• The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 - How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy by Daniel Kaufman, Massimo Pigliucci & Skye C Cleary
  • The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 - Transcendence: How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time by Gaia Vince
  • The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 - Slavery and Bristol by GM Best
  • The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 - War: How Conflict Shaped Us by Margaret MacMillan
  • The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 - A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind
  • The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020 - Twilight of Democracy by Anne Applebaum

The Best Nonfiction Books of 2020, recommended by Sophie Roell

As the world went into lockdown early in 2020, many of us without frontline jobs and lucky enough not to fall sick with Covid-19 found more time to read than usual. The sudden change to a slower gear also left more room to reflect on the state of the world and our place as humans in it. Sophie Roell, editor of Five Books, takes us through her personal choice of the best nonfiction books of 2020.  

  • The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist - The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
  • The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist - The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans by David Abulafia
  • The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist - Chaucer: A European Life by Marion Turner
  • The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist - A History of the Bible by John Barton
  • The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist - A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution by Toby Green
  • The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist - Cricket Country: An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire by Prashant Kidambi

The Best History Books: the 2020 Wolfson Prize shortlist, recommended by Richard Evans

If you’re looking for the best history books published this past year, the annual Wolfson History Prize is a great place to start. Each year, the judges pick out outstanding books that are both originally researched and readable. Historian and Wolfson judge Richard Evans talks us through the six history books that made the 2020 shortlist.

  • The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize - The Double X Economy: The Epic Potential of Empowering Women by Linda Scott
  • The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize - The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan
  • The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize - Transcendence: How Humans Evolved Through Fire, Language, Beauty, and Time by Gaia Vince
  • The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize - The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
  • The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize - The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili
  • The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize - Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships by Camilla Pang

The Best Science Books of 2020: The Royal Society Book Prize, recommended by Anne Osbourn

The Royal Society is the world’s oldest independent scientific academy, dedicated to promoting excellence in science—and that includes an annual prize for the best popular science book. Here Professor Anne Osbourn, Fellow of the Royal Society and chair of this year’s judging panel, talks us through the six books that made the 2020 shortlist—and what makes them intriguing, accessible and exciting.

  • Best China Books of 2020 - Aftershock: Essays from Hong Kong by Holmes Chan (editor)
  • Best China Books of 2020 - Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang by James Millward
  • Best China Books of 2020 - Forbidden Memory: Tibet during the Cultural Revolution by Susan Chen (translator) & Tsering Woeser
  • Best China Books of 2020 - Beijing from Below: Stories of Marginal Lives in the Capital's Center by Harriet Evans
  • Best China Books of 2020 - Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai by James Carter
  • Best China Books of 2020 - American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Best China Books of 2020, recommended by Jeffrey Wasserstrom

All eyes are on China as it occupies an increasingly important role on the world stage and its economic growth continues to barrel on. But behind the Chinese Communist Party’s apparent competence lies a deep insecurity about its relationship with its own citizens, particularly those who question its right to rule them. American historian and Sinologist Jeffrey Wasserstrom picks the best books of 2020 on China.

  • The Best Russia Books: the 2020 Pushkin House Prize - The Return of the Russian Leviathan by Sergei Medvedev & Stephen Dalziel (translator)
  • The Best Russia Books: the 2020 Pushkin House Prize - Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait by Bathsheba Demuth
  • The Best Russia Books: the 2020 Pushkin House Prize - Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future by Kate Brown
  • The Best Russia Books: the 2020 Pushkin House Prize - Stalin's Scribe: Literature, Ambition, and Survival, the Life of Mikhail Sholokhov by Brian Boeck
  • The Best Russia Books: the 2020 Pushkin House Prize - This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible in Stalin's Russia by Joan Neuberger
  • The Best Russia Books: the 2020 Pushkin House Prize - An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent by Owen Matthews

The Best Russia Books: the 2020 Pushkin House Prize, recommended by Serhii Plokhy

Every year since 2013 the Russian Book Prize run by Pushkin House, a UK charity, has carried out the important task  of drawing attention to books that “encourage public understanding and intelligent debate about the Russian-speaking world.” Here, Harvard historian Serhii Plokhy, chair of this year’s judging panel, talks us through the books that made the 2020 shortlist.

  • The Best Audiobooks of 2020 - Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald (author and narrator)
  • The Best Audiobooks of 2020 - The Sandman by Dirk Maggs (audiobook adaptation), Full Cast & Neil Gaiman
  • The Best Audiobooks of 2020 - The Pull of the Stars: A Novel by Emma Donoghue & Emma Lowe (narrator)
  • The Best Audiobooks of 2020 - The Searcher: A Novel by Roger Clark (narrator) & Tana French
  • The Best Audiobooks of 2020 - A Most Beautiful Thing: The True Story of America's First All-Black High School Rowing Team by Adam Lazarre-White (narrator) & Arshay Cooper

The Best Audiobooks of 2020, recommended by Robin Whitten

With most people carrying smartphones these days, entering the world of audiobooks has never been easier. Some are straightforward narrations of a book, but when an audiobook is done well, it can be an extraordinary, all-encompassing experience. Here Robin Whitten, editor of AudioFile magazine—the best resource for finding good quality audiobooks on the web, in our view—talks us through her picks for the best audiobooks of 2020, chosen from the hundreds they’ve reviewed over the course of the year.

  • The best books on Global Cultural Understanding: the 2020 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize - Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands by Hazel Carby
  • The best books on Global Cultural Understanding: the 2020 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize - Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent by Priyamavada Gopal
  • The best books on Global Cultural Understanding: the 2020 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize - Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power by Pekka Hämäläinen
  • The best books on Global Cultural Understanding: the 2020 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize - Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century by Charles King
  • The best books on Global Cultural Understanding: the 2020 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize - All Our Relations: Indigenous Trauma in the Shadow of Colonialism by Tanya Talaga

The best books on Global Cultural Understanding: the 2020 Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize, recommended by Patrick Wright

Every year the British Academy's Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize is awarded to the best nonfiction book that has contributed to 'global cultural understanding.' This year, the legacies of colonization and empire loom large. Patrick Wright, Emeritus Professor at King's College London and chair of this year's panel of judges, talks us through the books shortlisted for the £25,000 prize.

  • The Best of Memoir: the 2020 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist - Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother's Disappearance as a Child by Laura Cumming
  • The Best of Memoir: the 2020 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist - Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
  • The Best of Memoir: the 2020 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist - Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
  • The Best of Memoir: the 2020 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist - Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob
  • The Best of Memoir: the 2020 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist - Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller

The Best of Memoir: the 2020 NBCC Autobiography Shortlist, recommended by Mark Athitakis

From a brave account by the Stanford rape case survivor Chanel Miller to New Yorker reporter Ronan Farrow’s gripping tale of investigating the Harvey Weinstein scandal, it’s been a golden year for autobiography. Veteran critic Mark Athitakis talks us through the memoirs that made this year’s National Book Critics Circle autobiography shortlist.

  • The Best Audiobooks for Kids of 2020 - ¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat by Raúl the Third, narrated by Gary Tiedemann
  • The Best Audiobooks for Kids of 2020 - Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome, narrated by Shayna Small and Dion Graham
  • The Best Audiobooks for Kids of 2020 - When Stars Are Scattered by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson, narrated by Faysal Ahmed (and full cast)
  • The Best Audiobooks for Kids of 2020 - Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson, narrated by Guy Lockard
  • The Best Audiobooks for Kids of 2020 - King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, narrated by Ron Butler

The Best Audiobooks for Kids of 2020, recommended by Emily Connelly

Whether you’re on a car journey or sitting on the sofa together at home, listening to audiobooks with kids can be an incredible experience. Some will make you laugh, some will make you weep. Many will help us develop empathy for other human beings in the world around us. Here Emily Connelly, Assistant Editor at AudioFile, talks us through the magazine’s choices of the best audiobooks for kids of 2020.

  • The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award - No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Erin Meyer & Reed Hastings
  • The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award - Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Angus Deaton & Anne Case
  • The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award - A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind
  • The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award - If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future by Jill Lepore
  • The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award - No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier
  • The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award - Reimagining Capitalism: How Business Can Save the World by Rebecca Henderson

The Best Business Books of 2020: the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award, recommended by Andrew Hill

Whether you’re looking for ideas on how to run a successful business or books that look at the various challenges facing capitalist society, the Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award is a great place to start. Andrew Hill, who with colleagues at the Financial Times sifted through hundreds of entries to compile the award’s longlist, talks us through the books that made the 2020 shortlist—as well as offering some predictions for the year ahead.

  • The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize - Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson & with Gregory Mone
  • The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize - Cats React to Science Facts by Izzi Howell
  • The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize - In the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido
  • The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize - How to Win a Nobel Prize by Barry Marshall, Bernard Caleo (illustrator) & with Lorna Hendry
  • The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize - Gut Garden: A journey into the wonderful world of your microbiome by Katie Brosnan
  • The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize - Everyday Journeys Of Ordinary Things by Libby Deutsch & Valpuri Kerttula (illustrator)

The Best Science Books for Kids: the 2020 Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize, recommended by Mike Kendall

To find the best science books for kids, the judges of the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize look for books that are not only accurate but also entertaining. Mike Kendall, Professor of Geophysics at Oxford University and chair of this year’s judging panel, talks us through the six fabulous books that made the 2020 shortlist (the final winner will be chosen by the real experts: more than 13,000 kids).

  • Editors’ Picks: Notable Novels of Fall 2020 - Luster: A Novel by Raven Leilani
  • Editors’ Picks: Notable Novels of Fall 2020 - All Men Want to Know by Nina Bouraoui
  • Editors’ Picks: Notable Novels of Fall 2020 - Sisters: A Novel by Daisy Johnson
  • Editors’ Picks: Notable Novels of Fall 2020 - Jack: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
  • Editors’ Picks: Notable Novels of Fall 2020 - Earthlings: A Novel by Sayaka Murata

Editors’ Picks: Notable Novels of Fall 2020, recommended by Cal Flyn

After coronavirus-induced chaos threw publishing schedules out of whack earlier this year, fall 2020 is shaping up to be a bumper book season. But with hundreds of new titles flooding onto the shelves, it can be hard to identify those that are most deserving of your time. Here, Five Books deputy editor Cal Flyn highlights some of the most anticipated new novels of the coming weeks.

  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Audiobook of the Year - The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001 by Garrett Graff
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Audiobook of the Year - Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Audiobook of the Year - Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Audiobook of the Year - Charlotte's Web by E.B. White & Garth Williams (illustrator)
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Audiobook of the Year - The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Audiobook of the Year - The Testaments: A Novel by Margaret Atwood

The 2020 Audie Awards: Audiobook of the Year, recommended by Mary Burkey & Robin Whitten

Every year, the Audie Awards celebrate the best audiobooks published over the previous year. Veteran audiobook reviewer Robin Whitten of AudioFile Magazine and Mary Burkey, who has served on multiple audiobook judging panels, explain what makes a good audiobook and talk us through the brilliant books that were finalists in the 2020 ‘Audiobook of the Year’ category.

  • The Best Children’s Books: The 2020 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners - New Kid by Jerry Craft
  • The Best Children’s Books: The 2020 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners - The Undefeated Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
  • The Best Children’s Books: The 2020 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners - Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
  • The Best Children’s Books: The 2020 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners - Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
  • The Best Children’s Books: The 2020 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners - Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D Williams

The Best Children’s Books: The 2020 Newbery Medal and Honor Winners, recommended by Krishna Grady

After reading hundreds of newly published books and asking children and adults alike for their input, the winners of the 2020 Newbery Medal and Honors have been chosen. Librarian and chair of the selection committee Krishna Grady introduces us to the best new children’s books that will surprise, delight and hold your kid’s attention—including the first graphic novel to ever win the award.

  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Best Audiobooks for Young Adults - Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Best Audiobooks for Young Adults - Lovely War by Julie Berry
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Best Audiobooks for Young Adults - On The Come Up by Angie Thomas & Bahni Turpin (narrator)
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Best Audiobooks for Young Adults - With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The 2020 Audie Awards: Best Audiobooks for Young Adults - Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

The 2020 Audie Awards: Best Audiobooks for Young Adults, recommended by Mary Burkey & Robin Whitten

Audiobooks are a great way to keep teenagers entertained and informed. Mary Burkey, an expert on kids’ audiobooks, and Robin Whitten, editor and founder of AudioFile magazine, talk us through the wonderful titles that were finalists in this year’s Audie Awards in the ‘Young Adult’ category.