What I Read in 2020

31 Dec

Is there any point in trying to write a commentary on 2020? All I can say is, I’m scathed.

For lots of reasons, I haven’t read as many books this year: only 30. History was the perfect escape, reminding me that life in the past was also difficult and dangerous. In fiction, I found myself reading a lot less YA and a lot more ‘adult’ literary, mostly by women. And I read two fantastic novels in French.

I’ve bolded my favourites.

  1. The Plotters by Un-Su Kim – Korean assassins operating out of a library.
  2. The Familiars by Stacey Halls
  3. Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan
  4. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – stunning and harrowing story of two branches of a Ghanaian family.
  5. The Private Lives of Ottoman Women by Godfrey Goodwin

6. The Overstory by Richard Powers

7. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

8. Melmoth by Sarah Perry – Perry is one of the best writers working today. Gorgeously gothic.

9. Venus and Aphrodite by Bettany Hughes

10. L’Armée des Ombres by Joseph Kessel – unforgettable story of the French Resistance.

11. How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin – a collection of sci-fi tales from one of the masters of the genre.

12. Picasso by Patrick O’Brien – a highly biased account of the painter’s life.

13. Goldilocks by Laura Lam

14. The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

15. Wild Abandon by Jennifer Barclay – I love Jennifer’s non-fiction about Greece. Here, she travels around the Dodecanese, visiting abandoned places on the islands.

16. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo – A deserving award-winner. Fresh, fascinating and absorbing.

17. All About Love by bell hooks

18. Histoire de la Violence by Edouard Louis

19. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

20. The Pantomime Life of Joseph Grimaldi by Andrew McConnell Stott – my top read of the year: a biography of the early 19th century clown.

21. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

22. Failosophy by Elizabeth Day

23. Cleverlands by Lucy Crehan

24. The Five by Hallie Rubenhold – stunning history that tells the story of Jack the Ripper’s victims. Spins incredible stories from the evidence, illuminating the cruelty of a society actively designed to keep women and poor people in their place.

25. Piranesi by Suzannah Clarke – strange, dreamlike and utterly captivating. A welcome return from Clarke.

26. Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

27. Dear Stranger by Mind

28. Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe – the lives of Marlene Dietrich, Anna May Wong and Leni Riefenstahl diverge after they are photographed together in Berlin.

29. The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold – a history of prostitution in 18th century London.

30. Pine by Francine Toon

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