrator Ashley Lukashevsky provides the bold and lovely art. Hey, babies! Check this out!
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