Play Hard

5 books from 2020 that you may have missed – and need to read

Here’s why you should add these 5 under-the-radar books from 2020 to add to your to-read list

Written by High Life North
Published 27.02.2021

By Sophie Swift

 Being stuck inside for most of the last 12 months has led to many of us resorting to a new kind of travel. The plane ticket still comes in paper form, but it allows you to be transported anywhere you can picture in your imagination from the comfort of your own home. The solution to your travel problems? Books.

Annually, publishers and bookworms alike release lists of must-read books set for release that year. Although a lot of things did not go to plan in 2020, Good Reads, BBC Culture, The Guardian, and TIME Magazine still released their top reads – and as avid bookworms here at HLN, we’re here to guide you through which of them are really worth your time.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Both Good Reads and BBC Culture noted that Yaa Gyasi is an author we need to keep our eyes on. In 2016, her debut novel, Homegoing, was released and did remarkably well. In 2020, her second, Transcendent Kingdom, hit shelves in the US and is set for release in the UK in March. Each chapter of Homegoing follows a different descendant of two half-sisters: one sold into slavery, the other going on to become a slave-trader’s wife. The novel brilliantly highlights the moral weight which history can have upon later generations, while still being rich in detail and mesmerising in its storytelling. Having read Homegoing last year and being totally swept along by its epicism, we’re super excited at the prospect of more work by Gyasi, (and Transcendent Kingdom is already on our pre-order list).

Buy Homegoing here £6.99

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

An honourable mention has to go to Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, which was highlighted by Good Reads, BBC Culture and The Guardian – the latter describing it as havinga razor-sharp take on white fragility and millennial uncertainty, beginning when a black nanny is accused of kidnapping her white charge’. It’s a novel we here at HLN HQ plan to get stuck into as soon as possible.

Buy Such a Fun Age here £5.00

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol

A novel that pivots around mental health problems, but which uses the media lens to examine them, The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol is another must-read.

Transporting us back to the North of England just as the world mourns another great musician gone too soon, Nichol’s novel introduces us to Emma: a working-class rock music fan from Hull, who has a penchant for a flaming Drambuie and a line of coke with her best mate Dave down The Angel pub. But Emma is troubled. Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix… and now Kurt Cobain. Why have so many rock musicians died at the age of 27?  And will Emma be next to join The Twenty Seven Club?

A nostalgic, often hilarious drug- and booze-infused tale of friendship, discovery and anxiety, we can vouch that The Twenty Seven Club is a book that will appeal as much to rare-readers as it will to bookworms. Trust us.

Buy The Twenty Seven Club here £7.99

Boy Parts by Eliza Clark

Another release from the last year worth mentioning is a debut novel that is set a little closer to home. Boy Parts by Eliza Clark follows the narcissistic and slightly unhinged character of Irina. From her home in Newcastle to the streets of London, she attempts to make her way as a slightly unconventional photographer. Boy Parts is an ambitious, unsettling novel dealing with thorny issues. It is also an intelligent, deceptively honest and incredibly addictive read. Filled with dark flavour, it’s one we’d definitely recommend checking out. 

Buy Eliza Clark Boy Parts here £9.99

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One of our favourites that we’ve read in the last 12 months is actually a novel that was first published in 2017, but is still blowing up the book community in 2021. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is not one you can afford to miss. Following the aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon, Evelyn Hugo, as she readies herself to reveal the truth behind her glamorous and scandalous life, the book charts her story from the making of her film career in LA in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the 1980s, all the while uncovering the magic and mystery behind each of her seven husbands. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and you’ll carry its characters with you long after you turn the final page.

Buy The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo here


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