These aren't necessarily books that were published this year, though several were. They are books I've read, or in one case re-read, during 2020. It was hard to choose - like many people I've read more than usual during lockdown, and also I've begun listening to books on Audible, a new experience for me and one that now enables me to 'read' two books at once.
So: quite a few historical novels, a gripping thriller set in Oxford, one sci-fiction, six about the natural world and/or our relationships with it, one about reading and writing and one remarkable book about nearly everything! Three of the fiction titles are by good friends. About that I will say that I'd only choose books by friends if I thought they really were excellent reads, and these three most certainly are.
My Book of the Year, though, if I had to pick just one of these, is Maggie O'Farrell's brilliant HAMNET. That's the one I'm saving to re-read as a treat I know I'll enjoy just as much, and probably even more, on a second reading. It's such a superb imaginative feat, fleshing out what little is known of Anne Hathaway (or Agnes, as she is here), so utterly engaging and with rich detail of domestic life in Stratford and a glimpse of the London theatre. And a pitch-perfect ending.