The Best Books I Read This Year: 2020

In 2020, my goal was to read 45 books. I fell behind a little bit because of school, and then quarantine happened. You would think that having nothing to do for months on end would have given me plenty of time to read, but alas, it did not happen. My mental capacity to read was very sporadic this year- it took me a month to read Pet Semetery and then the next month I read seven books in four weeks. I ended the year having read a total of 42 books.

Despite not reaching my goal, I’m proud of myself for branching out and reading outside my comfort zone this year. My favorite genre is Contemporary Young Adult, which I did read plenty of, but I also tried some classics, horror, poetry, adult fiction, and more. I enjoyed everything I read this year, and I can’t wait to see what stories I discover in 2021!

That being said, here are my favorite books from this year:

Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

This is a book of poetry that I had been wanting to read for a while before I finally got a copy for Christmas. I read it during my poetry obsession at the beginning of the year and it really inspired me to write my own pieces. I love that many of the poems break conventional expectations. It’s a really beautiful book with many good poems!

Depression & Other Magic Tricks explores themes of mental health, love, and family. It is a documentation of struggle and triumph, a celebration of daily life and of living. Benaim’s wit, empathy, and gift for language produce a work of endless wonder.

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Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

This was one of the last books I read in 2020, but it quickly became one of my favorites. Something about this book just felt so beautiful, whimsical, and magical. The characters are great, the plot is surprisingly interesting, and Leno seamlessly weaves realistic fiction with magical elements. I also love the LGBTQ+ representation, the sisterly love, and the beach-side setting. I loved everything about this book!

Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.

No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask. No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm. No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.

When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

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Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Last year, I put the first book of this series, Scythe, on my top books of 2019 blog post. I had big hopes for the rest of the series and it did not disappoint! I genuinely think I liked this book better than the first, which is something that almost never happens. Shusterman introduced new characters that I loved, kept the plot moving quickly (which kept me on the edge of my seat) and made me cry at 2am when I finally finished the book. The third book didn’t make my top five list, but it is very good as well! I cannot recommend this series enough.

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

I read five Star Wars books this year and holy cow I loved them all so much. This one was definitely one of my favorites, probably because it’s about my favorite space couple in the Star Wars universe. It’s so much fun diving deeper into the Star Wars universe and learning more about characters that you already love.

Ever since the Jedi were marked for death and forced to flee Coruscant, Kanan Jarrus has devoted himself to staying alive rather than serving the Force. Wandering the galaxy alone, from one anonymous job to another, he avoids trouble–especially with the Empire–at all costs. So when he discovers a deadly conflict brewing between ruthless Imperial forces and desperate revolutionaries, he’s not about to get caught in the crossfire. Then the brutal death of a friend at the Empire’s hands forces the ex-Jedi to make a choice: bow down to fear, or stand up and fight.

But Jarrus won’t be fighting alone. Unlikely allies, including a bomb-throwing radical, a former Imperial surveillance agent, a vengeful security officer, and the mysterious Hera Syndulla–an agent provocateur with motives of her own–team up with Jarrus to challenge the Empire. As a crisis of apocalyptic proportions unfolds on the planet Gorse, they must stand together against one of the Emperor’s most fearsome enforcers–for the sake of a world and its people.

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In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

I’ve never read a memoir before but I read good reviews about this one so I gave it a try. WOW. It left me speechless on many occasions. I finished it in one day because I could not put it down. This is the type of memoir I would want to write. Machado blends beautiful metaphors and descriptions with actual events and it feels like poetry. I cannot recommend this book enough. *TW abusive relationship*

For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.

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Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray

Speaking of Star Wars books, this was another one of my favorites this year. It had been on my to-read list all year and it was finally in stock at the library and I was able to read it. Honestly, I mainly wanted this book because it’s about my favorite Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi. What I wasn’t expecting was how much I would love Qui-Gon Ginn. I already liked him from the little we see of him in the films, but it was so cool getting to learn more about him and see into his brain and thought-processes. He quickly jumped up the list to being one of my favorite Jedi of all time. This book was fun, fast-paced, and made me tear up a little because of the emotions between master and apprentice. If you’re a Star Wars fan, I highly recommend this one.

A Jedi must be a fearless warrior, a guardian of justice, and a scholar in the ways of the Force. But perhaps a Jedi’s most essential duty is to pass on what they have learned. Master Yoda trained Dooku; Dooku trained Qui-Gon Jinn; and now Qui-Gon has a Padawan of his own. But while Qui-Gon has faced all manner of threats and danger as a Jedi, nothing has ever scared him like the thought of failing his apprentice.

Obi-Wan Kenobi has deep respect for his Master, but struggles to understand him. Why must Qui-Gon so often disregard the laws that bind the Jedi? Why is Qui-Gon drawn to ancient Jedi prophecies instead of more practical concerns? And why wasn’t Obi-Wan told that Qui-Gon is considering an invitation to join the Jedi Council—knowing it would mean the end of their partnership? The simple answer scares him: Obi-Wan has failed his Master.

When Jedi Rael Averross, another former student of Dooku, requests their assistance with a political dispute, Jinn and Kenobi travel to the royal court of Pijal for what may be their final mission together. What should be a simple assignment quickly becomes clouded by deceit, and by visions of violent disaster that take hold in Qui-Gon’s mind. As Qui-Gon’s faith in prophecy grows, Obi-Wan’s faith in him is tested—just as a threat surfaces that will demand that Master and apprentice come together as never before, or be divided forever.

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe

As soon as I finished this book, I knew it was going to take the #1 spot for the best book I read in 2020. It was both heart-wrenching and heartwarming, and it is such a needed reminder that you never know what someone else is going through. It made me cry on multiple occasions, and it’s rare for books to do that. Everyone needs to read this book.

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

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2020 was a great year for reading. Though I didn’t hit my book goal, I’m very glad I tried some new genres and read some books that I’ve had on my to-read list for a while! I have big reading plans for next year and I can’t wait to see what stories I read next!

Add me on Goodreads to keep up with the exciting stories I’m reading in 2021!

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