The Best Philosophical Fiction Books of 2020

Welcome to the annual addendum to my roundup list of The 105 Best Philosophical Novels. In order to keep that list up-to-date, I release annual rankings of the best philosophical fiction books published each year. Here are the best philosophical fiction books of 2020 based on curated lists from The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and more, suggestions from readers on Goodreads, and ratings on Goodreads and Amazon.

To complement these rankings, I have created two pieces of bonus content:

  1. Philosophical fiction recommendations from thirteen contemporary philosophical fiction authors like Rebecca Goldstein, Daniel Quinn and Khaled Hosseini.
  2. A one-page PDF shopping guide to the complete list of The Best Philosophical Novels.

You can access both of these free resources using the form below. And now, on with The Best Philosophical Fiction Books of 2020!

4. How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

During the California Gold Rush, two Chinese immigrant children set off into the wilderness to bury their father in this novel that blends Chinese symbolism and reimagined history. Zhang’s debut was named one of The New York Times best fiction books of the year and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

3. Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

A family of four escapes New York City for a vacation rental home on Long Island, only to have the purported owners of the house arrive in a panic, claiming that a sudden blackout has engulfed the city. Leave the World Behind was a finalist for the National Book Award and listed by The Guardian as one of the best crime and thriller novels of the year.

Cover images of the best philosophical fiction books of 2020

2. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

In the seemingly infinite labyrinthine House, Piranesi joins the mysterious Other in search of “A Great and Secret Knowledge.” But Piranesi’s quest to understand the world in which he lives is upended when a new living being points to a sinister truth about the Other. Clarke’s first novel in sixteen years was a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist in Fantasy and named one of The Guardian’s best fiction books of 2020.

1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Faced with a monumental life decision, a woman visits a library beyond the edge of the universe that contains an infinite number of books, each of which is the story of an alternate reality. This Goodreads Choice Award winner in Fiction was also selected by Amazon as one of the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year.