2020 will go down as the year of many things, but one of the most important things to me is that it was the year that I fell back in love with reading.
I used to read a ton as a kid. I actually remember taking a book to a store one time — pretty sure it was a Magic Treehouse book — and reading it while walking through the aisles.
But through middle school, high school, and college, I kind of lost my desire to read for fun. We’d read these classic books, I’d skim the text or just read the Sparknotes, take the test, and move on.
I also got busy, I had more responsibilities, and I was trying to get good grades, internships, and jobs. Reading just wasn’t a priority for me anymore.
Then…2020 happened. And I found myself having much more time at home on the couch snuggling with my cat.
So, I decided to read! And read and read and read. And read some more.
So far, I’ve read 36 books this year (and I started a few I didn’t end up finishing).
And through these stories, I was able to get out of this four-wall house and explore the French Alps, befriend an alien from another world, participate in a treasure hunt through a virtual utopia, survive a silly-yet-heartwarming hostage situation, and even colonize Mars.
These stories allowed me to go on so many fun, exciting, thrilling, and suspenseful trips, even when I was stuck at home in my pajamas. I am so thankful for these books, and that’s why I wanted to share some of my faves today!
If you’re interested in checking any of them out for yourself or for a loved one, I have links to purchase the books below. The first one, the link to buy a physical copy, is for Bookshop.org, a website that allows you to support independent bookstores with your purchase. The second, the ebook version, is an Amazon link.
I highly encourage you to check out your local library as well. Getting a library card last year was one of the very best things I’ve done for myself, and it’s free. I’ve read so many more books thanks to my local library! I’ve gotten physical copies from them, as well as ebook and audiobook copies. Literally something for everyone!
Obviously this book has gotten a ton of hype this year since it was turned into a Hulu miniseries with Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, but man. I loved it.
Ng’s writing style was so unique, but I loved it. She expertly weaved each character’s thoughts and actions into a powerful story about what it means to be a mother and how to be a family during tough times.
Ng was actually born in Pittsburgh, and some of this book takes place in Pittsburgh! Super fun.
I watched a lot of “Booktube” (aka. creators on YouTube who talk about books) this year, and this is one of those books that was recommended a ton.
That said, the premise didn’t sound all that appealing to me. It seemed to be about video games and was set in a pretty depressing future, and I almost didn’t read it.
It ended up being one of the best books I’ve ever read.
If you get a kick out of “Easter Eggs,” if you love adventure books, or if you’re just looking for a book that will keep you thinking about it even when you’re not reading it, this is it.
Ready Player Two came out this year, but I haven’t read it yet. I’m excited to, though!
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
This was such a beautiful book, and another that kept me up way too late reading until the very end.
It’s the story of two boys who don’t really fit into a normal mold, but they end up forming a really touching and caring friendship.
It’s as funny as it is heartwarming, and I highly recommend!
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Okay, this was one of those books that I didn’t love as I was reading it until the end. And after I was done, I thought about it for weeks.
I was so enamored with the story, I ended up buying the ebook version of the sequel the next day.
It’s a bizarre story of aliens coming to Earth, a girl who becomes an “influencer” and social media star overnight, and the power that we have when we all come together in pursuit of a common goal.
That last part was just so encouraging and promising, especially given the pandemic this year.
Oh my goodness. This book was twisty.
It’s a suspenseful thriller with a potentially unreliable narrator, and I just couldn’t put it down.
I will say it started a bit slow, but once I got about a fourth of the way through, it was a bit of a race to the finish.
I totally didn’t see the main “twist” coming, and I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of thrillers!
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
Switching gears a bit, this was one of the few nonfiction books I read this year, and man. I loved it.
It came recommended from Mark’s mom actually, and I just really got into the writing style. The way Gottlieb was able to weave different stories together with her own struggles was so well done.
It was heartwarming, funny, educational, and it took me to a unique place of reflection and self-awareness.
For someone who typically doesn’t read nonfiction books, I loved this one so so much. If you’re interested in learning more about mental health, I highly recommend it!
Taylor. Freaking. Jenkins. Reid.
My favorite author. If by some miracle she happens upon this blog post, I just want to say: Hi, I love you. Thank you for your stories.
And that’s because the premise…is a bit wild. It’s a love story gone Castaway situation gone love triangle.
But man. Reid can pull at your heartstrings through tragedy, hope, and love. She has a way with words that will leave you devouring every last one and hungry for hundreds more.
This was one of those books that I didn’t necessarily love, but I really liked it. The story was equally bizarre, hysterical, touching, and puzzling.
As the book starts out, it’s a story of idiots. But it’s also a story of doing the right thing, pushing through the bad days, and finding hope in unlikely places.
There are some twists, lots of hope, and quite a few questionable decisions, and it’s probably one of the more unique stories I read this year, both in writing style and story development!
Totally late to the game on this one, but one of the best books I’ve ever read.
Death narrates this story that takes place in the WWII-era, and it follows a little girl, her love of reading, and how she navigates the hate and danger of growing up in Nazi Germany.
It’s a unique and an emotional read, and I couldn’t recommend it more.
This book was so much fun.
It’s about a girl, Oona, who lives her life…out of order. Each year on her birthday, she goes to sleep one age, and wakes up another.
It’s just such an interest premise for a book — imagine what your life would be like if you feel asleep at age 16, woke up as a 45 year old, lived an entire year as that 45 year old, and then woke up again at age 21.
It’s wild, fun, and actually a super heartwarming story. Such a good one.
Again, super late to the game with this one, but wow. I actually ended up clapping at the end of this book.
Weir really knows how to tell a story!
It’s the story of an astronaut who is left for dead on Mars, and how he tries to survive for years before he can potentially be rescued.
It is full of some science jargon that I didn’t really understand, but I was hooked from beginning to end.
I’ve never seen the movie, but this book is a masterpiece.
I don’t read romance books often, but I am really glad I picked up this one (and Hibbert’s second book in the series, Take a Hint, Dani Brown).
It’s definitely not for younger readers, but I thought Hibbert’s writing style was so fun and entertaining. In fact, I actively laugh out loud when I’m reading her books!
This one in particular is about a chronically ill shut-in who makes a list that she believes will help her “get a life.” Silliness and romance ensue.
It’s just a super fun and fast read, and I’m really excited to read the third in the series when it’s published!
I did not think I’d like this book. I’ve heard about it for years, but I kind of assumed it was over-hyped. Plus it’s non-fiction, and I just kind of thought it would be full of a lot of superficial and shallow advice. Plus plus, I really didn’t love Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love.
I was so so so wrong. This book. Gah. It may very well become my go-to guide when I’m pursuing a creative project or as I’m working on refining and strengthening my writing skills.
I highlighed so many lines and paragraphs in this book, and I can tell that it’s going to be one that I’ll go back and re-read for many many years.
It’s great for people (like me) who can’t seem to get out of their own way or who can sometimes get paralyzed by their own thoughts, doubts, and fears.
If you’re interested in learning about some of the other books I read this year, follow me (or lurk, I won’t judge) on Goodreads.
I’m also really interested in getting your recommendations! What books did you read and love this year? Leave ’em in the comments!
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