Favorite reads of 2020

It was the best of years; it was the worst of years. 

I think we can all probably agree that this was the worst year in our memories for all the obvious and well-known reasons, but for me, it was also the best year in my memory and that is all down to the books that I read. I read 91 books this year, of which 41% received a five-star rating from me. 

Now I'll be the first to admit that I may sometimes be too generous with my ratings. On the other hand, sometimes I take a dislike to a book and I may be hypercritical. So sue me! 

Anyway, I say all that to explain that it has been extremely hard for me to narrow down a list of the best of the best of 2020. I've tried to limit my final list to books that were actually published this year or last year, even though that means I've left out a few terrific books. Here then, in the order that I read them, is a list of my favorite reads of 2020, with links provided should you want to look at my review.

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anaparra

Weather by Jenny Offill

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

The Searcher by Tana French

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donaghue

A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke - My last read for 2020 which I haven't reviewed yet, but trust me when I do it will get 5 stars.

I am so grateful to all of these wonderful writers for taking me out of myself and showing me other worlds and other ways of being in a year when this world was too much with us. I hope that your reading year has been equally enjoyable and worthwhile and here's looking forward to an even better year for all of us on every level in 2021. Happy New Year! 

 


Comments

  1. I am also too generous with my ratings, but I don’t care! I wish GoodReads allowed half stars... I haven’t read any of these, but I’ve seen some of your reviews. The Children’s Bible is one that I’m looking forward to reading in 2021.

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    1. There are actually several on my list in addition to The Children's Bible that I think you might enjoy - The Testaments, The Night Watchman, The Searcher, for example. You might even like Migrations, although it is pretty dark and definitely no Watership Down!

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  2. Wow, great list!! Glad you read so many wonderful books this year. I'm hoping to read quite a few of the books that you listed in your post.

    I've read 89 books this year so far and am hoping to finish off my 90th read by the end of today.

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    1. I just finished my 91st, Piranesi around midday today. On to 2021!

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  3. Not only do you present us with recommendations for fine books, Dorothy, you review them incredibly well. I will probably not read most of the books, but your reviews never fail to delight me. It is a pleasure to follow your blog. All the very best for the new year with many more wonderful books.

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    1. All the best to you, too, David, and may I say reading your blog is one of the delights of my life! I live vicariously through your bird walks.

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  4. 91 books - wow. I don't have patience for that anymore, even in pandemic times. Spend too much time online! My favorites for the year would include Educated by Tara Westover, The Testaments, Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I'm currently reading The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin. I had started to read The Night Watchman but put it aside for now, because I just got so absorbed in The City We Became (and the fact that I grew up in New York City is a big plus for my read of the book.) I was trying to read both at the same time and it just didn't work. Have a Happy New Year!

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    1. The City We Became was quite an absorbing book, even for one who isn't a New Yorker! I haven't read Homegoing but I hope to get to it in the new year. I see bloggers and people on Goodreads who talk about having several books going at once. Not me! I'm a one book at a time girl.

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  5. You had a fabulous reading year. I loved Weather and Hamnet and Migrations, and I have Transcendent Kingdom here (from Inprint...I wonder if you do that) and I plan to read it soon. Thank you so much for sharing your favorite reads of the year.

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    1. I did have a fabulous reading year and it sustained me through all the tragedy and drama and political hijinks of 2020.

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  6. This is an impressive list. My reading has not been as productive this year.

    I want to read many of these books. I will probably get to Migrations soon.

    Happy reading in 2021!

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    1. When I was still employed full-time, I didn't always get a lot of reading done either. One of the joys of retirement is having more time for books.

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  7. I've seen many good things about Transcendent Kingdom ! Love to see it on your list.
    I wish you all the best for 2021 :)

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    1. Transcendent Kingdom was a book about faith and science and it definitely gave the reader a lot to think about.

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  8. I've read 5 from your list of "bests", The Death of Vivek Oji was my fave of the 5, followed by Hamnet and to a lesser degree, Weather, Red Head on the Side of the Road and a dislike of Death in Her Hands. Hope 2021 is another good year for books.

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    1. I would be hard pressed to name my absolute favorite read of the year. Just now it would probably be Migrations but that may just be because it was one of the last ones I read and it is still very fresh in my mind. I look forward to what 2021 will bring us in the way of books. There are so many excellent writers in the world these days, it is bound to be interesting.

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  9. We have four books in common on our favorites list. Others I read a while back. I too had a hard time narrowing down my list (which I will post today) and I think that points to our good choosing ability and to the wealth of good books out there.

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    1. I choose the books that I will read with quite a bit of care. I'm committed to finishing every one that I start and I don't want to waste my time with something I don't like. Sometimes I am disappointed but not too often.

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  10. You had a great reading year and this is an impressive list! I've relied on your reviews this year ... to point me in the direction of which books. We often have similar tastes. I wish you another big reading year in 2021!

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    1. And may I return the compliment? I often learn about books I had not heard of before from the reviews on your blog. Thank you for that! I am looking forward to more great reviews and great books in 2021.

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