In this, the Year of Our Collective Dumpster Fire 2020, I almost did not make it to my goal of 50 books. My reading suffered until late in the year when a new project with a friend gave it a necessary boost.
Shameless plug– if you’re on Instagram, check out @Andanotherthingreaders for all your YA and SFF needs, featuring reviews, pairings and whatever else Ashley and I feel like throwing at you. Also check out @knitone_readtwo, which will feature knits and books and probably wine and/or whiskey.
I have a slight obsession with the Bookstagram.
Anyway– I’ve read about 20 books in the last quarter of the year and I made it! To 50! And to one of the only goals I’ve reached this year. It’s okay. And if you haven’t done some things this year you meant to, that’s okay, too. Be nice to yourself. It’s been shitty. Try again tomorrow.
2020 was my Year of Reading Women, and that was something I was able to stick with– I allowed myself a cheat book per quarter, but I ended up reading only two books by men all year– Beardance by Will Hobbs which I read via video to my mom’s students because they’d been in the middle of it when the pandemic hit and they were sent home for the rest of year, and Docile by K. M. Szpara, which I was very excited for and didn’t ultimately live up to my expectations.
If you’re wondering if I missed books by men at all the answer is no. I did not. There are so many great women writing these days and while I won’t miss the (very very slight) limitation on what book I can pick up next, but I’m very satisfied with the books I read this year. I won’t do a Year Of any particular thing immediately, but I would do it again in the future. It was fun, and really not hard to accomplish at all.
If you subscribe to my Patreon, you’ll know that late in the year I went on a little Nostalgia Binge and reread some childhood favorites, including The Dollhouse Murders, The Boggart and The House of Dies Drear. Some of them help up spectacularly well, and others didn’t as much, but I was overall pleased to revisit some classics. It helped boost my list, too, because a lot of those books are 200 pages or less and they were easy to breeze through 🙂
For Patreon this year, I’m going to do a year of translations– not everything I read will be, but one book per month. If you’d like to follow along, feel free to subscribe, and I may try to do a book club-ish thing with it. The pick for January is The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin and translated by Ken Liu. Grab it from your local library or e-book platform of your choice.
Without further ado– in no particular order– my Top Ten Favs of 2020
10) The Seep by Chana Porter
A gentle, quiet apocalypse that beautifully examines love, loss, what it means to be human, and the variations between each of our own personal utopia/dystopia. Sometimes it’s a fine line.
9) Capitalism and Disability: Essays by Marta Russell
Absolutely mandatory reading. It’s academic, and it’s not easy, and it’s going to make you uncomfortable about how completely fucked the system is, but it’s better to know, isn’t it? I think so.
8) The Midnight Bargain by C.L Polk
Sweeping ideas, lush prose and meticulous Edwardian period detail, unapologetic feminism, and magic. C.L. Polk is definitely on my instant preorder list after this one.
7) These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Do you like: polymath, pain in the ass, unapologetic boss lady protagonists? Sensitive but still dangerous leading men? A whole slew of loveable secondary characters (except Tyler. F– that guy.)? a good mystery with a monster? Shakespearean easter eggs because it’s loosely adapted Romeo and Juliet set in an alternate history 1920s Shanghai? Yes? Read this book! I freaking LOVED it.
6) Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson
Again with the alternate history and magic, and this time its 1930s New York City. A story of love, loss, sacrifice and gangsters. It’s a touch dense, but good. A slow read, for sure.
5) The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
Still in New York City, and everyone who loves it knows the city is a living thing. But what if that was taken literally? What if New York needed five chosen people (representatives of each borough, of course,) to birth a living, full fledged city and bring it into the world? Read this one and find out. It’s N. K. Jemisin, so you know it’s GREAT.
4) Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Trigger warnings for ALL the things– I went into this expecting a cute buddy mystery and that is NOT this book. It is devastating and raw and so, so excellent. A story of poverty, mental health, and the survival of some, but not everyone makes it out of the cycle. I need to read everything else Tiffany D. Jackson has written.
3) Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega
THE CUTEST. This middle grade features witches, ghosts and a fat cat. It is so totally adorable I read it twice, (the second time on video again for my mom’s students) and we’ll be featuring it on @AndAnotherThingReaders in January. Love it so much.
2) The Fortress by S. A. Jones
Really unique and well crafted examination of patriarchy, justice and rehabilitation. If I had to pick one book to give everyone I know, this one is probably it. At some point, I’d like to read it again. Like ogres and onions, it has layers for days.
1) The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
Time travel, and warring factions trying to ensure that their version of history is the one that’s recorded. A really excellent meditation on the whole “History is written by the victors” thing. That’s an over simplified explanation of this book, too. Just read it.
Honorable Mentions: Truly Devious trilogy: huge house full of puzzles! murder! sign me up!
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking: medieval shenanigans! Golum made of sourdough!
Lalani of the Distant Sea: Not your average Chosen One story, rooted in Filipino mythology, totally delightful
Beloved: It’s Toni Morrison. It will destroy you, and then put you back together changed in a necessary way.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus: Another truly adorable Middle Grade. I read so much good Middle Grade this year.
The Dollhouse Murders: the pacing of this book is absolutely SOLID. It really held up, and 20 years after I read it the first time I really was still creeped out by tiny murder dolls.
Mexican Gothic: Atmospheric, gloomy, and riddled with tension. Mycologists will dig it 😉
And now, for the full list, with some stats from Goodreads (which is really all I use Goodreads for)
Books Read in 2020: 51
Pages read: 17,060
Shortest Book: 128 pages (The Fourth Island, and my final book of the year)
Longest Book: 498 pages (The Starless Sea)
THE FULL LIST:
Beloved- Toni Morrison
The Testaments- Margaret Atwood
The Seep- Chana Porter
Truly Devious- Maureen Johnson
Ninth House- Leigh Bardugo
The Vanishing Stair- Maureen Johnson
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo- Taylor Jenkins Reid
Beneath the Rising- Premee Mohammed
Docile- K. M Szpara
Spinning Silver- Naomi Novik
Ghost Squad- Claribel Ortega
The Future of Another Timeline- Analee Newitz
Beardance- Will Hobbs
The Hand on the Wall- Maureen Johnson
The Fortress- S. A. Jones
The Strangers- Margaret Peterson Haddix
Monday’s Not Coming- Tiffany D. Jackson
The City We Became- N. K. Jemisin
The Jumbies- Tracey Baptiste
Some Places More Than Others- Renee Watson
Race to the Sun- Rebecca Roanhorse
Other Words for Home- Jasmine Warga
The Spinner of Dreams- K. A. Reynolds
A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking- T. Kingfisher
The Explorer’s Code- Allison K. Hymas
Trouble the Saints- Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Starless Sea- Erin Morgenstern
Elatsoe- Darcie Little Badger
Disability/Visibility edited by Alice Wong
The Scapegracers- Hannah Abigail Clarke
Cinderella is Dead- Kaylynn Bayron
A Deadly Education- Naomi Novik
Lalani of the Distant Sea- Erin Entrada Kelly
The Dark is Rising- Susan Cooper
All the Lovely Bad Ones- Mary Downing Hahn
The House of Dies Drear- Virginia Hamilton
The Mystery of Drear House- Virginia Hamilton
The Dollhouse Murders- Betty Ren Wright
Wait Til Helen Comes- Mary Downing Hahn
The Boggart- Susan Cooper
An Ember in the Ashes- Sabaa Tahir
Shady Hollow- Juneau Black
These Violent Delights- Chloe Gong
The Tenth Girl- Sara Faring
Ghost Wood Song- Erica Waters
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus- Dusti Bowling
Capitalism and Disability: Esssays by Marta Russell
The Midnight Bargain- C. L. Polk
Mexican Gothic- Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Other Side of the Sky- Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
The Fourth Island- Sarah Tolmie
If you’ve actually made it this far, congrats! Happy reading! I hope 2021 is full of the best books. Please tell me your favorites, because my never ending TBR pile obviously needs more.
Happy New Year!