At the time of writing this, I’ve read 124 books in 2020. I’ve DNFd and gotten rid of a ton of books on my shelf but I’ve also read so many amazing books this year (31 FIVE-STAR reads!) and I wanted to take some time to talk about and celebrate (and persuade you to read) some of the best books I read this year. I’ll be breaking this down by genre and then I’m going to *try* to pick a favorite book for the year. This will probably be a longer post so let’s go!
I know there can be an argument that this book is historical but most people seem to have it shelved as “contemporary” on Goodreads so I’m going for it. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi made me think and it broke my heart. This book opens with a woman in Nigeria finding her son’s body wrapped in fabric outside her door. Emezi then takes you on a journey to find out what happened also explores the ways grief impacts the people close to Vivek. It also discusses being queer in world that isn’t kind or even accepting to people in the LGBTQ+ community. This short book packs so much emotion and it’s something that has stuck with me since August and I think it will stick with me for a while.
I’ve always been really picky about the fantasy I pick up and sci-fi doesn’t usually do it for me but when I read The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, something clicked. This book is difficult to explain but it takes place in a world where there is sometimes a fifth season that has the potential to destroy the world. A fifth season is upon our characters and Essun has just found her son who has been murdered and her husband and daughter are gone. I’m a sucker for interesting narrative structure and I can’t explain how this one works without spoiling it but once things started to come together towards the end, I was BLOWN AWAY. Please check this out. The characters are complex and interesting and I’m so excited to continue the series in January.
This book had me up at 5 A.M. staring at the wall because I was broken. Monday’s Not Coming is the first book I read by Tiffany D. Jackson but it will not be my last. This book follows Claudia who is incredibly upset because her best friend is missing and no one seems to care. This books jumps back and forth in time so you get to see Claudia and Monday’s friendship as well as Claudia trying to solve the mystery of where her friend went. I thought that it was fairly apparent what happened to Monday but I still wasn’t prepared to read that particular reveal. I had to put the book down for a minute and just process it. There is another reveal after that which is pretty shocking and makes the narrative structure make sense. If you do pick this up, I would suggest checking out the trigger warnings, for sure because it’s pretty dark.
I don’t read a lot of romance. In the past, I’ve never even really cared about romance subplots in other genres but this year, I have a bit more interest in romance. This year, I only read a few straight-up romances but my favorite has to be Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. This book follows Dani who is a PhD student and teaches college English. When a video of her being carried out of the building she works in by Zafir, the security guard, they decide to capitalize on the situation to help the charity Zafir runs. What really made this stand out for me was how much I related to Dani. I finished my MA this year and teach college English. I also tend to overwork and have a hard time not feeling guilty about relaxing – I just really got how Dani felt. In addition to the personal connections I felt with the book, I also just thought the anxiety rep was well done and I think Zafir and Dani have such a cute relationship. The pining was *chef’s kiss.*
This is easy. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was one of those books I accidentally flew through. I was reading the ebook from my library and didn’t know how much was left and then it was over in less than 48 hours. This book has serious Fleetwood Mac vibes and follows Daisy Jones and her bandmates, The Six and is told in an interview format. I used to watch a ton of VH1 classic as a kid and devoured tons of documentaries and books about music history even if I didn’t care much about the music and this was totally reminiscent of that time in my life. I love the messiness and the drama and the heartbreak that came with this story. I also just think the atmosphere and setting are perfect. I already want to read it again now that I own a physical copy.
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. No contest. I read this for a queer theory class this year and quickly fell in love. This is a graphic novel that talks about Alison Bechdel’s relationship with her father and navigating what her being queer means in the context of their relationship. I love reading about family relationships especially when they aren’t perfect. This, of course, gave me that. Additionally, I loved Bechdel’s references to literature and theory as a way to understand her relationship with her father. I don’t think you need to know the references to enjoy it but it did enhance my reading experience. I also think every single picture in the graphic novel is so intentional and can be analyzed and dissected to add to the story. There’s so much to look at and think about. Additionally, I just want to share this song from the Fun Home musical adaptation because it’s phenomenal.
This is such a difficult decision and it really came down to The Fifth Season and Fun Home but I think I’m going to have to go with Fun Home. I think about it all the time and I read it all the way back in February. It’s a story that’s really stuck with me.
I read so many amazing books and want to just mention My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel, These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab as some other books I absolutely loved this year.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my favorite books from this year and I hope you’ll check out some of them. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Come chat with me!