Top 12 Books Of 2020


So, it's time for my yearly wrap-up of books! I didn't publish this sooner as I had a hope that a last minute read would surprise me and become a favourite (Spoiler: It happened and it was Anne of Green Gables). I hope your reading year was both successful and fun! Here are my top 12 books of the year, but please take this list with a grain of salt as I couldn't possibly put them in a accurate order. 

1. Know My Name
Chanel Miller

I don't think a non-fiction has ever been my favourite book of the entire year, but here we are. Know My Name is a gut-wrenching memoir by a woman who survived sexual assault and went through the rape trail that divided America. Chanel Miller is a strong, artistic, intelligent, wonderful human being and she really showed that through the words in this book. I never thought a book could be so mutually heartbreaking and uplifting, but somehow this inspiring woman managed to do that. I listened to this as an audiobook and I urge you to do the same, the author narrates it herself, and to hear her speak the words of her story herself is breathtaking. Though this memoir is mostly about the assault that changed her life, it's also a journey of a young girl finding herself again after she was robbed of the girl she used to be. In a similar vain as Cheryl Strayed struggling with the passing of her mother in Wild, this is a self-discovery novel. Chanel Miller never shy's away from writing about her depression and anxiety with a bluntness that can be truly difficult to read about, and yet, we have to. If you've survived a sexual assault or struggle with your mental health or simply want to read a book by a remarkable woman, pick up Know My Name. I cried, smiled, and my skin is permanently changed after the amount of goosebumps the writing gave me. 

2. Magic Lessons
Alice Hoffman

Magic Lessons is the prequel to both Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic. If you've never heard of the books, I guarantee that a good portion of you have watched the Practical Magic movie adaptation starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Yes! That one, this is the book series that inspired that magical movie. I read The Rules of Magic earlier this year and didn't love it as much as I hoped to, but was entertained. Alice Hoffman's novels always read like a Pinterest board and that book fell heavily into it. A lot of substance without much payoff, if that makes any sense. So.. I digress, when I saw Magic Lessons on Net Galley I instantly requested and then regretted it. What if it was a bit boring? Alas, it turned out to be my second favourite book of the entire year. We love a Cinderella story! Magic Lessons takes us all the way back to the 1600's to when Maria Owens was born. A naturally gifted witch whose life takes her on many journeys - some wonderful and some heartbreaking. As a little girl she learns to hone her skills with a fellow witch who takes the orphan in, and as a teenager she gets her first taste of love and it consumes her, even when it takes her to Salem during the witch trials. How did she come to curse the entire line of Owens without love? Read and find out. You could quite easily read this series in reverse order, which I might do sometime next year as a reread adventure, so please.. if you enjoy witchy books, mother/daughter dynamics, romance, or historical fiction, immediately add this to your TBR! 

3. Anxious People
Fredrik Backman

Are we surprised that a Fredrik Backman book is on here? Nope! Backman is a auto-buy author for me, I adore his contemporaries and short stories. There's no other way of describing his books other than unashamedly human. So, when his new book was released and I got approved for it on NetGalley I instantly began reading and.. yup, it's taken over Beartown as my favourite book by the Swedish author. Anxious People is about a group of people who get held up at gunpoint during an apartment viewing and the many ways that being human can save you. The main aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the intertwined lives of all the characters, I think it was done beautifully and really made me think about how such small things you do in your day can impact someone else. Suicide is a heavy topic in this novel and Backman manages to write about it with such grace and yet honesty. I have never felt so seen before in a book, and that's priceless. I finished the last chapter and instantly reread it. If that's not a sign of a absolute adoration of a book, I don't know what is. 

4. Such A Fun Age
Kiley Reid

This book took Bookstagram by storm earlier this year. I was seeing it everywhere so instantly got it from my library because I like to read what's making the rounds. And.. wow. I'm still awed that this was a debut novel. Such A Fun Age is about Emira Tucker, a young black woman who babysits a white child one evening and is accused of kidnapping. Hearing about the incident the mother of the child, Alix Chamberlain, takes it upon herself to try and change Emira's life - even if it means not listening to the girl. This book, at heart, is about performative activism. It's a look at race, wealth, and definitely delves into the 'white savior' complex. But it's also a very easy read. It reminded me a lot of Celeste Ng's writing, where the topic is heavy and yet the reading experience is light. It's remarkable that a first time author manages to accomplish that. I really liked how well developed Alix and Emira were, and I thought that the author did a swell job at not boxing either of them into stereotypes. The ending was a little rushed, but overall, a really solid book that I would reread. I think it would make for a great mini series. 

5. My Dark Vanessa
Kate Elizabeth Russell 

This dark contemporary is about a young girl who gets groomed by her professor and the effect that it has on her life. Vanessa is a teenager when her professor starts 'flirting' with her, intimidated by his maturity and wanting to feel beautiful, she mistakes his infatuation for love. Years later, she's an adult and the #MeToo movement is bringing out the brave, women everywhere are coming out with their sexual assault stories. When another girl comes forward with allegations against the professor, Vanessa's professor, it causes Vanessa to revisit her past and see their relationship in another light. It's hard to write about a book like this and not compare it to Lolita, heck, Lolita is a heavy theme throughout this novel. It's both different and the same. Lolita seems to glorify the taboo romance, whereas My Dark Vanessa is a very intimate look at a victims mentality throughout the relationship. The mix of past and present was done seamlessly, and the author did a wonderful job at writing a layered character. This would be a great book club book.

6. From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home
Tembi Locke

Memoirs are tricky things to give a synopsis of as, well, they're about the authors life. However, From Scratch is about Tembi Locke's journey of learning to find love in life again after losing her husband to cancer. Her and her daughter spend their Summers in Sicily with her late husband's family, and together they grieve. Do you ever randomly pick up a book and it blindsides you with just how wonderful it is? That was this book for me. The grief that this book radiated broke my heart into smithereens. I'd never heard of Tembi Locke through her acting (though Eureka is on my 'to watch' list), I didn't even know she was a popular actress when starting From Scratch. I was expecting a memoir focused on grief, and instead I got a book that, yes, spoke about loss, but it also delved into motherhood, the beauty of food, new beginnings, and the process of learning to find joy again. I lost my Grandmother last year and this book came to me at just the right time. Tembi Locke is an admirable woman who's strength astonishes me. In the physical book there are recipes woven into the chapters, I think (?), so I'm interested in giving this a reread in that format as I went with the audiobook on Scribd. Read this.

7. The Midnight Library
Matt Haig

A woman who tries to kill herself instead wakes up in a library filled to the brim with variations of her life had she made different choices. The librarian gives her the chance to "try on" each life to find a happier existence. And the award for the most original premise goes to... This is such a fun yet interesting idea for a book. I was worried it wouldn't be executed well, but it was wonderful. In the same vain as Anxious People, The Midnight Library is such a poetically quiet book. It's such a beautiful look at humanity and I think Haig did a marvelous job at writing from the POV of someone who wants to end their life. I loved how gradual the protagonist's view on life changed, it never felt rushed or unrealistic. It was just an all round beautiful novel that I urge anyone to pick up. I definitely need to read more Matt Haig.

8. Take A Hint, Dani Brown
Talia Hibbert 

Danika Brown is focused on her career and has no time for romance. She wants toe-curling sex without any strings attached. Easy! However, Zafir Ansari, the handsome security guard of her workplace, is a brooding romantic. When a video goes viral of Zafir carrying Dani out of a building in a fire drill gone wrong, he begs her to play along in a bid to stir up some publicity for a charity he runs. You can guess what happens next. I liked Get A Life, Chloe Brown, the first book in The Brown Sisters trilogy, but I didn't love it. My expectations were too high for the Fibromyalgia rep, so naturally, it fell short. However, Take A Hint, Dani Brown was a bundle of joy. Despite Talia Hibbert's books usually being centered around a romance, she does weave more serious topics into the story. In this, Zafir has anxiety and, in my opinion, the portrayal of panic attacks in the book was incredible. I've never read a more accurate portrayal of anxiety in fiction. It felt like a weighted blanket of understanding. I also really liked that Dani was bisexual and yet it wasn't just to fuel a plot. As a couple, I 110% bought Dani and Zafir together. They were steamy, sweet, and bettered one another. They had a very mature romance, which you don't always see in this genre. I adored it.

9. The Housekeeper and the Professor
Yōko Ogawa

Each morning the Housekeeper and the Professor meet for the first time. After a tragic car accident that resulted in the Professor only having a 80 minute memory, he is a recluse at home and the Housekeeper is hired to take care of him. Slowly, a strange but beautiful friendship builds between the two unlikely allies. This is a quiet novel that is so potently beautiful. I grew to deeply care for the characters despite the short length (191 pages). In many ways, the writing of this reminded me of Fredrick Backman's way of writing. It was subtle and yet full of endearment for humanity. If this has been on your reading radar at all, I urge you to pick it up. It's well worth your time. 

10. Black Flamingo
Dean Atta 

Michael, a young half-Jamaican half-Greek Cyprian is a young man struggling to come to terms with his identity. We follow his story from boyhood to university, and learn how his life leads him to discovered drag and becoming The Black Flamingo. This novel is mostly written in verse, but it has illustrations and poetry woven throughout the story. These type of books always seem to get compared to one another (The Poet X, Clap When You Land, Punching the Air) but I think that's awful. Each book has it's own story to tell, and Black Flamingo has touched my heart the most. I cried, I laughed, and I grew deeply fond of Michael. 

11. Anne of Green Gables
L. M. Montgomery

When 11-year-old Anne Shirly is mistakenly dropped off with spinster Marilla and bachelor Matthew Cuthbert, she turns their lives upside down with an array of funny antics. There is no more accurate word to describe this children's classic other than delightful! As a protagonist Anne was a pure joy, her whimsical personality and amusing interactions with other characters literally made me laugh out loud. I was honestly surprised by how feminism forward this book was, given that it was first published in 1908. You could take Marilla out of this book and put her into a recent release and she'd fit in fine. (Can she adopt me?) I knew this was going to be a fun read, but I didn't expect it to elevate my mood as much as it did. If you're feeling down, I wholeheartedly recommend you read this. I'm kicking myself for not picking this up sooner.

12. Girl, Woman, Other
Bernadine Evaristo  

Spanning over several decades, Girl, Woman, Other, is told through twelve narratives of mostly black women. We get snippets of their lives and learn how all their stories are woven together. This was a book that grew on me the longer I sat with it on my mind. When I initially read it, I think my expectations were so high that it was always going to disappoint me. However, I read this novel months and months ago and yet I still think about it often. Bernadine Evaristo did a wonderful job at writing such a large cast of characters, and yet they were all vividly unique. This was undoubtedly the best written book I read in 2020, it empowered me as a woman in a way that I didn't know fiction could. This would make a epic bookclub pick.

So, that's a wrap on the best books I read in 2020! What book topped your list? Let me know!


  1. Thanks to you, I have just added 5 books to my list...

    1. YAY! Thank you for telling me that. I hope you enjoy them.


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