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.