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Favorite books of 2020

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message 1: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Getting a jump on it this year! I am just past halfway through what I think is likely to be on my favorites list for 2020, maybe for the new decade. Hope you are all having auspicious starts to your reading year.


message 2: by Larisa (new)

Larisa (lursa27) | 11 comments What is it!? I must know please!


message 3: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Larisa wrote: "What is it!? I must know please!"

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. It is entirely heartbreaking/ Vuong is a poet, and though this is considered prose, it is certainly poetic prose. Every word and thought is perfect. There are sentences that are just bouncing around in my head. Right now it is

“It's in these moments, next to you, that I envy words for doing what we can never do-- how they can tell all of themselves simply by standing still, simply by being. Imagine I could lie down beside you and my whole body, every cell, radiates a clear, singular meaning, not so much a writer as a word pressed down beside you.”

Earlier today I pondered another:

“Too much joy, I swear, is lost in our desperation to keep it.”


message 4: by Katie (new)

Katie (faintingviolet) | 88 comments Red, White & Royal Blue is so, so good. I loved it, and its so much more book than I was expecting it to be. Casey McQuiston nailed it.


message 5: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Katie wrote: "Red, White & Royal Blue is so, so good. I loved it, and its so much more book than I was expecting it to be. Casey McQuiston nailed it."

It was a really fun read!


message 6: by Pamela (new)

Pamela | 302 comments Bonnie G. wrote: "Larisa wrote: "What is it!? I must know please!"

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. It is entirely heartbreaking/ Vuong is a poet, and though this is considered prose, it is certainl..."


That's good to hear- I just added it to my library hold list last night!

the bigger question... what month shall we read what will be our favorite book of 2020- A Little Life?


message 7: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "Bonnie G. wrote: "Larisa wrote: "What is it!? I must know please!"

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous. It is entirely heartbreaking/ Vuong is a poet, and though this is considered pro..."


I am in --- February???


message 8: by Alicia (new)

Alicia | 331 comments The Calculating Stars Fairly sure this is going to be in my top 10 for this year.


message 9: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Alicia wrote: "The Calculating Stars Fairly sure this is going to be in my top 10 for this year."

Just added this to my tbr based on your review. Sounds amazing!


message 10: by Siobhan (new)

Siobhan | 14 comments The Calculating Stars sounds interesting, I've added it too!!


message 11: by Pamela (new)

Pamela | 302 comments I've started aA Little Life-- anyone joining me? It sucks you so in from the beginning.


message 12: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "I've started aA Little Life-- anyone joining me? It sucks you so in from the beginning."

I need to wait on this one. Can't wait for your review!


message 13: by Miz (new)

Miz (marryallthepeople) | 35 comments So many gorge books for me!! I've had a run of excellent books - Meat Market, Notes to Self, Red White and Royal Blue, Lost Connections, Catch and Kill, Rosie Loves Jack, My Sister The Serial Killer, The Flat Share, and The Girl He Used To Know.


message 14: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Miz wrote: "So many gorge books for me!! I've had a run of excellent books - Meat Market, Notes to Self, Red White and Royal Blue, Lost Connections, Catch and Kill, Rosie Loves Jack, My Sister The Serial Kille..."

Sounds like a great reading year (in an otherwise not so great year books should be there to make things good!)


message 15: by Bonnie G. (last edited Jul 30, 2020 01:27PM) (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Thanks for posting Miz -- it made me realize I have not been posting here and its been a really good reading year! Our June, August and October books, In the Dream House, Life Undercover and Rodham turned out to be favorites for me, even though I did not expect to love either. A few others I have really loved:

Non-fiction
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family

Fiction
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires This was a real surprise. I do not like reading horror...or do I?!
The Mirror & the Light
The Glass Hotel
Nothing to See Here

Romance (I am reading A LOT of romance this year)
If I Never Met You
Chasing Cassandra
Beach Read
Blue-Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger (Books 2 and 3 of this series, I read book 1 last year and all have been 5 star reads for me.)
Brazen and the Beast


message 16: by Allie (new)

Allie (allieeveryday) | 113 comments Miz wrote: "So many gorge books for me!! I've had a run of excellent books - Meat Market, Notes to Self, Red White and Royal Blue, Lost Connections, Catch and Kill, Rosie Loves Jack, My Sister The Serial Kille..."

Maybe I need to bump up The Flatshare on my reading list... so many of these I've also loved, but haven't gotten to that one yet!


message 17: by Miz (new)

Miz (marryallthepeople) | 35 comments Bonnie G. wrote: "Miz wrote: "So many gorge books for me!! I've had a run of excellent books - Meat Market, Notes to Self, Red White and Royal Blue, Lost Connections, Catch and Kill, Rosie Loves Jack, My Sister The ..."

YES!! It's a gold moment in an otherwise ODD year.


message 18: by Miz (new)

Miz (marryallthepeople) | 35 comments Allie wrote: "Miz wrote: "So many gorge books for me!! I've had a run of excellent books - Meat Market, Notes to Self, Red White and Royal Blue, Lost Connections, Catch and Kill, Rosie Loves Jack, My Sister The ..."

Highly recommend. It's a bit of a fluffy escapism xx


message 19: by Miz (new)

Miz (marryallthepeople) | 35 comments Bonnie G. wrote: "Thanks for posting Miz -- it made me realize I have not been posting here and its been a really good reading year! Our June, August and October books, In the Dream House, Life Undercover and Rodham..."

Oooo looking up some of these now! Thanks!!!


message 20: by Leah (last edited Aug 04, 2020 09:21PM) (new)

Leah (leahnahmias) | 76 comments I just finished Hamnet and absolutely adored it; sublime. I am so stingy with five star reviews and this absolutely earned one for me. Like Wolf Hall, it's such convincing historical fiction that you can't imagine that the events it depicts unfolded any other way.

I've had long dry spells this year--too distracted by the news, I guess--but generally it's been a good reading year, quality-wise. Other faves of the year so far include The Vanishing Half (much more rollicking/fun than the book description lets on) and Conjure Women (incredibly well done for a first novel). I finally read The Disappearing Earth earlier this year and quite liked it. Such a Fun Age was good and eminently discussable.

+1 to those up thread who recommended The Flatshare. It was a delightful, easy read in a year when easy and delightful are much needed. If you want a straight up old skool historical romance, I also really liked The Spymaster's Lady, which I finally got around to reading after seeing it on a lot of lists but dismissing because so many lesser historical romances have spy plots and do them poorly.

I was disappointed by Rodham (especially considering how much I loved American Wife) and underwhelmed by The Everlasting.


message 21: by Miz (new)

Miz (marryallthepeople) | 35 comments I've just finished Felix Ever After and it was amazing. One of the best books I've read in the last decade.


message 22: by Miz (new)

Miz (marryallthepeople) | 35 comments Leah wrote: "I just finished Hamnet and absolutely adored it; sublime. I am so stingy with five star reviews and this absolutely earned one for me. Like Wolf Hall, it's such convincing historical fiction that y..."

100% for the Flatshare!!


message 23: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "I just finished Hamnet and absolutely adored it; sublime. I am so stingy with five star reviews and this absolutely earned one for me. Like Wolf Hall, it's such convincing historical fiction that y..."

Thanks for all of the updates. I am particularly glad to see two books I had taken off my TBR and recently put back on my TBR show up. I just re-added Such a Fun Age because it made the Booker long list, and I generally like their choices. but was still not totally sold on it. I recently read Friends and Strangers and found it a bit meh, not bad but I am not missing it. Anyway, you gave me the impetus to move forward. I also just re-added Disappearing Earth because my sister LOVED it and now you have seconded. BTW, I really loved Rodham and American Wife, but they are very different books.


message 24: by Leah (new)

Leah (leahnahmias) | 76 comments Bonnie G. wrote: "Leah wrote: "I just finished Hamnet and absolutely adored it; sublime. I am so stingy with five star reviews and this absolutely earned one for me. Like Wolf Hall, it's such convincing historical f..."

Such a Fun Age is a pretty quick read and, like The Vanishing Half, more fun than the book description lets on. It's lively and very comedy of manners in tone; I hope you enjoy!

The Disappearing Earth just absorbs you into a completely foreign world and is beautifully written. Though it deals with some heavy themes, it's not a slog, I promise--there's a lot of joy threaded throughout.


message 25: by Bonnie G. (last edited Oct 16, 2020 12:26PM) (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "Bonnie G. wrote: "Leah wrote: "I just finished Hamnet and absolutely adored it; sublime. I am so stingy with five star reviews and this absolutely earned one for me. Like Wolf Hall, it's such convi..."

Thanks for that, I have heard nothing but raves for The Vanishing Half! I need to start reading full time. I have taken a detour to a more academic read (which is absolutely amazing). How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective about the history and future of black feminism told through interviews with women who were part of the Combahee River Collective, the first women's feminist socialist action group back 40 years ago. The book comes from Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor who writes widely on #BLM and socialism and the current administration. She wrote a dynamite intron, and then conducts interviews to get the thoughts and reflections of two of the leaders of Combahee. Barbara and Beverly Smith (sisters) and Demeta Frazier and Alicia Garza , the founder of BLM. The book has generated so much thought and passion in me (though I am no socialist.) I am so inspired! I am simultaneously reading The Heir Affair which is leaving me ... less inspired. That may change, I am just about at the halfway mark.


message 26: by Pamela (new)

Pamela | 302 comments OMG- I am obsessed! The New Wilderness was SO good. I was worried it was going to be preachy or dry science and it wasn't at all, it was just a really interesting book about relationships. She builds a whole world without the boring world building. I am just being an annoying person telling everyone I see to go read it!


message 27: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Pamela wrote: "OMG- I am obsessed! The New Wilderness was SO good. I was worried it was going to be preachy or dry science and it wasn't at all, it was just a really interesting book about relatio..."

LOL, I get that way about books too! The New Wilderness is already on my TBR. but move it up I shall!


message 28: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
My last best books update was in early August, so I am adding to that list:

Non-Fiction
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here

Romance
Say Yes to the Marquess
Headliners

Fiction
Writers & Lovers

A final top 10 will have to wait another month or so. Still more to read in 2020. Thank God for escapism.


message 29: by CDB (new)

CDB | 43 comments It might be recency bias, but I am LOVING The Vanishing Half. It's the first book in quite a while I've been truly excited to pick up (which is also potentially about my mood/reality than anything I'm reading!).


message 30: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
CDBS wrote: "It might be recency bias, but I am LOVING The Vanishing Half. It's the first book in quite a while I've been truly excited to pick up (which is also potentially about my mood/reality than anything ..."

Yes, reading has suddenly become so much more fun! I cannot imagine why :) But I read it a few weeks ago when I was feeling very glum indeed, and I still liked it very much so I think you can credit the headspace now not totally filled with anxiety AND a really good book. (I was not a fan of The Mother's, and was amazed at how different this book was from that.)


message 31: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
The WaPo 10 best list is good. I have read most and intend to read all of these except the Jess Walter (I just don't really mesh with his books.) The best of season begins! https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphi...


message 32: by Gaby (new)

Gaby GDR | 12 comments I haven't read any of those except for Writers & Lovers and I just didn't love that book. It was a bit of a slog for me if I'm being honest. That being said, I'm definitely looking forward to reading Transcendent Kingdom next week! It's been on my tbr Thanksgiving list for a while!


message 33: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
i am not sure you can trust me because I over-the-moon loved Writers and Lovers, but for what its worth I thought Transcendent Kingdom was very good.


message 34: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn | 6 comments I could hardly put down Such a Fun Age. Highly recommend!


message 35: by Leah (new)

Leah (leahnahmias) | 76 comments CDBS wrote: "It might be recency bias, but I am LOVING The Vanishing Half. It's the first book in quite a while I've been truly excited to pick up (which is also potentially about my mood/reality than anything ..."

The Vanishing Half was great! It was so much more fun, rollicking and unexpected than its description/blurb led me to believe (from the latter, I expected the book to be a lot heavier than it felt as a reading experience). I've recommended it to so many people! That's not to suggest it doesn't deal with big and important themes, it's just an incredibly fun and lively read.


message 36: by Bonnie G. (last edited Dec 04, 2020 03:15PM) (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Bonnie’s top 20 of 2020 (just books, there were no other bests this year.) Also, I had a hard time focusing for most of this year, so my reading was proportionately heavy on the romance. I craved escape pretty much every day of the last year.


Fiction
The Index of Self Destructive Acts https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Stars can be deceptive. This was a 4 star for me, but still one of my favorite reads. There was one storyline that flopped for me (hence the 4), but in the end I loved the read in spite of that flaw.

American Studies https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... I don’t even know if this is still in print. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for years, picked up at some long ago library book sale bag day. Finally read it this year and it is great.

Writers & Lovers https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Not all my friends loved this, but I did SO MUCH!

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Completely unexpected. Smart, funny, gruesome, incisive. I listened to this one and really enjoyed the reader.

The Mirror & the Light https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... A great ending to the trilogy and another great audiobook.


Stories and Essays
To Be a Man https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Another 4 star that was a favorite. Collections can be uneven – this one was very good throughout, but was often stupendous.

A Very Punchable Face https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... I laughed, a lot, while sitting alone listening this audiobook. Jost is smart, and observant, and has no filter and he majored in Russian lit at Harvard and his mother was the Chief Medical Officer for the FDNY. He managed to make Staten Island seem not awful. That alone should get him an award.


Memoir
Foreskin’s Lament https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... I laughed out loud on the SUBWAY multiple times while reading this. I laughed while simultaneously being grossly offended by the content. I won’t say I am not conflicted about how much I enjoyed this, but I am not conflicted about how good it is.

In the Dream House https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Brilliant, Challenging, Unlike anything I have ever read.


Nonfiction
Caste https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Astounding.

Hidden Valley Road https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... What a story. It was brave of the family to share and help us to understand a bit more about the roots and the impacts of mental illness on those with mental illness and on those around them.

Locking Up Our Own https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... The first book I read this year and one that has stayed with me. Insightful!


Romance
Headliners https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Enemies to lovers is a favorite trope, and this was a great iteration.

Chasing Cassandra https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... If you love Lisa Kleypas (and I do) and enjoyed the Ravenels series (and I did) you will enjoy this IMO.

Blue Eyed Devil https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... I was all about Lisa Kleypas this year!

Smooth Talking Stranger https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Lisa Kleypas does it again. Listened to this one and the reader is good.

If I Never Met You https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... was fun but also moving. This writer was new to me though she has other books, and I was happy to find her. I listened to this and loved the reader.

Beach Read https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Enemies to lovers! Between two authors! Set in Northern Michigan (one of my favorite places)! Yes please.

The Wallflower Wager https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... So fun! Tessa Dare rarely disappoints.

Brazen and the Beast https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... Both this and the book that preceded it in the series were all-time favorites. Sadly, I was not a fan of the third, but I will take two great reads any day.


message 37: by Lisa (new)

Lisa | 26 comments My most favorite discovery of 2020 was the French young adult series The Mirror Visitor by Christelle Dabos. I've passed it along to a 16yo and a 13yo and they are both loving the series as well. If you like YA fantasy, give it a try!


message 38: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Bonnie G. wrote: "Bonnie’s top 20 of 2020 (just books, there were no other bests this year.) Also, I had a hard time focusing for most of this year, so my reading was proportionately heavy on the romance. I craved e..."

I am knocking Blue Eyed Devil off my top 20 and replacing A Promised Land. It is just great.


message 39: by Bonnie G. (new)

Bonnie G. (narshkite) | 1282 comments Mod
Leah wrote: "CDBS wrote: "It might be recency bias, but I am LOVING The Vanishing Half. It's the first book in quite a while I've been truly excited to pick up (which is also potentially about my mood/reality t..."

I also enjoyed this one. Super light and fun, definitely popular fiction I think most would enjoy.


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