Honestly, good riddance, 2020.
Despite this year being utterly insane and pretty much terrible for so many reasons, I managed to read quite a bit. Never has the word “escapism” meant quite so much to me.
I still tend to read a few genres most—fantasy, mythology, young adult—but I also tried some new things. I read more nonfiction than usual, listened to quite a few audiobooks, several graphic novels, and way more romcoms than I expected! Who knew that was a genre I’d like? Me from last year would be amazed.
And overall, I read so many excellent books this year! I typically build this list throughout the year, adjusting it as I read more. But in a real life plot twist, I found my top book back in March, and it never moved from that first position. The rest, though, are probably tied for third place, considering how many times I’ve changed the order of this list.
Note: This list features only books I read this year that were new to me, regardless of when they were published.
Michelle Obama; Memoir
This is an engaging account of Michelle Obama’s life, told with skill and a wonderful voice (literally, if you listen to the audiobook, which is excellent). It leaves you thinking, and even though I don’t typically read memoirs, I’m so glad to have read this one.
Nikita Gill; Poetry/Mythology
This beautiful collection of poems combines feminism and Greek mythology in an empowering, reflective, uplifting way. The re-interpretations of the original myths are excellent and the illustrations are stunning.
Kiku Hughes; Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction
This fascinating graphic novel tackles history, trauma, family, and memory all at once, tying all these together in a clever time travel story about a girl learning about both herself and those who came before her. It’s simply a fantastic story.
Susanna Clarke; Fantasy
Filled with mystery, atmosphere, and haunting storytelling, this novella left me reeling. It’s a fascinating odyssey through desolate halls, around dark corners, and within twisted memories. It’s strange and almost disorienting, but completely marvelous.
Elizabeth Acevedo; Young Adult/Novel in Verse
Acevedo’s third novel, her second one told in verse, is just as incredible, powerful, and emotional as her previous works. The two protagonists are brilliantly written, as is the story of grief, family, and sisterhood. Everyone should read this author.
Rick Riordan; Middle Grade Fantasy
Of course this one makes my list. Riordan’s nearly pitch-perfect concluding novel to this series is hilarious, heartfelt, exciting, and delightful. I adore the characters and the friendships, the adventure and the representation.
Casey McQuiston; Romance
I almost didn’t include this here, because it’s not to be published until June 2021 and it felt weird to count it on my 2020 list. However, since I loved the advance copy so much, I couldn’t not include it. This is a fantastic blend of romance and sci-fi, featuring humor, heart, and a love story that transcends time.
Jessica Townsend; Middle Grade Fantasy
This is a charming and magical adventure through a whimsical world. With excellent characters and a delightful universe, this is one of the most entertaining and impressive debut novels I’ve ever read, and the beginning of one of the best middle grade series out there.
TJ Klune; Fantasy
This is easily the most adorable book I read this year. The themes of acceptance and finding home are so sweet, and the characters are amazing. Full of magic, found family, and gentle love, this book is like a warm hug.
V. E. Schwab; Fantasy/Literature
I barely know how to sum up my feelings about this novel—it’s one of my favorite books of all time. Gorgeous prose, complex characters, a captivating plot all combine to make this tale of memory, inspiration, and art into a true masterpiece. I’ll remember this book, and Addie, forever.
And that’s all she read!
Some stats: I read 69 new-to-me titles this year, not counting rereading several old favorites. My current to-read list is, according to my StoryGraph account, 146 titles. That’s definitely a larger number than this time last year, but considering I read so much this year (more than 2019!), I’m not too bothered. It may be a losing battle, from a numbers perspective, but I’m having fun, and that’s all that matters!
In 2021, though, I plan to catch up as best I can on my ARCs, as well as delve into some exciting new releases and some books I’ve put off reading for too long! For instance, maybe I will finally read some of those really old ARCs that are collecting dust… We’ll see!
Happy New Year!