Well, somehow it is June. This is the absolute longest year, which is weird because it is going by so fast. Does anyone remember April happening?
Luckily for book fans, the coronavirus hasn’t quite managed to stop the wheels of the publishing industry. Here are just a handful of the new books coming up for release in the second half of 2020. With some big names as well as lesser known authors creating a buzz, there is something for everyone.
Utopia Avenue – David Mitchell – June 2nd
It has been five years since the ever quirky author David Mitchell released a new novel, so fans and the book world alike are all champing at the bit for his newest work, Utopia Avenue.
Following the fortunes of the fictional band Utopia Avenue, ‘the most curious British band you’ve never heard of’, this book promises to be a love letter to the music scene of the 1960s that defined the era. Details on the plot are limited, but we can be sure it will include Mitchell’s fantastical and inventive prose.
The Falling In Love Montage – Ciara Smyth | June 4th
If you liked Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, this book is for you. It follows seventeen year old Saoirse through her last summer before uni, where all she wants to do is get drunk and kiss girls. Then she meets Ruby, who persuades her to try out a summer romance, just like the movies, and nothing is the same.
The buzz around this book is comparing it to Becky Albertelli and Jenny Han, both highly successful YA romance authors, so we can expect great things from Smyth’s debut work.
The Boyfriend Project – Farrah Rochon | June 9th
June is the month to publish all of those beach reads, so hot on the heels of Ciara Smyth we have bestseller romance pro Farrah Rochon’s The Boyfriend Project. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun.
Samiah, our main character, finds out via a live tweet of a terrible date that her boyfriend has two other ‘girlfriends’, London and Taylor. The three become close and swear off men for six months, to work on themselves. Which is all fine, until Samiah meets Daniel at work. This book has been selected several times as a most anticipated romance of 2020, and the plot sounds fresh, with its focus on the woes of the digital age.
Loveless – Alice Oseman | July 9th
Alice Oseman is a prolific YA author, both of novels and graphic novels, with a focus on LGBTQA themes, or the general difficulty of teenage life. She does it all with a great deal of charm and honesty.
Loveless is her fourth novel, returning to the LGBTQA themes she does so well with Georgia, a university fresher who is just learning about asexuality and aromanticism, and questioning herself and her own feelings. Asexuality is still very much the underdog when it comes to representation in media, so to have it in the hands of a sensitive author like Oseman is a great thing indeed.
The Gilded Ones – Namina Forma | July 9th
The YA keeps coming this summer, and another exciting addition to the lineup is The Gilded Ones. If you like Children of Blood and Bone, this is definitely the debut novel for you. A fantasy series set in an ancient patriarchal kingdom of West African inspiration, sixteen year old Deka discovers she is a near-immortal after she bleeds gold instead of red.
The story sounds as though the brutality will be front and centre – it isn’t for the fainthearted – but with comparisons already being made to Margaret Atwood and the film 300, it sounds as though the violence will be worth it.
Death Sets Sail – Robin Stevens – 4th August
Robin Stevens has been one of the most prolific children’s authors in recent years; Death Sets Sail is the ninth and final book in a detective series that began only in 2014, and somehow Stevens also found the time to write a tenth standalone novel in these six years as well. All of the Murder Most Unladylike books have been a joy, smart and funny and the best example of what writing for children can be like.
Anticipation is high to see how the story will end, especially as one of our main characters Daisy has recently discovered that she is gay. Of all the books on this list, Death Sets Sail is the one that I am absolutely certain will be magnificent. Stevens is yet to disappoint.
Midnight Sun – Stephanie Meyer – 4th August
If you’ve existed in the book world online this year, you can’t have missed that Stephanie Meyer is finally releasing the long, long (long) anticipated Midnight Sun.
This book retells the events of Twilight but from Edward Cullen’s point of view. All of this means that there will be very few surprises plot wise, but I doubt that will be an issue for the loyal fans who have been so patient in waiting for this book to be released. Sometimes a book is a seismic event and, whatever you happen to think about Twilight, Midnight Sun is going to be that for 2020.
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig – 20th August
It has been a while since Matt Haig released a novel for adults (How To Stop Time came out in 2017) but, like Robin Stevens, he has been busy with five books for children and one of his non-fiction masterpieces in that time.
The Midnight Library will be a welcome return to his grown up novels. Nora Seed is given the chance to undo every one of her regrets in The Midnight Library, a place that sits between life and death. Expect big questions and big philosophical ideas, both of which Haig is so great at distilling down to their barest bones.
The Doctor Will See You Now – Dr Amir Khan – 20th August
Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt, his wildly successful memoir, has been producing lots of similar books in the years since it was published. Many of these have been excellent. I’ve included Dr Khan’s book on this list because this is 2020, and if there is anything that we need more of right now, it is voices from the National Health Service.
If such memoirs are the only way to get people to engage with the very real issues that our health service has been facing for the last decade – issues made all the more prominent this year – then we need as many of them as we can get our hands on.
The Evening and the Morning – Ken Follett – 8th September
This is a biggy for fans of historical fiction. The Evening and the Morning is a rather unexpected prequel to Follett’s seminal work, The Pillars of the Earth. Beginning in 997CE, an England at the dawn of the Middle Ages, this book will ‘end where The Pillars of the Earth began’.
Follett fans will be pleased to hear the book is his usual weighty monster, over 800 pages, so we can expect the gorgeous prose and intricate historical detail that comes with his historical stories. Prequels are usually fairly underwhelming as a concept, but I can’t wait to take a meander through the early Middle Ages with Follett as my guide.
Piranesi – Susanna Clarke – 15th September
This is another one of those seismic literary events, and it comes courtesy of Susanna Clarke, who has only (until now) published one, perfect, stunning novel. Yes, the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, released in 2004, is this September set to release her second novel, Piranesi, and the book world is buzzing with anticipation.
Piranesi follows the titular character who lives in the House, and carefully details all of the happenings within, such as the tides on the staircases and the clouds on the upper floors. When mysterious messages start appearing, it seems there is someone new in the House. Whatever the novel produces, we can be sure that there will be mind-bending imagination, beautiful prose and fantasy the likes of which we can only begin to speculate on.
Can’t Even: How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation – Anne Helen Peterson – 22nd September
In January 2019, Peterson published her Buzzfeed article ‘How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation’, which went viral, amassing millions of views. It touched a nerve for a lot of people – I remember sitting in a Starbucks reading it in my lunch break and having to rush back to work because I just had to read the whole thing before I could leave.
Can’t Even is the book which has evolved from that article, where Peterson will take an even deeper dive into the burnout culture many millennials experience. I can only assume that her words will have even more pertinence in a world that, by the September release date, will be having to truly face up to the economic and cultural impact of the coronavirus – particularly millennials and young people who often live payday to payday.
Limitless – Tim Peake – 15th October
Every year we are treated to a seemingly endless lineup of autobiographies, some of them much more exciting and genuinely wanted than others. Tim Peake’s book will clearly be one of those. He’s unique after all, as the first British man to join the European Space Agency, as well as being one of a very select, very small handful of British people who have been into space.
His kind of story literally can’t fail to be interesting, and as he won the public over when he was stationed on the International Space Station, he seems like a good guy as well, which is always an added bonus. Autobiography fans will be happy to have this selection coming in the autumn.
War Lord – Bernard Cornwell – October
War Lord is the thirteenth and last book in The Saxon Stories series, which has been running since 2004. Cornwell always said he would write until he had finished the main character Uhtred’s story, but I doubt anyone imagined it would span sixteen years. Then again, Cornwell is the master of historical escapades, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.
Uhtred has reached a ripe old age now, especially for a Saxon warrior, and his fighting days are almost over. It isn’t a spoiler though to mention that Uhtred has been narrating the stories as an old man all along, so unless Cornwell is going to pull the rug from under us, we can look forward to this book ending with Uhtred heading – very much alive – into his retirement.
The Devil and the Dark Water – Stuart Turton – October
Turton’s debut novel, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was a well deserved, award winning triumph. It was a puzzle box of a murder mystery, so complex and tightly plotted that it should have been hard to follow, but it was in fact anything but that.
Turton’s writing is clever, but not pretentious, which is why it is exciting to discover that The Devil and the Dark Water seems to be promising just as much intrigue and genius as the first book did. This time set on a ship in the 1600s, there is still a mystery to be solved, but some of the complicating elements this time are strange symbols, a voice whispering in the dark, miracles and demons. Turton’s book will be the perfect read for dark autumnal nights.
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