I read over 100 books in the second half of 2020 (115 I think), and many of them were truly extraordinary, so understandably I had a hard time deciding on my ten favourites! For this reason, I included another five in Honourable mentions below. I honestly had a great year when it comes to books (everything else was quite messy!).
It also took me a while longer than expected to put this list together between coming back to work (remotely from Poland for a week) and trying to get back to Oxford in the middle another heavy wave of the pandemic. I’m absolutely exhausted now, and part of me didn’t really want to come back. What’s happening in the UK, in the world really, is scary right now, and I can only hope that the future is brighter.
If you want to check my favourites from the first half of 2020, check them here.
My top 10 of 2020 (Part 2)
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
I read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue in October but I still haven’t found the right words to describe this book, so the long review is pending. But it shows you how much I adored it! My good friend messaged me lately after finishing this and we unanimously agreed that The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a god amongst books. The book follows Addie, a young woman who has made the pact with an old god and traded her soul for immortality. She can live forever, but she’s cursed to be forgotten by anyone she meets on her way. It’s a tale about the memory, time, love, persistence and about the way affect the world and those around us. It’s written in such a poetic language that I have a feeling that the audiobook version is absolutely wonderful – I will be definitely revisiting Addie soon, hopefully in audio this time!
Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Raybearer has been my favourite YA fantasy last year (I keep almost typing ‘this year’). I was lucky to take a part in the listenalong organised by TandemCollectiveUK on Instagram earlier this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed Raybearer in audio. The narrator does a splendid job, especially with many musical and sounds elements in the story. I now own the book in physical form, simply because I’ve enjoyed it so much! Raybearer is West-African inspired story, following Tarisai as she grows up and struggles against destiny imposed on her by her mother. If you enjoy fantasy, I would definitely recommend reading it!
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Erin Morgenstern is one of my absolutely favourite authors, so it’s not a surprise that The Starless Sea has landed on my last year’s favourites list. Though very different from the author’s previous book, The Night Circus, The Starless Sea has a great atmosphere and isn’t an easy book to read. You need to fully focus on the narrative and pay attention to even the little details while reading it, which I enjoyed very much. The Starless Sea follows Zachary, a university student, as he finds himself on a journey like any other. This book is full of stories and choices, and it has a great cast of characters.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Alix E. Harrow is one of the authors I was meant to read previously, but I haven’t until the publication of her second book – and The Once and Future Witches was a great book! It’s definitely the author I’ll keep on my radar after that. The Once and Future Witches follows three sisters, each very different, but each strong and full of passion and care for each other. I loved how it explored the period where most witches supposedly ceased to exist, and allow the sisters to bring back the witching, the magic, their ways in more open ways. It’s such an atmospheric book with a great cast of characters, and I would definitely recommend it to fantasy lovers.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
Set in Shanghai, in the 1920s, Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The book has a great atmosphere from the beginning until the very end, and I can’t wait for the second instalment of the duology. The blood feud between the gangs – the Scarlets and the White Flowers – existed for generations, but the tensions have been heightened in recent years. Now, with Juliette’s return to Shanghai, things are getting even more complicated. The politics, supernatural element and romance between Juliette and Roma are complementing each other in These Violent Delights. I really enjoyed the portrayal of all characters, and I can’t wait to learn more about them.
The Girls of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
I listed to the audiobook of The Girl of Ink and Stars, and it was a great one – the narration draws you in perfectly allows you to get lost in Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s world completely. The Girl of Ink and Stars has been one of my favourite YA reads this year, and I’m looking forward to reading more by the author. The book follows Isabella, a daughter of a cartographer. Clever and resourceful, she volunteers to lead a search for her friend when she disappears, under the disguise of a boy.
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I listened to Daisy Jones & the Six in the audiobook format and I think this book, at least for me, worked way better in this format. This is the first book I read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and she quickly has become one of my favourite authors. Her books are full of great atmosphere and raw, honest and full of flaws characters. Nothing is flawless, nothing is perfect, and it feels so real as a result. Daisy Jones & the Six follows the band, The Six, known in the 1960s. Their story told via interviews with numerous band members is so engaging. If you’re looking for your next audiobook, I would definitely recommend giving this one a chance!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I haven’t read Taylor Jenkins Reid before last year, and what I have been missing! The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo it’s another book by the author I absolutely loved and can’t recommend enough. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo follows ageing Hollywood star, who decides to share the light onto her personal life, with the help of an up-and-rising journalist. Told mostly from Evelyn’s perspective, but interlined with Monique’s story, it’s a powerful and moving story of love, grief and living. If you enjoy historical literary fiction set in contemporary times but reflecting on the past, with the most of the plot happening in the Hollywood between 1950s and 80s, this is definitely one for you!
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Hayes
A Thousand Ships is an absolutely brilliant retelling of the myth of the Trojan War, but from the perspective of women. Women lives, choices and the consequences of the Trojan War for them at the heart of Natalie Hayes’ narrative. It’s an equally passionate, moving and heart-breaking account, and I’ve been recommending this book to my friends ever since I finished it. I listened to the audiobook of A Thousand Ships, narrated by the author herself, which I would definitely recommend. I also bought recently the newest book by the author, Pandora’s Jar, and I’m really looking forward to reading it.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elizabeth Acevedo is another author I have discovered this year, and I will continue reading. I also read The Poet X by her this year, and it was a great book as well, so I included it in my Honourable mentions. Clap When You Land follows the two young girls as they deal with the aftermath of their father’s death following his plane’s crash. Told in verse from the interchanging narration from two half-sisters not knowing of each other’s existence at the beginning, Clap When You Land is an intense and heartbreaking read. I absolutely enjoy Elizabeth Acevedo’s unique style, and I would recommend checking it out if you haven’t read books by her yet.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Piece Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold ed. by Daisy Johnson
Tell me about your favourites from 2020 and the books you’re looking forward to reading in 2021!