Despite not hitting all of my goals for this year, one I definitely surpassed was reading 30 books – I ended up reading 34! I’m really proud of myself for beating my initial goal – especially since I just got back into reading for fun post-college just last year.
I branched outside of my typical murder mystery or lighthearted romance novels this year and expanded into memoirs and educational books. As I was reviewing my reading list, I’m also proud of the fact that the majority of these books were written by female authors or authors of color.
Below is the full list of everything I read this year, broken down into genres so you can head towards your favorite section for recommendations. I’ve also picked my personal favorite books from each genre and give a short explanation towards the end of this post if you’d like more personalized take.
- Get a Life, Chloe Brown
- Red, White & Royal Blue
- Beach Read
- Big Summer (also falls under mystery)
- Sex and Vanity
- The Hero
- Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know
- Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death
- You Can’t Touch my Hair: And Other Things I still Have to Explain
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom – A Toltec Wisdom Book
- Girl Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals
- The Witches Are Coming
- You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters
- No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram
- Talking to my Daughter about the Economy: Or, How Capitalism Works — And How It Fails
- How to be an Antiracist
- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
- Mexican Gothic
- The Killings of Kingfisher Hill
- Murder in Bel-Air
Historical /Memoirs /Historical Fiction:
- The Trial of Lizzie Borden
- Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship
- Open Book
- Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica
- Blackbird vol. 1
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise
- Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe
- Such a Fun Age
- When Life Gives You Lululemons
- Love After Love
- Home Body – poetry
- What Kind of Woman – poetry
There are a few trends that I noticed in my reading patterns this year – namely, I steered more towards informative novels by incorporating memoirs and educational texts into my reading list. I definitely took advantage of my freed up nights and weekends (pandemic life) and delved into learning about antiracism and capitalism, the origins of Instagram, how to really listen and talk to other people, and a variety of other topics. I think my “educational reading” burnout from college has final subsided and I’m ready to turn to books outside the realm of fiction. Did anyone else experience
I also read two poetry books, which I don’t think I’ve done in a few years. Both Homebody and What Kind of Woman spoke to the female experience, a loss of self, and dealt with isolation. I greatly enjoyed getting back into poetry and am looking forward to adding more poets into my reading list next year!
What I’m also surprised by is the small amount of murder mystery books I read this year. Normally mysteries are my go-to that help me out of a reading rut and are the kinds of books I devour in a weekend. I definitely spread myself across a variety of different genres this year that opened my eyes and expanded my horizons. However, I’m very excited to delve into some more fun mysteries next year!
While I genuinely enjoyed most of the books I read, there are a few standouts in each category:
- Romance/Lighthearted: Red, White & Royal Blue – an uplifting queer story about an across-the-pond romance between the US President’s son and a British prince. Beach Read – a fun tale about two writers who are literary opposites that become neighbors after experiencing personal tragedies and commit to a writing challenge.
- Informative/Educational: You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters – even as someone who considers herself a good listener, I learned so much about how to really value my interpersonal interactions and making other people feel heard. No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram – a fascinating look at the origins of the app we all know and use, without being too tech-y. How to be an Antiracist – an eye-opening book on how to not only fight racism in our society, but also within ourselves. Incredibly informative and a must-read.
- Murder Mystery/Horror: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – one of my all-time favorite books this year. It’s a mystery unlike anything I’ve ever read before that is a combination of Agatha Christie, Groundhog Day, and The Time Traveler’s Wife – I couldn’t believe it was the author’s breakout novel! Mexican Gothic – This novel already feels like a Rebecca-esque classic – it has a headstrong heroine, a cloistered mansion housing a secretive family, and lots of haunting local lore to go through. A true pleasure to read!
- Historical /Memoirs /Historical Fiction: Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship – I had no idea how much I would love this book when I picked it up from the “recommended staff picks” section at my local bookstore. I devoured it in a day – it’s a truly beautiful story of friendship across ages and is filled with delicious cuisine! A great read for lovers of food and heartwarming tales!
- Graphic Novels: Blackbird – in this neo-noir fantasy a young woman is convinced that a secret magic world is hiding just beneath the veneer of Los Angeles, but no one is willing to believe her.
- Miscellaneous: Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe – the first book I read this year and one of the most uplifting. a psychic medium explores her relations with the afterlife and shares personal experiences that inspire so much hope. Such a Fun Age – this fiction book explores class, race, and harmful assumptions when the Black nanny of a white family has a viral encounter when dealing with racists. Homebody – Rupi Kaur’s latest book of poetry explores the feminine experience, current events, love and mental health, and the sense of past, present, and future selves
I’m definitely happy to answer any questions or offer recommendations about the other books as well and would love recommendations for any books I did get to this year. Please leave your favorite 2020 reads in the comments!