Staff Picks: End Of Year 2020


Ruta Sepetys  The fountains of silence (TF)

Isabel Allende  A long petal of the sea (AF)

The fountains of silence is set in 1950’s Spain, which is suffering under the fascist rule of General Franco. The story tells of an unfolding relationship between Daniel, a wealthy American oil tycoon’s son and Ana, a Spanish maid at his hotel in Madrid. Their relationship is dangerous, but potentially lethal for Ana and her family in this politically fraught period.

This book inspired me to go on and read A long petal of the sea, which follows the lives of a family who fled Franco’s Spain to arrive in Chile. Both these historical novels, thoroughly grounded in their historical settings, are populated with believable characters whose struggles to survive and flourish had me emotionally invested from start to finish.


One of my favorites this year was "Britt-Marie was here" by Frederik Backman. It's very quirky - funny and sad, probably my favourite mix. I could go one to rave about lots of others...


The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle" - a great spin on the classic dinner party murder mystery!


Hunting Game and Winter Grave from Helene Tursten, a really good Scandinavian Crime Series.


Aue by Becky Manawatu, quite confronting at times, but a great New Zealand novel

‚ÄčI know who you are by Alice Feeney, great psychological thriller with a 'what the??' at the end.


My top 3 are: "Convenience Store Woman" by Sayaka Murata, a brilliant novel about how sometimes it's not us that is broken, but rather society.

"The Black Flamingo" by Dean Atta - a brilliant verse novel about discovering oneself in all one's different inter-sectional identities.

"I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness" by Austin Channing Brown - one of the best and most confronting books about race and the responsibilities we need to face as society, and as individuals for the generational harm that has been caused to Black people.


Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth - This is probably my favourite new book for the year. I loved it so much!

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld’s - This book is on my list of favourites too!

Fleishman is in Trouble’ by Taffy Brodesser-Akner - I also absolutely loved this book, published last year I think but longlisted for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction. (I really cannot rate this book highly enough in terms of modern feminist fiction - so, so, so, so good! You just have to get past the slightly confronting first part and then you see its brilliance!).

I really liked Remain Silent, the new Susie Steiner

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

And for nonfiction: I can't rate Gwendoline Smith's books highly enough - her new book The Book of Overthinking came out this year, a follow up to The Book of Knowing. So sensible.

Dave Chariandy's I've Been Meaning to Tell You - I thought this was beautiful.


The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. - Just shows what a little kindness and honesty can do and the huge difference it can make to other people’s lives.

Beth O’Leary, The flatshare- which I really liked and I have just finished her second book, The Switch. Light fiction but they have their ups and downs along the way and I just thoroughly enjoyed both of them J


Fiction: The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Messina

Non-fiction: Life As a Casketeer by Francis & Kaiora Tipene - I could practically hear him talking J


Small holes in the silence: collected works by Hone Tuwhare


A trio of sophies - Eileen Merriman

The Good mother - Sinead Moriarty

I know my name - Carolyn Jesse-Cooke

Someone else's garden - Dipika Rai

The girl on the cliff and The light behind the window - Lucinda Riley

I looked away – Jane Corry

Three perfect liars – Heidi Pearls

One year later – Sanjida Kay


The best kind of Beautiful – Frances whiting


Rainy day friends – Jill Shalvis


Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne

Urban Fantasy about a cursed aging wizard and a lovable green hob goblin. The story makes you laugh out loud while still solving a very good mystery.  Can’t wait for the second one!