Between the endless Zoom meetings and Netflix binges of 2020, the Christmas holidays bring a slowdown of sorts and the opportunity to crack open a book.
Between the endless Zoom meetings and Netflix binges of 2020, the Christmas holidays bring a slowdown of sorts and the opportunity to crack open a book.

The best beach reads of 2020

Between the endless Zoom meetings and Netflix binges of 2020, the Christmas holidays bring a slowdown of sorts and the opportunity to crack open a book and watch the world go by. Here, some of our favourites - past and present.

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For the Australian lit fan: Honeybee by Craig Silver ($32.99)

The best-selling author of Jasper Jones returns with yet another an achingly mesmeric coming of age tale.

For the global politics junkie: A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

The two-term American President looks back on what is surely one of the 21st Century's most remarkable lives with candour, insight and trademark cool.

For the Australian politics devotee: Sex, Lies And Question Time by Kate Ellis.

Want to know what it's like to a female politician in the 21st Century? You won't get a more up close, personal and sometimes disturbing look than the one provided by this former PM.

For the environmentalist: A Life On Our Planet by David Attenborough

International treasure, TV host and proto-greenie lays out a cogent vision for the future on turning around environmental destruction and why that matters for generations to come.

For the history buff: Troy by Stephen Fry

Possibly the world's most erudite man breathes inimitable life into one of the greatest tales of ancient and all times. If only school history was this riveting.

For the comedy zealot: Truths From An Unreliable Witness by Fiona O'Loughlin.

As unflinching as it is funny, this a memoir that both sears and tickles. No wonder its subtitle is 'finding laughter in the darkest places.'

For the made-you-think novel fan: The Book Of Two Worlds by Jodi Picoult.

You don't sell this many books by accident and this latest outing by one of the world's most entrancing contemporary writers tackles the huge subject of unfinished business in life with grace and depth.

For young readers: Code Name Bananas by David Walliams.

A tale set in the London Zoo with an 11-year-old hero, a daring gorilla rescue and Nazi spies? Yes please.

For music types: Boy On Fire by Mark Mordue.

One of Australia's best scribes turns his talents to the life of the young Nick Cave - a genuine Australian icon in era where that word is all too often abused.

For foodies: My Dining Hell by Jay Rayner.

Subtitled 'twenty ways to have a lousy night out' this is not a new title - it come out five years ago - but if you love the schadenfreude of a restaurant critic hating on pretension Rayner is your man. Few do bitter exasperation bitter.

For the whodunnit crew: Oranges & Lemons by Christopher Fowler.

You don't have to have read detective Bryant and May's 16 previous outings to feast on this one, but once you get a taste of these witty curmudgeons you'll keep going back for more.

For satire audiences: Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen

This biting lampoon of a buffoon of an American president and his beautiful but distant model wife is part crime caper, part indictment of the United States in a pandemic. Throw in some seriously scary snakes and you have the kind of read you'll be feigning headaches to stay in a devour.

For memoir mavens: Idiot by Laura Clery.

Look closely at this shot and you'll see the rollers are actually empty beer cans. Welcome to the funny, warped but by turns gut-punchingly real world of a woman who found fame with highly inappropriate internet sketches and is nowhere near done yet.

For the poetry stalwarts: Home Body by Rupi Kaur.

Anyone who says poetry is a dying art has clearly never read Kaur. This third anthology shimmers with tiny statements of huge proportions. Magnificent.

For the office joker: Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld.

Twenty five years of notebooks have been distilled into this almost 500 pages of what would clearly be described by Kenny Bania as 'gold, Jerry gold'.

For those in search of inspiration: Rising Heart by Aminata Conteh-Biger with Juliet Ridden.

As a teenager refugee suffering unimaginable trauma in Sierra Leone, Conteh-Biger arrived in Australia to create a new life. She did so with passion, purpose and a drive which eventually saw her return to help women in her homeland deliver their babies in safety. A brilliant reality check for the privileges many of us take for granted.

For dark indie lit appreciators: Take Me Apart by Sara Sliger.

Romance, mystery and suspense that's tight as your hamstrings when you finally return to the gym coalesce in this novel which effortlessly balances entertainment with some enormous questions about the burden of the past.

For language lovers: Far and Away by AA Gill.

Described as 'by miles the most brilliant journalist of our age' this second posthumous collection is the literary equivalent of a three Michelin star degustation for your brain. Quite simply, no one has done it better. Or will.

See also:

-21 must-do travel experiences for 2021

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-12 dreamy outdoor baths worth travelling for

-These Aussie staycations have never looked so alluring

-Perfect hotel pools and where to find them

Originally published as The best beach reads of 2020