The Best Books of 2020

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Azzedine Alaia Naomi Campbell Alasdair McLellan AnOther
Photography by Alasdair McLellan, Styling by Katy EnglandEstella is wearing a logo T-shirt and alpaca skirt

The AnOther editors reveal the books they’ve been enjoying this year, from a series discussions between creative luminaries on the subject of time to a masterful, haunting novel that weaves together the intimate stories of three women’s lives

Susannah Frankel, Editor-in-Chief

Taking Time: Conversations Across A Creative Community by Azzedine Alaïa
“All the incredible voices and minds included – from Jonathan Ive to Julian Schnabel and from Robert Wilson to Isabelle Huppert – talk about this vast subject from completely different starting points and perspectives and their ideas are more musings – elliptical, gentle, non-prescriptive - which seems right for now. Also, the meaning of time has changed quite dramatically over the past year – things have necessarily slowed down. Finally, of course, it is so poignant that this is Mr Alaia’s own creative community and that he is no longer here with us. I’m glad this project, which I remember him telling me about a long time ago, was realised.”

Alexander Fury, Fashion Features Director

À rebours by Joris-Karl Huysmans
“I’ve been re-reading Joris-Karl Huysmans’ À rebours – a novel focusing on a shut-in who over-indulges in decadence until it makes him physically ill. Sounds pretty on-brand for 2020. But honestly, the sensory description packed into that book is so overwhelming, it’s always an amazing if slightly exhausting read. I also re-read Madame Bovary, which I don’t do often enough.”

Katie Shillingford, Fashion Director (Women’s)

The Tyranny of Merit by Michael J Sandel
“I’m in the middle of reading this and I’m generally interested in everything Michael has to say right now – I’ve also watched a lot of YouTube videos of his Justice lecture series from Harvard. For a bit of light relief I have also really enjoyed reading The Hobbit with my eight-year-old daughter at bedtime. I never read it as a child and I’ve been surprised how I much I’ve loved it. Often she will fall asleep but I read another chapter anyway!”

Ellie Grace Cumming, Fashion Director (Men’s)

Francis Bacon / Antoine d’Agata
“Two of my favourite artists – Antoine, who I very happily call a friend, and my ultimate, Francis Bacon – together in a special book. This edition comes with prints, too.”

Sophie, Editor

The Dream House by Carmen Marcia Machado
“I loved Carmen Marcia Machado’s haunting and masochistic memoir The Dream House, which came out at the very beginning of the year. But to risk espousing one of many 2020 cliches, I’ve found it hard to read much longform work this year. However my sporadic deliveries of The New Yorker and its short stories – especially Emma Cline and George Saunders’ – have been keeping me going. Sophie Mackintosh’s very visceral Barracuda (not printed in The New Yorker) also stayed with me for some time.”

Hannah Lack, Managing Editor

The Sound Mirror by Heidi James
“The language in Heidi James’s new book The Sound Mirror is so electrifying I kept re-reading sentences for the sheer pleasure of hearing the syllables resonate. It’s a masterful, haunting novel that weaves together the intimate stories of three women’s lives to examine how shame and trauma echoes down the generations – part mystery novel, part brilliant philosophical meditation, brimming with ideas.”