Unsurprisingly, last year I read more books than I have in any recent year. I blame nine months of rarely leaving the house, long baths, coming across great book series/new authors I'm OBSESSED with and not leaving the house again. I read some truly great books in 2020, and spent a whole lot of time recommending things over and over again to my friends and family. Obviously not all of my ten are in the pic above, mostly because a whole bunch are kindle books! Without further ado, here are my top 10 favourite books of 2020 in order with number 1 being my absolute top tier fave:
10.) Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. This was one of the very few classics I read, and also one of only a few re-reads I did. I first read this as a GCSE student and I LOVED coming back to it. Hardy novels are so full of beautiful scene-making descriptions, drama and he remains one of my favourite authors. With Bathsheba's many proposals, murder, scandal and dramatic farming scenes at its heart (can we just mention the trauma of the sheep and the cliff?), this is a book that I can see myself coming back to time and time again in the future. Now all I need to do is find a really pretty edition of it.
9.) Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I'm not usually a fan of short stories - I struggle to connect with the characters most of the time and they really lose me. BUT. This book made up of them was great. The book consists of 12 stories, each about a different womxn, and they are all connected in some way, and you discover how as the chapter goes on. It gives a slightly different perspective to other stories, and I enjoyed this interwoven nature of the book.
8.) Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. I'm not a big memoir reader, but this was what I needed at the start of 2020. I listen to the My Favourite Murder podcast almost every day and would really recommend this to fans of the podcast. Karen and Georgia take a set of different topics/aspects of their lives and each dedicate a chapter to it, giving it their own take. The book made me genuinely laugh out loud but also genuinely cry as they cover tough topics including loss, dementia, addiction, alcoholism, etc.
7.) Half a World Away by Mike Gayle. This is the book that hands down made me cry the most this year. Everyone warned me that it was a total tear-jerker, I (as someone who cries at everything) thought it would be fine and ignored them and then I wept for roughly the entire last third of the book. The book is about single mum Kerry who reconnects with her brother Noah after losing touch in the care system when they were kids, but who keeps a devastating secret from him. It was well written and I connected with the characters so intensely that even though at the time I gave it a 4 star rating, it's one of the books that's stayed with me throughout the year so I figured it deserved a place on this list.
6.) There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon. I read When Dimple Met Rishi a couple of years ago and fell in love with Menon's writing and characters. In this book, we get to know Rishi's little brother Ashish in a lot more detail. I loved the dual perspective of him and Sweetie throughout the book in alternating chapters. This was my ideal YA: it challenged stereotypes, taught me things I didn't know, had a romance I was rooting for, and a dramatic twist for the characters to overcome.
5.) The Cousins by Karen McManus. This was my final read of 2020, so only just about snuck its way in to the ranks. I'm a big McManus fan, and have read all but one of her books: this one is a firm new favourite. It's told from three different perspectives (usually I say I don't like these, but thinking about it over half of my top 10 have at least two!) of cousins brought to visit their mysterious Grandmother and uncover some family secrets. I was totally hooked and it made for the perfect betwixtmas read.
4.) A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. This is the third book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, which I devoured this year (and I'm so excited for the new release). Although the novella came out after and A Court of Silver Flames is soon to be released, this sort of felt like the perfect ending to a trilogy? This book really delved into the back stories of the members of Rhys' court, had a big ol' battle and made me cry (I'm a sucker for all three). This book in particular made me feel as though - if it was done well with a big budget - a TV show of this would be better and more dramatic than Game of Thrones.
3.) The Switch by Beth O'Leary. Let me tell you, this is the best stress-free book to read in a pandemic. It gives out the most wholesome vibes, you're still totally invested in the plot, and I just think this would be a perfect read for a reader of any (adult) age. I read this on my kindle and found myself looking forward to going to bed just so that I could have some time to read it. Another dual perspective book, this is told by main characters Leena and her grandma Eileen who decide to swap lives to spice things up.
2.) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This was a CLOSE second, and if it hadn't been beaten by one of the best books I've ever read, on any normal year it would have been number 1. This is the most beautiful book I've read in a long long time, and I've started to lose count of the number of people I've recommended this to/lent this to/bought this as a gift for because I just want everyone to experience it. It reminds me a lot of the vibes of something like To Kill a Mockingbird or The Colour Purple, and is something I can see forming part of English lit syllabi in the future.
1.) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. Honestly when I finished this book I felt like I might cry because I thought I may never read a book as good as this ever again. I neglected people, hygiene, the cleanliness of my house, everything to absorb this tome and I'm still not sure I've recovered from it. I enjoyed the first book in the series, but this just took things to a whole new level. The romance was enthralling, I've honestly never read sexual tension written into a book as well as this. I loved the development of the main characters, and the descriptions of the Night Court have completely stuck with me. I of course now need to read all of Maas' books in 2021, so I may have to make that a new goal!