2020 is definitely a year we won’t forget anytime soon. This most strange year was a time of great sadness and worry, of starts and stops and constantly changing plans. It was a tough year, no question.
However, for me it was also a year in which to take time for myself and re-learn to prioritise my well-being, take stock and re-evaluate my priorities. For the first time in a very long while, I also had (and made) time for things I enjoyed doing but neglected due to my hectic life, like this blog. So, while I’m certainly glad to see the end of 2020, in a way I’m also grateful for the opportunities it gave me.
Of course, as we all know, staying inside is a lot easier when you have great books to keep you company! I didn’t read that many new releases this year (although the ones I did were definitely worth it!) and I decided to finally catch up on some older reads that I’d missed out on instead. So, here’s a round-up of my favourite reads this year, in no particular order.
Young noblewoman Fleetwood Shuttleworth is pregnant again after several unsuccessful pregnancies when she discovers a hidden doctor’s letter predicting that she will not survive another birth. After a chance meeting with local midwife Alice Grey, Fleetwood hires her for help in delivering a healthy baby and surviving at the same time. But Alice is soon accused of witchcraft, and Fleetwood has to race against time to prove her innocence if she wants to save both their lives.
I adored this book! I was completely glued to it and couldn’t wait to see what would happen to the characters. A great story of female friendships and strength set against the background of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, which I knew nothing about (bonus learning points!), it also explores the age-old question: was witch hunting really just hunting women?
Sixteen-year old Starr lives life balancing between her posh high school in the suburbs and the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised. When Starr is the only witness to a police officer shooting her unarmed best friend, this balance is shattered and Starr is forced to decide what she will say, and what kind of person she will be.
I’d somehow missed reading this book so far and I’m really glad I finally did! This is an incredibly powerful book with excellent character development and an engaging writing style. It was also a very timely read, as it explores very significant contemporary issues around race, inequalities and police brutality, identity and belonging. The subject matter is obviously tough, but it’s dealt with beautifully. Also, this gets bonus points for having a YA protagonist who has a good relationship with their parents!
Set in a near future where humans have destroyed most things on Earth (and the moon), this story is narrated by Jared, a bot made to look exactly like a human with one big difference: he has no capacity for feelings. Things become complicated for Jared once he realises that he is starting to experience feelings in spite of his programming and has to learn how to understand them with the help of his new friend Dr Gludenstein and lots of old movies. This brings him to the realisation that he must use his new understanding to write a movie of his own which will finally reconcile humans and bots… and become a fugitive in the process.
This was probably the most original and quirky book I read this year. Even though I had some issues with the style (especially at the beginning), I still remember this book well, which is a big thing for me as I tend to forget details quite quickly. A touching reflection on what it means to be human and to love, diversity and discrimination, and the cost of sacrifices made in the name of “progress”.
A collection of personal essays, poems, songs and even an amusement park map from the hilarious creator of the show Crazy-Ex Girlfriend, exploring the subjects of insecurity, fame, anxiety and much more.
Another great 2020 release, this collection of essays was just what I needed this year. Rachel Bloom deploys her distinctive style in a quest for “normality”, touching on difficult topics honestly and wholeheartedly. As with most of her work, some essays resonate more easily than others and a few border on giving waaay too much information, but all of them are incredibly engaging, funny and reflective at the same time.
series by Marissa Meyer
This bestselling series reimagines classic fairytales in a futuristic world where humans, androids, cyborgs and Lunars co-exist against the backdrop of a world-wide deadly plague. A teenage cyborg named Cinder discovers some important secrets about herself, leading her to risk everything, including her life. Along with a diverse crew, she must work to rise up against evil Queen Levana to save her country and possibly the world.
I had always heard the hype around this series but somehow hadn’t read it until this year. I’m often wary of over-acclaimed books, but this was worth ALL THE LOVE! I adored this series and its characters, and while I’m kicking myself for not reading it earlier, I am glad I started it now that all the books are out so I could jump straight from one to the next. I wasn’t too keen on finding a plague over here as well and I was definitely worried about the sci-fi elements as I often don’t like them, but Marissa Meyer won me over completely and very, very quickly. Definitely a new favourite and one I’ll be pushing on anyone I know who hasn’t yet read it.
Fable by Adrienne Young
Seventeen-year-old Fable is the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows. Four years after her mother drowned in a storm and her father abandoned her on an island filled with ruthless thieves, Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West and his crew to help her get off the island and to her father. But as dangers and rivalries abound in the Narrows and nothing and no one are as they seem, they will have to fight hard to stay alive.
This was one of my last reads of 2020, and it was a great way to close my reading year. I adored all the characters with their secrets and beautiful complexities, and while I would never, ever want to visit the Narrows, the world was built perfectly. My biggest moan about this is that now I have to wait until the second book in this duology comes out to see what happens next. Keep an eye out for my full review, coming soon!
What were your favourite reads this year?
Tell me all in the comments!
Stay safe, healthy and bookish, everyone! Wishing you and your loved ones all the best for 2021!