Best books 2020: The woman&home Book Club Award winners

From candid memoir and romantic reads to inspiring non-fiction, Books Editor Zoe West rounds up our favourite books of the year

woman&home Book Awards
(Image credit: Future)

2020 was a year we found ourselves reading more than ever – and thankfully there was plenty to choose from. From fast-paced thrillers to heart-warming romances and literary gems, we‘ve seen a stellar line-up on our shelves. 

Our favourite books of 2020 are the ideal place to start building your reading list before moving onto the best books for 2021. Whether you’re looking to lose yourself in a novel that will transport you to another place or explore the multilayered story 
of Hamnet, there’s something here for you.

Without further ado, 
here’s woman&home‘s standout books of 2020 chosen by our Books Editor, Zoe West.

MORE: Want to write some good books yourself? We consulted top authors for their writing tips

woman&home Book Club 2020 Award winners 

Best feel-good fiction

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

(Image credit: Amazon)

Best memoir (medical)

Dear Life by Rachel Clarke

(Image credit: Brown)

Best heart-warming read

Saving Missy by 
Beth Morrey

(Image credit: HarperCollins)

Best literary saga

A Long Petal of the Sea 
by Isabel Allende 

(Image credit: Bloomsbury)

Best psychological drama

Blurred Lines by Hannah Begbie

(Image credit: HarperCollins)

Best classic whodunnit

The Thursday Murder 
Club by Richard Osman

(Image credit: Viking)

Best picture book

Owl or Pussycat? by Michael Morpurgo

(Image credit: David Fickling Books)

Best adventure story

The Highland Falcon 
Thief by MG Leonard and Sam Sedgman

(Image credit: Pan Macmillan)

Best teen drama

Eight Pieces of Silva by Patrice Lawrence

(Image credit: Hachette)

Best romantic fiction

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

(Image credit: HarperCollins)

Best domestic noir

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

(Image credit: Wildfire)

Best feminist inspiration

Ladies Who Punch by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

(Image credit: Biteback Publishing)

Best comedy 

Dear Joan & Jericha: 
Why He Turns Away

(Image credit: Orion)

Best memoir (funny)

I’m Just a Teenage Punchbag by Jackie Clune

(Image credit: Hodder & Stoughton)

Best historical drama

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

(Image credit: ,

Best feel-good food

The Great British 
Bake Off: Love to Bake

(Image credit: Little, Brown)

Best thought-provoking

The Midnight Library
 by Matt Haig 

(Image credit: Canongate)

Best self-discovery

Miss Benson’s Beetle 
by Rachel Joyce

(Image credit: Transworld)

Best topical drama

American Dirt by 
Jeanine Cummins

(Image credit: Headline)

Best family drama

The Vanishing Half by
 Brit Bennett

(Image credit: Brown)

Best words of wisdom

And Now for the Good News: To the Future 
With Love by Ruby Wax

(Image credit: Penguin Life)

Best autobiography

Tomorrow Will Be a 
Good Day by Captain Tom

(Image credit: Michael Joseph)

Best family cookbook

Nadiya Bakes by
 Nadiya Hussain

(Image credit: Penguin)

Best TV tie-in

60 Years of Coronation Street by Abigail Kemp

(Image credit: Octopus)

Best gardening

Modern Container Gardening by Isabelle Palmer

(Image credit: Hardie Grant Publishing)

Best dark thriller

The Curator by MW Craven

(Image credit: Brown)

Best magical realism

Orfeia by Joanne M 

(Image credit: Orion)

Best travel

Unforgettable Journeys

(Image credit: DK Eyewitness)

More great books from the 2020 woman&home Book Club

Where We Belong by Anstey Harris

Anstey Harris doesn’t flinch from shining a light on some of the most difficult situations anyone can face, but she does it with warmth and compassion. She’s also very good at flipping assumptions. Cate is a mum and a wife, but both roles have brought major challenges. When her life changes beyond recognition, she has to draw on all her reserves to secure a future for herself and her son. With a crumbling museum, a Mrs Danvers-like guardian and simmering romance, it’s a beautiful story of love, loss and resilience.


What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott

Set in Tokyo, Satō hires Kaitarō (a breaker-upper) to seduce his wife in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings. He assumes it will be a quick, easy case. Yet his wife, Rina, is not the woman he thought she was. Inspired by a real-life situation, this spellbinding tale about the marriage break-up industry in Japan has devastating consequences.


Miss Austen, Gill Hornby

In this subtle and delicate novel, Gill Hornby has created a clever, warm-hearted character in Cassandra, Jane Austen’s sister. Cassandra is on a mission to recover letters sent by Jane to relatives before they can be publicly exposed. We follow her through youth and old age, and emerge closer to the genius of one sister and the loving devotion of the other.


Three Women, Lisa Taddeo

A book centred around the unmet needs of three women - Lina, who wanted to be desired and isn't, Maggie, who wanted to be understood but is instead hated, and Sloane, who wanted to be admired, but is seen as a sexual object. A fascinating look into the worlds of three different women.


The Tenth Muse, Catherine Chung

December's Book of the Month is The Tenth Muse. Katherine has always felt like an outsider in her community, both as the child of an interracial relationship and as a gifted mathematician. Guiding the reader deftly through her family history, Katherine's own life becomes the ultimate puzzle as discoveries lead her to examine who she really is. A truly spellbinding read.


The Vanished Bride, Bella Ellis

If you're a fan of theBrontë sisters, you're sure to love this imaginative novel featuring Charlotte, Emily and Anne as super-sleuths. When Elizabeth Chester goes missing from Chester Grange leaving behind two children and a pool of blood, the sister set about becoming 'lady detectors', which isn't easy as women in the 19th century. A classic murder mystery that brings theBrontës to life.


Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

Seventeen years after PS, I Love You comes the long-awaited sequel, set seven years after the death of Holly Kennedy's husband Gerry. She is stronger than ever, until she's approached by the PS, I Love You club. She soon becomes so involved that her fresh start seems precarious. If only she could find a way to honour his memory without compromising all she has rebuilt. Poignant, warm and hopefully, this is a delightful read.


Platform Seven by Louise Doughty

Watching a stranger approach the edge of the platform, ghost Lisa Evans is powerless to prevent what is about to happen. She is also unsettled by the feeling there must be a connection between this coming death and her own. Determined to seek out the truth, she guesses it can’t be worse than not knowing – or can it? Doughty’s eerie and atmospheric writing combines a calm assurance with sinister darkness.


The School Run by Helen Whitaker

Imogen and Lily are old friends who shared everything, but when they both move to the same area and the local ‘outstanding’ school only has one place, what lengths will they go to for their children? From fake marriage break-ups to moving house and ‘getting in’ with the vicar, it’s a frank and funny account that’ll resonate with many parents. Prepare to laugh and cringe in equal measure.


The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

After his wife Abbie’s tragic accident, tech genius Tim Scott becomes obsessed with recreating her in AI form. With her memories completely intact and her appearance identical, the new ‘Abbie’ begins to assume her namesake’s place as dutiful wife and mother. But meeting Tim’s expectations takes a heavy toll and other memories start creeping back. The narrative complexity, characterisation and gradual unravelling of the truth is a triumph of pacing and suspense.


Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Francis Gleeson and his wife Lena welcome a new couple, the Stanhopes, to their neighbourhood in upstate New York. But while the men have common ground, Anne Stanhope makes her distaste for Lena plain from the start. As the years wear on, the combination of love and violence that binds these two families together becomes the ultimate test of human decency. A powerful tale.


Love, Unscripted by Owen Nicholls

Best books 2019 | Love, Unscripted

The perfect read for film enthusiasts, Nicholls’s debut novel follows projectionist Nick, whose idealised view of love is challenged when his girlfriend suddenly moves out. Nick must now confront his new reality, but will he ever understand where it all went wrong? In this refreshing take on the typical boy-meets-girl romance, Nicholls celebrates the genre, while never missing an opportunity to make it his own. An unmissable, multi-layered read.


The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis

New books for May: The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis

In 1956, Ivy falls pregnant and is sent in shame to the dark and foreboding St Margaret's home for unmarried mothers. Her baby arrives and is given away for adoption without her consent, while Ivy herself is doomed to remain. Sixty years later, journalist Samantha is hungry to make her mark, so when she finds a letter from a young mother begging for help, she's determined to unravel the girl's story. As moving as it is disturbing - a real triumph.


The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

New books for May: The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

Dumped and homeless, Tiffy can't believe her luck when a reasonably priced flat is offered to her. There's just one catch - she will have to share a bed with the other occupant. Leon works nights at a nursing home and spends weekends with his girlfriend, so in theory, their paths never need cross - but where would the fun be in that? Uproariously funny with characters you fall for from the first page.


The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

When Ned and Liddy's great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned's masterpiece - or, in Juliet's case, her own children's happiness. Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what? A heart-stopping novel from the author of The Wildflowers.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

Audrey's family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected. As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. A compelling and heart-breaking tale of family love and loss.


Between the Lies by Michelle Adams

You wake up in hospital, you can't remember your own name, or anything about your life... So who can you trust? Struggling to regain her memory after an accident, Chloe turns to her family for help, but is she foolish to trust them? A psychological thriller with a shock ending you won't see coming.


Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

On a dark winter night, at an inn along the Thames, a group of locals have gathered to share stories when a far more curious tale staggers in right through the doors. The man who appears is dripping wet and bleeding profusely, but most peculiarly of all, he is carrying the body of a young girl – a child all those present agree is dead… until she opens her eyes. Brimming with folklore, intrigue and romance, this is a story to savour.


The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

Life has begun to look a little beige for 79-year-old Peggy. Her bladder is weakening, her crush on the suave Brian is not reciprocated and her children assume that dementia is only a matter of time. The fact is, Peggy’s life is in dire need of an overhaul. So, when her old friend Angie offers to take our heroine under her very colourful wing, Peggy plays along… with hugely entertaining results. Funny and heart-warming.


Something To Tell You by Lucy Diamond

Discovering an unopened letter from her late mother fills Frankie with joy – until she opens it. Reeling from the contents, she hotfoots it up to Yorkshire to track down the Mortimer family and get some answers. This endlessly enjoyable drama puts even the most dysfunctional families in the shade – brilliant fun.


The Anniversary by Hilary Boyd

Divided by tragedy, Stella and Jack are drawn together once more in this riveting novel. Reunited once more, both have moved on with different partners, so can they resist temptation? If you get a second chance, should you always take?


The Cult on Fog Island by Mariette Lindstein

Written by a former Scientologist, this unsettling drama peers under the lid of life within a sinister cult. Fog Island has been described as Flowers in the Attic meets Girls. A harrowing read.

BUY IT NOW, £7.99, HQ

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

From the very first page of this mesmerising novel, you know life has gone seriously awry for Cornelia Blackwood – and things get steadily worse from there on in. Why are her friends unable to look her in the eye, and why did her husband lie about where he was going? The truth, as it emerges, is as heartbreaking as it is captivating, and you’re left with no choice but to put life on hold while you race to the end.


Which will you read?

Zoe West
Books Editor - Woman&Home

It’s safe to say, woman&home’s Books Editor, Zoe West has read a LOT of books. 

As an avid young bookworm obsessed with the adventures of The Magic Faraway Tree and the misadventures of red-haired orphan, Anne Shirley, Zoe never lost her love of reading - and the fact she now gets to do it as her job is a constant source of wonderment for her.

When Zoe isn't reading she is interviewing authors, hosting live events where she gets all the gossip, and seeking out exciting new writers she can’t wait to tell her readers about.