My Favorite Reads of 2020
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
The worldbuilding in this story was so many things – interesting, complex, lush, and vibrant. Despite being another YA fantasy based around a competition, the stakes felt So Much Higher, and the characters really dazzled. What really put this over the top for me was the last 15% or so of the book. The set up for the next book and revelations that are made blew me away.
Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee
For a long time, I hated Anna Karenina, both the original book, adaptations, and the character. Anna K has totally changed that. Amazing audiobook production, excellent cast of characters, and caring sibling relationships made this a 5 star read. As a super readable, modern, contemporary YA, the writing still managed to feel very 19th century at times, in a good way! When I noticed it, it reinforced that this was a retelling of Anna Karenina. I also love Levin/Dustin and would read an entire book just about him, sweet precious cinnamon roll human.
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Coming Extremely Late to the game on the Old Kingdom series, but better late than never! This fantasy series opener really stands the test of time. Originally published in 1995, it does not feel dated at all. The audiobook narration by Tim Curry (yes, that Tim Curry) is an inspired casting. I loved this so much that I actually read Sabriel twice in 2020.
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
This book. This story was heartbreaking. It was hopeful. It was eye-opening. As a daughter of immigrants, I’m always a sucker for “don’t quite fit in either culture” stories, and this one really spoke to me. Jay’s experience in the Philippines learning not only his family story but his country’s history was really relatable.
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
Somewhat predictable but thoroughly delightful. Like a really good cup of tea. Lila’s journey through loss and self-discovery was really believable, despite many story elements that felt a bit too good to be true. I also recommend having a Cuban restaurant pulled up and ready to order because you will be starving by the time you’re done!
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
This was a reread for me in 2020 because it’s one of my favorite books of all time. Who doesn’t want to read about a battle librarian protecting spell books that turn into giant demons and a misunderstood, Howl-ish sorcerer? I keep referencing The Pagemaster movie with Macaulay Culkin and no one remembers it – was I the only person who watched it as a child?!
The Black Friend: On Being a Better White Person by Frederick Joseph
Like many of us, I read a lot of thought provoking non-fiction on a variety of antiracist topics. The Black Friend really stood out for me, maybe because Frederick Joseph is around the same age as me, so I enjoyed his millennial references, but ultimately, he made me think about what it means to be antiracist in action, and not just as a checkbox on Goodreads.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
One of the few books I read in print as opposed to listening and I flew through it. I thought I knew a lot about history and politics, but this book really showed how much of that knowledge is just barely scratching the surface of racism in the US. I think this should be required reading for all ages (happy to hear they are adapting it for middle-grade audience!). I also would like to request that Jason Reynolds write more “not a history book” history books.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
2020 was the year of reading non-fiction that blew me away with how little I know of American history. Although this book has also been adapted for a Young Adult audience, I listened to the audiobook and had my head spinning with outrage. This will definitely be a book I come back to and re-read.
Once & Future by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora
I am obsessed with this book. The idea of a retired monster slayer grandma alone was enough to hook me, but coupled with Arthurian myth and a dreamy (imo) male lead makes it the title I look forward to most when picking up my comics! The art by Dan Mora is absolute perfection. I loved his work on the Buffy reboot comics, which made it a bittersweet moment to find him leaving the Buffyverse for this book.
Something is Killing the Children by James Tynion IV, Werther Dell’Edera, and Miguel Muerto
When I finally got around to reading this series, my first thought was WHY HAVE I WAITED SO LONG?! The story is well plotted and paced, the art is chillingly good (the bandana!), and I’m thoroughly riveted and intrigued.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
TECHNICALLY, I finished this book in 2021, but I started it in 2020, so I’m counting it! An alternate history of sisters and witches, this is a perfect fit for fans of Erin Morgenstern or Alix E. Harrow’s previous book.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
It took me months to read this book because I was literally kicking my legs with glee while reading it. The main characters are a Delight. Zafir stole my heart – a rugby player (swoon) who is in touch with his emotions (double swoon)???
Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
This is it. It’s my favorite Bareknuckle Bastard book and Sarah MacLean book overall. I love Hattie because I strongly identified with her and Whip checked all of my Ideal Male Lead boxes. If you’re a fan of loud, curvy ladies like Nina in Six of Crows and quiet, protector type book boyfriends, this will be your jam.