So, yeah. 2020. It’s been a year. In the world of books, 2020 has seen book tours and book clubs (including mine) moving online and the delay of a lot of new releases. Books that were supposed to come out in the spring and summer got pushed to the fall. Other books got pushed to next year. You kind of never knew when something would be available, and you just rolled with whatever you could find that would bring you some enjoyment.

That’s why when I went around asking the folks who work here at the library what their favorite books were this year, I said I didn’t care when the book was published as long as they read it this year and they liked it. Some folks picked books published this year, including me, which is interesting, since I’m devoted to classic lit and always read far more older books than new ones. But other people found delight in older classics and in books written for a variety of ages.

Below is a selection of what the staff loved. If you’re looking for something to see out the end of the year, one of these might just be up your alley. Or you might just be ready for the year to end. That’s a totally valid option, too. Feel free to leave a comment or hit us up on social media (@NCantonLibrary) with your favorite book his year. Because I’m certainly not done yet!


Adult Fiction

It’s probably not a huge surprise that when asked to name the books they loved, the folks at the library mentioned a lot of adult fiction titles. They mentioned thrillers, horror, romance, and others. (More on one specific genre below.) It’s the sort of eclectic list you get when you ask a bunch of library workers this sort of question. For instance, our new Director, Andrea, is a Stephen King fan, and Nancy from Patron Services is responsible for the romance title on this list. And more than one of my colleagues in Reference Services loved The Silent Patient. It’s a little something for everyone who enjoys fiction, in other words.

Shadows of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley

The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine

Adult Historical Fiction

Of the genres of adult fiction the staff here enjoy, the one that got the most love is historical fiction. This is where you can find my favorite book this year, Tyll, a German novel set during the Thirty Years War that is part adventure, part magical realism, and all really beautiful writing. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, this list has a Victorian mystery, WWII English family saga, and more. So here are the books that swept some of the staff off to a different time and place this year.

Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

No Stone Unturned by Pam Lecky

The Lake House by Kate Morton

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman


I’m a big fan of reading nonfiction for fun, although I didn’t read a ton of it this year. (I’ll make a note of this for 2021.) But just because I didn’t read a lot of nonfiction this year, doesn’t mean others on staff did not. Jen in Patron Services can always be counted on for some true crime recommendations, and our new Head of IT and Reference, Trevor, picked a very IT sort of book, that honestly would probably be fascinating if I could wrap my head around it. But there are also dog books, cartoons, and Caste, one of the hottest nonfiction titles of the year from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns.

The Perfect Father: The True Story of Chris Watts, His All-American Family, and a Shocking Murder by John Glatt

A Dog Named Beautiful: A Marine, a Dog, and a Long Road Trip Home by Rob Kugler

A Wealth of Pigeons by Harry Bliss and Steve Martin

Interface Between Quantum Information and Statistical Physics edited by Mikio Nakahara and Shu Tanaka

You Are Awesome: How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life by Neil Pasricha

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family by Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson


For their jobs, a lot of folks around here read kids and young adult books to keep up with work. Some (OK. Most of us.) also read kids and YA books because we like them. For instance, more than one person around here will be happy to tell you all about how great Sarah J. Maas is. And a couple of the folks up in our Children’s Department enjoyed spending time with classics by Kenneth Grahame and Betty Smith. (Aside—Have you heard about the new edition of Smith’s novel Tomorrow Will Be Better? We have copies.) In other words, you’re never too old to enjoy these titles.

Fairy Tale Romance Series by Melanie Dickerson

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker and Junyi Wu (Illustrator)

The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Arc of a Scythe Series by Neal Shusterman

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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