This year, I wanted to try something I've never done before: rank every book I read in the past year. I thought it would be a simple task, but it's really not. Although there were books that I enjoyed more than others, each had its own merit and place in my heart during such a tumultuous year. I started 2020 off strong, but I lost my stride when I took a vacation in February. We all know what March brought us, and it took me until the end of May to be able to concentrate and find joy in reading again. Then, during the summer, three friends and I sponsored a reading challenge to raise money for charity, and the excitement in trying to win the competition and discover new authors and read about more diverse topics spurred me on to meet and exceed my goal of reading 36 books. All in all I read 43, and although one book has to be last, that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I found something to appreciate in every book I read. To rank the entire list, I looked at what I rated each book after I read it and placed each book within my 5-star, 4-star, and finally 3-star ratings. Within those starred ratings, I thought about how each book made me feel as I experienced it, and that's how I came to the listing below. So, without further ado, here are all the books I read in 2020 ranked from 43 to number one.
And finally, here are my top ten books of 2020. It was really hard to rank these, as they all are so very different. I gave each of them a 5-star rating, so to order them from ten to one, I thought about how much I enjoyed reading each one and how it left me feeling after I finished. For the final ten, I also added a little context about what stood out for each book.
This was the second book of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's that I read this year, and I enjoyed it a little more than the first. It was a great choice for a spooky read in October. It had just the right amount of suspense and horror for me. And her writing was wonderful as always.
I haven't read very many graphic novels, but this one went instantly to one of my top favorites. It is such a fun science fiction story filled with plenty of relatable characters to grow with and love. I made myself move on to other reads when I finished this, but I will read volume two at some point very soon.
I feel like it's cheating to have this book on my list as it's been a favorite since I was a kid, but I turned to it when I couldn't find the energy or joy to read anything else, and it was like reconnecting with an old friend. I usually tell people it's my favorite book, and while it is, in a way, this year it has to settle for 6th place. There were just too many other books that were a joy to experience for the first time that beat this out.
This was the first Hmong memoir I ever read, and it was eye-opening to say the very least. Yang does a great job at retelling her family's story and weaving in tales and insight of the Hmong culture within the text. It made me realize I have much to learn about the Vietnam War, its aftermath, and Hmong history in general.
I recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding America's criminal justice system and the systemic racism found within it. This is an educational yet moving story about a lawyer's journey to pursue justice for those who need it most.
I nearly read this book in one sitting. It isn't the fluffiest of reads, but I could not put it down. What I liked most was how this book made me feel towards something that in movies and literature usually puts me off. In a good way. I think?
Homegoing was a treat to read. Not necessarily an easy read, but Yaa Gyasi pulled off a magnificent feat in her ability to tell one cohesive story through so many mini stories. Her ability to develop rich characters so quickly and within so few pages is true talent.
I had never read Louise Erdrich until I picked up The Round House, and am I happy to finally have discovered her. Although I read the synopsis, the story took me by surprise and once it hooked me, it didn't let me go. I fully intend on reading more Erdrich in the future.
I found this book after reading The Latehomecomer in my quest to read more books about and by those affected by the Vietnam War. This is a novel about a Vietnamese family and is a beautifully woven tale about a family struggling through, not just the Vietnam War, but the aftermath and colonial period before it.
If you enjoy fantasy in any capacity, and this book isn't on your to-read list yet, add it. I wasn't even finished with this book when I knew that I wanted to re-read it. If I get into a reading funk this year, I may just have to pull this out and read it again. I could easily see myself reading this each year, especially as I wait for the next book in the series to come out.
It was refreshing to read a fantasy novel not set in medieval Europe. Rebecca Roanhorse created a world inspired by Pre-Columbian indigenous cultures, and the result is a masterpiece.
I honestly felt that 464 pages weren't enough as Black Sun is a fast-paced story with a cast of compelling characters with intriguing backstories. Roanhorse's worldbuilding is superb. It's clear that she has so much more to share of the world of the Meridian, and I can't wait to learn more.
Black Sun sucked me in from the first chapter and never let me go. My only complaint is that I felt like the end is too much of a cliffhanger, but as it's a series, that can be forgiven, and ultimately, it bothered me because I just wanted the whole story to be told at once.
And there you have it! This was a fun exercise to do to reflect on the books I read last year. I think this year I'll try to think of a more sophisticated ranking system as I read books in 2021 so that if and when I do this next year, there will be more thought put into the rankings that considers more about the various merits of each book. Afterall, it is quite difficult to compare so many different kinds of books to one another.