I simply cannot put them in a numbered order as they all exist in my brain and heart with different and at times fluctuating levels of love so in no particular order here are my best books of 2020.
Cherry Beach by Laura McPhee Browne
This book really had me almost crying on public transport and I am not mad at her!!! An extremely poignant and all too familiar story of deep love in the form of friendship and personal growth. This book overwhelms me with emotion when I even think of it and I look forward to reading it over and over as it feels so incredibly special.
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth
This was one of my most anticipated novels of the year because I read Danforth’s debut and was completely mesmerized. Danforth is an extremely compelling writer and with a plot as alluring as that of Plain Bad Heroines I hoped I was in for a treat. Safe to say I was not disappointed. It had my heart from the early pages and from then on I simply did not want to put it down.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley
After loving The Hunting Party I was really excited to see what Foley would offer us next. The Guest List had so many well thought out twists and turns I was completely hooked and flying through the pages to figure out whodunnit.
Tender Is The Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (Translated from the Spanish by Sarah Moses)
This book challenged—and depleted—my faith in society. This year made me realize my true love for believably dystopian fiction and Tender Is The Flesh is where that realization began. It was completely horrific especially because I can easily envision this world being not too dissimilar to our own.
A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu
A Lonely Girl Is A Dangerous Thing comforted me. It was a juicy story of a sex positive (or crazed, both are supported in this household) young woman who revels in her loneliness. It is seen as a power rather than a disadvantage. I loved the way Tu completely revolutionizes the idea of a lonely girl in a complicated yet positive light. A Lonely Girl was a really sex positive representation of the way females actually inhibit sex and it was brilliant to see that reflected in mainstream and popular literary fiction.
Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth
Heatstroke had me BREATHLESS. Despite the fact that I find myself reading a lot of them books from a maternal perspective don’t do a lot for me, however Heatstroke shocked me to my core. It was completely enthralling, a testament to Barkworth’s writing ability and gall to explore a place we don’t always see.
Buy it now from our Bookshop in the UK
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
A perfectly light read but it caressed many of the ripe nuances of life. It was extremely readable—provoking laughter that was also met with deep contemplation.
The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall
The Mother Fault was another believably dystopian novel from this year that I adored. With maternalism being a major theme I didn’t think it would hit the mark for me but by golly it did. Desperation and survival run ripe through this novel. It was incredibly digestible while simultaneously being very hard to swallow at times. I listened to this on audiobook so I am excited to reread it in physical at some point soon.
Buy it now from our Bookshop in the UK
Loveless by Alice Oseman
I could go on forever about how much I love Alice Oseman. Her work is just so consistently incredible. The minute I finished reading this I instantly wanted to start it again.
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata
I have no fucking words for this one other than BRILLIANT. I don’t get it, but I loved it. So incredibly bizarre, I was glued to every page.
New to me
Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk
One of the quirkiest and bizarre things I have ever read and I think it subconsciously started my love of weird, unexplained, ambiguous, and grand statements packaged into fun little books! The way Palahniuk captured female sexuality was really interesting to me. It made me think a lot and I loved it.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
So I actually read this twice in one year. As I said with Loveless, I love Oseman’s work so much. Her books are quite the security blanket to me now and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
I think about this book more than I probably should. I speed read it in a little challenge but I loved it so much I probably would have read it extremely quickly under normal reading circumstances anyway. Everything about this book sang perfection to me, the writing, the story and the moral questioning — wow. Cannot wait to read this again and cement it as one of my favourite books of all time.
The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
Oh The Little Friend, Donna Tartt’s “bad” book. This book is such an underdog and a complete unsung hero of her work. The ambiguity and depth this book dealt with was beyond pleasing for me. This book felt more dense than The Secret History, but less so than The Goldfinch. I guess the best way for me to describe The Little Friend is the rough around the edges friend that is pretty weird and often misunderstood (only because no one really bothers to try)—we love her.
A Ladder To The Sky by John Boyne
A Ladder To The Sky had me screaming. I didn’t think anything could match the imprint The Heart’s Invisible Furies left on my heart and yet Ladder did, however on the darker less sympathetic side of my heart. Boyne’s writing is so impeccable and completely addictive. I cannot wait to read more of his work.
Nocturna by Maya Motayne
When I read this I was feeling so incredibly slumping and this book pulled me out from the depths and launched me into a world of thievery, magic and sexual tension. This book felt a little synonymous to Six Of Crows in a big dick energy kind of way dropped into a steaming hot world of magic. Excited to re-read again and underline all the parts when the main character is a sassy pants.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain ReId
I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE ON EDGE IN MY WHOLE LIFE WOW.
Foe by Iain Reid
Iain Reid can write a damn good book, okay? Normally when I buy books they sit on my shelves for a few months before I make my way to them—not the case here. I just felt a strong gravitational pull to this novel and it left me feeling so confused (in a good way). This is a good novel for a bit of healthy existential questioning. Completely different to I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, which I also loved. The range of Reid’s writing is honestly unbelievable and I look forward to whatever he brings out next.
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
When a book’s first line is “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge” you simply DO NOT stop reading until you find out why. I loved this book a lot. I didn’t want to stop reading.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This book offered a lot of perspective; things could always get A LOT worse. Everything in this novel was so expertly interwoven leaving no stone left unturned—which is one of my favourite things (closely followed by intense ambiguity. All of nothing right?). This is another addition to my personal fave genre “believably dystopian” however with less moral and ethical questioning. I enjoyed the way Station Eleven offered a lot of mindless action, you simply just put your trust in the story and know you don’t have to think too deeply in order to create a fully formed opinion on this novel. It was disastrous in the most easy way.