2020 has been one hell of a year. I’ve ended up reading significantly less this year than I have in years before, and I doubt that I’m the only one that’s happened to. Reading is hard when the world is a mess! YouTube is just so much easier!
But I did read some excellent books this year, and found more new favourites than I’d expected to find within a single year! Even though 2020 wasn’t a good reading year for me in terms of quantity, it was very good in terms of quality, and I know that I’d prefer quality over quantity any day.
Rereads don’t count for this list, so this is just a list of my top five books that I read for the first time in 2020. Without further ado, and in no particular order, let’s get into it!
Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
I read this one by accident. I was left unattended near a bookshop, so I bought this and one other book (and honestly the fact that I only bought two books that day shows remarkable restraint on my part), and then I didn’t have anything else to do while waiting for a friend to meet up with me so I started reading. The world portrayed in this book made me feel safe. It’s supposed to be a utopia, and it was a utopia that I can 100% get behind. One of the things that solidified this as a new favourite for me was the way that Emezi uses the words ‘monster’ and ‘angel’ throughout the story, I love how they handled it and am fighting the urge to write an essay unpacking it. Another thing I love about this novella is its overall message that insisting that something is fine doesn’t necessarily mean that it really is fine, and that denial and a lack of education about difficult topics won’t make the difficult topics go away, rather it’ll do the opposite. Emezi did an amazing job at portraying such a harsh lesson in a way that’s accessible for younger readers.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
I loved everything about this book! The main character was literally raised in a library full of magical books that are alive (!!!), she gets a sword within the first couple of chapters, and the rest of the magic system relying on deals with demons basically meant this book was tailor made for me. Add that to the main demon character being someone who pretends that he doesn’t care about his friends while actually caring so much about them that he’s willing to lay down his life to keep them safe, and that queer people are allowed to exist in this book’s world without it being a huge deal, and I love this book with all my heart! Silas is my favourite fictional demon, and as a Supernatural and Good Omens fan I have a lot of demons to choose from. Silas is the best. It isn’t even a contest.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
The world that Bashardoust built up in this book was vivid and felt real, and I really liked how all the characters were complex people. Nobody was entirely good or entirely evil, everybody had reasons for their actions, and most of those reasons were good ones. I came away from this book liking some characters less than others, but still understanding why they made the choices that they did. Soraya was a great protagonist, and her journey of self acceptance was a joy to read, even though honestly if she’d decided to destroy everything and take power solely for herself I would’ve been right there supporting her. Also her relationship with Parvaneh was lovely, and I think about the scene with the lights in the forest a lot!
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Gong’s loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet is a triumph. There’s just enough of the original story present for it to be recognisable, and when certain elements or scenes cropped up as I was reading I was yelling as I recognised them, but the setting of 1920s Shanghai comes with its own political backdrop, and the ‘madness’ pandemic was both horrifying and vaguely prophetic of how 2020 ended up going in reality. I adore almost every single character, but especially Juliette. She’s awesome, cutthroat, and willing to go to the ends of the earth for the sake of her family and for the sake of her city. I can’t wait until the next book in this series comes out, I just have to know what happens next!
The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi
This is another one where I can’t wait until the next book comes out, and if you’ve read it then you understand my pain. This book started hurting me from the very first page, and it didn’t let up for a single moment. I love these characters so much, and so much more than I’d initially realised upon finishing the first book in the series, and seeing them all hurt so much was a Time™. Generally, if something’s driven me to start yelling about it in my partner’s DMs, then I know it’s a favourite and leaving it out of a top books of the year list would simply be inaccurate. I’m usually able to be somewhat calm about the trials and tribulations of fictional characters, and this book shattered that calm. Chokshi holds a lot of power over my heart right now and I can only hope she chooses to be kind.
And that’s it! Have you read any of the books on this list? What did you think of them? What are some of your top books of the year?
About The Blogger
El is a 21 year old university student from the UK who loves to read and loves talking about what they read. They particularly like to focus on books featuring lgbtq+ main characters.