Top Ten Books of 2020

Top 10 Books of 2020

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Top Ten Tuesday

This train wreck of a year is finally ending and it’s time to post my top ten books of 2020! I revived my book blog in June so I haven’t written reviews for all of these. I’m leaving out books that I re-read and these obviously weren’t all published this year; I simply read them in 2020. Here we go!

5-Star Books

I’m very stingy with my five-star ratings but these made the cut, in no particular order:

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden–This series, beginning with The Bear and the Nightingale and ending with this book, has been phenomenal from beginning to end. I’m not familiar with Russian folktales or history at all but Ms. Arden beautifully wove them together in this trilogy. (Affiliate links)

Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston–The Once Upon a Con series is adorable but also has a lot of heart. Poston’s take on Beauty and the Beast (my favorite fairy tale since the animated movie came out in 1991) was almost guaranteed to get 5 stars from me.

Goldie Vance by Hope Larson, illustrated by Brittney Williams–I was never a fan of mysteries as a kid but Goldie Vance would have changed my mind. She practically leaps off the page! The diverse characters and fun retro artwork only add to the appeal.

Melissa (Formerly published as George) by Alex Gino–Poor planning on my part left me scrambling for short books to read and review for Banned Books Week. I stumbled onto George and the rest is history. George is a girl but she was born in a boy’s body. Her struggles within herself and as she slowly reveals her secret to loved ones swelled my heart to bursting.

Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright–An old classmate who’s a librarian recommended this to me and I’m so glad she did. I wouldn’t have believed that a book about plagues would make it into my top ten books during a pandemic but here we are. The book was somehow funny yet informative. It also gave me hope since, for every plague humanity has faced, someone has risen to the task of fighting it and we’re still here.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune–I’ll post my GoodReads review in its entirety here: “I think my heart just grew three sizes. I loved the characters, I loved their life lessons, and most importantly, I loved that they were seen. I love books with characters who build the families they choose, and what a delightful family this band of outcasts created.”

4.5-Star Books

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy, read by Val Toomey, George Newbern, Marin Ireland, and Joel Froomkin–I love a good twist but I’m usually disappointed by twisty books that others love. Not so here. Goodnight Beautiful didn’t just twist, it corkscrewed! It also turns the “crazy girl” mystery trope on its ear.

Devolution by Max Brooks, read by a full cast–My husband and I were living in Portland, Oregon for six months with his job when I listened to this book, and being so close to the setting may have bumped my rating up a little. But the phenomenal narrators and the almost-believable Sasquatch horror made this one of my top reads for the year.

4-Star Books

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys–This author brings history to life for me in a way that few others can match. She’s outdone herself in this book about an American teen spending a summer in Spain in the 1950s and the girl he meets there. The glamor of the expatriate lifestyle contrasts harshly with life under the dictator Franco and the unthinkable cruelties he inflicted on political dissidents.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, read by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler–Ms. Ryan explores the transformative power of music in this historical book written for young adults. Following three young people and an amazing harmonica through WWII, this is another book that warmed my heart.

That’s my list! Have you read any of these? Did they make your list? Which books did/would you choose? Link up every Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl!

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  1. I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about Get Well Soon! I think I might wait until it’s a little less relevant, but I am excited to pick it up.

    I’m impressed by how few books you give 5 stars. I think one problem with my rating scale is that I give enough book five stars that I feel like I need something higher for the very best books I read and it would be nice if I could instead simply reserve the 5 star rating for those.

  2. I have the Bear and the Nightingale on my TBR list and tried listening to it, but couldn’t get on with it. So I’ll give it go at some stage, soon – so many folks have loved the series! And I also want to get hold of the T.J. Klune book, too.

  3. I haven’t read any of these, but they look appealing – the Winternight trilogy already made it to my TBR list thanks to you, but that house on the Klune cover gives me vertigo every time I watch it, lol !

  4. Get Well Soon sounds really interesting, especially right now. Although I’ve always found the Black Death and the Spanish Flu to be interesting (and hopeful, since humanity made it through) subjects.

    1. Thanks! Sounds like Jasmine Guillory’s rom-coms starting with The Wedding Date, which I’ve been listening to out of order, by accident.

  5. I haven’t read any of the books on your list, but the Katherine Arden trilogy has been kind of on my TBR (really just The Bear and the Nightingale to start with!) and I would like to read Goodnight Beautiful, too. I hadn’t heard of Bookish and the Beast but it sounds like a fun one to go with my lightened-up reading list!

  6. On your list, I’ve only read 1, Fountains of Silence, which I liked (Rua Sepetys is amazing in my view). But, others look good, too. Happy New Year!

    1. I was fortunate to hear Ruta Sepetys speak at the Texas Book Festival in 2019. She’s fascinating! I also loved Between Shades of Gray if you haven’t read that one. Out of the Easy was good but not quite on the same level. I still need to read Salt to the Sea.

  7. The only one of these that I have read so far is The House in the Cerulean Sea (which also topped my list this week). I have a few others on my TBR still, though, and am looking forward to them even more now!

  8. Bookish and The Beast is on my TBR. I love beauty and the beast re-tellings/imaginings. 🙂

  9. Katherine Arden — I don’t know why I won’t pick up that series. I had the misfortune of reading a severe review of the first book and that really tied me down. Given how many people have loved this series, and how much I’ve always loved Russian folklore, I guess this is something I need to fix in 2021.

    I will probably not pick up “Get Well Soon” any time soon, but Bookish and the Beast sounds lovely. And George looks great too (strangely, the book cover reminds me of Google’s logo, why!?).

    Happy TTT and Happy 2021 in advance!

    1. Sometimes it’s almost impossible to move past first impressions of a book.

      I would have said this was a terrible year for me personally to read Get Well Soon so I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it.

      George’s cover does look like Google’s logo! 😀

  10. How clever to list your books according to your ratings. I just went on feelings. But they are all 5 and 4 star reads.

    The house in the Cerulean Sea is still on my TBR and I hope to get to it soon. Just need to get a copy! Get well soon sounds good, will have a look. Oh and The Bear and the Nightingale! I really do need to read that series.

    I hope 2021 will bring some great books for you.

    Happy New Year!

    Elza Reads’ Top Ten Favorites for 2020

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