It might not be an author’s first choice to publish a book during a pandemic, but nevertheless an astonishing number of Islanders (and Island-lovers) wrote and published books this year, much to our benefit.

Awards and rave reviews flowed in: Jennifer Smith Turner’s Child Bride won best fiction e-book for 2020 by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and BiblioBoard. Skip Finley’s Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy was the 2020 Nonfiction Regional History Winner in the International AAHGS (African-American Historical and Genealogical Society) Book Awards. Alice C. Early’s The Moon Always Rising won the 2020 Indie Excellence Award for Women’s Fiction, plus two other awards.

You can check out the big roster of Island-penned and -themed books published in 2020 in the impressive list below. Any would make a good holiday gift.

For more holiday ideas, we also asked Molly Coogan, manager of Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven, for suggestions. She pointed to a few new titles coming out this fall, starting with the first volume of Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land, just published on November 17.

From another long-time favorite Vineyard author and illustrator, Susan Branch, comes a charming childhood tale called Home for Christmas. Two other gift books (from non-Island authors) that Molly recommends are The Backyard Birdwatcher’s Bible by Paul Sterry, a beautiful and practical book that will appeal to both experienced bird watchers and novices, and a handsome new hardcover edition of The New York Times bestselling Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

2020 Vineyard Books

In Praise of Protected Lands and Special Places
 on Martha’s Vineyard
, by Tess Bramhall

Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, by Nicholas Basbanes

Home for Christmas, by Susan Branch

Old Enough: How 18-Year-Olds Won the Vote & Why it Matters, by Sheri J. Caplan

Everybody Lies, by Emily Cavanagh

Martha’s Vineyard Burning: A Tragicomic Memoir of Drugs, Sex, and Arson, by David Duarte and Ginger Martin

The Fellowship of the Rain, by Amarylis Douglas

Ghosts of Martha’s Vineyard, by Thomas Dresser

The Rise of Tourism on Martha’s Vineyard,  by Thomas Dresser

The Moon Always Rising, by Alice C. Early

Whaling Captains of Color: America’s First Meritocracy, by Skip Finley

Genus Americanus: Hitting the Road in Search of America’s Identity
, by Loren Ghiglione, Alyssa Karas and Dan Tham

Vintage Postcards from the African World: In the Dignity of Their Work and the Joy of Their Play, 
by Jessica B. Harris

Skipping Stones: The Oil War of Hypersonics, by Chris Knowles

Show Me a Sign, by Ann Clare LeZotte

No Truth Left to Tell, by Michael McAuliffe

Connecticut River Shipbuilding, by Ruth Major and Wick Griswold

Paucartambo: A Midlife Adventure from Martha’s Vineyard to Peru
, by Shirley Mayhew

1774: The Long Year of Revolution
, by Mary Beth Norton

A Promised Land, by Barack Obama

The Berth: American Themes in Poems and Images
, by Fan Ogilvie

Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons
, by Barbara Peckham

Light Headed in the Dark Ages, by Arnie Reisman

Vinland the Good, Ancient Vineyard’s Unexplored Past, by Jonathan Scott

Someone Else’s Secret, by Julia Spiro

Rules for Moving, by Nancy Star

Child Bride, by Jennifer Smith Turner