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19 of the Best Books of 2021

best fiction books quora 2020

A bookworm is happiest when they’re surrounded by books — both old and new. Undoubtedly, 2021 was a great year for both fiction and nonfiction, with bestsellers like Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters and Second Place by Rachel Cusk. Whether you read memoirs or young-adult (YA) novels, 2021 was a fantastic year for book lovers. While we can’t squeeze in all of our favorites from 2021, we’ve rounded up a stellar sampling of must-reads. Here’s some of the year’s best books. 

“Crying in H Mart: A Memoir” by Michelle Zauner

best fiction books quora 2020

In her profound memoir Crying in H Mart , Michelle Zauner shares an unflinching view of growing up as a Korean American person — all while reflecting on losing her mother to terminal cancer. Author Dani Shapiro notes that the Japanese Breakfast musician “has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief.”

“The Prophets” by Robert Jones, Jr.

best fiction books quora 2020

In Robert Jones, Jr.’s lyrical debut novel, The Prophets , Isaiah and Samuel are two enslaved young men who find refuge in each other — and their love becomes both sustaining and heroic in the face of a vicious world. Entertainment Weekly writes that “While The Prophets’ dreamy realism recalls the work of Toni Morrison… Its penetrating focus on social dynamics stands out more singularly.” Now that’s a compliment.

“The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

best fiction books quora 2020

At President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amanda Gorman read her electrifying poem, “ The Hill We Climb .” Since then, it has been praised for its call for unity and healing. Vogue captures the feeling of reading the poem well, calling it “deeply rousing and uplifting.” 

“Beautiful World, Where Are You” by Sally Rooney

best fiction books quora 2020

New York Times bestselling author Sally Rooney has returned with a sharp, romantic drama, Beautiful World, Where Are You . Two separate relationships are in chaos, threatening to ruin friendships. Vogue  declares that the author has “invented a sensibility entirely of her own: Sunny and sharp.” 

“Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir” by Ashley C. Ford

best fiction books quora 2020

Ashley C. Ford’s coming-of-age memoir, Somebody’s Daughter , centers on her childhood. Ford, a Black girl who grew up poor in Indiana, recounts how her family was fragmented by her father’s incarceration. With rich, unflinching writing, Ford has penned a debut for the ages. The memoir’s publisher perhaps puts the core of the book best, noting that Ford “embarks on a powerful journey to find the threads between who she is and what she was born into, and the complicated familial love that often binds them.” 

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo

best fiction books quora 2020

Everyone remembers their first all-consuming love — and for Lily Hu, the teenage protagonist of Malinda Lo’s queer YA novel, that love is Kathleen Miller. Set in the 1950s in San Francisco,  Last Night at the Telegraph Club  is not just one of the year’s best, but one of Lo’s best. O: The Oprah Magazine notes that the novel is “proof of Lo’s skill at creating darkly romantic tales of love in the face of danger.”

“¡Hola Papi!” by John Paul Brammer

best fiction books quora 2020

In his memoir, ¡H ola Papi!: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons , advice columnist John Paul Brammer delves into his experiences growing up as a queer, biracial person. The  Los Angeles Times  writes that “Brammer’s writing is incredibly funny, kind, and gracious to his readers, and deeply vulnerable in a way that makes it feel as if he’s talking to only you” — and we couldn’t agree more. 

“Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers

best fiction books quora 2020

In Morgan Rogers’ novel Honey Girl , Grace Porter is an overachiever — and certainly not the type of person to marry a stranger in Las Vegas. Or, at least, she didn’t think she was that type of person. As Grace navigates the messiness of adulthood, Rogers takes us on a journey that’s both heartfelt and unflinching, illustrating that love is all about risks — even when it comes to loving ourselves. 

“Aftershocks: A Memoir” by Nadia Owusu

best fiction books quora 2020

Nadia Owusu’s memoir, Aftershocks , reflects on her experience of being abandoned by her parents at a young age. Entertainment Weekly notes that “Owusu dispatches all of this heartache with blistering honesty but does so with prose light enough that it never feels too much to bear.”

“Klara and the Sun” by Kazuo Ishiguro

best fiction books quora 2020

What if an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant had feelings? In Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel,  Klara and the Sun , Klara is an Artificial Friend who wonders if friendship is possible. The Financial Times called the Never Let Me Go author’s latest “a deft dystopian fable about the innocence of a robot that asks big questions about existence.”

“100 Boyfriends” by Brontez Purnell

best fiction books quora 2020

Brontez Purnell’s romantic, intoxicating book, 100 Boyfriends , is a look at the romantic lives of queer men who are striving to find out not just where they belong, but where they can shine. Author Bryan Washington praised the collection, writing that “Each story in 100 Boyfriends is a minor eclipse: stunning in scope, technically blinding, and entirely miraculous.”

“One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston

best fiction books quora 2020

In Casey McQuiston’s big-hearted romance novel, One Last Stop , August meets Jane on a New York City subway — but she doesn’t realize just how fateful their chance encounter is at first. New York Magazine called the novel “an earnest reminder that home — whether that means a time, a place, or a person — is worth fighting for,” and we wouldn’t expect anything less from the  Red, White & Royal Blue author. 

“Afterparties: Stories” by Anthony Veasna So

best fiction books quora 2020

In Afterparties , Anthony Veasna So weaves together tenderhearted stories about the lives of several Cambodian American characters. Although the stories vary quite a bit in terms of content, author George Saunders writes that they are all “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail,” and are much like “…beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community.”

“Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid

best fiction books quora 2020

In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Malibu Rising , readers meet four famous siblings as they throw their annual end-of-summer party in Malibu. However, over the course of 24 hours, family drama ensues. The Washington Post calls this read “a fast-paced, engaging novel that smoothly transports readers.”

“Let Me Tell You What I Mean” by Joan Didion

best fiction books quora 2020

Between 1968 and 2000, award-winning journalist and essayist Joan Didion wrote 12 pieces about a variety of well-known figures, ranging from Ernest Hemingway and Nancy Reagan to Martha Stewart. Now, these works have been gathered in the essay collection Let Me Tell You What I Mean . Bret Easton Ellis writes that Didion’s “prose remains peerless,” so, if you’re a fan of the iconic writer, this is a must-read. 

“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura

best fiction books quora 2020

Intimacies is Katie Kitamura’s fourth novel, following 2017’s critically acclaimed A Separation . In it, an interpreter for the International Court at the Hague gets drawn into a political scandal after agreeing to translate for a former world leader and potential criminal. The novel is a fascinating investigation into the instability of language and how it influences identity. Dana Spiotta describes Intimacies as “a haunting, precise, and morally astute novel that reads like a psychological thriller.”

“Detransition, Baby” by Torrey Peters

best fiction books quora 2020

In Detransition, Baby , Torrey Peters tells a witty and nuanced story about partnership, parenthood and identity. About the novel, Ginny Hogan from the New York Times states “[Detransition, Baby upends] our traditional, gendered notions of what parenthood can look like.”

“Second Place” by Rachel Cusk

best fiction books quora 2020

In Rachel Cusk’s novel Second Place , a follow up to her brilliant Outline trilogy, a woman invites an artist she admires to live in her remote guesthouse for the summer. As the stay unfolds, a series of unexpected events spurs revelations about womanhood, marriage and security. About Second Place , Jenny Singer from Glamour writes “there is mayhem; surprising sweetness and brilliant observations tumble from every page.”

“Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore ” by Dan Ozzi

best fiction books quora 2020

In Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore , rock critic Dan Ozzi traces the stories of eleven separate bands that transitioned from the indie scene to achieve mainstream success in the ‘90s. Including interviews and anecdotes from bands like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, this is a must-read for any music lover.


best fiction books quora 2020

best fiction books quora 2020

I Answered Random “Harry Potter” Questions from Quora

by Emily Lawrence · Published July 26, 2020 · Updated November 17, 2022

In one of my Internet spirals, I came across Quora. Specifically, I came across all the questions put on Quora about Harry Potter . There were some intriguing ones, some laughable ones, and some rather pointed ones about the nature of the Harry Potter fandom . Here are my two cents – please enjoy the ensuing chaos.

1. Does Harry Potter know how to Apparate?

When I first read this question, my inner monologue exploded with a gigantic “of course!” After all, who can forget the frustrating yet funny Apparition course lead by Wilkie Twycross? But then I considered this question from the point of view of somebody who had only watched the movies. We never see Harry Apparate by himself, only via side-along Apparition. So yes, Harry Potter knows how to Apparate, but he can only legally practice Apparition after the age of 17 and after obtaining a license.

2. How different would Harry Potter and A Song of Ice and Fire be if they were written by George R.R. Martin and J.K. Rowling respectively?

Different – very, very different. If George R.R. Martin had written Harry Potter , there would be even more death and a whole lot more violence. Additionally, it is quite possible that the series would never have been finished. It is an interesting comparison, since there is a surprising amount of death in both series, and the two authors do love to entwine exciting mystery elements within their fantasy worlds.

Bookworm Meme

3. Should I read the Harry Potter series considering the fact that I have already seen the movies numerous times?

Absolutely! Reading the Harry Potter series is a completely different experience, and you will be blown away with all the extra detail and plot points that make the book experience so much more vivid. My advice: If you love the movies, then check out the books – at the very least, you will understand both sides of the books vs. movies debate.

4. I’m 21. Am I too old to read/watch the Harry Potter series for the first time?

Of course not! Never! As a person who is more than slightly addicted to rereading the Harry Potter series, I can tell you that with age, you’ll just enjoy and understand the nuances and themes of the series more. It is possible that you’ll find the language of the first two books to be simpler, but it is a bit like rewatching old Disney movies. There’s nothing wrong with a grown adult sitting down to rewatch The Lion King – in fact, it might be us adults who cry even more at Mufasa’s death.

5. Is Harry Potter a fiction or non-fiction book?

Well, there is some startling new scientific evidence that proves the existence…. No. Sorry; Harry Potter is fiction, and some people (myself included) need to accept that their Hogwarts letters have not just gotten lost in the postal system for over ten years. Don’t be too disheartened, however; I think some of the beauty of Harry Potter is the real-life lessons it provides – about friendship, family, and the struggle to do what is right against the forces of prejudice, intolerance, and even our own fears.

6. Why do Harry Potter book fans hate/dislike the Harry Potter movies?

Look, it is not that the movies are terrible. They do have their strong points, and it’s great that the movies have enabled many Harry Potter fans to find their way into the fandom. However, like many book-to-movie adaptations, there are always scenes, lines of dialogue, and whole plot points that are re-arranged or left on the cutting room floor. So please forgive us if sometimes we need to vent over the fact that Peeves never appears or that half of Ron’s lines are given to Hermione. It’s just what we need to do.

DVD cut out of book

7. Why didn’t Harry Potter marry Hermione Granger?

This is more obvious in the books than the movies. Relationships in the Harry Potter series are often quite complicated, but what it boils down to is that Harry’s close relationship with Hermione is on a brother-sister level rather than anything romantic. And while some people ask this question as a result of their bafflement over Ron and Hermione’s relationship, I think it all comes down to the idea that love is at times illogical and doesn’t always make sense to an outsider.

best fiction books quora 2020

Credit: atalienart.tumblr.com

8. Why do some Harry Potter fans (many who are now in their 20s) tend to live in a “Harry Potter reality,” where they spend hours discussing theories, hypothetical situations, and writing or reading fan fiction? Why can’t they just enjoy it as fiction?

On a more serious note, I think that Harry Potter fans simply love to invest in this community and franchise. All these activities listed above do really help people find that sense of community in the fandom, just as being part of a sports team might also bring people joy and shared excitement. I think it speaks to the power of this series that such a following has emerged and continues to be celebrated by people all around the world.

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Book Marketing for Self-Publishing Authors

Home / Book Marketing / How to Use Quora to Increase Book Sales

How to Use Quora to Increase Book Sales

One thing many authors with a website struggle with is getting traffic or fans to go to it.

They write excellent content…

They post it on social media …

And nothing…

The same could be said about authors without platforms.  If you aren't proactively trying to drive traffic to your book sales page, then you need to get going.  Today's Amazon platform is very crowded, and no longer can you just depend on Amazon to send all of the traffic to your book. There are just too many mouths to feed.  But where do you begin?

Well in this article, I am going to introduce to you a platform that has generated over 1,000+ visits to my website, and gotten over 76.7K views of my material in as little as three months.  I'll also show you how it directly increased a fiction author's book sales as well.

It’s super easy to use, and the best part is that it’s totally free.

It’s called Quora .

In this article, I will show you:

Table of contents

Back in the day, there were websites like Ask.com, or Yahoo Answers, where people could post questions, and other users could answer them. Using a voting system, the best answers would rise to the top and stay there for others to read who have the same question.

However, over time, many of these sites closed down, stopped accepting new questions, or got punished by Google. With Google punishments, these other sites no longer show up on Google searches, or if they do, it’s rare.

However, one question/answer website that has remained and is currently thriving in Google’s world is Quora.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “Oh yay, another social networking site to spend more of my time on.”

But unlike social media where your posts quickly disappear in less than 24 hours only requiring you to re-post something else over and over and over again, Quora answers are public for a significant period of time.

When you post an answer to someone’s question, your answer stays on that page indefinitely. Furthermore, Quora is indexed in Google. So, people typing in that question into Google search have a good chance of stumbling on that question and your answer.

How Can Authors Use Quora

Whether or not you are in fiction or non-fiction, your fans and readers are asking questions. You, as the author, need to be able to recognize what kind of questions your fans might ask…or better yet, what kind of questions lead to more sales.

This should probably be a little easier than fiction because most non-fiction is about a question.

How do I lose weight? How do I stop smoking? What happened in 1824? How do I learn…?

I think you get my drift.

Find questions that pertain to your market , and give the best answer. You’ll not only help out your target market, but you'll also be seen as an authority.  Furthermore, you can drop a link to your book, or website and increase your engagements and ultimately your conversions.

For Fiction, it is a little trickier, but still well worth your time.

In most cases, people don’t just jump on and search for random book titles . Instead, they will talk about famous books. The strategy with Quora for fiction is that you find popular books that are in your genre and look for those questions.

Toby Downtown of Solarversia.com did an excellent job of recognizing that those who loved the book “ Ready Player One ” would love his book “ Solarversia .” If you don’t know, “Ready Player One” is one of my favorites as well as Pat Flynn’s and will become a movie soon at the helm of Steven Spielberg.  So, you might not have heard of it yet, but soon, it will be a big deal…and early adopters like Toby will reap the benefits.

Quickly going to Quora and typing in the search phrase “Ready Player One” there are hundreds of questions dealing with this one book. Here are some JUICY questions for Toby to answer so as to get his book, name, and authority in front of his target market:

With each of them averaging around 200-400 views over the past couple of months, you can quickly see that answering these questions is probably worth the 10 minutes it would take to write a well thought out answer.

Besides, those are some excellent questions for an author to answer…and drop a link to their own book as well.

So, giving Toby an advanced copy of this article, and giving him a nudge, he created this reply and got some excellent results from just a couple of minutes of answering that one question.

Furthermore, he got the following tweet from someone he never knew.I've got a Starbucks coffee card that says that if someone would take the time to tweet their appreciation, they are also the kind that would drop a great review.

And THAT is a double score and is, therefore, my kind of marketing effort.

Was it successful? You bet.

While linking back to your book in Quora can be a direct way to make sales, sometimes the best strategy is the long one.  In this case you can link back to your website, and hopefully through your excellent content, you keep them there and get them on your email list.

That's what Scott did over at Best Survival at https://bestsurvival.org/ .  Answering questions, it becomes very easy to see why he's an authority in outdoors survival tactics, and equipment.

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First, you’ll need to create your account . You can use your Facebook, Google+ or email to do it.

However, once you have signed up, you need to take your time and put together a great profile that will convert. The information you place on this profile should be geared towards the type of questions you intend to answer.

If I want to drive the right kind of traffic to my website on Science Fiction, then I need to have a profile that reflects this.

For example, let’s say there is a Quora question about Science Fiction Military books and I respond with an epic answer.

If my profile says “Dave Chesson – Hair Dresser” it won’t hold as much weight as in “Dave Chesson – bestselling author in the Science Fiction genre and master of the universe” – these are both made up…in case you were wondering, only He-Man and Chuck Norris are the masters.

Your profile has to reflect the type of questions you intend to answer. This includes:

So take the time and think about what your target market would like to see if they checked your profile out.

While in your dashboard, if you navigate to the top left, you'll see a search box. Here you can type in your genre, questions or particular keywords. Once you hit enter, Quora will find a slew of questions that meet your requirement.

Once you have answered a couple of questions in a particular category, you will start to notice that Quora users will request for you to answer their questions as well…which is nice.  This is a good sign that you are being seen as an authority on the subject.

You won’t believe how many questions exist in your particular genre and how easy it is to answer them.

This is where most people on Quora make the biggest mistake.

Usually people who respond, just type something in really quick and move on.

But, to get people to take your answer seriously, and click on your links, you need to write out a well thought out response that provide real value.

So, take your time and think out your response.

Another thing is to treat it like a blog post.

Many people who stumble on Quora searching for an answer will quickly scroll through the answer options and choose one or maybe two to read.

It is for this reason that you need to structure your response so that it is appealing to their eyes. Thus, you need to make your response stick out.

You can do this by performing the following:

Here is are a couple of examples of my Quora responses, employing exactly these things:

What do you think? Did I nail it?  If so, then an upvote is always appreciated 😉

So make sure you spend some time on your answer. It will be a big part of whether or not you will succeed with this tactic.

So what’s the point of writing a Quora answer if it sits at the bottom and no one reads it?

Well, it turns out that there are a couple of ways to get your Quora to the top, and the best way is through upvotes.

The Upvote buttons are the little boxes at the bottom of answers.

When people like your answer, they will click this box, and you will receive a +1 – sort of like Reddit. The Answer with the most upvotes will usually rise to the top.

To get more upvotes, make sure you provide an excellent response. Follow what we discussed above and ensure your response is ordered and structured for those that skim.  Also, be sure to select a proper picture so as to catch their eyes and make your answer stand out.

Another way to get more upvotes is to share it with your friends and family or post it on your social media. Doing this, you can easily get 5-10 upvotes, which in most cases will get you the #1 ranking.

Like I said above, Quora has been a GREAT boost of traffic for me. Just check out those numbers.

The above picture is of my Quora Analytics showing how many people have seen my Quora answers in as little as three months. Not bad right.

But does that translate into visitors of your site or book sales page? You bet!  Check out the picture below of my Analytics account for Kindlepreneur.com.

That's the number of people who read my Quora answer and then clicked on a link that sent them to my site – which I strategically place in my responses. Looking at the Bounce Rate and the Average Time on Site, I would say this is a good kind of traffic.

Plus, I'm not the only one to see that.  Nick Loper, the master behind Side Hustle Nation podcast and a good friend of mine saw similar results as well as improved engagement from that form of traffic.

Now, I will admit, to build that amount of traffic I spent a lot of time on Quora.  To reach that level, I had reserved a couple of hours a week so as to be able to answer questions and keep a constant presence.  But, looking at the results above, I'm pretty sure it was a wise investment of my time.

I wrote the above information five months ago.  I never like to just “jump into anything” and then immediately post initial success because, in marketing and self publishing books , we all take our lumps and learn from mistakes.  Sometimes our initial efforts seem too good to be true…and they end up not being that great.

So, let me take a moment and tarnish Quora for a little.

It is true that the information above is correct, but here is the long term look at what that effort did for me, my sites, and my books.

I learned that Quora gives new questions a lot of love, but will quickly let your answer sink to the bottom over time.  This is good and bad.

The good news is that it allows new and fresh answers to see some popularity – so don't get distraught if someone has already answered the question.  The bad news is that it will cause your work not to have as much of an ROI over time 🙁

After two months of working on Quora, I stopped.  When I stopped, I saw the number plummet.   So, it isn't truly a passive source or asset – although still more passive than social media.  At least my Quora posts provided traffic for months while my post on Facebook lasts for 24 hours.

Also, I had many of my posts removed by Quora – OUCH! Quora is very sensitive about the pictures you post and while the pictures I posted were well within their compliance requirements, someone had reported them and the appeals process takes almost a year (competitor? probably).

For example, below is a screen capture of them telling me that they removed my answer because I need to “disclose my affiliation” to Kindlepreneur.com.


So, much of my hard work has just ‘disappeared.'

This doesn't mean I don't love Quora as a strategy.  It's perfect for those without a platform looking to build authority and gain new traffic.  It's also a good source for those who do have a platform and want to find a quick and easy way to start developing sustainable traffic.

But here are the things you should keep in mind as you put forth effort:

Like with any type of marketing strategy, all platforms and strategies have their pro's and con's.  But the thing that separates the successful from those who fail is that success comes to those that keep trying until it works.

If you decide you want to work on Quora, then put forth a full effort.  Don't just answer a question and then complain it didn't work.  Don't just answer a couple of questions in one day and stop.  Set aside some time, work with it, experiment and find out what works.

As you can see, Quora can be a powerful way to get a source of passive traffic to your website or book's sales page.

Just sit down for a couple of hours, set up a targeted profile, and answer some questions.

Just start writing.

It’s that simple.

And while you’re at it, check out my profile and follow me so as to see exactly how I got those high click rates and learn by example as I go through navigating Quora and its many opportunities.

Also, if you post a Quora answer, let me know in the comments!  I'll make sure to hop on over, check it out, and drop you an upvote.  Again, a little extra something for you crazy peeps who read all the way through to the bottom of this ginormously long, Moby Dick sized post.

Dave Chesson

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

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36 thoughts on “ How to Use Quora to Increase Book Sales ”

I’ve been answering questions people ask me on Quora for some time now and did not know you could include a link. I’ll be giving that a try. Thanks again for yet another informative post, Dave! Keep up the good work!

Quora keeps deleting my answers. I will answer a question about Twitter marketing (because I wrote this book: https://amzn.to/30z98ih ) and if I include a link, It is gone.I guess I could get organic views if someone is intrigued enough to google the book I mention in my credentials.I usually enjoy your advice, and am currently using your AMS advertising course (just waiting for Amazon to save those 998 keywords!), but this is one blog post I disagree with. I have Quora in my “Time Suck” bookmark folder.Maybe you were there for the golden days of Quora when they made it easier on promoters.Thanks,Melanie

What a great idea to enhance photography with Fashion of Photography. Love it most . Keep it up. Thanks

This is in truth enormous promotion technique. Thanks for sharing nice through

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NPR Books Summer Poll 2021: A Decade Of Great Sci-Fi And Fantasy

We asked, you answered: your 50 favorite sci-fi and fantasy books of the past decade.

Petra Mayer at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., May 21, 2019. (photo by Allison Shelley)

Petra Mayer

Deborah Lee for NPR

The question at the heart of science fiction and fantasy is "what if?" What if gods were real, but you could kill them ? What if humans finally made it out among the stars — only to discover we're the shabby newcomers in a grand galactic alliance ? What if an asteroid destroyed the East Coast in 1952 and jump-started the space race years early?

Summer Reader Poll 2021: Meet Our Expert Judges

Summer Reader Poll 2021: Meet our expert judges

Click If You Dare: 100 Favorite Horror Stories

Summer Reader Poll 2018: Horror

Click if you dare: 100 favorite horror stories.

We Did It For The LOLs: 100 Favorite Funny Books

Summer Reader Poll 2019: Funny Books

We did it for the lols: 100 favorite funny books.

This year's summer reader poll was also shaped by a series of "what ifs" — most importantly, what if, instead of looking at the entire history of the field the way we did in our 2011 poll , we focused only on what has happened in the decade since? These past 10 years have brought seismic change to science fiction and fantasy (sometimes literally, in the case of N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series), and we wanted to celebrate the world-shaking rush of new voices, new perspectives, new styles and new stories. And though we limited ourselves to 50 books this time around, the result is a list that's truly stellar — as poll judge Tochi Onyebuchi put it, "Alive."

As always, a pretty extensive decision-making process went into the list, involving our fabulous panel of expert judges — but we know you eager readers want to get right to the books. So if you're inclined, follow these links to find out how we built the list (and what, sadly, didn't make it this year ). Otherwise, scroll on for the list!

We've broken it up into categories to help you find the reading experience you're looking for, and you can click on these links to go directly to each category:

Worlds To Get Lost In · Words To Get Lost In · Will Take You On A Journey · Will Mess With Your Head · Will Mess With Your Heart · Will Make You Feel Good

Worlds To Get Lost In

Are you (like me) a world-building fanatic? These authors have built worlds so real you can almost smell them.

The Imperial Radch Trilogy

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie

Breq is a human now — but once she was a starship. Once she was an AI with a vast and ancient metal body and troops of ancillaries, barely animate bodies that all carried her consciousness. Poll judge Ann Leckie has created a massive yet intricate interstellar empire where twisty galactic intrigues and multiple clashing cultures form a brilliant backdrop for the story of a starship learning to be a human being. Your humble editor got a copy of Ancillary Justice when it came out and promptly forced her entire family to read it.

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The Dead Djinn Universe (series)

A Master of Djinn, by P. Djélì Clarke

What a wonderful world P. Djélì Clarke has created here — an Arab world never colonized, where magic-powered trams glide through a cosmopolitan Cairo and where djinns make mischief among humans. Clarke's novella Ring Shout also showed up on our semifinalists list, and it was hard to decide between them, but ultimately our judges felt the Dead Djinn Universe offered more to explore. But you should still read Ring Shout , a wild ride of a read where gun-toting demon-hunters go up against Ku Klux Klan members who are actual, pointy-headed white demons. Go on, go get a copy! We'll wait.

The Age of Madness Trilogy

A Little Hatred, by Joe Abercrombie

One of my pet peeves with fantasy novels is they sometimes don't allow for the progression of time and technology — but in Joe Abercrombie's Age of Madness series, the follow-up to his debut First Law trilogy, industrialization has come to the world of The Union, and it's brought no good in its wake. More than that — machines may be rising, but magic will not give way, and all over the world, those at the bottom of the heap are beginning to get really, really angry. This series works as a standalone — but you should also read the excellent First Law series (even though it's old enough to fall outside the scope of this list).

The Green Bone Saga

Jade City, by Fonda Lee

This sprawling saga of family, honor, blood and magical jade will suck you in from the very first page. Poll judge Fonda Lee's story works on every conceivable level, from minute but meaningful character beats to solid, elegantly conveyed world-building to political intrigue to big, overarching themes of clan, loyalty and identity. Plus, wow, the jade-powered martial arts sequences are as fine as anything the Shaw Brothers ever put on screen. "Reviewing books is my actual job," says fellow judge Amal El-Mohtar, "but I still have to fight my husband for the advance copies of Fonda's books, and we're both THIS CLOSE to learning actual martial arts to assist us in our dueling for dibs."

The Expanse (series)

Leviathan Wakes, by James S.A. Corey

Yes, sure, you've seen the TV show (you HAVE, right? Right?) about the ragtag crew of spacers caught up in a three-way power struggle between Earth, Mars and the society that's developed on far-off asteroid belts. But there's much, much more to explore in the books — other planets, other characters, storylines and concepts that didn't make it to the screen. Often, when a book gets adapted for film or TV, there's a clear argument about which version is better. With The Expanse , we can confidently say you should watch and read. The only downside? Book- Avasarala doesn't show up until a few volumes in.

The Daevabad Trilogy

The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty

Nahri is a con woman (with a mysteriously real healing talent) scraping a living in the alleys of 18th century Cairo — until she accidentally summons some true magic and discovers her fate is bound to a legendary city named Daevabad, far from human civilization, home of djinns and bloody intrigues. Author S.A. Chakraborty converted to Islam as a teenager and after college began writing what she describes as "historical fanfiction" about medieval Islam; then characters appeared, inspired by people she met at her mosque. "A sly heroine capable of saving herself, a dashing hero who'd break for the noon prayer," she told an interviewer . "I wanted to write a story for us, about us, with the grandeur and magic of a summer blockbuster."

Teixcalaan (series)

A Memory Called Empire, by Arkady Martine

The Aztecs meet the Byzantines in outer space in this intricately imagined story of diplomatic intrigue and fashionable poetic forms. Mahit Dzmare is an ambassador from a small space station clinging desperately to its independence in the face of the massive Teixcalaanli empire . But when she arrives in its glittering capital, her predecessor's dead, and she soon discovers she's been sabotaged herself. Luckily, it turns out she's incredibly good at her job, even without her guiding neural implant. "I'm a sucker for elegant worldbuilding that portrays all the finer nuances of society and culture in addition to the grandness of empire and the complexity of politics," says judge Fonda Lee. "Arkady Martine delivers all that in droves."

The Thessaly Trilogy

The Just City, by Jo Walton

Apollo, spurned by Daphne, is trying to understand free will and consent by living as a mortal. Athena is trying to create a utopia by plucking men and women from all across history and dropping them on an island to live according to Plato's Republic. Will it all go according to plan? Not likely. "Brilliant, compelling, and frankly unputdownable," wrote poll judge Amal El-Mohtar , "this will do what your Intro to Philosophy courses probably couldn't: make you want to read The Republic ."

Shades of Magic Trilogy

A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab has created a world with four Londons lying atop one another : our own dull Grey, warm magic-suffused Red, tyrannical White, and dead, terrifying Black. Once, movement among them was easy, but now only a few have the ability — including our hero, Kell. So naturally, he's a smuggler, and the action kicks off when Grey London thief Lila steals a dangerous artifact from him, a stone that could upset the balance among the Londons. Rich world building, complex characters and really scary bad guys make Schwab's London a city — or cities — well worth spending time in.

The Divine Cities Trilogy

City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett

On the Continent, you must not, you cannot, talk about the gods — the gods are dead. Or are they? Robert Jackson Bennett's Divine Cities trilogy builds a fully, gloriously realized world where gods are the source of power, miracles and oppression, and gods can also be killed. But what happens next, when the gods are gone and the work of running the world is left to regular human men and women? What happens in that unsettled moment when divinity gives way to technology? This series spans a long timeline; the heroes of the first volume are old by the end. "And as ancient powers clash among gleaming, modern skyscrapers, those who have survived from the first page to these last have a heaviness about them," writes reviewer Jason Sheehan , "a sense that they have seen remarkable things, done deeds both heroic and terrible, and that they can see a far and final horizon in the distance, quickly approaching."

The Wormwood Trilogy

Rosewater, by Tade Thompson

Part of a recent wave of work celebrating and centering Nigerian culture, this trilogy is set in a future where a fungal alien invader has swallowed big global cities, America has shut itself away and gone dark, and a new city, Rosewater, has grown up around a mysterious alien dome in rural Nigeria. It's a wild mashup of alien invasion, cyberpunk, Afro-futurism and even a touch of zombie horror. "I started reading Rosewater on vacation and quickly set it down until I got home, because Tade Thompson's work is no light beach read," says judge Fonda Lee. "His writing demands your full attention — and amply rewards it."

Black Sun (series)

Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse

Author Rebecca Roanhorse was tired of reading epic fantasy with quasi-European settings, so she decided to write her own . The result is Black Sun , set in a world influenced by pre-Columbian mythology and rich with storms, intrigue, giant bugs, mysterious sea people, ritual, myth and some very scary crows. (They hold grudges, did you know?) This is only Book 1 of a forthcoming series, but we felt it was so strong it deserved to be here, no matter where Roanhorse goes next.

Words To Get Lost In

If you're one of those people who thought genre fiction writing was workmanlike and uninspiring, these books will change your mind.

Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke at last returns to our shelves with this mind-bendingly glorious story — that's a bit hard to describe without spoiling. So we'll say it's about a mysterious man and the House that he dearly loves, a marvelous place full of changing light and surging tides, statues and corridors and crossings, birds and old bones and passing days and one persistent visitor who brings strangely familiar gifts. Clarke "limns a magic far more intrinsic than the kind commanded through spells," wrote reviewer Vikki Valentine , "a magic that is seemingly part of the fabric of the universe and as powerful as a cosmic engine — yet fragile nonetheless."

Circe, by Madeline Miller

Imagine Circe, the fearsome witch of the Odyssey, as an awkward teenager, growing up lonely among scornful gods and falling for what we modern folks would call a f***boy, before coming into her own, using her exile on the island of Aiaia to hone her powers and build an independent life. Circe only shows up briefly in the Odyssey, but Madeline Miller gives her a lush, complex life in these pages. She has worked as a classics teacher, and as our reviewer Annalisa Quinn noted , Miller "extracts worlds of meaning from Homer's short phrases."

Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A sharp young socialite in 1950s Mexico City travels to a creepy rural mansion to check on her cousin, who has fallen ill after marrying into a mysterious family of English landowners. What could possibly go wrong? Silvia Moreno-Garcia "makes you uneasy about invisible things by writing around them," said reviewer Jessica P. Wick. "Even when you think you know what lurks, the power to unsettle isn't diminished." Not to be too spoilery — but after reading this stylishly chilling novel, you'll never look at mushrooms the same way again.

The Paper Menagerie And Other Stories

The Paper Menagerie, by Ken Liu

"I taught Liu's 'The Man Who Ended History' in a graduate seminar one semester," says judge Tochi Onyebuchi, "and one of the toughest tasks I've ever faced in adulthood was crafting a lesson plan that went beyond me just going 'wtf wtf wtf wtf wtf' for the whole two hours. Some story collections are like those albums where the artist or record label just threw a bunch of songs together and said 'here,' and some collections arrive as a complete, cohesive, emotionally catholic whole. The Paper Menagerie is that."

Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

Judges had a hard time deciding between Spinning Silver and Uprooted , Novik's previous fairy tale retelling. Ultimately, we decided that this reclamation of "Rumpelstiltskin" has a chewier, more interesting project, with much to say about money, labor, debt and friendship, explored in unflinching yet tender ways. Judge Amal El-Mohtar reviewed Spinning Silver for NPR when it came out in 2018. "There are so many mathemagicians in this book, be they moneylenders turning silver into gold or knitters working to a pattern," she wrote at the time . "It's gold and silver all the way down."

Exhalation: Stories

Exhalation: Stories, by Ted Chiang

"I often get the same feeling reading a Ted Chiang story as I did listening to a Prince song while he was still with us," says judge Tochi Onyebuchi. "What a glorious privilege it is that we get to share a universe with this genius!" This poll can be a discovery tool for editors and judges as much as audience, so hearing that, your humble editor went straight to the library and downloaded a copy of this collection.

Olondria (series)

A Stranger in Olondria, by Sofia Samatar

In Olondria, you can smell the ocean wind coming off the page, soldiers ride birds, angels haunt humans, and written dreams are terribly dangerous. "Have you ever seen something so beautiful that you'd be content to just sit and watch the light around it change for a whole day because every passing moment reveals even more unbearable loveliness and transforms you in ways you can't articulate?" asks judge Amal El-Mohtar. "You will if you read these books."

Her Body And Other Parties: Stories

Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado

These eight stories dance across the borders of fairy tale, horror, erotica and urban legend, spinning the familiar, lived experiences of women into something rich and strange. As the title suggests, Machado focuses on the unruly female body and all of its pleasures and risks (there's one story that's just increasingly bizarre rewrites of Law & Order: SVU episodes). At one point, a character implies that kind of writing is "tiresome and regressive," too much about stereotypical crazy lesbians and madwomen in the attic. But as our critic Annalisa Quinn wrote , "Machado seems to answer: The world makes madwomen, and the least you can do is make sure the attic is your own."

The Buried Giant

The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro

Axl and Beatrice are an elderly couple, living in a fictional Britain just after Arthur's time, where everyone suffers from what they call "mist," a kind of amnesia that hits long-term memories. They believe, they vaguely remember that they once had a son, so they set out to find him — encountering an elderly Sir Gawain along the way, and long-forgotten connections to Arthur's court and the dark deeds the mist is hiding. Poll judge Ann Leckie loves Arthurian legends. What she does not love are authors who don't do them justice — but with The Buried Giant , she says, Kazuo Ishiguro gets it solidly right.

Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente

Do you love space opera? Alternate history? Silent film? (OK, are you me?) Then you should pick up Catherynne M. Valente's Radiance , which mashes up all three in a gloriously surreal saga about spacefaring filmmakers in an alternate version of 1986, in which you might be able to go to Jupiter, but Thomas Edison's death grip on his patents means talkies are still a novelty. Yes, Space Opera did get more votes, but our judges genuinely felt that Radiance was the stronger book. Reviewing it in 2015, judge Amal El-Mohtar wrote , " Radiance is the sort of novel about which you have to speak for hours or hardly speak at all: either stop at 'it's magnificent' or roll on to talk about form, voice, ambition, originality, innovation for more thousands of words than are available to me here before even touching on the plot."

Will Take You On A Journey

Sure, all books are some kind of journey, but these reads really go the distance.

The Changeling

The Changeling, by Victor LaValle

It's easy(ish) to summarize The Changeling : Rare book dealer Apollo Kagwa has a baby son with his wife, Emma, but she's been acting strange — and when she vanishes after doing something unspeakable, he sets out to find her. But his journey loops through a New York you've never seen before: mysterious islands and haunted forests, strange characters and shifting rhythms. The Changeling is a modern urban fairy tale with one toe over the line into horror, and wherever it goes, it will draw you along with it.

Wayfarers (series)

Wayfarers (series), by Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers writes aliens like no one else — in fact, humans are the backward newcomers in her generous, peaceful galactic vision. The Wayfarers books are only loosely linked: They all take place in the same universe, but apart from that you'll meet a new set of characters, a new culture and a new world (or an old world transformed). Cranky space pacifists, questing AIs, fugitives, gravediggers and fluffy, multi-limbed aliens who love pudding — the only flaw in this series is you'll wish you could spend more time with all of them.

Binti (series)

Binti (series), by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti is the first of her people, the Himba, to be offered a place at the legendary Oomza University, finest institution of learning in the galaxy — and as if leaving Earth to live among the stars weren't enough, Binti finds herself caught between warring human and alien factions. Over and over again throughout these novellas, Binti makes peace, bridges cultures, brings home with her even as she leaves and returns, changed by her experiences. Our judges agreed that the first two Binti stories are the strongest — but even if the third stumbles, as judge and critic Amal El-Mohtar wrote, "Perhaps the point is just having a Black girl with tentacles for hair possessing the power and freedom to float among Saturn's rings."

Lady Astronaut (series)

Lady Astronaut (series), by Mary Robinette Kowal

What would America's space program have looked like if, say, a gigantic asteroid had wiped out the East Coast in 1952 — and started a countdown to destruction for the rest of the world? We'd have had to get into space much sooner. And all the female pilots who served in World War II and were unceremoniously dumped back at home might have had another chance to fly. Mary Robinette Kowal's Hugo Award-winning series plays that out with Elma York, a former WASP pilot and future Lady Astronaut whose skill and determination help all of humanity escape the bonds of Earth. Adds judge Amal El-Mohtar: "Audiobook readers are in for a special treat here in that Kowal narrates the books herself, and if you've never had the pleasure of attending one of her readings, you get to experience her wonderful performance with bonus production values. It's especially cool given that the seed for the series was an audio-first short story."

Children of Time (duology)

Children of Time (duology), by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Far in the future, the dregs of humanity escape a ruined Earth and find what they think is a new hope deep in space — a planet that past spacefarers terraformed and left for them. But the evolutionary virus that was supposed to jump-start a cargo of monkeys, creating ready-made workers, instead latched on to ... something else, and in the intervening years, something terrible has arisen there. Poll judge Ann Leckie says she can't stand spiders (BIG SAME), but even so, she was adamant that the Children of Time books deserve their spot here.

Wayward Children (series)

Wayward Children (series), by Seanan McGuire

Everyone loves a good portal fantasy. Who hasn't looked in the back of the closet hoping, faintly, to see snow and a street lamp? In the Wayward Children series, Seanan McGuire reminds us that portals go both ways: What happens to those children who get booted back through the door into the real world, starry-eyed and scarred? Well, a lot of them end up at Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children. The prolific McGuire turned up on our semifinalists list A Lot. We had a hard time deciding between this and her killer stand-alone Middlegame , but the Wayward Children won the day with their shimmering mix of fairy tale, fantasy and emotional heft — not to mention body positivity and solid queer and trans representation. (As with a lot of the also-rans, though, you should really read Middlegame too.)

The Space Between Worlds

The Space Between Worlds, by Micaiah Johnson

There are 382 parallel worlds in Micaiah Johnson's debut novel, and humanity can finally travel between them — but there's a deadly catch. You can visit only a world where the parallel version of you is already dead. And that makes Cara — whose marginal wastelands existence means only a few versions of her are left — valuable to the high and mighty of her own Earth. "They needed trash people," Cara says, to gather information from other worlds. But her existence, already precarious, is threatened when a powerful scientist figures out how to grab that information remotely. "At a time when I was really struggling with the cognitive demands of reading anything for work or pleasure, this book flooded me with oxygen and lit me on fire," says judge Amal El-Mohtar. "I can't say for certain that it enabled me to read again, but in its wake, I could."

Will Mess With Your Head

Do you love twisty tales, loopy logic, unsolved mysteries and cosmic weirdness? Scroll on!

Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James

Poll judge Amal El-Mohtar once described Black Leopard, Red Wolf as " like being slowly eaten by a bear ." Fellow judge Tochi Onyebuchi chimes in: " Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a Slipknot album of a book. In all the best ways." Set in a dazzling, dangerous fantasy Africa, it is — at least on the surface — about a man named Tracker, in prison when we meet him and telling his life story to an inquisitor. Beyond that, it's fairly indescribable, full of roof-crawling demons, dust-cloud assassins, blood and (fair warning) sexual violence. A gnarly book, a difficult book, sometimes actively hostile to the reader — yet necessary, and stunning.

Southern Reach (series)

Southern Reach (series), Jeff VanderMeer

The Southern Reach books are, at least on the surface, a simple tale of a world gone wrong, of a mysterious "Area X" and the expeditions that have suffered and died trying to map it — and the strange government agency that keeps sending them in. But there's a lot seething under that surface: monsters, hauntings, a slowly building sense of wrong and terror that will twist your brain around sideways. "If the guys who wrote Lost had brought H.P. Lovecraft into the room as a script doctor in the first season," our critic Jason Sheehan wrote , "the Southern Reach trilogy is what they would've come up with."

The Echo Wife

The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey

Part sci-fi cautionary tale, part murder mystery, The Echo Wife is a twisty treat . At its center are a famed genetic researcher and her duplicitous husband, who uses her breakthrough technology to clone himself a sweeter, more compliant version of his wife before ending up dead. "As expertly constructed as a Patek Philippe watch," says poll judge Tochi Onyebuchi. "Seamlessly blends domestic thriller and science fiction," adds fellow judge Fonda Lee. "This book is going to haunt my thoughts for a long time."

The Locked Tomb (series)

The Locked Tomb (series), by Tamsyn Muir

This series is often described as "lesbian necromancers in space," but trust us, it's so much more than that. Wildly inventive, gruesome, emotional, twisty and funny as hell, the Locked Tomb books are like nothing you've ever read before. And we defy you to read them and not give serious consideration to corpse paint and mirror shades as a workable fashion statement. There are only two books out now, of a planned four-book series, but Gideon the Ninth alone is enough to earn Tamsyn Muir a place on this list: "Too funny to be horror, too gooey to be science fiction, has too many spaceships and autodoors to be fantasy, and has far more bloody dismemberings than your average parlor romance," says critic Jason Sheehan. "It is altogether its own thing."

Remembrance of Earth's Past (series)

Remembrance of Earth's Past (series), Liu Cixin

Liu Cixin became the first author from Asia to win a Hugo Award for Best Novel, for The Three-Body Problem , the first volume in this series about one of the oldest questions in science fiction: What will happen when we meet aliens? Liu is writing the hardest of hard sci-fi here, full of brain-twisting passages about quantum mechanics and artificial intelligence (if you didn't actually know what the three-body problem was, you will now), grafted onto the backbone of a high-stakes political thriller. Poll judge Tochi Onyebuchi says, "These books divided me by zero. And, yes, that is a compliment."

Machineries of Empire (series)

Machineries of Empire (series), by Yoon Ha Lee

In the Hexarchate, numbers are power: This interstellar empire draws its strength from rigidly enforced adherence to the imperial calendar, a system of numbers that can alter reality. But now, a "calendrical rot" is eating away at that structure, and it's up to a mathematically talented young soldier — and the ghost of an infamous traitor — to try to repair the rot while a war blazes across the stars around them. " Ninefox Gambit is a book with math in its heart, but also one which understands that even numbers can lie," our critic Jason Sheehan wrote . "That it's what you see in the numbers that matters most."

Will Mess With Your Heart

Books that'll make you cry, make you think — and sometimes make you want to hide under the bed.

The Broken Earth (series)

The Broken Earth (series), by N.K. Jemisin

In the world of the Stillness, geological convulsions cause upheavals that can last for centuries — and only the orogenes, despised yet essential to the status quo — can control them. N.K. Jemisin deservedly won three back-to-back Hugo awards for these books, which use magnificent world building and lapidary prose to smack you in the face about your own complicity in systems of oppression. "Jemisin is the first — and so far only — person ever to have won a Hugo Award for Best Novel for every single book in a series. These books upheaved the terrain of epic fantasy as surely and completely as Fifth Seasons transform the geography of the Stillness," says poll judge Amal El-Mohtar.

Station Eleven

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Author Emily St. John Mandel went on Twitter in 2020 and advised people not to read Station Eleven , not in the midst of the pandemic. But we beg to disagree. A story in which art (and particularly Shakespeare) helps humanity come back to itself after a pandemic wipes out the world as we know it might be just the thing we need. "Survival is insufficient," say Mandel's traveling players (a line she says she lifted from Star Trek ), and that's a solid motto any time.

This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar

Enemies-to-lovers is a classic romance novel trope, and it's rarely been done with as much strange beauty as poll judge Amal El-Mohtar and co-author Max Gladstone pull off in this tale of Red and Blue, two agents on opposite sides of a war that's sprawled across time and space. "Most books I read are objects of study. And more often than not, I can figure out how the prose happened, how the character arcs are constructed, the story's architecture," says judge Tochi Onyebuchi. "But then along comes a thing so dazzling you can't help but stare at and ask 'how.' Amal and Max wrote a cheat code of a book. They unlocked all the power-ups, caught all the Chaos Emeralds, mastered all the jutsus, and honestly, I'd say it's downright unfair how much they flexed on us with Time War , except I'm so damn grateful they gave it to us in the first place." (As we noted above, having Time War on the list meant that Max Gladstone couldn't make a second appearance for his outstanding solo work with the Craft Sequence . But you should absolutely read those, too.)

The Poppy War Trilogy

The Poppy War Trilogy, by R.F. Kuang

What if Mao Zedong were a teenage girl? That's how author R.F. Kuang describes the central question in her Poppy War series . Fiery, ruthless war orphan Fang Runin grows up, attends an elite military academy, develops fire magic and wins a war — but finds herself becoming the kind of monster she once fought against. Kuang has turned her own rage and anger at historical atrocities into a gripping, award-winning story that will drag you along with it, all the way to the end. "If this were football, Kuang might be under investigation for PEDs," jokes judge Tochi Onyebuchi, referring to performance-enhancing drugs. "But, no, she's really just that good."

The Masquerade (series)

The Masquerade (series), by Seth Dickinson

Baru Cormorant was born to a free-living, free-loving nation, but all that changed when the repressive Empire of Masks swept in, tearing apart her family, yet singling her out for advancement through its new school system. Baru decides the only way to free her people is to claw her way up the ranks of Empire — but she risks becoming the monster she's fighting against. "I've loved every volume of this more than the one before it, and the first one was devastatingly strong," says judge Amal El-Mohtar — who said of that first volume, "This book is a tar pit, and I mean that as a compliment."

An Unkindness of Ghosts

An Unkindness of Ghosts, by Rivers Solomon

The Matilda is a generation ship, a vast repository of human life among the stars, cruelly organized like an antebellum plantation: Black and brown people on the lower decks, working under vicious overseers to provide the white upper-deck passengers with comfortable lives. Aster, an orphaned outsider, uses her late mother's medical knowledge to bring healing where she can and to solve the mystery of Matilda 's failing power source. Poll judge Amal El-Mohtar originally reviewed An Unkindness of Ghosts for us , writing "What Solomon achieves with this debut — the sharpness, the depth, the precision — puts me in mind of a syringe full of stars."

The Bird King

The Bird King, by G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson's beautiful novel, set during the last days of Muslim Granada, follows a royal concubine who yearns for freedom and the queer mapmaker who's her best friend. "It is really devastating to a critic to find that the only truly accurate way of describing an author's prose is the word 'luminous,' but here we are," says judge Amal El-Mohtar. "This book is luminous. It is full of light, in searing mirror-flashes and warm candleflame flickers and dappled twists of heart-breaking insight into empire, war and religion."

American War

American War, by Omar El Akkad

This was judge Tochi Onyebuchi's personal pick — a devastating portrait of a post-climate-apocalypse, post-Second Civil War America that's chosen to use its most terrifying and oppressive policies against its own people. "It despairs me how careless we are with the word 'prescient' these days, but when I finished American War , I truly felt that I'd glimpsed our future," Onyebuchi says. "Charred and scarred and shot through with shards of hope."

Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi

Poll judge Tochi Onyebuchi centers this story on the kind of person who's more often a statistic, rarely a fully rounded character: Kevin, who's young, Black and in prison . Born amid the upheaval around the Rodney King verdict, Kevin is hemmed in by structural and individual racism at every turn; meanwhile, his sister Ella has developed mysterious, frightening powers — but she still can't do the one thing she truly wants to do, which is to rescue her brother. This slim novella packs a punch with all the weight of history behind it; fellow judge Amal El-Mohtar says, "I've said it in reviews and I'll say it again here: This book reads like hot diamonds, as searing as it is precise."

On Fragile Waves

On Fragile Waves, by E. Lily Yu

Every year, we ask our judges to add some of their own favorites to the list, and this year, Amal El-Mohtar teared up talking about her passion for E. Lily Yu's haunted refugee story On Fragile Waves . "I need everyone to read this book," she says. "I wept throughout it and for a solid half-hour once I had finished it, and I know it's hard to recommend books that make you cry right now, but I have no chill about this one: It is so important, it is so beautiful, and I feel like maybe if everyone read it the world would be a slightly less terrible place."

Will Make You Feel Good

Maybe, after the year we've just had, you want to read a book where good things happen, eventually? We've got you.

The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison

In a far corner of an elven empire, young half-goblin Maia learns that a mysterious accident has left him heir to the throne. But he has been in exile almost all his life — how can he possibly negotiate the intricate treacheries of the imperial court? Fairly well, as it turns out. Maia is a wonderful character, hesitant and shy at first, but deeply good and surprisingly adept at the whole being-an-emperor thing. The only thing wrong with The Goblin Emperor was that it was, for a long time, a stand-alone. But now there's a sequel, The Witness for the Dead — so if you love the world Katherine Addison has created, you've got a way back to it. "I just love this book utterly," says judge Amal El-Mohtar. "So warm, so kind, so generous."

Murderbot (series)

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

Oh Murderbot — we know you just want to be left alone to watch your shows, but we can't quit you. Martha Wells' series about a murderous security robot that's hacked its own governing module and become self-aware is expansive, action-packed, funny and deeply human . Also, your humble poll editor deeply wishes that someone would write a fic in which Murderbot meets Ancillary Justice 's Breq and they swap tips about how to be human over tea (which Murderbot can't really drink).

The Interdependency (series)

The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi

John Scalzi didn't mean to be quite so prescient when he started this trilogy about a galactic empire facing destruction as its interstellar routes collapse — a problem the empire knew about but ignored for all the same reasons we punt our problems today. "Some of that was completely unintentional," he told Scott Simon . "But some of it was. I live in the world." The Interdependency series is funny, heartfelt and ultimately hopeful, and packed with fantastic characters. To the reader who said they voted "because of Kiva Lagos," we say, us too.

The Martian

The Martian, by Andy Weir.

You don't expect a hard sci-fi novel to start with the phrase "I'm pretty much f****d," but it definitely sets the tone for Andy Weir's massive hit. Astronaut Mark Watney, stranded alone on Mars after an accident, is a profane and engaging narrator who'll let you know just how f****d he is and then just how he plans to science his way out of it. If you've only seen the movie, there's so much more to dig into in the book (including, well, that very first line).

Sorcerer to the Crown/The True Queen

Sorcerer to the Crown/The True Queen, by Zen Cho

A Regency romp with squabbling magicians, romance and intrigue, with women and people of color center stage? Yes, please! These two books form a wonderful balance. Sorcerer to the Crown is more whimsical and occasionally riotously funny despite its serious underlying themes. The True Queen builds out from there, looking at the characters and events of the first book with a different, more serious perspective. But both volumes are charming, thoughtful and thoroughly enjoyable.

How We Built This

Wow, you're some dedicated readers! Thanks for coming all the way down here to find out more. As I said above, we decided to limit ourselves to 50 books this year instead of our usual 100, which made winnowing down the list a particular challenge. As you may know, this poll isn't a straight-up popularity contest, though, if it were, the Broken Earth books would have crushed all comers — y'all have good taste! Instead, we take your votes (over 16,000 this year) and pare them down to about 250 semifinalists, and then during a truly epic conference call, our panel of expert judges goes through those titles, cuts some, adds some and hammers out a final curated list.

What Didn't Make It — And Why

As always, there were works readers loved and voted for that didn't make our final list of 50 — it's not a favorites list if you can't argue about it, right? Sometimes, we left things out because we felt like the authors were well known enough not to need our help (farewell, The Ocean at the End of the Lane , Neil Gaiman, we hope you'll forgive us!), but mostly it happened because the books either came out before our cutoff date or already appeared on the original 2011 list. (Sorry, Brandon Sanderson! The first Mistborn book was actually on this year's list, until I looked more closely and realized it was a repeat from 2011.)

Some books didn't make it this year because we're almost positive they'll come around next year — next year being the 10th anniversary of our original 2012 YA poll, when (spoiler alert!) we're planning a similar redo. So we say "not farewell, but fare forward, voyagers" to the likes of Raybearer , Children of Blood and Bone and the Grishaverse books; if they don't show up on next year's list I'll, I don't know, I'll eat my kefta .

And this year, because we had only 50 titles to play with, we did not apply the famous Nora Roberts rule, which allows particularly beloved and prolific authors onto the list twice. So as much as it pains me, there's only one Seanan McGuire entry here, and Max Gladstone appears alongside poll judge Amal El-Mohtar for This Is How You Lose the Time War but not on his own for the excellent Craft Sequence . Which — as we said above — you should ABSOLUTELY read.

One Final Note

Usually, readers will vote at least some works by members of our judging panel onto the list, and usually, we let the judges themselves decide whether or not to include them. But this year, I put my editorial foot down — all four judges made it to the semifinals, and had we not included them, the final product would have been the less for it. So you'll find all four on the list. And we hope you enjoy going through it as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

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The Best Books of 2020

This year, we were captivated by stories from literary icons, debut novelists, and more.

best fiction books quora 2020

2020 came and went fast, but fortunately, the publishing industry kept pace with the passage of time with a slew of the year’s most anticipated titles. Here, take a look back at the best new books that arrived this year—and add them to your 2021 reading list if you haven't dug into them yet.

The Lying Life of Adults

The Lying Life of Adults

Revealed via surprise announcement in September 2019, the reclusive writer’s latest title leaves behind the characters of the Neapolitan Novels to tell a new tale in the same setting. Playing on Ferrante’s favorite themes of beauty versus ugliness and class mobility, The Lying Life of Adults tells the story of a rich and rebellious teenager’s coming of age in a divided Naples. 


From  Prep  to  American Wife , Curtis Sittenfeld has built a name for herself as contemporary fiction’s foremost chronicler of WASP America. Now, she turns her literary lens away from wry observation and towards the realm of one particularly topical what-if: What would have happened if Hillary Rodham had never agreed to marry Bill Clinton?

Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel

Transcendent Kingdom: A Novel

From the author of Homegoing , the breakout debut novel about the two very different legacies of an Asante woman living in 18th-century Ghana, comes a contemporary tale of a Ghanaian family in Alabama struggling to make sense of loss. 

The Glass Hotel: A novel

The Glass Hotel: A novel

Fans of the genre-defying post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven , rejoice: Emily St. John Mandel is back with a new novel that weaves otherworldly elements throughout the storyline of a modern financial thriller.  

My Dark Vanessa: A Novel

My Dark Vanessa: A Novel

When a fellow former student comes forward with sexual misconduct allegations against Vanessa’s high school English teacher, Jacob, Vanessa must grapple with a discomfiting question: whether her own teenage affair with Jacob was as consensual as she’s been telling herself for 17 years. In the age of #MeToo, Russell’s blistering, deeply uncomfortable, and utterly essential debut achieves required-reading status. 

The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel

The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel

With Freshwater and Pet under their belt, Akwaeke Emezi has cemented their reputation as a leading new voice in both YA and adult literary fiction in the span of less than two years. They’re not slowing up anytime soon, either: In their sophomore adult novel, out this summer, Emezi chronicles a Nigerian family’s experience of grief and transcendence. 

Real Life: A Novel

Real Life: A Novel

From a black, queer writer and former biochem Ph.D. candidate living in a Midwestern university town comes a searing debut about … a black, queer biochem Ph.D. candidate living in a Midwestern university town. When Wallace has an unexpected encounter with a supposedly-straight white classmate amid a time of mounting hostility in his community, he is forced to confront long-hidden wounds. Whether despite or because of Taylor’s closeness to his subject matter, the result is a novel of quiet, startling power. 

Wow, No Thank You.: Essays

Wow, No Thank You.: Essays

Ever since the publication of Meaty in 2013, Irby’s essays have been required reading on the millennial condition. In her latest collection, the writer—now approaching 40 and living a Pinterest-ified version of the American dream in a small Midwestern town—turns her addictively bummed-out wit to topics like “lesbian bed death” and the difficulty of making adult friendships. 

Death in Her Hands: A Novel

Death in Her Hands: A Novel

Dark and sharp as ever, the author of Eileen and My Year of Rest and Relaxation returns with a tale of a woman in a small town who may or may not have discovered evidence of a murder. The problem: She can’t figure out whether or not anyone has actually been killed.  

It's Not All Downhill From Here: A Novel

It's Not All Downhill From Here: A Novel

How Stella Got Her Groove Back grows up in the author’s latest title, a story about what it takes to pursue joy after unexpected loss. Sixty-eight-year-old Loretha Curry has a full life, but when the unthinkable—and unforeseeable—happens, Loretha must turn to her friends for help healing old wounds and learning how to thrive.  

The Vanishing Half: A Novel

The Vanishing Half: A Novel

When the Vignes twin sisters were growing up, they were inseparable. But now, as adults, they’ve taken two paths: one living with her Black daughter in the same community she’s known her whole life; the other passing as white and living among loved ones who have no idea where she came from. Propulsive and compassionate, Bennett’s follow-up to The Mothers is not to be missed. 

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

Long a pillar of Black Twitter, Mikki Kendall is perhaps best known for her creation of the viral hashtags #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, #FastTailedGirls, and #FoodGentrification. With HOOD FEMINISM , Kendall takes her timely and powerful critique of contemporary feminism from the worldwide web to the printed page. 

Fairest: A Memoir

Fairest: A Memoir

With her debut title, award-winning journalist Talusan turns her talents to memoir to chart her path from childhood in a rural Philippine village to adult life as a white-passing trans woman in American academia. The result is a stirring meditation on race, gender, and identity. 

Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation

Where were you when Petersen’s  viral article about millennial burnout  first hit BuzzFeed in January of 2019? If memory holds, I was wrapping up my third 12-hour workday of the week, praying that when I got home I’d be able to keep my eyes open long enough to finish my law school applications. Needless to say, the piece struck a chord with me—and with so many others that now, a scant year later, many of us are waiting with bated breath for the release later this year of Petersen’s book-length exploration of the same topic. Whether you’re looking for solutions or just looking to feel seen,  Can’t Even  is a can’t-miss.

The Resisters: A Novel

The Resisters: A Novel

In the half-submerged AutoAmerica of the near future, a young girl’s preternatural baseball prowess enables her ascent from the underclass of a sharply-divided dystopian society to the upper echelons of its elite—even as her mother mounts a challenge to the very foundations of the world they know. Cautionary and warm, witty and unsettling, Jen’s fifth novel paints a portrait of an evolution of American society that feels ever more plausible. 


The author of 2012’s acclaimed Heroines is back with a quietly stirring account of an unnamed writer’s self-imposed isolation. Desperate to complete her overdue novel, the narrator haunts the street shops of her neighborhood in search of inspiration—but as winter approaches, her progress is interrupted by a series of unsettling disturbances.

Chosen Ones

Chosen Ones

The Hunger Games . Harry Potter . The Percy Jackson books. Wherever you first encountered it, it’s a story we all know by heart: In a time of darkness, a child is singled out as the world’s last great hope for salvation. As that child grows up, one must take ownership of their powers, fulfill the prophecy, and save the world. But what happens to the chosen one after the threat is vanquished? Veronica Roth—the author of a little franchise you may know by the name of Divergent —sets out to answer this question in her adult debut, which follows five former teenage heroes as they make sense of the trauma they were left with after saving the world.

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories

Though she’s racked up accolades for her two recent novels— Find Me , her debut full-length narrative from 2015, and The Third Hotel from 2018—the short story seems to be Laura van den Berg’s most natural medium. For proof, look no further than I Hold a Wolf by the Ears , the writer’s latest collection of melancholic adult fairy tales. 

Just Like You: A Novel

Just Like You: A Novel

If you’ve already devoured the Zoe Kravitz-led series High Fidelity and are desperate for your next big binge, you’re in luck: Nick Hornby, author of the Hulu show’s source material, has another unputdownable story of love and heartbreak coming this September. In Just Like You , not-quite-divorced 42-year-old Lucy is thrown for a loop when she realizes that 22-year-old Joseph—the man she’s hired to babysit her kids—just may be her perfect match.

Out September 29, 2020.

Perfect Tunes

Perfect Tunes

From her Gawker days in the early aughts to her present-day Twitter presence, Emily Gould has made a name for herself as the Internet’s foremost chronicler of the millennial condition. Now, with the release of her sophomore novel, the founder of now-defunct indie publisher Emily Books looks back on the 21st century and draws a line through the decades-long series of little choices that make us who we are. Laura, Gould’s protagonist, arrives in New York in the early 2000s to pursue ambitions of songwriting stardom, but her plan gets turned upside down when she winds up pregnant. Fifteen years later, Laura’s teenage daughter, Marie, begins to ask questions about the dreams her mother left behind.

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Keely Weiss is a writer and filmmaker. She has lived in Los Angeles, New York, and Virginia and has a cat named after Perry Mason.

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The 15 Best Danielle Steel Books in Order of Publication

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The 15 best danielle steel books in order of publication.

The 15 Best Danielle Steel Books in Order of Publication

One only has to think of the romance genre for Danielle Steel’s name to immediately spring to mind. With an arsenal of silk-stocking protagonists and life-changing crises up her sleeve, Steel has mastered the formula for the perfect love story, with all the twists and turns you could wish for. 

The fact that Steel still writes all her novels on a manual typewriter should be enough to tell you she is no ordinary writer— and it’s safe to say she has led no ordinary life. Pulling staggering twenty-hour writing shifts when she’s working on a new project is just another testament to her exceptionality, and we have this strict regimen to thank for the 190 books ranging from children’s books to poetry to fiction and nonfiction that Steel has published.

Regardless of what critics have to say, the numbers simply don’t lie. Having sold over 800 million copies, she is one of, if not the bestselling author alive today. Not content to rest on her hard —earned laurels, Steel continues to write with the same vim and vigor that she did 50 years ago — 2020 alone has seen seven new titles. With a catalogue that just keeps growing at a formidable rate, it’s difficult to know where to start. So we're here to help! But choosing an absolute favorite is never easy, so, by way of compromise, we’re going to give you the best Danielle Steel books in order of publication.

1. Summer's End (1979)

We begin our journey with Steel’s 6th novel, Summer’s End. As is the hallmark of Steel’s writing, our protagonist Deanna sits comfortably in the upper echelons of society and, from the outside, seems to have it all. At 18 years old, she married a dashing Frenchman, and in the many years since then she’s ticked off all the boxes for marital bliss — except the actual bliss part. When her distant husband and teenage daughter leave on holiday, Deanna meets a man who will show her a glimpse of life beyond the marriage she feels so trapped in. 

But just like that blissful summer, all too soon her new-found solace must come to an end. Things go from bad to worse and life deals Deanna blow after blow, and now that moment of happiness seems nothing but a fever dream. Will she ever find her way back to the love that promised true joy?

2. Kaleidoscope (1987)

Arthur Patterson is ill and nearing the end of his life, but there’s one last thing he needs to do before he can rest easy — a wrong that must be put right. Once upon a time, Arthur was the close friend of a glamorous couple, Sam and Solange: a supporting character in their fairytale. But when their lives come to a sinister end, it’s up to him to make arrangements for their three young girls, and he chooses to send each off to a different home.

Now, he’s hiring a private investigator, who will enter three very different lives in an effort to reunite the sisters. But for one of the girls, the past hasn’t been easy to forget. Torn between running from the pain and yearning for the sisters she lost, between her fury and her heartbreak, will she find the courage to let love back into her heart, or would she rather run from the truth that’s been buried all this time?

3. Zoya (1988)

If there’s one thing Danielle Steel knows how to do, it’s turn a historical event into a dazzling story. In this case, it’s the Russian Revolution. For Zoya, a cousin of the Tzar, the seismic toppling of the monarchy is no victory,— she’s on the losing side. Luckier than many, Zoya and her grandmother manage to escape to Paris. 

World War Two brings American troops into the city, and soon enough Zoya finds her way into the arms of one GI Clayton Andrews. He whisks her back to American when the war is over and, for a while, it seems everything might just be alright. But for Zoya, security appears to only ever be short lived. As she builds up from rock bottom once more, it seems that everlasting happiness may be just beyond her clutches. 

Zoya is a rollercoaster of fortunes, a tale of just how quickly one’s luck can change. But through all of it, what remains constant is Zoya’s resolve and determination to make a better future.

4. Message from Nam (1990)

Our heroine Paxton, is an ambitious journalist, so curiosity runs through her veins. When she suffers a heartbreak thanks to the war in Vietnam, she makes it her mission to find out what is happening on those distant shores. Upon arrival, she is shocked by what she finds. Looking beyond the personal questions she came seeking answers to, her investigation goes into overdrive — Paxton just cannot let all she has witnessed go unknown. Committed to sharing her experiences, she begins documenting them in a newspaper column. As happenings of the war are immortalized in her articles, the men she meets along the way are etched into her heart forever, leaving impressions as enduring as printer’s ink. 

Message from Nam artfully captures the havoc wreaked by war both on those actively fighting, and also on the civilians who cannot help but get caught up in the crossfire. A sad and very human reminder that when all is said and done, the effects of combat will continue to be felt by many for the rest of their lives.

5. Jewels (1992)

It’s Sarah Whitfield’s seventy-fifth birthday and she’s taking a trip down memory lane. Rewind to 1930s New York, where Sarah’s ill-fated marriage to the wayward Freddie ends in divorce. In an effort to distract their daughter from her grief, her parents take her to Europe. Unfortunately, a change of scene isn’t quite what the doctor ordered — that is, until William, Duke of Whitfield comes along. After a whirlwind romance, they get married, but newlywed bliss is over before it’s properly begun as WWII breaks out. 

While the world scrimps and scrabbles to rebuild itself post-war, The Whitfields stumble into a lucrative enterprise — buying and selling jewels. It’s not just their business that’s blossoming: their brood is expanding too. As the children grow older, Sarah must juggle motherhood and profits. When they finally fly the nest, an empty house isn’t the reprieve it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it brings a new problem; There won’t be any sitting back and relaxing until the family legacy is secured.

6. The Gift (1994)

Being sixteen and pregnant isn’t easy, especially when it’s the 1950s and your strict family wants nothing to do with you. Such is the predicament that Maribeth finds herself in. Cast out, she works her way to a convent — but when it’s not the sanctuary she thought it would be, she’s back on the move. She settles down again, and takes up a job as a waitress, determined to look after herself until the baby arrives. 

In another home, another family is grieving a great loss, one that just might be the end of them. But when a chance meeting and a budding romance brings two worlds together, a light appears at the end of the tunnel. A heart-warming story of love lost and found, The Gift follows lives changed forever by being in the right place at the right time.

7. Silent Honor (1996)

18 year old Hiroko is sent from Kyoto to live with family in California. While everything is certainly not rosy, Hiroko starts to settle in and make a life for herself. Then disaster strikes: on December 7 1941, Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. Suddenly, Hiroko’s new home is not so hospitable. Where many were already unwelcoming due to her heritage, she's now seen as a national enemy — and when the internment camps open, the struggle for acceptance becomes a fight for life.

From her move away from home, to a relationship with an older man, it is the brutality of a hateful xeneophobic regime that ultimately accelerates Hiroko relinquishing the innocence of her childhood — or rather having it snatched away. Lauded for its attention to detail on the historical particulars, Silent Honor is a poignant coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of atrocities many wish to erase.

8. His Bright Light (1998)

Steel is known for her portrayal of family tragedies across her fictional works, but His Bright Light is a stark reality check. In this astonishingly raw and personal piece of non-fiction , Danielle Steel tells the story of her son Nick, an extraordinarily gifted young man with his mother’s passion for words. We follow Nick on his lifelong fight with bipolar disorder, a fight which culminated in his tragic death at just 19. 

Steel delves into her experience with great candor, detailing her frustrations as a mother up against a medical system that did not want to hear her concerns, and the continuous uphill battle to get proper treatment for her son. This enormously courageous and moving tribute is particularly special since the proceeds from its initial sales were used to set up a foundation in Nick’s name which funds treatment of mental illness.

9. Safe Harbour (2003)

When Ophelie finds her eleven-year-old daughter befriending a strange man, she is understandably concerned. Who is he? What does he want?

Well, he’s Matt Bowles, a man for whom luck seems to be in short supply. Once a happy husband and father, he’s now a lonely artist, nursing the wounds of a bitter divorce. He’s seen something in Pip, something that reminds him of his own daughter who’s now unreachable, halfway across the world. 

As Ophelie begins to warm to the mysterious Matt, it seems Pip has inadvertently welcomed into their life a stranger that will change her and her mother’s lives forever. But just as new romance dawns on the horizon, remnants of past loves begin to rear their ugly heads.

A story of an unlikely friendship and unexpected connections, Safe Harbour is a touching testament to the joy and warmth that people can bring simply by being there.

10. Echoes (2004)

Beata and Antoine are hopelessly in love. Trouble is, he’s a French Catholic and she’s a German Jew — and with the First World War well underway, it's not a union their families are willing to get behind. But, in a tale as old as time, nothing will stand in the way of their being together and they choose each other. Left out in the cold by their families, the young couple set about building a life of their own. 

However when WWII strikes, the past that Beata has concealed from her children snaps back into focus. Her family’s heritage means that they’re now all under threat. Even Amadea, her daughter who has recently become a Catholic nun, now has her safety compromised as the truth of her mother’s history threatens to come to light. But her identity is not the only thing she’s inherited: if only Amadea can summon the strength of will shown by those who came before her, she may just make it out alive. Echoes is a stirring reminder that we don’t know how mighty we are until we are pushed to our limits.

11. Prodigal Son (2015)

For as long as he can remember, Peter has hated his twin. Driven apart by a complex past, the two have each made very different lives for themselves. Peter left his small hometown behind to become a high-flying investment banker while Michael stayed, setting up as a local doctor. Then the Wall Street crash hits and Peter loses his job. This first loss is swiftly followed by another, as his wife promptly leaves him. Penniless and alone, Peter only has one place left to turn: a cabin he inherited in the hometown he so eagerly fled. 

Forced back to the scene of the crimes that drove him and Michael apart, Peter must once again confront their troubled past. But as he immerses himself in the life he left behind, a strange truth starts to unravel and Peter is left questioning all he ever thought he knew about his brother. Prodigal Son will take you down a dark path to find out what really happened all those years ago, and leave you questioning your own judgement. After all, does anyone know good from evil as well as they think they do?

12. Blue (2016)

In one fateful moment, rising TV star Ginny’s life comes screeching to a halt. Suddenly left without her family, Ginny is rudderless, trying desperately to pick up the splinters of her life and find something worth living for. After some soul-searching, she decides helping others could be the answer and embarks on a second career as a humanitarian aid worker. As time ticks on, so does her sorrow — that is, until she meets Blue. 

At just thirteen years old, Blue, like Ginny, has found himself alone in the world. Learning to trust again isn’t going to be easy for him, but he opens up to Ginny and the pair begin to build a friendship, filling the family-shaped void in each other’s lives. But Blue has a secret that Ginny wasn’t quite prepared for. She’s going to have to put aside the grief that’s been wearing her down if she’s going to be there for Blue when he needs it the most.

A troubling tale of trauma and grief, Blue is an enduring testament to friendship, and the power of found families.

13. Accidental Heroes (2018)

On the ground, it's just another day at the office for TSA agent Bernice, until a cryptic postcard bearing an image of the Golden Gate Bridge turns up at JFK. Immediately, Bernice tries to raise her concerns with her superiors, but they don’t want to listen. Her last resort is to go over their heads and contact Homeland security. It’s Ben who answers her call, an agent tortured by a recent hostage situation gone wrong. Unable to bear the consequences of another miscalculation, he heeds Bernice’s concerns. 

Up in the air, two planes are on their way to San Francisco. At the helm of one is an Air Force veteran, and she has some high-profile passengers aboard. But as the cogs start turning, Ben begins to suspect this plane could be a target. Diverting disaster is going to require all hands on deck.

Accidental Heroes takes us on a nail-biting race against time through the eyes of ordinary folk who find themselves suddenly at the forefront of a daring rescue mission, proving heroes can crop up in unexpected places.

14. Spy (2019)

Alexandra Wickham is another of Steel’s blueblood characters, starting out life in the lap of luxury thanks to her aristocratic status. But she yearns for more, and the outbreak of WWII presents Alexandra with the perfect opportunity to seek out more than the lifetime of pampered tedium that awaits her. Endowed with remarkable linguistic abilities, she’s just what the British Special Operations Executive is looking for. She’s snapped up, and thus begins her career as a spy. 

This might be an espionage novel at heart, but it would hardly be a Danielle Steel novel without a little mention of love, and Spy doesn’t disappoint. Alexandra falls head over heels for a handsome soldier. Propriety suggests she should give her life of intrigue up, but she’s caught the espionage bug, and a husband certainly isn’t going to slow her down. A diplomat’s wife by day, she furtively continues as a spy even after the war ends. While she’s mastered the art of duplicity when it comes to her job, Alexandra finds the deception she must sustain in her personal life trickier. Will she be forced to choose between the two great loves of her life, her family and her career? From perilous missions to perils of the heart, Spy is truly an adventure you don’t want to miss out on.

15. All That Glitters (2020)

We round off our list with a book that came out just this year but which stays true to Steel’s well-loved early style. Life is unpredictable, and — as so many of Steel’s characters have learned — everything you love can be snatched away from you in a second. When it happens to Coco, she's suddenly forced to leave behind her sheltered childhood, sharpish. 

We follow Coco over her formative years as she learns to navigate the world. Through it all she has her oldest and dearest friend, Sam, by her side. But, try as he might, he can’t seem to steer her away from the questionable men that come and go from her life. Meanwhile,Sam too has decisions to make, and it seems he doesn’t necessarily know it all either. As they both stumble through early adulthood, it’s their unbreakable friendship that will see them through all the hardships life throws at them. All That Glitters tells the story of imperfect lives peppered with unwise choices but hey, isn’t that what makes us human?

We hope that, armed with this list, you’ll be ready to take a deep dive into the colorful lives and journeys of Steel’s characters — stories which promise to have you smiling, crying, and everything in between.

Looking for even more pulse-raising romance? You can check out our recommendations for 15 swoon-worthy romance writers here .

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    5 Best Fiction Books To Read In 2020 1. The Topeka School by Ben Lerner Topeka School The Topeka School is one of the best fiction books of all time.

  5. What is your list of must-read fiction books?

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee · The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald · East of Eden by John Steinbeck · Emma by Jane Austen · Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

  6. What are some of the best romance books of 2020?

    1. · Tolstoy is best known for his two longest works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, which are commonly regarded as among the finest novels ever written. · 2.

  7. What book is a “must read” in your 20s/30s?

    First off, why fiction and why non-fiction? · Fiction is great to read because it makes you a better writer. · But when I read the best non-fiction, it's as if I

  8. I Answered Random “Harry Potter” Questions from Quora

    Is Harry Potter a fiction or non-fiction book?

  9. How to Use Quora to Increase Traffic and Sell Books

    It's super easy to use, and the best part is that it's totally free. ... What is Quora; How Can Authors Use Quora: Both Fiction and Non-

  10. The 50 best science fiction and fantasy books of the past decade

    The Imperial Radch Trilogy. Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie · The Dead Djinn Universe (series) · The Age of Madness Trilogy · The Green Bone Saga.

  11. You Need to Read These 10 Mind-Expanding Books

    Which book will you read first? ... are some books that expand your mind? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

  12. Best fiction of 2020

    Best fiction of 2020 · Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell · The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again · Summer (Hamish Hamilton) Ali Smith · The Shadow King by

  13. 58 Best Books of 2020

    From Prep to American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld has built a name for herself as contemporary fiction's foremost chronicler of WASP America. Now

  14. The 15 Best Danielle Steel Books in Order of Publication

    15. All That Glitters (2020) ... We round off our list with a book that came out just this year but which stays true to Steel's well-loved early