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2020 recap: books

Thank goodness, we finally arrived on the first day of the new year! Last year was a really difficult time for most of us, so 2021 better be nice! If it’s not going to suck as much as 2020 did, then we’re good. Today I’m bringing you the best books I’ve read last year as part of the Bookending Winter event.

What is Bookending Winter?

Bookending Winter logo

“Bookending Winter 2020 is one of the quarterly events, running under the umbrella term “Bookend Events”, aspiring to bring the book blogging community closer together! Bookending Winter 2020 has a vague theme of snow, coziness, the holidays and everything related to Winter, but you DO NOT need to stick to this theme at all!” It is hosted by Clo @ Cuppa Clo and Sam @ Fictionally Sam. You can read the 2020 announcement post HERE.

Today’s post is inspired by Sam’s prompt for December 31st: End of Year Wrap Up and Look Ahead – 2020 Wrap Up and 2021 New Year Resolutions! I’m not going to do the resolution part though, only the wrap-up. Last year I managed to read 134 books, out of which five of them got onto the list of my favourite books: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Emma by Jane Austen (it was a reread), Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo and The House in the Cerulean Sea. However, I read so many amazing books, I wanted to highlight them in categories!

Best nonfiction

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo is a must-read for everyone. I think it’s perfect for people, who haven’t read antiracist nonfiction before. The Vast Wonder of the World by Mélina Mangal is a short picture book about biologist Ernest Everett Just. It’s not only informative but also gorgeously illustrated. A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities by Mady G. and J. R. Zuckerberg was hands down my favourite nonfiction last year. It’s a really cute and informative graphic novel, which I’d recommend to everyone, even if you are knowledgeable about the queer community.

Best fantasy

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas is a wonderful urban-fantasy book with a spooky setting and wholesome characters. I absolutely adored it. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is the first book in a portal-fantasy series, the Wayward Children. This instalment was my favourite so far from the series, but I enjoyed every I’ve read so far. One of my absolute favourite books last year was The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. This is such a cute and heartwarming story, I can’t even express how much I love it.

Best sequel

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan is the final book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy. It is my favourite finale of all Riordan’s series (though I haven’t read The Tower of Nero yet) because it was not anticlimactic. I think this trilogy deserves more hype amongst Riordan’s books! Ármány és kézfogó by Gyula Böszörményi is the third book in the Baron Ambrózy’s Cases series. It was the longest book I’ve read in 2020 with its 700 pages, but I absolutely loved every minute. Dear Justyce by Nic Stone is the sequel to Dear Martin, which I even enjoyed more. I preferred Quan as the main character over Justyce. The characters seemed more fleshed out too.

Best fiction

Abigail by Magda Szabó is a Hungarian fiction book set in a boarding school during WWII. Thankfully it’s translated to English, so if you like historical fiction books, you should definitely read this! The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a really hard-hitting epistolary novel about a Black woman. It is a classic for a reason. Speaking of classics, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is another phenomenal book about racism.

Best historical fiction

The Muse by Jessie Burton has two timelines, one in 1967’s London, and one in 1936’s Spain. I found it fascinating. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was one of 2019’s most hyped books, so I’m sure you’ve seen it a million times. It’s really that good, told in an interview format, so it’s quick to get through. I also listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by a full cast, so I’d definitely recommend that. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan is a wholesome epistolary novel set in WWII. If you liked The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you will also enjoy this, as it’s also about a small community, but instead of books and reading, singing is what brings them together.

Best contemporary

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo is a gorgeous book inside and out. It’s about a teen mom, who has a penchant for cooking. So wholesome and cute. The audiobook is narrated by the author, definitely recommend listening to it. Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman has been shown here multiple times and I will continue shouting its title from the rooftops because it was genuinely one of my favourite books in 2020. It’s a beautiful book about grief and discovering yourself. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver also means a lot to me, as it’s about a nonbinary teen. Love the representation and the cute relationship between Ben and Nathan and Ben and their sister.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo is a novel written in verse, and I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I do. It’s about two Black sisters, who didn’t know the other existed up until their father passed away. It is heartrendingly beautiful. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman is a really relatable read as a former university student. It has great queer rep too! Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is about Darius, who is half Iranian and visits Iran for the first time. It touches a lot of hard topics, like racism and depression but it manages to be cute and wholesome at the same time.

Best graphic novel

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Award, and for a reason. It is a story about Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, but it’s quite different: the Nazis are drawn as cats and the Jewish people as mice. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman is a really queer and cute graphic novel. If you need a pick-me-up, read this! Or you could also read The Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill, which is for sure one of the cutest graphic novels I’ve ever seen. The art style is breathtaking too.

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel by Marian Marsden is adapted by the famous book by L. M. Montgomery. I also read that in 2020, which you’ll see in a minute. This adaptation is really beautiful and enjoyable, I’d recommend to people who have already read the original. The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen shocked me. I fell in love with the three-toned colour palette and the story. I really want to own my own copy and highlight it because it taught me quite a lot about Vietnamese culture. Displacement by Kiku Hughes is also a really informative graphic novel about the Japanese internment camps in the USA during WWII. More people should read these two books, they deserve more hype!

Best classic

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a short and quick read but it packs a punch! The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a wonderful little book, which I read during spring, which turned out to be an incredible idea because it celebrates nature. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery is a wholesome classic book about Anne Shirley. It’s so unbelievable that I only read it last year!

Best reread

I’ve first read Emma by Jane Austen in 2012, but I remembered basically everything because I watched a lot of adaptations of it as it’s one of my favourite Austen stories. I can’t get enough of it! I finally bought the illustrated edition of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and I obviously had to reread it. It was as good as it was in 2017 when I first read it. I reread The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in December and thankfully, it lived up to my memories. I still consider it an absolute favourite. It’s like a blanket, it’s such a great feeling to get lost in.

Have you read any of these? What were your favourite books in 2020? Also, I wish everyone a Happy New Year!


16 thoughts on “2020 recap: books

  1. Didn’t read them all in 2020, but I loved Cemetery Boys, The Ship of the Dead, I Wish You All the Best, Maus, Radio Silence, and Darius the Great. The House in the Cerulean Sea was my top favorite book of 2020. I usually have a difficult time – impossible, more like – deciding what book is my top favorite, but I just loved this book SO MUCH, it was easy to pick this. 🥺

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have Northanger Abbey and Persuasion left from when I wasn’t reading them in order! Sense and Sensibility is another of my favorites I think…honestly they all kind of are with the exception of Mansfield Park. Something about that one didn’t connect as much to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely love love LOVE this wrap up! You’ve had some amazing reads in 2020! I haven’t read quite a few of these but don’t mind me as I may or may not slip them unto my TBR (who am I kidding they are totally waddling over there!) Big thank you for participating in BEWinter!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many great books on your list!! I adored Cemetery Boys as well, such a fantastic book ❤ I also started reading the Wayward Children books, I cannot believe that I haven’t read them sooner, really excited for the next book coming out soon 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

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