RB Writes: Our Best Books of 2020.

Hoping for a book for Christmas? Take a look at our guide to some of the best from 2020.

The weather is dank and fairy lights are twinkling away brightening up windows and trees. Christmas is coming! Time to hunker down with a blooming good read and take a look at our guide to the best books from 2020.


What better time than Christmas, to take a graveyard journey of discovery…

All those people all those lives where are they now? The Smiths asked us in Cemetry Gates. I guess Morrissey, like Peter Ross the author of Tomb with A View is a fully fledged taphophile. At times humorous, at times sober, in this examination of life and death, Ross, without the need for coin to pay Charon, takes us on an engaging, and informative odyssey around Britain’s graveyards, paying tribute to our long and often forgotten dead. There are many hidden gems tucked away, such as the grave commemorating the first woman in Britain to be killed by a tiger – Hannah Twyonny in 1703. In case you’re wondering.

We think of death as the great leveller, but some corpses are more equal than others, as the victim’s of York’s cholera outbreak in 1832 will testify. Cast out of the city walls and forever condemned to be passed over by the tourist hordes that descend upon York ad infinitum. Ross weaves these stories together and produces a Bayeux History tapestry of lives led out on our shared island. So pull up a seat under the yew tree, push away the Ivy and discover why David Bowie is the patron saint of London’s outcasts . A humorous and fascinating read. The Financial Times chose this as one of its top books of 2020.


Raynor Winn follows up her highly successful debut The Salt Path with The Wild Silence. It looks at the aftermath to her previous adventures and also takes a look at Winn’s rural childhood.

Fake Law: the Truth About Justice in the Age of Lies is the follow up to the 2018 debut from the Secret Barrister. We are taken gently by the hand, to expose how our collective lack of legal knowledge leaves us vulnerable to media projections and fake news. Told with wit and panache, it is also a timely read; the crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic that our criminal justice system faces, is woefully underreported. Eye-opening

All these people. All these lives…

If you have an Arsenal FC fan in your life, you will be familiar with their habit of nose tapping whilst stating sagely. “Arsene knows.” Those halcyon days began back in 1996 when Arsene, the revolutionary French manager brought his concept of total football, total nutrition and a total no booze culture to the English league. The Arsene days are (sadly) gone but his biography, Arsene: my life in red and white gives a fascinating account of how this owlish man steered Arsenal FC to unmatched success . In his recent desert island discs appearance, he revealed a naughty streak, admitting he relaxes nowadays by watching other managers suffer. Tut tut Arsene.

More Life Stories.

Another heavyweight, political this time released this first volume in his eagerly awaited Presidential memoirs in 2020. Barack Obama A Promised Land tells us of his unforeseen and inexorable odyssey from a young lawyer dipping his toes into the world of American politics to being leader of the free world.

MY NAME IS WHY by Lemn Sessay shines a light on the care system that raised him. This is a voice for all children, like him, who were exposed to the most brutal of beginnings. At the age of 16 Norman Greenwood is given his birth certificate. He learned his real name was not Norman but Lemn Sessay and this his mother had been pleading for his return since his birth. A Beautiful and heartbreaking read. “The most amazing thing about this book is that it’s not made up. It actually happened.” Benjamin Zephaniah. It is available here.


Niki Mackay is fast becoming Surrey’s Queen of Crime. Her third novel, Found Her, was published earlier this year, under the name NJ Mackay. It is her first standalone novel, following her previous two titles which feature private investigator Madison Attallee .

I, Witness, set in Kingston Upon Thames, is the first Madison Attallee book. Six years ago Kate Reddy was jailed for the murder of her best friend, except, she didn’t do it. Following her release, she secures the services of Madison to clear her name and attempt to find out who did it and who set her up. Full of twists and turns and told from the POV of several characters. It will, as all good thrillers should, keep you guessing.

For more thrills and spills…

A Song For the Dark Times, the 23rd novel featuring John Rebus. In this, he must track down his daughters missing partner. There is a reason these novels are so successful. Ian Rankin is the master, his writing superb.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton is a tense, nail biting account of the unthinkable; a rural Somerset School under siege, an injured headmaster, students and teachers barricaded into classrooms as the police desperately try to identify the gunman and parents gather for news.


One library, infinite lives.

Any book featuring a library and librarians shoots to the top of my ‘must read’. An added bonus? Matt Haig, author of The Midnight Library is a genius, his books sprinkled with kindness and gentleness. This is a brilliant take on the familiar ‘sliding door’ scenario but infinitley more touching. Nora is full of regret. Finding herself in the Midnight Library, she is given a second chance by the books, the chance to put right all her regrets, put things right and to live her life differently.

Soon, her choices place her and the library in danger. Can she answer the ultimate question before time runs out: What is the best way to live? and how do we reconcile ourselves to regret and loss.

A gorgeously written comfort blanket of a book that never tips into being mawkish or sentimental.


The Girl with The Louding Voice by Abi Dare. Adunni a 14 year old from Nigeria is already married. Her life mapped out for her but Adunni is determined to find her ‘louding voice’ , get educated and stick up for herself and the girls who came before and after. Adunni is captivating. A mesmerising debut.

Starve Acre, a Waterstones Book of the Month and BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime. Starve Acre was to be a home, instead Richard and Juliette are in deep mourning for their 5 year old son. Grief and trying to keep the memory of their son alive sets them on different paths. The hope unleashing an evil. A modern English folk story, that makes full use of its creepy, rural moorland setting.

All titles available from Waterstones, Amazon and other good booksellers. Reigate and Banstead Writes was established in 2017 to promote children’s writing. We showcase Surrey writers and is the proud home to Tales from our Towns, that takes a sideways look at life.

Contact Kay Hymas: reigateandbansteadwrites@gmail.com for more information.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.