Favorite Books of 2020

All those aspirations to start blogging again in 2020 panned out real well… she says as she notices her last post was about her favorite books of 2021… Le sigh.

I was not one of those folks for whom reading was a safe haven during the pandemic; reality tv and video games were my distraction of choice during the worst of those early COVID months. But once I settled into my new work-from-home/socially-distanced/I-haven’t-left-my-home-in-three-weeks life, I got some good reading in. I found comfort in some cozy classics (a re-read of the Anne of Green Gables books and my first read of the Emily of New Moon books), found the heroine I needed as a child in Tiffany Aching, and read a whole lot of gay books.

Without further ado, my favorite books of 2020!

Published in 2020

  • Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu – I tried explaining this book to my girlfriend and failed miserably. It’s about race, a fake cop show, immigration, poverty, and a whole lot more.
  • The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite – The second in Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series of f/f historical romances. Grumpy printer falls in love with pants-wearing beekeeper, bee heist ensues.
  • My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland – Part memoir, part biography, part meditation on queerness and identity. A fascinating read.
  • The Seep by Chana Porter – A deeply weird novella about a “soft” alien invasion, love, and grief. Features a talking bear.
  • Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby – Irby is hilarious as always, and I found a lot to identify with as she faces turning 40 and settling into life with her partner.

Published before 2020

  • Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern – A graphic novel that I’m pretty sure was written specifically for me. Vampires + regency England + Lord Byron (“from books!”) + unreserved silliness = an absolute delight.
  • Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis – Historical fiction about a group of lesbian/bisexual women living under a brutal dictatorship in Uruguay. Harrowing at times, but truly lovely.
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker – I had picked this book up a few times before giving up after the bleakness of the first few pages. Stuck with it this time, and it was every bit as good as I’d been told.
  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. Apparently devastating books about lesbian/bisexual women was a mini-reading trend for me this year… a harrowing memoir about an abusive relationship is usually not my thing, but Machado’s writing is. The book’s structure – each chapter written in a style or using a narrative trope to take a kaleidoscopic look at trauma – is thrillingly inventive.
  • Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout – My girlfriend asked me what this book about. My initial response (“I dunno, white people in Maine?”) was 100% accurate but doesn’t do it justice. I’m a sucker for linked short stories, but it’s really the character of Olive Kitteridge – prickly, wry, difficult – trying to make sense of herself and the world around her that gets me.

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