It’s more traditional to publish “best of” lists in December…but I like to do them in January. What if I had read something incredible on December 31st? This way is better.
I read a LOT of books in 2020: 235 books, to be precise. That’s quite a few, even for me. My highest number ever since I started keeping track.
The Best Books I read in 2020
If you want to see all of the books I read in 2020, you can scroll through my Goodreads here. If you want to hear about the best of the best, keep reading.
The Fifth Season N. K. Jemisin.
This book blew my mind so hard that I am doing something I almost never do: I’m waiting to read the next one.
Normally when I love a series I inhale it all in an orgy of consecutive reading, going through it so quickly that I don’t remember later what happened in which book. I know I’m going to read the rest of this series and everything N.K. Jemison has ever written, because HOLY MOLY this book is incredible, but I feel like I am still digesting this first one. This happens to me once every few years, when I read something truly exceptional that feels like it needs room to breathe in my brain before I go onto the next installment.
It’s Science Fiction, one of my least favorite genres, but it still rocked my world (which is a little bit of a pun in context).
A lot of you recommended this series last year when I put out a call on Instagram asking for your favorite books by Black authors and you were extremely correct to suggest it.
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn.
Veronica Speedwell is a lady lepidopterist living her best life in late 1880’s London when she is suddenly catapulted into a mystery. Already an intrepid traveler and scientist, Veronica doesn’t shy away from investigating the strange circumstances she finds herself in, even when things become dangerous.
This book is so smart and clever and satisfying. I want to be friends with both Veronica and her author, Deanna Raybourn, who I now also enjoy following on Twitter. The entire series is worth your time.
If the books I loved in 2020 had one theme, it would be “badass women doing exactly what they want and doing it well.”
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland.
The premise of Dread Nation is “what if the people killed in the Civil War became zombies…and young women of color were trained as zombie hunters.”
This book is fantastic. It follows the story of one young Black woman as she tries to find her place in this dystopian version of our history. It’s complex and creative and thrilling.
I enjoyed it all the way through and then at the very end something new was revealed and it made me love the entire thing even more. I can’t wait to read the next in the series.
My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh.
This book is a perfect example of everything I love about Historical Romance. It idealizes friendship and romance and the beauty of two people coming together while learning to be more boldly true to their own selves.
More specifically: it’s a Regency era reverse She’s All That and a friends-to-lovers romance with two cinnamon roll book nerds who get to know each other at a library. I’ve read it three times already.
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.
This book is extraordinarily strange. It is dramatic and macabre and sarcastic and I loved it. It’s been described as “lesbian necromancers explore a haunted mansion in space” with swordfighting on top and yes, that’s what it is.
If this is the sort of weirdness you like, this is the book for you. If you don’t like how it sounds, you’ll probably put it down after the first chapter or two.
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai.
YES this book. This Contemporary Romance is about tech entrepreneur Rhiannon Hunter, who created a swipe-style dating app, and what happens when an intriguing man from her past shows up working for a rival app. Featuring eccentric reclusive aunts, tech world corporate shenanigans, and ex-pro football players.
Sidenote: Alisha Rai is a great social media follow. She’s smart & interesting on Twitter and hilarious on TikTok.
Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins.
It isn’t really accurate to list this book alone, but when I read Wild Rain in the middle of 2020 it was the first Beverly Jenkins book I had ever read.
I immediately tracked down the rest of the series, its interconnected series, and every Beverly Jenkins eBook available at my library and read them all. Beverley Jenkins is perhaps the most famous Black romance writer of all time, and her fame is extremely well-deserved.
Wild Rain is a Historical Romance that tells the story of Spring Rain, a badass woman rancher in the Wild West of Wyoming after the Civil War. She meets Colton Lee when he comes to town to interview her brother for his Baltimore-based Black newspaper. The reporter soon becomes more entangled with Spring and her small town than he could have expected.
A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness.
This book is about Diana, a historian, professor and a witch. She’s ignored her magic for most of her life, but after an encounter with an enchanted manuscript while researching at the Bodleian Library, the magical world isn’t willing to ignore her any longer. Diana must embrace her heritage to survive and unexpectedly falls in love along the way…with a vampire.
The main characters end up traveling back in time, meeting historical characters, and wearing some rather historically accurate jewelry! Libraries, magic, adventure, romance (there are sex scenes but only PG-13).
I actually read this book for the first time in 2019, but I was too sick last year to do a Best Books post AND I reread it in 2020, so I figure it deserves to be here.
Silver Silence by Nalini Singh.
This book is the first in Psy-Changeling Trinity, a new series also set in Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling universe. According to the author, this series is Psy-Changling “Season Two.”
This book focuses on the love story of Silver Mercant, a Psy character who appeared briefly in the earlier books and an entirely new Changeling family. They’re bears and I cannot get enough of them. (I’m not using a euphemism. They are people who can change into bears.)
With this series, there are now 24+ Psy-Changeling books and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for a good long vacation from reality.
Please note: all the Psy-Changeling books are Fantasy Romance, which means sex scenes.
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas.
People have been recommending these books to me ever since they were first published but I only recently gave them a chance. The concept is “what if Sherlock Holmes was actually a woman?” and it could have been gimmicky, but instead these are richly detailed, well-plotted, thoroughly enjoyable books in their own right.
I devoured this first book and immediately requested all the others from the library. Wonderfully twisty for the brain and good for anyone who likes to read smart mysteries.
As much as I appreciate it when you use my affiliate links, please do consider going through your local bookstore if you decide to purchase any of these books for yourself.
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