Reading List: 2020’s Most Critically Acclaimed Books

View a more detailed description of the 2020 list.
View a list of all the critically acclaimed titles on our list from 1940 to 2021.


Fiction

  1. What A Woman’s Gotta Do by Evelyn Coleman
  2. Deacon King Kong by James McBride
  3. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
  4. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  5. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick by Zora Neale Hurston
  6. The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  7. The Willie Lynch Letter And the Making of A Slave by Willie Lynch
  8. B-More Careful by Shannon Holmes
  9. It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan
  10. Black Gangster by Donald Goines
  11. Bourbon Street by Leonce Gaiter
  12. American Spy: A Novel by Lauren Wilkinson
  13. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  14. The Missing American by Kwei Quartey
  15. Romance in Marseille by Claude McKay
  16. Black Sunday by Tola Rotimi Abraham
  17. On the Corner of Hope and Main: A Blessings Novel by Beverly Jenkins
  18. When No One Is Watching: A Thriller by Alyssa Cole
  19. Blacktop Wasteland (autographed) by S. A. Cosby
  20. The Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley
  21. Luster by Raven Leilani
  22. His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
  23. The Stolen Daughter by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
  24. Step Into a World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature by Kevin Powell
  25. Here and Now by Kimberla Lawson Roby

Nonfiction

  1. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  2. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  3. Black Boy by Richard Wright
  4. The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison
  5. Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream by Mychal Denzel Smith
  6. Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
  7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  8. My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellers
  9. Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.

Children’s

  1. I Love My Haircut! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
  2. I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
  3. A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
  4. King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
  5. Class Act by Jerry Craft
  6. Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  7. I Believe I Can by Grace Byers
  8. Follow Your Dreams, Little One by Vashti Harrison
  9. Different and the Same by Adijah & Atiya Brabham
  10. Cool Cuts by Mechal Renee Roe
  11. Geese Are Never Swans by Eva Clark and Created by Kobe Bryant
  12. A Black Woman Did That by Malaika Adero
  13. Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne
  14. All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor
  15. African by Peter Tosh
  16. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  17. Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera
  18. Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  19. Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
  20. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
  21. Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade
  22. She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Katheryn Russell-Brown
  23. Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes
  24. Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

Poetry

  1. Pale Colors in a Tall Field: Poems by Carl Phillips