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Apple reveals best books of 2020 so far – get one for your iPad or iPhone

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Apple Best Books of 2020 so far

Did you know Apple has its own list of the best books of the year so far? It’s worth exploring if you want to stock a few fantastic but lesser-known reads.

While everyone is talking about Amazon’s list of the best books of the year so far, we would like to draw your attention to a similar list that has just been revealed by editors at Apple Books.

The list of Apple’s Best Book of the Year so Far is not easy to find on the web. There is no press release and almost no social chatter. For some reason, the list is being hidden by Apple, and you can’t even find it on the home page of Apple Books, when you open the app on your iPad, iPhone, or Mac.

In fact, it was shared only once in social media, by Harper Collins, with a link that prompts users to open it in Apple Books app: apple.co/bestbookssofar. What’s more, the list only exists in the U.S. iTunes Store, so you won’t be able to open it if you have an Apple account localized in any other country.

Jump to the list

Because of difficulties reaching Apple’s Best Book of the Year ranking, we’ve compiled an easy and discoverable list, together with short blurbs, number of reviews, average ratings, and genre.

The most interesting part are reviews written by Apple Books editors. It’s not only something that justifies why the book has been selected for the list. It also describes the story in a concise and extremely convincing way. In many cases, Apple Books reviews are way better than original book blurbs!

Which books made to the 2020 list of Apple Best Books of the Year?

My Dark Vanessa, a debut novel by Kate Elizabeth Russell, tops the ranking. It follows a complicated relationship between a teenage girl Vanessa and her magnetic and manipulative English teacher Jacob.

The book you can’t find on Amazon’s list is Long Bright River by Liz Moore. It’s a gripping suspense novel about two once-inseparable sisters. When one of them disappears in a Philadelphia neighborhood, the other becomes dangerously obsessed with finding her before it’s too late.

Apple Best Books of the Year so Far - Take a Hint Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
Image: Harper Collins on Twitter

Talia Hibbert’s Take a Hint, Dani Brown, is a summer romantic comedy about a young woman Danika Brown who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral.

Finally, there is The Last Flight, Julie Clark’s mystery described by Apple Books editors as a combination of Gone Girl and The Bourne Identity. It’s a story of two women who make one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

Apple Best Books of the Year – complete list

1. My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell - Apple Best Books of the Year

Kate Elizabeth Russell

A debut book by Kate Elizabeth Russell explores the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl Vanessa and her magnetic and manipulative forty-two-year-old English teacher Jacob Strane.

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield.

Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood.

Apple Books Review

We couldn’t stop thinking about Kate Elizabeth Russell’s powerful and deeply disturbing debut. Told from the point of view of its titular heroine, the novel maps two distinct eras of Vanessa’s life. We’re pulled into the thrill and turmoil of 15-year-old Vanessa’s experiences as she embarks on a “romance” with her much older English teacher, Jacob, and grows to feel like he’s the only one who truly understands her.

Publisher: William Morrow
Category: Fiction & Literature
Number of reviews: 652

Average rating: 4.2/5

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2. Writers & Lovers

Writers and Lovers by Lily King - Best Apple Books of the Year

Lily King

Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with another instant New York Times bestseller: an unforgettable portrait of an artist as a young woman.

Writers & Lovers follows Casey – a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist – in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis.

At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more.

Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.

Apple Books Review

We loved novelist Lily King’s relatable heroine, who hides her pain and vulnerability behind a sharp wit. King has crafted a world that feels so viscerally real, it’s easy to imagine Casey stepping off the page. Writers & Lovers is a spellbinding and achingly beautiful novel about the sustaining power of creativity, about the paths we choose to follow and those we leave unexplored.

Publisher: Grove Atlantic
Category: Fiction & Literature
Number of reviews: 401

Average rating: 4.4/5

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3. Long Bright River

Long Bright River by Liz Moore - Apple Books best of the year

Liz Moore

In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling.

Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit – and her sister – before it’s too late.

Alternating its present-day mystery with the story of the sisters’ childhood and adolescence, Long Bright River is at once heart-pounding and heart-wrenching: a gripping suspense novel that is also a moving story of sisters, addiction, and the formidable ties that persist between place, family, and fate.

Apple Books Review

For this riveting crime novel, Liz Moore draws upon her extensive research and community work to give us thought-provoking insights into at-risk communities. Her heroine’s passion and idealism are a source of inspiration – not a word that’s usually associated with this kind of thrilling, hardboiled mystery.

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Category: Fiction & Literature
Number of reviews: 606

Average rating: 4.2/5

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4. The Last Flight

The Last Flight by Julie Clark - Apple Best Books of 2020 so far

Julie Clark

For fans of Lisa Jewell and Liv Constantine, The Last Flight is the story of two women – both alone, both scared – and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

Claire Cook has a perfect life. Married to the scion of a political dynasty, with a Manhattan townhouse and a staff of ten, her surroundings are elegant, her days flawlessly choreographed, and her future auspicious. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband tracks Claire’s every move, making sure she’s living up to his impossible standards.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets – Claire taking Eva’s flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire…

Apple Books Review

Alternating between Claire’s and Eva’s viewpoints, Clark’s book feels like a mix of Gone Girl and The Bourne Identity. It’s that fast-paced and that good. Order takeout, because you won’t be leaving the couch until you turn the last page.

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
Number of reviews: 43

Average rating: 4.5/5

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5. Walk the Wire

Walk the Wire by David Baldacci - best books of the year Apple iPad

David Baldacci

When Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are called to London, North Dakota, they instantly sense that the thriving fracking town is ripe for trouble.

They are ordered to investigate the death of a young woman named Irene Cramer, whose body was expertly autopsied and then dumped in the open – which is only the beginning of the oddities surrounding the case.

As Decker and Jamison dig into Irene’s life, they are shocked to discover that the woman who walked the streets by night as a prostitute was a teacher for a local religious sect by day – a sect operating on land once owned by a mysterious government facility that looms over the entire community.

Apple Books Review

Superstar author David Baldacci really turns up the heat in this installment of his best-selling Amos Decker series, using visceral descriptions of the sweltering Great Plains summer to heighten the sense of sinister danger. Longtime Baldacci fans will be excited to see Decker and Jamison get an unexpected assist from some fan-favorite characters from his Will Robie series, but newcomers don’t have to worry about coming into the series cold – you’ll be caught up in no time.

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
Number of reviews: 2.5K

Average rating: 4.3/5

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6. The City We Became

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin - Best Apple Books of the Year for iPad iPhone

N.K. Jemisin

Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts her most incredible novel yet, a story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City.

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn’t remember who he is, where he’s from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it’s as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

Apple Books Review

Jemisin describes New York with an intoxicating rhythmic style, taking pains to get every detail of each diverse neighborhood just right, from the South Bronx to Crown Heights. When the cosmic heroes of her tale come together, they create a captivating crew that would make both Langston Hughes and Isaac Asimov proud.

Publisher: Orbit
Category: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Number of reviews: 101

Average rating: 4.4/5

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7. Reborn Yesterday

Reborn Yesterday by Tessa Bailey - Apple iPad Books - top 10 of the year

Tessa Bailey

It was a night like any other for funeral home director Ginny Lynn, until the exceptionally handsome – and unfortunately deceased – young man on her embalming table sat up, opened his emerald eyes and changed the course of her life forever, making her feel quite fluttery while he was at it.

Humans aren’t supposed to know Jonas Cantrell, or any vampire, exists. It’s kind of a major rule. Despite his instantaneous bond with perfectly peculiar Ginny, he has no choice but to erase her memories of their one and only meeting.

That was the plan. Before a reluctant Jonas can wipe Ginny’s mind clean, she reveals a secret that brings their worlds crashing together. Human and vampire. Past and present. Darkness and light. And while their love is strictly forbidden, it might be the only thing that can save them…

Publisher: Tessa Bailey
Category: Romance
Number of reviews: 60

Average rating: 4.2/5

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8. Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert - Apple Best Books of the Year

Talia Hibbert

USA Today bestselling author Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt.

Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

Apple Books Review

We love Talia Hibbert’s stereotype-busting hero – Zaf’s a big, athletic guy who loves romance novels and is open about his anxiety disorder. Hibbert’s diverse stories deliver laughs while reflecting real-world relationships. With its Muslim hero and black heroine, Take a Hint, Dani Brown stands out from the crowd.

Publisher: Avon
Category: Romance
Number of reviews: 10

Average rating: 4.4/5

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9. Hidden Valley Road

Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker - Best Apple Books of 2020 so far

Robert Kolker

The heartrending story of a mid-century American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American dream. After World War II, Don’s work with the Air Force brought them to Colorado, where their twelve children perfectly spanned the baby boom: the oldest born in 1945, the youngest in 1965.

But behind the scenes was a different story: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, hidden abuse. By the mid-1970s, six of the ten Galvin boys, one after another, were diagnosed as schizophrenic. How could all this happen to one family?

Apple Books Review

Hidden Valley Road is such a page-turning read, despite the seriousness and complexity of the subject matter. We can honestly say this is one of the most gripping, fascinating, and moving portraits of a family that we have ever read. It filled us with compassion and a sense of urgency about talking about mental illness openly and honestly.

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Category: Biographies & Memoirs
Number of reviews: 1.6K

Average rating: 3.8/5

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10. Upstream

Upstream by Dan Heath - Best Apple iPad Books of the Year

Dan Heath

Upstream probes the psychological forces that push us downstream—including “problem blindness,” which can leave us oblivious to serious problems in our midst. And Heath introduces us to the thinkers who have overcome these obstacles and scored massive victories by switching to an upstream mindset.

One online travel website prevented twenty million customer service calls every year by making some simple tweaks to its booking system.

A major urban school district cut its dropout rate in half after it figured out that it could predict which students would drop out – as early as the ninth grade.

A European nation almost eliminated teenage alcohol and drug abuse by deliberately changing the nation’s culture.

Apple Books Review

In a style reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell and the Freakonomics team, Heath explores fascinating case studies from the business world and beyond to illustrate how this proactive approach has paid huge dividends, from lowering school dropout rates in Chicago to reducing domestic-violence cases in Massachusetts. Upstream just might change the way you think about problem-solving.

Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
Category: Business & Personal Finance
Number of reviews: 8

Average rating: 4.4/5

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11. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games Prequel)

Suzanne Collins

Apple Books Review: We were floored by Suzanne Collins’ captivating prequel, which proves that even the most nefarious villain is still the hero of their own story – and isn’t 100 percent terrible. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is just as exhilarating as the other books in the Hunger Games series.

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12. The Biggest Bluff

Maria Konnikova

Apple Books Review: It’s fun to tag along as Konnikova masters moves and memorizes hands, but it’s even more amazing to watch how she uses the lessons she learns at the casino table to become more resilient in the face of family setbacks and personal loss. You’ll feel lucky to have discovered this amazing book!

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13. Wildland

Rebecca Hodge

Apple Books Review: Rebecca Hodge’s debut novel explores what happens when everyday people are forced to look death in the eye. After undergoing chemotherapy, cancer patient Kat heads to North Carolina’s mountainous wilderness to ponder whether she wants to continue treatment. But her retreat is far from peaceful.

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14. Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Kawai Strong Washburn

Apple Books Review: Sharks in the Time of Saviors is full of contradictions: Washburn’s writing draws upon magic realism and mythology, but it’s also grounded in the cold stress of family troubles and economic hardship. He possesses a dazzling talent for combining the poetic and the prosaic, making this heartfelt book especially memorable.

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15. Interior Chinatown

Charles Yu

Apple Books Review: Structured like a screenplay, Interior Chinatown made us root for Willis’ dreams to break free from his demeaning reality. Yu has a talent for turning hilarious pop-culture riffs into meaningful explorations of social and racial issues, but his novel really hits home when he touches on the real emotions beneath the jokes.

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16. Afterlife

Julia Alvarez

Apple Books Review: Alvarez’s novel leans in to some difficult subject matter, including the burden of grief and the realities of the Latinx community’s everyday experiences during the Trump administration. But Afterlife is far from an emotionally draining read, thanks to Alvarez’s trademark sense of humor.

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17. Say Yes to the Duke

Eloisa James

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare. So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society – but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

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Apple best books of the year for iPad and iPhone

All book covers: Apple Books.

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