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Book bestsellers 2020: Most purchased books we covered

Barack Obama, Brittany K. Barnett, Yuval Noah Harari: Readers preferred autobiographies, graphic novels and diversity-and-inclusion-centric books this year.
2020 Bestseller Books
Here are the bestselling books we covered in 2020.Getty /

This year was a big one for books and for reasons beyond the obvious — people finding more time to read them as they stayed home during the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Barack Obama released his much anticipated memoir “A Promised Land” in November, which is the bestselling book published by Penguin Random House this year. People also leaned into new ways to read, from listening to audiobooks and going digital with e-readers like the Kindle Paperwhite. We also highlighted the best coffee table books to add to your collection and trans-inclusive fantasy and sci-fi books that serve as an alternative to “Harry Potter.” Below, we dive into some of the most purchased books we covered in 2020.

1. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama

Former President Barack Obama released his memoir “A Promised Land” in November, which is by far the most popular book we covered this year. The 768-page book is the first of two volumes and covers Obama’s presidential campaign as well as his time in office. The publisher has yet to announce the release date of the second volume.

2. “Migrations: A Novel” by Charlotte McConaghy

Named one of 2020’s best books by Amazon Books editors, “Migrations: A Novel” tells the story of Franny Stone, who travels to Greenland to follow the last Arctic terns — a type of bird — in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Along the way, she grapples with her own personal history and dark secrets.

3. “A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom” by Brittany K. Barnett

Author Brittany K. Barnett’s memoir reflects upon her career as a young lawyer defending Black lives within the confines of the American legal system. Amazon Books editors call the book an inspiring true story about unwavering belief in humanity, and a “knockout read.”

4. “Sapiens: A Graphic History: The Birth of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari

Through “Sapiens: A Graphic History: The Birth of Humankind,” Yuval Noah Harari’s bestselling “Sapiens” gets the comic treatment. The book is only the first volume with more graphic histories to come. It includes 250 pages of illustrated, full-color graphic adaptations of the original work from the author.

5. “The Midnight Library: A Novel” by Matt Haig

Midnight Library: A Novel'' won this year’s Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction. It brings to life a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one telling the story of another reality. Its main character, Nora Seed, travels through the library, faced with the possibility of swapping her life for a new one.

6. “The Vanishing Half: A Novel” by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half: A Novel” is another Goodreads pick, this time for the 2020 Historical Fiction award. The novel follows two identical twin sisters from a small Southern town. According to Goodreads, the novel traces fascinating threads of American identity, and Amazon Books editors named “The Vanishing Half” a Best Book of the Year.

7. “The Revisioners: A Novel” by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

In the 2020 NAACP Image Awards, the top prize in the fiction category went to “The Revisioners: A Novel.” The book tells the story of two related Black women, separated by 100 years. “The Revisioners” displays the life of both a slave and her descendant, and explores bonds between mothers and their children.

8. “What Do You Celebrate?” by Whitney Stewart

Beyond fairy tales and fiction narratives, many children’s books incorporate lessons of diversity by sharing stories of holiday customs and traditions from around the world. “What Do You Celebrate” is featured in our list of the best inclusive holiday books for children. It teaches kids about 14 different celebrations, from Purim to the Day of the Dead.

9. “Air Fry Every Day: 75 Recipes to Fry, Roast, and Bake Using Your Air Fryer: A Cookbook” by Ben Mims

Air fryers have increased in popularity this year as more people were forced to cook at-home. If you need recipe ideas, “Air Fry Every Day” provides 75, instructing you how to fry, roast and bake using the small appliance. Readers also like “The Super Easy Airfryer Cookbook,” which includes 100 recipes that even the least experienced cooks can successfully prepare.

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