Best Books of 2020

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time for best-of lists! It was a bad year, but it was a good year for books. Below you can find my top ten books of the year (in no particular order), some honorable mentions, and a couple of audio-book only entries. You can also check out my list of best comics.

The Burning God (The Poppy War Book 3) – R.F. Kuang

The Burning God is the final entry in The Poppy War trilogy from R.F. Kuang. It’s every bit as enthralling as the first two books and similarly gut-wrenching. Kuang has established herself as a true fantasy superstar and this finale was a fitting end to a fantastic series. See my review for more.

Hench – Natalie Zina Walschots

When I first read the summary for this one I thought it was a good idea but that it’s the kind of thing that often falls apart in execution. Natalie Zina Walschots managed to put it all together very well. It’s a refreshing look at the superhero genre and a unique angle. This was a really good read and deserves a spot on my best-of-the-year list. This is a read for anyone who enjoys superhero stories.

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke

Seeing as we only get a Susanna Clarke novel about once a decade, it’s sure to be a big deal whenever it happens. Piranesi just happened to be a very good book, as well. Clarke balances a small story in a fantasy setting. There are few characters but the novel feels so large. I hope we don’t have to wait another decade for Clarke’s next book. See my review for more.

Fight of the Century – Edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman

Fight of the Century was a great way to reflect on the accomplishments of the ACLU in a year where they seem more important than ever. This collection, edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, features an absolute superstar list of contributors writing about an ACLU case that’s important to them and it makes for a patchwork view on the importance of civil rights. See my review for more.

Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi’s novel Transcendent Kingdom was moving look at immigration, addiction, faith, mental illness, and more. The book crafts an undeniable commentary on modern social issues, while telling a compelling story about a woman trying to find her place in the world. Gyasi is no doubt a talent to watch over the next several years. See my review for more.

Network Effect – Martha Wells

Network Effect is the first full-length novel in the Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells. The award winning sci-fi series is known for it’s creativity and wit. Wells didn’t let down moving from novellas to a longer book and sets up nicely for the finale of the series that comes next. See my review for more.

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow – Natasha Pulley

I’ve grown quite enchanted with Natasha Pulley’s Victorian writing over the past couple of years. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is the follow-up to the Watchmaker of Filligree Street and finds the same cast of characters taking a trip to Imperial Japan. The mix of historical fiction, magical realism, steampunk, and romance blends for a charming tale that I can’t recommend highly enough for anyone who’s read the first entry in the series.

Little Gods – Meng Jin

Little Gods is a fascinating novel from Meng Jin. The book focuses on Liya, the daughter of a Chinese physicist named Su Lan living in America. When Su Lan dies, Liya embarks on a trip to take her mother’s ashes back home to China an unravels the true story of her past and her reason for leaving China decades ago. It’s a moving book about love, family, and the politics of China.

Weather – Jenny Offill

Weather was one of my favorite books of the year, in large part due to its format. Offill crafted a near stream-of-consciousness story-telling that made for a jarring pace that takes a bit to get used to. After I got a feel for it, however, I found Weather to be wonderful and one-of-a-kind. It’s a display of the true impact that day-to-day anxiety about numerous issues wreak havoc on people’s minds. See my review for more.

A Deadly Education – Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education is the first entry in the newest series from Naomi Novik. Novik has become one of my favorite authors over the last half-decade and A Deadly Education was another good read from her. My brief pitch for the novel is if Harry Potter was written by H.P. Lovecraft. It’s a good start and I’m looking forward to the next entry in 2021.

Honorable Mention

Because I had such a hard time narrowing it down….

ProvidenceMax Barry
Pure Invention (review)Matt Alt
The City We Became (review)N.K. Jemisin
The King at the Edge of the WorldArthur Phillips

Audiobook Bonuses

Here’s a few releases that are currently audiobook only, but definitely warranted mentioning.

The Sandman – Neil Gaiman (adapted by Dirk Maggs)

The Sandman is the first entry in an audiobook adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s landmark comic book series of the same name. This Audible exclusive features a star-studded full cast and was the best audio experience of the year. See my review for more.

Heaven’s River – Dennis E. Taylor

After a long layoff, the Bobiverse returns! Dennis E. Taylor picks up right where he left off in this audiobook following the Bobs and there continued exploration of the universe in the wake of the collapse of Earth. It’s great sci-fi.

What were some of your favorite books from 2020?

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