Barnes and Noble’s Best Books of 2020 (So Far)

Booksellers Select the Top Ten Titles from the First Half of 2020

Barnes & Noble Inc., the world’s largest retail bookseller, today announced that booksellers from across the U.S. selected ten titles as the Best Books of 2020 (So Far), including books that address our current moment, share lessons from the past, and bring memorable characters—both real and imagined—to life.

“Our passionate bookselling team has undertaken the distinct challenge of narrowing down our favorite books from the first half of 2020 into a short list of ten diverse and thought-provoking titles. The result is a unique range that includes the informative and historical, to electrifying new novels and even a heartwarming children’s tale about a dog, a gorilla, and an elephant,” Jackie De Leo, Vice President, Bookstore, Barnes & Noble. “I am really impressed with our booksellers’ selections, and I am pleased to recommend these titles to our customers.”

1) The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins
“Readers return to the districts of Panem to see the Hunger Games in its infancy and witness a side to future-President Snow that you wouldn’t expect … A heart-stopping adrenaline rush that has you clamoring to reread the original series now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of this unexpected backstory!” -Bookseller Melissa Lavendier

2) A Burning, by Megha Majumdar
“A searing debut novel filled with characters who will live with you long after you turn the final page… the intensity of this story cannot be overstated. A Burning is the best book I’ve read so far this year!”  -Bookseller Sarah Coombs

3) Countdown 1945: The Extraordinary Story of the Atomic Bomb and the 116 Days That Changed the Worldby Chris Wallace
“Step into the shoes of President Truman and experience the most difficult 116 days in American history.  Albert Einstein said working on the atomic bomb was ‘the one great mistake in my life.’  Don’t let missing this book be yours.” -Bookseller Steven Kneeland

4) Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
“This brilliant novel starts out with a literal bang when a church deacon shoots a local drug dealer in 1969 Brooklyn. It’s a story that will captivate you until the very end. Hands down, one of the best books I’ve read this year.”  -Bookseller Tara Smart

5) Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad
“A must read—and ENGAGE—book and an invaluable tool for fully examining the tentacles of white privilege and for confronting our own, individual complicity in a racist culture.  Said is a firm, gentle, frank, and demanding guide on a journey to explain and drive home the full meaning of what it is to be antiracist.” -Book Buyer Sallye Leventhal


6) The One and Only Bob, by Katherine Applegate
“Another heartfelt and empowering novel from Katherine Applegate, it will enchant and delight the inner child in every reader.  Follow Bob along on his mission to save his long-lost sister with his best friends.  See Ivan again in this as he helps his friend, Bob, and root them on until the very last page.” -Bookseller

7) The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
“A beautiful history of how Churchill gave strength to the British people through times of great struggle and brought a country together.” -Bookseller Savanna Kessler

8) Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped is a book that should be in the hands of every teenager. This book is a call to action and is written with the intention of dismantling the racist prejudices that continue to plague our nation. It is educational, important and so very relevant.” -Bookseller Victoria Bartolo

9) Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
Untamed is another honest, moving and empowering book from Glennon Doyle. Her books feel like you’re having a conversation with just her, this one is no different.”            -Bookseller Sarah Smith

10)  The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
The Vanishing Half is an incredibly thought-provoking novel that touches on societal norms, gender constructs and racial inequality. Brit Bennett has given us a powerful, challenging and complex story that I absolutely recommend to anyone looking to understand racial prejudice and colorism.” -Bookseller Allison Osborn

Customers can find these titles at their local Barnes & Noble and on BN.com.

My Cubs: A Love Story by Scott Simon

Change is an important part of life says Scott Simon, now a devoted husband and father who at one time was
 happy being single and childless.

But for Simon, the award winning host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, there’s one change that’s just not going to happen. Enamored (or should we say obsessed) with the Chicago Cubs is a never ending constant.

“I can’t imagine not being a Cubs fan,” says Simon who grew up in Chicago and attended games with his father.  “I’ll be a Cubs fan until the hereafter. I’m convinced the Almighty God would say to me in heaven, I gave you a big test–like the trials of Abraham and that was the Cubs.”

After 108 years in the proverbial desert, Simon has written about this passion in his recently released (The Blue Rider Press, 2017; $23).

It didn’t occur to me that I’d ever write this book,” says Simon who like many of us thought our Cubbies would always find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

But their enduring losses weren’t because of a goat says Simon.

Sure, Cubs authorities kicked Billy Sianis and the baby goat he nursed back to health out of the box office seats that had cost him $7.20 during the 1945 World Series against Detroit. There was talk that the goat, named Murphy, smelled like a…well…goat. But the cops and the ushers had always accepted free drinks at the Sianis’s tavern which he’d renamed—in honor of his goat–the Billy Goat Tavern. Sianis was angry and for years told reporters he sent a telegram to Phil Wrigley reading “Who stinks now?” at the end of each season when the Cubs failed to make the Series.

But the real reason they didn’t play in the World Series for another 71 years has to do with racism.

“Historically, though it eventually got hung on the Sianis family but no one at the time thought that,” says Simon who when he was writing his book Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball learned that the Boston Red Sox had a chance to sign the Hall of Famer three months before the Brooklyn Dodgers added him to their roster in 1947. “Ernie Banks and Gene Baker didn’t come to the Cubs as their first black players until 1953. They could have signed some great players before that but they didn’t. So it wasn’t the Curse of the Billy Goat but the curse of not signing African Americans until later that made the Cubs lose.”

Simon isn’t sure if the Cubs will repeat their victory.

“I think the hardest thing to do is repeat a professional championship, everyone thinks they figured out how to beat you,” he says. “But the core of this team is signed and is very good. But, as anyone will tell you, only so much of what gets you to the World Series you realize there are so many unforeseen things that can happen like injuries is talent.”

Even if they don’t win—ever again—Simon won’t waiver in his devotion to his team.
“I would have continued to be a Cubs fan even if they never won,” he says. “And I will always be a Cubs fan not matter what.”

Ifyougo:

What: Scott Simon has several book signings in the Chicago area.

When & Where:

April 11 at 6 p.m.

The Seminary Co-op Bookstore

5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL

April 12 at 3:45 p.m.

Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Conference Center

130 East Randolph Street, First Floor,

Chicago, IL

April 12 at 7 p.m.

Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville

123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL

April 13 at 7 p.m.

Barnes and Noble

55 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL

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