Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Show Us Your Books: 15 Favorite Reads of 2020

Welcome to favorite reads of 2020! This linkup is a favorite every year. I definitely pick up about five books I missed throughout the year or that didn’t sound good to me the first time someone mentioned them lol. So make sure you read through everyone’s lists! 

I’ve written ad nauseam at this point  about how different this year was for me in regards to reading - how I lost the ability to lose myself in a book for much of a year due to lack of focus, how what held my attention was so different than it would be in other years. I just want to crawl out of this year and into the next, with the full knowledge that very little will change at the turn of the year, like any other year. But I have hope that I will consistently sink into books again without having to have the exact right chemistry of mood, world temperature of the day, a consistent return of focus, and the right book to capture my attention. 

You can see my favorite reads of 2019 here. In the numbers compared to other years- I am at 112 books read (will probably add another). 163 around this time in 2019, 137 in 2018, 157 in 2017, 124 in 2016, and 104 in 2015. Even though it seems like it, I’m not far off of what I usually read some years. The feeling of it is hugely different most of the time and the number of books is arbitrary and not important to me. The ease of getting lost in a book is and I want it back. As a matter of housekeeping the next regular Show Us Your Books linkup is Tuesday, January 12, 2021. 

I'm surprised to reach the end of this year and find I had more than three favorite reads. That's the kind of year it was. Would all of these have made the list in other, regular years? Probably not. I did not include some excellent books that I read this year - books that I recognize as important (Hood Feminism or Untamed) or truly well done (Valentine, Blacktop Wasteland), but were unable to capture me completely. I had to truly sink into the book and forget about the world for it to appear on this list this year. I applied those parameters to books I read before March 16 too. In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2020:

Long Bright River by Liz Moore - A contemporary book set in Philly, a mystery with female leads, the opioid crisis which is an every day conversation in our house, and the author uses the title of the book in the first 40 pages? How could I not love this. I was sucked in and couldn't put it down. This is my favorite read of the year.       

Writers & Lovers by Lily King - This is a writer’s book and a reader’s book, a little raw, a little 70s (though not set there), a little throwbackish, a little meandering, and I loved it. 

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker - I'm not a romancey person, but I am an Alaska person, despite having never been there. I really enjoyed this book after the main character got over her Schitts Creek early Alexis self. 

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson - Everything you think you know or believe about the justice system and race and the death penalty, set it down outside of yourself and read this. It's not preachy or overly technical, it's just showing us the workings of the systemic machine and the human beings in it. My heart is in my throat when I even think about this book. 

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben - How do I love Harlan Coben, let me count the ways. One, I can absolutely always sink into one of his books, global pandemic be damned. Two, his characters make appearances in other books. Hester Crimstein here. Love love love.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett - The writing was excellent as was the story. Bennett is on my must read list. She wrote something on the bathroom wall? Move over, let me read it.  

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper - This was excellent. Fucked up and excellent.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand - I am not an Elin groupie but man I loved this book. I read it in 24 hours and the end had my throat working like crazy.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown - I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn't know much about it, it was one I bought early on in quarantine to reach the ships with $35 orders threshold for some food items I couldn't find in any stores from Target online. I really liked it. I was sucked in, the pace was great, and the story was good. 

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson - I loved this book. As an adult reading this YA novel, I liked thinking about how we set up mentorships that maybe don't always give mentees what they actually want or need. 

A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight - This is all over the place for a reason. I know a lot of people are out there pooh poohing this like the expectation is that it is Shakespeare when it clearly is not, nor is it meant to be. What it is is quick and interesting. Quick and interesting are my gold standard this year. 

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley - This is a good example of this year's favorite reads being what keep me reading through and despite. Lucy Foley's books are problematic in many ways but they are absolutely readable for me even as the world burns around me. 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi - Gyasi's Homegoing has sat in my stomach like a stone since I read it in 2017. Her writing is superb, and the complete difference in this book and that is a mark of that. Fans of Homegoing, do not expect another one of those. This is a good book in its own right, and the writing on addiction from a family member is spot on. 

The Searcher by Tana French - This took me a while to read, all of her books do, but I loved it. It's probably my second favorite of hers aside from the first book in the Dublin Murder series. 

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain - This is probably the novel that cements me as a Paula McLain fangirl. It is different than what I've read from her previously but I loved it straight out. It's a mystery/thriller, but the writing was wonderful, almost lyrical in spots, which is not always the case in mystery/thrillers as those of use who read a lot of them know. Free advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review - book publishes April 13, 2021

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