2020 was not my best reading year. It’s made me a little jealous to hear people say that they’ve had their best reading year ever and to find that I’ve had my worst reading year since 2016. Still 197 books is a lot of reading, and it was hard to narrow down my books to a top ten list. I managed to do it, and in no particular order at all, here they are:
- The 7-1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I loved this story for it’s unusual format and kind of trippy nature. I enjoyed the story being told through repeating days in different bodies, almost like a cross between Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap. Quite an intriguing prospect.
- Reading While Black by Esau McCaulley. This book taught me this year. He takes the Bible and develops a theology of policing, of dealing with black rage, of responding to slavery, and of so many things. These things are traditional and orthodox to the black church, but in many ways, they were new to me. I feel that the more I learn, the better I am able to appreciate the fact that the Evangelical perspective I was raised in is deeply flawed.
- The Love Story of Missy Carmichael by Beth Morrey. This was a old curmudgeon tale that is typical for its genre, but very well done and very touching. I may have bumped this up 1/2 a star for all the crying I did though from 3/4 of the way through the book until the end.
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. This was probably my favorite book that I read this year. I loved the richly textured characters and the faustian deals. Addie has a personality and a perseverance that really keeps going in the midst of pain and unfortunate circumstances.
- Practicing the Present by John Koessler. This was a right-place right-time kind of book for me. Koessler is discussing our need to not live for the promise of the future or for past regrets. Instead, we need to focus our view on the present. It is all we are promised and our only reality that we have any control over. Perfect message for a COVID year.
- Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore. I loved the way that this book is told in-order but out-of-order. I loved the premise and the storyline. As I write, I realize that this is kind of similar to the storytelling set-up in Evelyn Hardcastle or an old favorite of mine, The Time Traveler’s Wife. If you have any more recommendations for read-alikes, let me know.
- A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny. I think this one is the 12th of the series, and Inspector Gamache is a head of the police academy. This is a locked door mystery, and may be my favorite in the series (the sixth book is my other favorite but they’re all good).
- Afterlife by Julia Alvarez. This is a small tale of a woman in mourning who is trying to adjust to her new life. She has sister problems and gets involved with a pair of undocumented immigrants, helping them. Really nice story.
- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. Hendrix brought vampires back into the mainstream. I love the book club and the reading of true crime novels. I love their suspicions and the way they band together. I hate the husband’s casual gaslighting. I also felt uncomfortable with the casual racism that echoed so much of what I have grown up with here in the South.
- The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. I love the sisters in the book, the grandmother with the dementia, the teenaged niece and the storyline with Batman. I also thought the main character had such a cool profession as a comic book artist. This was a really enjoyable family drama.
So, that’s my top ten list. Were any of these on your list? What were your favorite books this year?