Top Books of 2020

At the time of writing this post, I have read 72 books this year. I might just make it to 73 if I knuckle down on my current read.

Throughout the year, I’ve been keeping a list of my favourite book each month and now that we’ve reached the end, it’s time to share those! Here goes!

JANUARY:

The cover of Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith. Each word of the title is a speech bubble, like it's a text message screen. There is a teenage girl with headphones on one side, and a boy looking his phone on the other.

Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith. Diversity! Kick-ass ladies! A sensitive depiction of the aftermath of sexual assault. Non-toxic masculinity. A realistic depiction of online streaming, particularly as a woman, and the trolling one receives. The cutest online romance you will ever read. I didn’t expect this book to keep me up late at night… but it absolutely did.

FEBRUARY:

The covers of The Thornthwaite Inheritance and The Thornthwaite Betrayal by Gareth P. Jones. In the first, a boy saws off the bottom of a ladder that a girl is sitting at the top of. Meanwhile the girl is about to cut a rope attached to a large rock hanging over the boys head. In the second, the boy and girl are seated at a table. There is a cake between them with dynmamite sticking out the top. There are knives everywhere and a chandelier looks like it is about to fall on them.

The Thornthwaite Inheritance and The Thornthwaite Betrayal by Gareth P. Jones. I’m a little bit biased on this one, as I was reading these books in preparation for auditioning for a musical based on the first one (and read it again after being cast). Book two came at just the right time. I’d had a rough week at work and I read it in one sitting on a Friday night. These books are a weird Addams Family/Series of Unfortunate Events mishmash and I loved every moment.

MARCH:

I was in a massive reading slump for the whole of March and only finished one book, which I didn’t like, so let’s not even talk about March.

APRIL:

The cover of Peta Lyre's Rating Normal by Anna Whateley. It shows a teenage girl against a snowy backdrop, rendered mostly in blue and white. Her ski mask has a rainbow across it.

Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal by Anna Whateley. I wanted to hug this book. Such a wonderful, honest, authentic depiction of someone living with ASD/ADHD/SPD, and all the messiness that comes with falling in love for the first time.

MAY:

The cover of Greythorne by L. M. Merrington. The cover is in very dark tones, with large ominious house. The moon shines on it, but there are clouds all around.

And this isn’t just because I know the author! I really enjoyed the Gothic atmosphere and claustrophobic, isolated setting that L. M. Merrington created in Greythorne. She played with the Mad Scientist trope really well. For a while, it seemed to be going straight down a Frankenstein route and I was little skeptical, but there was a unexpected twist on that aspect that I really enjoyed.

JUNE:

The cover of Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

I’ll admit there’s a lot of nostalgia involved with me choosing Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer for this month. I first read it back in 2001/2002 when it was originally released, and followed the series until the end. It was such a trip to revisit this world, even if some of it does feel a bit dated now (Wow, Artemis bought a camera over the Internet!). I re-read this in preparation for the movie finally releasing, and… I would have to say it’s one of the worst book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever watched. I was so disappointed. I’d been waiting 18 years!

JULY:

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. This was a reread and my first time reading in print a book I’d already listened to on audio. I enjoyed it so much better in this format! I hadn’t realised until I looked at the print book how much of the text is written in poetry form – that didn’t come through for me in the audio version. There are so many themes of storytelling in the book and how the words are presented really helped to solidify those themes.

AUGUST:

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney. I was so excited to win a copy of this! Ellie is my favourite Australian YA author and so I was really looking forward to her new release. I’m also a fan of serial killer fiction in general. Ellie did not disappoint. This was a rocking good read.

SEPTEMBER:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This was a re-read for Swell Publications Book Club and while I still have some issues with certain aspects of the story, I do love the setting and the imagery and writing is beautiful.

OCTOBER:

Where to even start with It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian. This was not only my favourite book for October, I’d say it was probably my favourite book of the year. I nearly read it in one sitting. It was affirming and inspiring and I want to go on my own Pleasure Quest. I’m trying to be like Noni and follow my own desires rather than looking after other people at the expense of myself.

NOVEMBER:

A Pocketful of Eyes by Lili Wilkinson. This wasn’t anything too deep but it was one of those books that I picked up exactly the right time and it really hit the spot. It was a fun mystery with enjoyable characters and a fun setting.

DECEMBER:

Universal Love – Stories by Alexander Weinstein. This was a collection of thought-provoking short stories examining the ways that technology may affect our relationships and how we love one another going into the future. I’m trying to read more short stories and I feel like this collection is kind of what I would like to emulate in my own short story writing.

Honestly, I read a lot of good books this year, and you can see them all on my 2020 GoodReads reading challenge page here. Some months, the stand-out was obvious but other months it was really hard to pick just one!

Let me know your favourite 2020 reads!

Emily’s Top 12 Books of 2019

This year I hit on a better way to do my top books of the year post. In past years, I’ve always looked at my GoodReads yearly challenge page in December and tried to narrow down a top ten for the year. Often the books at the end of the year were fresh in my mind but memories of the ones from earlier were starting to fade. It always felt weird having mostly books from the last few months in such a wrap-up post.

That’s why during 2019, I’ve kept a list of my favourite book each month as the year went along, so I can safely say these were my favourite books of the year, even if I sometimes can’t remember why. (Except for really mind-blowing favourites, the details tend to fade for me).

So without further ado, here are Emily’s Top 12 Books of 2019:

January:

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. The prose in this book is spectacular all the way through, but nothing beats the chapters where Lazlo and Sarai fell in love over the course of a shared dream. *swoon*

February:

Famous Last Words by Katie Alender. This was such a fun, ghostly book! It reminded me that I enjoy ghost stories (as long as they’re not too scary). It was also a fun thriller, which is what I needed after all the SFF.

March:

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. Mostly, I loved this book because of its forbidden romance element in the Russia-verse, but the whole book was so entertaining! And the audio book is so well performed by Tavia Gilbert.

April:

I have to say it’s a tie between Ten Thousand Skies Above You and A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray because I couldn’t get enough of this series, even when it was a bit predictable. Honourable mention to Romanov by Nadine Brandes because even though I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped, it made me think a lot about the real Romanovs and got under my skin.

May:

The Red Labyrinth by Meredith Tate. This was a fun, twisty dystopian, with an ending that left me wanting more. I’m not sure if there will actually be a second book but I sure hope so, because that ending was quite something!

June:

The Diviners by Libba Bray. This had so many things I like – old-timey New York City (it’s set during Prohibition), ghosts, serial killings and occult mischief. And it was just the right amount of scary. Not to mention January LaVoy does such a great job on the audio version, really bringing this whole world to life.

July:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis– maybe this is because of nostalgia? Even though I never read the books as a child, I did watch the BBC adaptation an awful lot. I really need to get back to my plan to read the rest of the Narnia books.

August:

Women of Wasps and War by Madeleine D’Este. I read this nearly all in one sitting. It was so powerful and made me feel a lot of things. It explored societal privilege in detail and I particularly liked how D’Este examined the way you can love an individual and still recognise they are part of the oppressive system.

September:

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I’d been looking forward to this book for a while by the time it was released. It took me a little while to get into it but I eventually realised that was because I was reading it in small doses. It needs your full and undivided attention. I loved learning about Mexican mythology, and the writing is poetry!

 

October:

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg. Almost-human robots in a dystopian Disneyland. What’s not to love? This was fast-paced and incredibly fun! I was worried I had hyped it up to myself too much, but it lived up to my expectations! Now I want a sequel where the robots stage a revolution!

November:

Portable Curiosities by Julie Koh. I’ve become more interested in short story collections in the past few months and this was definitely a quirky, enjoyable one. Sometimes I had to think about the stories before I figured out what they were really saying, and there were a few that I didn’t get at all, but the satire was really entertaining.

December:

A Holiday by Gaslight by  Mimi  Mathews. I was in such a readinig slump and this delightful little Victorian romance was exactly what I needed to pull me out. It had everything I wanted in a romance and loved the characters.

You  can see the full list of books I read this year at my GoodReads 2019 Challenge page.

Here’s to more amazing books in 2020! Can’t wait to hang out with you all some more!