Well, a year like no other… that applies to my reading too. I had set myself a target of 50 books this year and ended up exceeding that in the summer. This was definitely a result of lockdown reading which, in itself, was a strange combo of excessively immersing myself in the world of a book and not being able to read at all for weeks.
What I read changed a lot too: I made a conscious effort to diversify the types of books I read, I dipped into more classics than I have in previous years, my love of Gothic was cemented and I got a lot more ruthless about not finishing a book if it really wasn’t doing it for me…
In early August, I took a little look at my favourite books from 2020 (so far) and SOME of those have held onto their top spots… so, without further ado, here are…
My Books of the Year 2020
In no particular order, all published this year. These were the novels I read that I still think about regularly. They all made a huge impact on me and are, of course, exquisitely written.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This is one of the most fascinating and thought-provoking books I’ve read this year. Stella and Desiree Vignes are identical twins, born in Mallard, Louisiana. It is a town of light-skinned black people, so light-skinned that when the twins are teenagers, Stella chooses to pass as white. Desiree does not.
The complex, yet never confusing, narrative layers unravel at a satisfying pace, to the point that it’s almost impossible to stop reading until you turn that very last page. One of my most recommended books this year! Buy your very own copy of The Vanishing Half.
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
My emotional big-hitter, I adored this story of a reporter covering an alleged virgin birth and the realisations for all characters that came with that. South-East London, where I live, also features a lot in it, so that local element added enjoyment for me too. Extra points for its beautiful cover – I would happily frame that and hang it on my wall. Get your copy of Small Pleasures here.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
You know when you read a book at just the right moment? 2020 has, no doubt, been an up-and-down year for so many people. I’ve felt myself truly living that Coronacoaster and sometimes, on a low day, things were tough. It was on one of these days that I picked up The Midnight Library and any book that can combine a wonderful, engaging story with concepts that help you positively shift the way you are thinking about things while also making your heart swell is a truly special find indeed.
We meet lead character Nora Seed at a pivotal moment in her life; a series of events climax in her taking an overdose. This is when she finds herself in the midnight library, where she gets the opportunity to live a different version of her life and see alternative endings. A brilliant, hopeful book that tackles mental health head on. Buy The Midnight Library here.
I have three other honourable mentions, not necessarily published in 2020, but I read them all this year and thoroughly enjoyed them:
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie
The Body in the Library sticks in my mind as, after a bit of dud-run of Agathas, this book once again captured everything I love about the Queen of Crime and cemented her as my go-to comfort read author during this pandemic.
Wakenhyrst and The Mercies and are both stories that sucked me in immediately and I was sad to leave the worlds they created. Excellent storytelling in the Gothic and historical fiction (with a dash of witchcraft) genres respectively.
A non fiction education:
Two books really jumped out at me from my non-fiction reads this year:
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
To say Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race was eye-opening would be an understatement. It highlighted the gaps in my knowledge, educated me so eloquently, was just so powerful and so necessary to read. It’s not a passive book that you move on from. It’s a call to action, asking you to play your part in dismantling institutionalised racism and I’m 100% ready to do that. See what I mean with your own copy, here.
Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink
My TBR increased excessively after reading Dear Reader, Cathy Rentzenbrink makes so many great recommendations, this really was like having a great chat with a bookish friend – about books, obviously – with the added interest that Cathy has an exceptionally bookish career trajectory too. Snap up your copy of Dear Reader here.
So there you have it! My books of the year 2020 – what do you think of my choices? Have you read them too?