2020 was a tough year all around. There was so much loss, so much pain. One bright light for me was the vast number of wonderful books and inspiring stories that I spent time with during quarantine. Reading has always brought me joy and comfort, and in 2020, my love of books was a true blessing.
I read 81 books in 2020 (what else is there to do while stuck at home?), and here are my top favorites:
- HAMNET by Maggie O’Farrell – This book is so extraordinary that my heart hurt when I finished it. I also cried that it had ended. It’s about Shakespeare, the plague, grief, love, forgiveness, childhood, family, and I can’t wait to read it again.
- THE MOOR’S ACCOUNT by Laila Lalami – A 2014 release, this book is about an enslaved man forced to accompany a company of Spanish soldiers invading the Americas. It is meticulously written and researched and reading it is an immersive experience.
- THE BOOK OF LONGINGS by Sue Monk Kidd – I’ve talked about this book on social media before. The story of Jesus’ life — specifically his wife — is gorgeously told and resonated deeply with me. I started sobbing on page 375 — just FYI.
- MONOGAMY by Sue Miller – It is truly a gift to read a book and think “Oh my goodness, I love this novel so much!” That’s how I felt the entire time reading this book.
- STATION ELEVEN by Emily St John Mandel – Reading a book about a pandemic during a pandemic may make some think twice, but this novel is about what makes us human, how we survive, and what unites us. So, so good.
- THE VANISHING HALF by Britt Bennett – This book is on every “best of 2020” list and rightly so. It’s about two sisters, both Black, one of whom elects to live her life as a white woman, separating her forever from her heritage and family.
- WRITERS & LOVERS by Lily King – I had the pleasure of hosting Lily King on A Mighty Blaze’s Authors Love Bookstores this summer and gushed embarrassingly about how much I loved her book. It brought me back to my twenties, when I lived in Cambridge, MA, trying to figure out my future—a similar journey to the book’s protagonist.
For a complete list of my top 25 reads of 2020, visit my Bookshop.org shop. Bookshop.org, if you’re not aware, is an online bookstore that’s aiming to disrupt the hold big box stores have on book sales. Many independent bookstores have Bookshop.org stores, which allowed them to earn money while pivoting their sales and distribution during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share our A Mighty Blaze Authors Love Bookstores Holiday Edition. In this episode, my co-host, Joe Moldover, and I offer up more than 40 book recommendations. Although the holiday season has passed, our suggestions are worth checking out for ideas for your 2021 reads.
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