2020 is forcing us to be alone, isolated with our thoughts and that is terrifying enough. So while we tried baking bread, Tiger King, and everything except not crumbling under pressure, books saved us. Saved me at least. Reading has become such a sweet comfort in the past few months that I want nothing except to finish my work, wrap chores, and get back to the book I am reading. That comfort is addictive.
2020 is far from over though, so I thought why not do a good old round up of the best books to read in 2020. This list is quite broad, I have included a little bit of everything so you can have your pick.
- The Cruel Prince(Folk of the Air Series)– Easily the best fantasy book I have read in a long long time, Holly Black is a master craftsman, writing a strong, dark, and surreal story that spans three books and lives in the magnificent Faerie Court. You can read my review here to know more about the book.
- The Vanishing Half- Debuting at Number One at the New York Times bestseller list, The Vanishing Half starts off as a story of race and American history but turns into a saga of generations, relationships, and the lasting effects of split-second decisions. The Vignes Twin Sisters shock the small town in the Deep South by running away and returning with mysterious secrets. Can the sisters manage to live their lives free of consequences? Is there a fear lurking around forever? The book unravels various threads wonderfully. The author Brit Benett has sold the book rights to HBO for a limited series.
- Death in Her Hands- A slow, mysterious whodunnit, Death in Her Hands is about an elderly widow who finds a mysterious note written in the woods. The note talks about a dead body, Magda but there is no dead body. Ottessa Mosfegh builds a tale of suspense, black comedy, and horror as the protagonist starts an investigation of her own and creates a list of suspects for the crime. Is the note a prank, a welcome to the new member of the community? Or is there something sinister as her suspicions get confirmed once her investigation begins. Death in Her Hands is an absolute pleasure to read and consume.
- Girl, Woman, Other- Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, Evaristo’s 8th novel follows the lives of 12 women in the United Kingdom, all black, all busy building their own narratives. The novel is quick, very fast-paced with introductions and changes in the story, yet richly focused on details and little things that make the characters seem raw and real. Grace is a Victorian orphan, hyper-focused on an African father she may never meet, Amma is fierce and independent, Morgan (formerly Megan) is changing the way activist influencers are known. Strong written women of color in Britain that is likable yet never changing,
- The Book of Longings- ‘I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus’ begins the new novel by Sue Monk Kidd. A controversial topic and effort by Kidd to introduce readers to the sacred feminine and understand the role of women in an era where they were delegated to the background. Ana is a gifted historian, archivist, and scribe who is also the sister of Judas. Talk about a complicated family tree. Jesus remains absent for most of the book and when he is introduced, it is with constant reminders that he was a tool for more violent and aggressive reformers and an overbearing society. Kidd’s latest effort is definitely worth a read for its period drama, details, and the possibility of a feminist historian being the wife of Jesus.
- Pizza Girl- Written by Jean Kyoung Frazier, Pizza Girl is a light, fun read about an 18-year-old Korean-American pizza delivery girl. She is pregnant, confused, and walking through her life, feeling suffocated by her mother and boyfriend. It is humorous, witty, and engaging.
- The Ballard of Songbirds and Snakes- The prequel to the Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins latest effort takes us to the 10th Hunger Games where Coriolanus Snow is a teen and a mentor to District 12. Staying true to its origins, Collins adds new details, fleshes out important characters, and builds a really strong background to her original characters. We get to see Snow turning into the powerful megalomaniac that he eventually becomes.
- Untamed- This part fiction, part memoir has become hugely popular due to Adele’s recommendation. I thought it flawed and limited due to the superficiality of Glennon Doyle’s issues and relationships. But it is worth a read if you like self-help, memoirs, and want a glimpse into a complicated white woman’s life and character. You can read a complete review here.
- My Dark Vanessa- A highly controversial book, My Dark Vanessa is about Vanessa, an awkward 15-year-old at a boarding school, and her affair with the 42-year-old English teacher Jacob Strane. Kate Elizabeth Russell’s debut novel was fraught with controversy even before it got published as companies were undergoing the #MeToo movement. Russell thought it was important to share such stories to understand their underlying impact on women and their lives. Vanessa is now 32 and a hotel receptionist by day and at night has sex with random, strange men, not focusing to build any relationships or meanings. Vanessa is also not the ‘good victim’, years later she remains in touch with Strane, even believing there’s was a relationship rather than an affair. The book was difficult to read as a woman, to see Strane not defined completely as a villain, but it was illuminating, to say the least.
- Mexican Gothic- The horror, the suspense, the isolation of a beautiful mansion is so achingly created in this novel by Silvia Moreno Garcia. Noemi, a gorgeous debutante is forced to face harsh realities and examine her relationships when her cousin claims that her husband is trying to murder her. The house acts as a character, its beauty hiding dark secrets that Noemi may be the one to uncover. A must must-read for horror readers and readers who enjoy suspense and murder mysteries.