On June 24, 2020, the Amazon Books editors released their list of the Best Books of 2020 So Far. Some books are mega-sellers; some books are hidden gems. All have the potential to be a lucky reader’s new favorite book.
But what about the best-selling books of 2020?
It’s an interesting mix. Some of 2019’s (and 2018’s) best sellers continue to win readers in 2020. But new additions to shelves—even books that published only in the last two months—are leapfrogging ahead. At the same time, books released to critical acclaim in years past have recently surged forward on the shoulders of 2020’s racial justice movement and antiracism reckoning.
According to Amazon Charts, these are the 10 Most Sold books across fiction and nonfiction in 2020 so far.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Where the Crawdads Sing was one of 2019’s powerhouse reads, dominating the top slots on both the Most Sold and the Most Read fiction lists for much of the year. Delia Owens’ North Carolina-set novel about a young girl who lives alone in the coastal marshes got an auspicious launch in summer 2018, but its momentum only kept building in 2019, and it continues to win readers hearts in 2020 as we approach the two-year anniversary of its debut.
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin J. DiAngelo
An antiracism educator and consultant, Robin DiAngelo saw during her work a pattern of resistance among white people during dialogues about race. Her investigation into that behavior led to White Fragility. When it first published in 2018, White Fragility made waves among readers and won a spot on the New York Times best seller list for 85 weeks. In 2020, as the world reacts to the killing of George Floyd and seeks to change centuries of institutionalized and internalized racism, readers have again sought DiAngelo’s insights into why white people flinch away from talking about race.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Propelled by the Hulu miniseries adaptation starring Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, Celeste Ng’s 2017 novel, Little Fires Everywhere, sprang back onto the Charts Most Sold list in 2020. When artist and single mom, Mia, moves to straitlaced Shaker Heights, her teenaged daughter grows close to the Richardson family. But Mia has secrets that will shake up Shaker Heights—and literally set a house on fire.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Doyle follows her memoir Love Warrior with 2020’s Untamed—the story of how she finally found peace and power when she stopped acceding to external expectations and started answering to her inner self. Doyle’s words of wisdom have prompted Kindle books readers to highlight inspiring passages such as “Brave means living from the inside out. Brave means, in every uncertain moment, turning inward, feeling for the Knowing, and speaking it out loud.”
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
American Dirt not only lit up book clubs with its story of a bookseller from Acapulco who flees with her young son to the supposed safety of the United States, but it prompted soul-searching within the publishing world and among readers about why some authors are paid very well to tell other people’s stories, while some authors are paid very poorly to tell their own people’s stories. Fast-paced and empathetic, American Dirt has won a spot on the Charts Most Sold Fiction list and Most Read Fiction list almost every week since its publication in January 2020.
The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John R. Bolton
Trump’s former National Security Advisor details what happened during his 453 days in the administration and shares his thoughts on the president’s foreign policy acumen. (Spoiler: Bolton is not impressed.) After going through several national security reviews, Bolton decided to release his book without final official sign-off from the government, sparking a last-minute unsuccessful filing from the Justice Department to stop Bolton and prompting readers to snatch up The Room Where It Happened—the most recently published book on this list.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
No one expected Suzanne Collins to deliver a prequel to her blockbuster Hunger Games books, so the announcement of just that got her fans buzzing. Then COVID-19 hit, and publishers began moving publication dates further back in the year or even into 2021. But The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes held firm to its May release. Readers have swarmed to the tale of a young Coriolanus Snow (later, President Snow) as he mentors an apparently unremarkable tribute from District 12 in a desperate bid to rebuild his family’s fortunes. The Amazon Books editors also named The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes a best book of the month and one of the Best Books of 2020 So Far.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The stirring memoir of Michelle Obama hit the Amazon Charts list just after readers began to read and listen to it in November 2018, and Becoming was the Most Sold nonfiction title of 2019. Obama’s memoir has not only glued people to their headphones as they listened to the former First Lady narrate her own life story in the Audible audiobook, but it also inspired readers to highlight sentences such as “Do we settle for the world as it is, or do we work for the world as it should be?”
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Kendi’s 2019 nonfiction exploration of antiracism—active policies that lead to racial equality—bounds between his own epiphanies on racism and antiracism and between the historical and current mechanisms that have embedded racism in our daily lives and beliefs. How to Be an Antiracist has become one of the go-to resources in 2020 for readers involved in today’s racial justice movement.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
In this debut thriller, a woman and her husband seem to have the perfect life until she shoots him in the head. Consigned to a mental facility, she refuses to speak. But a criminal psychotherapist is obsessed with the case and her silence, and his attempts to learn what’s locked inside her head will lead the reader on a twisty, shocking journey with an ending few will anticipate.
A fascinating mix of fiction, nonfiction, veteran best-sellers, and popular newcomers reflects a wide range of readers’ interests among the Most Sold books of 2020 so far.