I never round up my favourite books of the year until after the next one starts because I”m usually reading until the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. But in the meantime, forget New Year’s Resolutions, let’s talk reading resolutions. 2020 was probably my best reading year ever—possibly in number but almost definitely in quality. However, I still didn’t even get through all of the books I’ve been really looking forward to! With the knowledge that even more incredible books will be coming out in 2021 and my TBR will continue to grow endlessly long, here are 10 books published in 2020 that I’m hoping 2021 will bring me the chance to read:
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa – This sounds like a book unlike any other. A poet and essayest, Ní Ghríofa ventures into prose and autofiction (fictionalised autobiography) in this story about a woman seeking to learn more about an 18th century poem. Numerous Irish booksellers and publications have praised it as one of the best (if not the best) of the year and I can’t wait to finally get my hands on it.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – Everyone from The New York Times to Barack Obama to my friends with good taste on goodreads have recommended The Vanishing Half, a multigenerational family saga that sounds engrossing and powerful. I’ve had it on hold at the library for a while, but with almost 2000 people on the list a trip to the bookstore might be in order in the new year.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin – N.K. Jemesin’s Broken Earth trilogy is one of the most innovative and fascinating works of science fiction I have ever read (and, I would nearly venture to say, that has ever been written). This urban fantasy novel is sure to be equally as interesting, and I’ll definitely be starting it as soon as possible in 2021.
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas – One of my friends recommended Catherine House to me and it immediately piqued my interest. After we both loved Ninth House and other similar stories, a recommendation by her for another tale set on hallowed but strange grounds of academia is sure to be a winner.
She Come By It Natural by Sarah Smarsh – Last year’s Dolly Parton’s America, a podcast from Jad Abumrad and WNYC, was a lovely and poignant look at one of the most beloved figures in an intensely divided country. Dolly’s esteem has only grown in 2020 with her $1 million donation to Moderna’s Covid vaccine research, and I’m definitely looking forward to Smarsh’s book about her role as a feminist and working class figure.
Luster by Raven Leilani – I love a good debut novel because it’s always exciting to see the first outing of a new voice, and Luster has gotten rave reviews. I’ll admit, it originally went on my TBR when I saw it on a ‘if you loved Normal People, you’ll love…’ list, but since then I’ve seen it mentioned a number of other times that have only further made me want to read it.
Eat a Peach by David Chang – The second season of David Chang’s Ugly Delicious was one of the small joys of the early days of lockdown. The show is the closest anyone has been able to come to recreating the magic of the late Tony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, but with its own heart and soul (the episode where Chang learns about kids’ food after finding out he is to become a father is absolutely incredible). Definitely looking forward to reading this memoir.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong – Ooh, I love a good retelling, and this one looks like it’s sure to hit all the right notes. A re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet set in 1920s Shanghai, with elements of pulp crime and possibly a touch of the paranormal? It sounds right up my alley and as soon as my hold comes in at the library, it’ll be on my list.
Can’t Even by Anne Helen Petersen – Last year Anne Helen Petersen wrote the burnout article heard round the world. Everyone I know was sharing it, myself included, most with a comment along the lines of either ‘yes, exactly,’ or ‘this explains a lot’. Petersen later took the thesis of her article and expanded it into a book, and I’ll be very eager to learn more.
Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam – To be honest, I haven’t read too much about this book before or after putting it on my TBR. It seems like the sort of book that will be better going in mostly blind. However, I have an inkling it has to do with some sort of cataclysmic event. Given that I’ve read two novels about pandemics during the pandemics without realising before hand, I think that hopefully I can handle it.