Now that I’ve already made lists covering my picks for the best books and comics that were released in 2020, I figured I’d put together a list of my favorite reads from the year regardless of release year. I decided to exclude things in my other two lists (if only to make it easier to fit more things!). Check out my favorite books, comics, and manga reads below.
The Poppy War Trilogy – R.F. Kuang
Okay this is cheating a bit since the final book in the trilogy came out in 2020, but I read all of the books for the first time this year. This series is incredible and gut-wrenching. It’s a long series when all put together but well worth the time investment.
Supernova Era – Cixin Liu
I finally got around to reading a book by sci-fi star Cixin Liu for the first time in 2020 with Supernova Era and it didn’t disappoint. A supernova wipes out all the adults on Earth and this novel follows the re-organization of society as it’s handed over to children.
Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
2020 was the year I finally finished the collected Sherlock Holmes works from Arthur Conan Doyle. None of the collections I read this year really blew me away but it was definitely something I’m proud to check off the reading bucket list.
Redwall – Brian Jacques
The Redwall series by Brian Jacques was the first real series I fell in love with when I was a kid and this year I dove back into the series for the first time in almost two decades. I read the first 4 entries in the series in 2020. I was happy to discover that my memory of the quality wasn’t just nostalgia-colored-glasses. I’m looking forward to continuing with the rest of series in the year to come.
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
In the midst of the unrest this summer, I decided to re-visit Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. It’s a landmark book in my personal understanding about race in the United States and was just as powerful reading it again amidst the racial upheaval in 2020. It’s a must read for every American.
The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For – Alison Bechdel
Most people know Bechdel from the test bearing her name or her graphic novels like Fun Home and Are You My Mother? but for 25 years she produced the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Reading this big collection was incredible as you get to see the characters grow as they age and adapt to the changing landscapes of adulthood and the United States political climate. It’s a commentary on the lives of the LGBTQ community through the 80s, 90s, and 00s and on growing up and getting old.
Most of Lucy Knisley’s catalogue
I read my first book from Lucy Knisley early in the year as part of the Goodreads reading challenge from I Read Comic Books. I liked it so much I then proceeded to work my way through most of her works to date. She’s such a talented chronicler of life and always uses interesting formats in her auto-biographical graphic novels. I’d encourage you to pick a book and get started too.
Sandman – Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, Sam Kieth, various artists
As an ardent reader of both comic books and Neil Gaiman, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I hadn’t read all of Sandman until this year. I’d start it but then forget to come back. This year I made it through! It can be dense at times but it’s worth the time and deserves its place in comics history.
The March Trilogy – Rep. John Lewis, Nate Powell, Andrew Aydin
Like my re-read of Between the World and Me, I visited the March trilogy during the summer’s protests. It’s an astonishing display of how good comics can be as a story-telling medium. The books are more timely than ever in the wake of Rep. Lewis’ passing. Sit down for a few hours and learn about the life of a true American legend.
Supermutant Magic Academy – Jillian Tamaki
This was another entry in the IRCB Goodreads challenge (Join us next year! You’ll discover a lot of cool stuff!). It’s a delightful strip series from Jillian Tamaki about a school of supermutant teenagers.
Initial D – Shuichi Shigeno
I read Initial D in its entirety in 2020. It’s a lightning fast read due to Shuichi Shigeno’s art and pacing. It’s also exciting and fun! I loved this one and as a plus, it’s all available on Comixology Unlimited to borrow if you’re subscribed to the service. That’s a lot of bang for the buck.
Black Cat – Kentaro Yabuki
This was another series I’d been meaning to check out, finally picked up in early 2020, and sped through within a month. It was a lot of fun and didn’t feel quite as cliche filled as shonen can tend to get. It’s pretty breezy.
Witch Hat Atelier – Kamome Shirahama
This series is an absolute DELIGHT. It’s a wholesome adventure about a girl who discovers she’s a witch and joins a group of other young witches on their journey to learn about being a witch. The art from Kamome Shirahama is absolute top-notch and the story is fun and refreshing. The series is about 7 volumes in, so it’s a good time to jump on board!
Okay I’m cheating again, but these series frequently crossover so that’s good enough. Really, I just wanted to get some CLAMP in here, as I spent a ton of 2020 working through their collective library and these were my favorites of the bunch. Despite the name, their both friendly for most ages and are fun magical shonen series that feature characters from across all of the other series put out by CLAMP.
Monster – Naoki Urasawa
I finally checked out Monster for the first time this year and it didn’t let down. Urasawa is a master and Monster is a suspenseful crime drama that keeps you turning the pages. It’s a good manga to check out if you aren’t into the popular shonen fair that’s traditionally associated with the format.
Did you read anything great in 2020? I’m excited I finally got around to some stuff that had been hanging out on my TBR pile for a long time.