2020 truly was a year for the books (don’t worry, I instantly regretted that pun). This is the year where I discovered that I’m obsessed with contemporary romance novels (think Berkley, not Harlequin). I was a super-avid reader as a child, but I found it harder to make time for it as an adult. Nothing like being stuck at home for nine months to catch up on old hobbies!
Here are a few of my favorite things from the year!
Favorite Fiction (in no particular order)
- The Bookshop of Second Chances – Jackie Fraser (to be released in 2021)
- Kindred – Octavia Butler
- Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
- Beach Read – Emily Henry
- Well Met – Jen DeLuca
- The Bright Side of Going Dark – Kelly Harms
- Normal People – Sally Rooney
- The Friend Zone – Abby Jimenez
So, technically all of the “non-fiction” I read this year was either presented in memoirs style (10% Happier) or to fictionalized to protect the identities of the innocent (Three Women, lol). So for this somewhat amorphous category, I’m picking The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. Yes, technically they are humor essays. However, they are boldly political, analytical takes at culture at large rather than explicitly personal essays, very much a response to the evils of the Trump administration and the #MeToo-era reckoning of the sex pests. This book informs and challenges as it entertains, and for that, it has won the top slot in its category.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson – I loved this book so much that I listened to a 4-part podcast series about it after I was finished. I was shocked that I could be so invested in the story of an artist to whom I hadn’t previously given much thought. I listened to the audiobook (obtained through my local library!), and not only was Jessica’s performance incredible and emotional, her (literary) voice came through so clearly in her writing. Honorable mention: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.
Favorite Essay Collection
This one feels like choosing between my own (currently non-existent) children. Humor essays are my all-time favorite genre of writing, so they comprise a significant portion of what I read in general. Although David Sedaris will likely always be my favorite humorist, this year it went to a tie between Wow, No Thank You and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. These two books had me wheezing from start to finish. I’ve actually never been so inspired to write before (although of course, I didn’t follow through because everything I produced was absolute garbage compared to the Word Science herself).
Best Audiobook Performance
While this book didn’t make it into one of my favorite slots, I had to shout out Rachel Bloom’s unbelievable performance of I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are. This was a joy start to finish, and she performs a literal musical in the middle. Rachel Bloom is a STAR.
These are the books I’ve started (and enjoyed) this year but didn’t finish by midnight on the 31st:
- A Promised Land, Barack Obama
- Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier (re-reading)
- 1984, George Orwell
- The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk
- Quit Like a Woman, Holly Whitaker
- Something That May Shock and Discredit You, Daniel M. Lavery
- Let Love Rule, Lenny Kravitz