Trying to choose the best and rank art is a difficult, and often pointless task. However, as a pop culture junkie and someone who loves to debate about things like this, I feel compelled to do so. I read about 115 books this year, which is a lot, but not as many as I read in 2019. Incidentally, I re-read books more this year than I ever have before.
Usually, I start out each year cracking open an old favorite. This year it was Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body, which I might read again in 2021 because I miss it. I re-read Daisy Jones and the Six for the fourth or fifth time. I’ve begun a Kurt Vonnegut re-readathon. I read Slaughter-House Five last month and finished Cat’s Cradle this afternoon. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is gonna be next if I can find it.
I chose these books on this list with my heart by scrolling through my 2020 Reads shelf on Goodreads. If my face went into that scrunchy ohmygodiloveit mode, it made the list. I chose eight because that’s the number of bookcover that fit in the header graphic. It’s almost like science here. I cannot guarantee that all the books on this list were released in 2020 and I don’t care. It’s not like literature has an expiration date.
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore: Rock & Roll and time travel is my jam.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Hilarious and cringey, proves you can make a point about race, white guilt and liberalism and still be funny as hell.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: Estranged twins, colorism & racism, a book so deftly written and wonderfully plotted that I was right in calling it one of the year’s best way back in June.
Nobody Ever Asked Me about the Girls: Women, Music, and Fame by Lisa Robinson: What I love so much is that Lisa Robinson has an opinion about all the girls and she shares it and she only uses men to provide context. I’m gonna re-read this book soon because it made me think a lot of things and I need to absorb it some more so I can talk about how fucking rad it is without babbling.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo: This is so beautiful and poetic, but in a really fierce and fiery way. A story of girls who discover they’re sisters — one lives in the Dominican Republic and one lives in New York.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth: So ambitious! There’s a cursed all-girl’s school, old-timey lesbians, creepy yellowjackets, dishonest writers and filmmakers. This one is twisty and dark and fun.
Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren: My friend Caryn said the best thing about this book: it was nice to see Janis through something other than the male gaze. Unsparing and yet really gentle with Janis and her story.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: My favorite book of the year memory and art and love. I told Sister #2 to read it and she agrees that it’s the best book of the year.
Writers & Lovers by Lily King: Am I sucker for books about writers? Yep. Am I also often vaguely annoyed by books about writers? Also, yes. This one was just lovely and not at all annoying. Lovers triangles, creative struggles, restaurant politics, grief, all the best stuff.
Eat a Peach by David Chang: This is my favorite chef memoir thus far. It’s a little disjointed at times, but over all. . . chef’s kiss!
I read a lot of rom-coms this year which aren’t usually my thing at all, but damn if I didn’t stumble on some good ones.
Get a Life, Chloe Brown and Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert are fan-fucking-tastic, especially if you want your romances kinda hot and featuring heroines who are not thin white women.
Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim was so sweet and, well, magical in a super fun way.
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London has a fat main character, makes fun of reality tv shows like The Bachelor, and is funny as hell.