It’s getting close to the end of the year, which always means looking back and reminiscing about the events and happenings. Like the memes all mention, 2020 felt like the entire decade of events happened in one year.
But I think the one saving grace of the entire year was my love for books. With books, staying home didn’t feel too hard. Luckily, as readers, we don’t mind an entire weekend of reading. However, the novelty of having every weekend free until the foreseeable future messed with my head a bit. I definitely felt the anxiety about our future and I definitely felt that “when will this end?” So I’m glad books are in my life and I can spend my time reading.
This year, I read 98 books, over 34,000 pages, from across different authors, stories, and worlds. Just a few books shy of my yearly 100-book goal, but at the same time I kind of don’t care. I went into this year with a lot of different goals and challenges for myself and ended up just being a slug on the couch. I think it’s safe to say that this is the year for that kind of thing. But, I did find read some incredible books, found new authors I adore, and read much more into the sci-fi and fantasy genres than I have in years past.
I’m going to say it right now. 2020 sucked, but at least my reading life was profound. Here’s the books I loved in 2020. There’s 21 of them and I’m not even going to try to distill this down to a specific number because they were all great and I’m not a huge fan of trying to determine a top 10. Each of these books had something incredible to offer the readers, so I decided to write one sentence about each about why I loved it. I hope you enjoy!
The Unspoken Name by AK Larkwood: ORCS! F/F love story, but ORCS! I never see orcs used as the main content of a book. They’re usually the villains, but reading this one definitely excited me and being a dark fantasy was also a nice touch.
My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame: A book that made me cry! This manga series was two volumes, but I ended up reading it in one sitting. I was so emotional at the end.
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: I always describe this book as Top Gun in space! As a YA series, Brandon Sanderson really nailed the tone and there were some really funny lines in this one. I will always be a fan of doomslug as well.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: My first Becky Chambers and it was perfection! I love a good space opera, but with a ragtag team of misfits who somehow come together to save the universe is totally my thing too. If you’re a fan of Firefly, then you’ll really love this.
To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers: This book was my second Becky Chambers, but also I loved the themes and the ending. It most definitely made me cry.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab: Do I need to say anything about this one? Incredible writing, lovely story, and I love the play on “the muse” character.
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire: I’m now a huge Seanan McGuire fan because of this book. I want to read everything she’s written. This book has alchemy, chess, twins, science fiction, fantasy, everything you ever wanted. It’s super complex and kind of confusing, but still so interesting and satisfying.
The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P Djeli Clark: This one made me a fan of P Djeli Clark! I love alternate realities and this one dives into an alternate Cairo with an interesting murder mystery and a ton of fantasy elements. I cannot wait for his full-length book within this world coming out next year.
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders: My first Charlie Jane Anders and it was so good. I love dissection of different worlds and how those worlds play out with each other. Most definitely enjoyed it.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: My favorite lesbian necromancers. It’s super dark and the story has so many twists and turns. You’ll be scratching your head for a while, but at the end it’s completely worth it.
The City We Became by NK Jeminsin: What if cities were people and they needed to fight against a greater power threatening to destroy humanity as we know it? What if each of New York’s boroughs were represented by the people who actually lived in them. This book explores not only magical themes in the real world, but also dives into the racial injustices we see everyday. Plus, it’s a great love letter to New York City.
An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir: Yes, the entire series. It’s probably the first series in a very long time where I was so excited for the next book and had my jaw on the floor. I’m so glad I got into this series this year. I read the books slowly, one a month until the final book released. And I have to say that Sabaa Tahir is one of the most brutal authors I’ve ever read. This is a good thing because I haven’t seen an author be this ruthless with their characters in a really long time. Bravo on this series! I can’t wait to read what Sabaa will be publishing next!
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown: I absolutely loved this one. It was filled with blood magic, princesses with power and dreams, a young guy looking for his stolen sister, and their relationship to either fall in love or kill each other. I love stories like this so much and I cannot wait for the second book to finally come out.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: This book was the biggest bear hug from a best friend you can ever get. I treasure this story and the young folks who are portrayed in it. It discusses being different, having lost family at an early age, and the power of finding a new family. It most definitely made me cry at multiple moments.
Lobizona by Romina Garber: This was my surprise story of the year. I didn’t know what to expect when reading this, but I was so surprised that it didn’t get the kind of love it deserves. It discusses undocumented citizens in many ways than one, finding your family, yourself, and where you belong. It’s most definitely a YA filled with its regular tropes, but I didn’t mind any of that because the story was that good. I highly recommend if you’re a fan of magical schools, werewolves, and brujas!
Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: Speaking of magic, Cemetery Boys was such a sweet story about a boy trying to prove himself as a brujo to his family after coming out as trans. Of course, things work a little too well and our main character is stuck with the ghost of another boy following him around. While he tries to figure out how to save his new ghostly friend, our main character also discovers his own ability, defies the strict gender-based rules of his family’s culture, and falls in love.
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: The second book in the Stormlight Archive. OMG, I think with every book I read from Brandon Sanderson, I fall in love with his world a little bit more. I can most definitely see me devouring the rest of the Cosmere in the future.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter: If I had a top 5 list of favorite books of the year, this will most definitely be on it. OMG, this book was so good with a hero’s journey, the chosen one, but also a lot of heart and loss. I love stories like this and I cannot wait to get into the second book next year.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: This is my first book by Rebecca Roanhorse and wow, I was totally in love with it. Seriously, this was way different from any of the other stories I’ve read and it’s filled with Pre-Columbian folklore that was way worth the read. We read this one for book club and I have to admit, it was one of my favorites of the year.
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan: I finally started the Wheel of Time and I’m so glad I did. The first book in the series was interesting for sure. I loved all the characters and enjoyed the homage to The Fellowship of the Ring in the beginning of the novel. As you get into the rest of the story, then it starts to diverge and that’s when I started to really get into it. I think this series will definitely be appearing on my TBR next year.
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson: I’m so glad to finish this year with another Brandon Sanderson novel. This will make my third Brandon Sanderson of the year and I don’t think I’ll be stopping. This story really impressed me especially with its magical systems and characters. I will most definitely be finishing this series next year.