Hartfield's Favorites: 2020 Book List

Such a Fun Age By Kiley Reid Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525541905
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - December 31st, 2019

Picked by Benjie, Dawn, Nicole and Riley

Okay, technically, this book came out in 2019, but since many of us read it in 2020 and it was a Hartfield Book Club pick in 2020, we feel no qualms about including it!

It was such an interesting experience to re-read and discuss this with our book club in May of 2020, right after the murder of George Floyd. It opened up conversations about performative wokeness, allyship and privilege that might not have probed quite so deeply in 2019.

This story packed a huge emotional punch and the ending literally left us gasping. It's the kind of book that you absolutely have to discuss with other people, one we've thought about a lot this year and probably will for a long time to come. This was (unbelievably) Reid's debut novel, and we cannot wait to see what she does next!


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Punching the Air By Ibi Zoboi, Yusef Salaam Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780062996480
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - September 1st, 2020

Picked by Benjie, Dawn, Nicole and Riley

Beautiful imagery, powerful verse, and a compelling narrative that delivers a story that touches on so many relevant contemporary issues: racism, stereotyping, gentrification, education shortfalls, issues with social and judicial procedures, the school-to-prison pipeline, the shadows of slavery, and more. But it's also the story of Amal — a boy, a poet, a son, a skater, a student, an artist. It's a story of art and poetry and brotherhood and family and hope and love. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Angie Thomas.


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Anxious People: A Novel By Fredrik Backman Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781501160837
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - September 8th, 2020

Picked by Dawn and Nicole

No one creates a rag-tag group of strangers thrown together by amusing circumstance quite like Frederik Backman! Anxious People is a who-dunnit mystery with all of the wit, winking and heart his fans have come to expect. The story is tightly condensed, mostly taking place in a single day, expertly crafted and endlessly fun to read. Despite the quick pace, you'll also get rich character development in memories recalled and stories shared. We've been shelving it in both fiction and mystery because we think it will appeal to both fans of Backman's previous work and mystery fans who may never have encountered him before.

Dawn says, "This is a delightful puzzle of a tale that reveals the idiocy, wisdom, love and humanity in us all!"  

Nicole says, "If you love Agatha Christie, or Knives Out (and not just for Chris Evans in the cable knit sweater), you should definitely pick up this absolute gem of a novel."


The House in the Cerulean Sea By TJ Klune Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250217288
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - March 17th, 2020

Picked by Dawn and Nicole

We fell head over heels for this story of love, family and acceptance. Utterly charming, funny, warm, magical — TJ Klune has created an absolutely delightful world that was a lot more pleasant to spend time in this year than our own! It's a terrifying, topsy-turvy, fiercely loving, amazingly magical place that you'll never want to leave.

Nicole says, "This book will heal your poor, tired heart! I read it pre-pandemic, then re-read it in April during a particularly bad reading slump. It's my #1 pick for the year; I absolutely adore it!"

Dawn says, "Yes! Also my #1 pick of the year. Wholesome, inclusive, hilarious, and it explores some of my favorite themes: beauty in brokenness, strength in kindness, magic in the ordinary. And now I need to go re-read it. Again."


Crossings: A Novel By Alex Landragin Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250259042
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - July 28th, 2020

Picked by Benjie and Nicole

Transportive, magical and completely mesmerizing! This astonishing debut combines many of our favorite literary things: mystery and intrigue, well-researched history with a fantasy overlay, alternating points of view and characters with strong voices, farflung travel and adventures, books as a major plot component, gorgeous prose that is both sharp and sumptuous, truth steeped in magic. You will want to read this one at least twice, but we can easily imagine ourselves revisiting it over and over again.

Nicole says, "The narrative structure is unique and utterly irresistable, tantalizingly close to a choose-your-own-adventure for adults. You'll appreciate the inspired idea, then really appreciate the masterful way in which it is executed."


All Adults Here: A Novel By Emma Straub Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781594634697
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2020

Picked by Benjie and Nicole

We love how all the members of the Strick family get the opportunity to tell their version of events in this deeply satisfying story about the kaleidascopic experience of adulthood. If you love family dramas and multiple character POV narration, this book gives you both wrapped up perfectly between its enticing yellow covers.

Nicole says, "This brings all of the familiar heart and charm of Straub's previous books, but it's much more ambitious, skillfully weaving diverse voices and multiple storylines into a rich and tender story. If you like a multigenerational, disfunctional family saga and a small town setting populated with quirky characters, this is a great pick!"


A Rogue of One's Own (A League of Extraordinary Women #2) By Evie Dunmore Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781984805706
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - September 1st, 2020

Picked by Benjie and Nicole

A lady must have money and an army of her own if she is to win a revolution — but first, she must pit her wits against the wiles of an irresistible rogue bent on wrecking her plans…and her heart. The second installment in one of our favorite romance series, A League of Extraordinary Women, sees this group of suffragettes continuing their fight for the vote in Victorian Oxford and London. If it's possible, we loved this one even more than the first (which, we really, really loved)!

Nicole says, "I don't usually read regency romance, but this series really delivers the best of both worlds — a fun and charming historical setting in a story that feels thoroughly modern. The women are smart, strong and shaking up the system. I cannot wait for the next installment!"


Beach Read By Emily Henry Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781984806734
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley - May 19th, 2020

Picked by Dawn and Nicole

This is a classic, enemies-to-lovers story that is perfect summer reading (or, escape an Illinois winter and pretend that it's summer reading!). The story is light and tropey, but also really witty and with some truly satisfying rants on the way women's fiction is still viewed as being less valuable than the more "serious" writing of (white) men. The relationship is compelling, the romance scenes are steamy (but, mostly in the PG-13 zone) and the sleepy beach town setting, complete with quirky townies, is utterly charming. It gets bonus points for several scenes in the local bookstore, a bookstore owner we would definitely like to hang out with, and a pretty hilarious book club meeting. If the phrase "purse wine" resonates with you on any level, pick this one up!


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Raybearer By Jordan Ifueko Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781419739828
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Amulet Books - August 18th, 2020

Picked by Dawn and Riley

Meet Tarisai, your new favorite YA heroine. Ifueko's debut spins a superb tale of magic, fate, and the power of love, in a world gorgeously rendered and inspired by West Africa. This seriously isn't your typical YA fantasy, as Ifueko's intricate worldbuilding and diverse cast of characters provide a consistently captivating and suprising story.

Riley says, "Watch out for Tarisai, because she's poised to be something special!" (We'd say the same is true for crazy talented, debut author Ifueko!)

Dawn says, "I love the way Ifueko deftly provides opportunity to absorb the atmosphere of this fascinating world without over describing it. She also takes you into territory you didn't anticipate, raising the stakes until the end, which is satisfying on its own, but leaves you with high hopes for the conclusion of this duology."


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Grown By Tiffany D. Jackson Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062840356
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - September 15th, 2020

Picked by Dawn and Riley

Awful and brilliant. A revelation and an indictment. This contemporary YA mystery/thriller is loosely based on the decades' worth of abuse allegations against R. Kelly, and needs allllll the content warnings because of that (including rape of a minor(s), grooming, brainwashing, controlling and isolating behavior, substance abuse, etc.). It's compelling and relevant, centers the voice of a talented and strong Black girl, and offers an opportunity for important discussions about power and abuse, love and consent, race and gender, community and vulnerability, and more.


Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning By Jason Reynolds, Ibram X. Kendi Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316453691
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - March 10th, 2020

Picked by Benjie, Dawn and Nicole

This is NOT a history book.
This is a book about the here and now.
A book to help us better understand why we are where we are.
A book about race.

This book is a unicorn. It's an amazing distillation (but, in no way a reduction) of academically-rigorous research, plain spoken truths about how things are and have been, a voice speaking directly to YOU. This is no passive history lesson. This is a book for kids and adults, for families to read and discuss together, for classrooms, for libraries, for everyone, everytime, everywhere.


Dragon Hoops By Gene Luen Yang Cover Image
$24.99
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ISBN: 9781626720794
Published: First Second - March 17th, 2020

Picked by Benjie and Nicole

We absolutely loved this book! It's the story of a real-life high school basketball team in 2014 in California and their journey to the State Championships, but it's also a behind-the-scenes look at the writing process and the life of a professional author/illustrator. Yang is a gifted storyteller and isn't afraid to put himself into the story — literally. We have recommended this to memoir readers who have never tried graphic novels, to reluctant readers who might get hooked on the sports theme, and to every book nerd we know!