Thursday, December 3, 2020

Favorite Books of 2020

An interesting observation about 2020: though I have been home much more due to the pandemic, I've actually read less books this year than last year. Part of that, I think, is because I used to read during my lunch breaks at work, and with remote work, and then no work (yes I am one of those who was laid off), I just haven't had as much dedicated time to reading. You're like, wait, you haven't been working, and you're still not reading? Yes, friends, I've got a personal project I've been working on that has taken up a lot of my time. 

Still, I do have some favorites of the year, so let's get to them...

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Synopsis:  It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Greyson Tolliver. In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

Why it made the list: The Toll is the final book in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, one of the best trilogies I have read in recent memory. Though the second book is probably my favorite of the three, Shusterman does a great job of wrapping up the story in a satisfying way here in this conclusion, which is not always easy. Though some might argue the story can be a bit preach-y at times, I didn't mind that, as there's a reason for it all. Highly recommend this trilogy.

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Synopsis: This is the way the world ends. Again. Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze -- the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years -- collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She'll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Why it made the list: Jemisin won the Hugo award for best novel for this series each year it was published, so that's already saying something. However, just because a book has won a bunch of awards doesn't mean you're going to like it. And the story of this book is certainly dense. It's not one you can sort of half pay attention to as everything starts to all fit together. It does take a little bit of time to get going, but once it does it's a page-turner, and I am certainly looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Synopsis: A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones. Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Why it made the list: As I mentioned in my full review, some people really seem to dislike this book, but I don't understand why as, personally, I really enjoyed it. I think Roth's writing must speak to me in some way, because I have enjoyed most of her books whereas others haven't as much. Oh well, all the more for me to enjoy, then! This book explores what it means to be a Chosen One, and how that can affect your life after you've done your chosen duty. It also takes a major turn about 1/3 of the way through, so if you're not enjoying the first bit, keep with it and you just might like the rest of it more. I liked both, honestly, and particularly enjoyed that I could still root for a leading female character who was very flawed without being endlessly annoyed by her.

Other books I enjoyed this year, but wouldn't call my favorites: The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta, The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

You can check out all of the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page, but let me know if you’ve had any favorites from this year that I should check out!

Past Years:
20192018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012


  1. I'm so sorry about the lay off. In this year, spending time doing whatever makes us feel happy and sane is worth celebrating - whether reading, personal projects (so curious about that!) or something else. Glad you read some winners. This year felt a bit lackluster for me in terms of reading, but I did also love The Fifth Season!

    1. Thanks, Brittany! Yeah, I didn't looove a lot of the books I read this year TBH. I've even not finished a couple, which is very rare for me. But like you said, doing whatever makes you feel happy and sane is the real goal, and I said to myself, why continue on with a book that you really are not enjoying?

      Sending you an email about the new project! :)