Sunday, January 3, 2021

2020 in Books

 Another year, another yearly book roundup! Final tally of books I read this year was 130 by 96 different authors and most notably that did not include the entire Harry Potter series for the first time in 20 years (I had already decided not to prior to the TERF JKR drama but that just affirmed my decision). I did another rough calculation on author demographics which requires me to make some assumptions though I did attempt to get it correct where possible, but take with a grain of salt: 86% were women, 52% were POC, 13% LGBTQ-identifying & and 16% not from the USA. Though the last few years I'd met my 100 book reading goal, I expected that starting a new FT job in 2020 would mean I'd have less time for one of my favorite leisure activities so I only set a goal of 75. But what I wasn't banking on is that there would be a global pandemic, thus eliminating all semblance of a social life and making reading my chosen form of escapism! So yeah, this year I read/listened to the highest number of books in one year that I ever had since I began recording circa 2014. Here's a summary of my year in reading!

BOOK OF THE YEAR--A TIE!
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey 
Well, this is the third year in a row I've chosen a memoir for my favorite book of the year. And I picked two! Jessica Simpson & Mariah Carey both have in common that they are women, singers, and have been in the public eye for many, many years. Other than that, they are pretty different, but they both have very interesting life stories. Book(s) of the year also are my two favorite audiobooks this year--both include music though of course, Mariah Carey takes it to the next level by just randomly singing song lyrics (but not all of them, for some reason lol).

I'll go ahead and continue on the memoir section...
My Favorite Audiobooks Are Memoirs By Entertainers Read Aloud Themselves
Over the Top by Jonathan van Ness
Survival of the Thickest by Michelle Buteau

Most Bizarre/Disturbing Memoir
Educated by Tara Westover

A Graphic Memoir I Loved About Being in the Dead Mom Club
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

Memoirs Related to Living in the Margins of Race/Ethnicity/Sexuality
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones
All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson
I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
Native by Kaitlin B. Curtice
The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris
My Vanishing Country by Bakari Sellars

Other Memoirs I Enjoyed
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya
A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston by Robyn Crawford
No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Best in Nonfiction: Bone-Chilling Reporting on the Child Separation Policy at the Border
Separated: Inside an American Tragedy by Jacob Soboroff

Continuing My Social Justice Education
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas D. Kristof
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B Tyson
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence by Shane Claiborne
America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis

Learning About Random Subjects Part 1: Crematories
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Learning About Random Subjects Part 2: You Might Not Think a Book About the Sociological History of Walking Would Be That Fascinating But You Would Be Incorrect
Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit

Best in Nonfiction: Favorite Essay Collections
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
wow, no thank you by Samantha Irby

Other Essay Collections
Make It Scream, Make It Burn by Leslie Jamison
The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison
Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker

Miscellaneous Nonfiction
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America by John Lewis
Love Over Fear by Dan White Jr.
Doing Harm by Maya Dusenberry
Together: Why Social Connection Holds the Key to Better Health, Higher Performance & Greater Happiness by Vivek H. Murthy

Poetry
Counting Descent by Clint Smith
An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo

And now begins the FICTION section, which is way more romance-heavy than it has been in the past but a feature of the romance genre is having a happy ending and if ever there was a year I was in need of happy endings, it was 2020!

Favorite Historical Romance Series
Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series: A Night to SurrenderA Week to be Wicked (Best Twist on "There Was Only One Bed!" Trope), A Lady By MidnightAny Duchess Will DoDo You Want to Start a Scandal?Once Upon a Winter's EveLord Dashwood Missed Out, & Beauty and the Blacksmith

Favorite Contemporary Romances
Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Favorite Male Lead
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

A Romance Novel That Made Me Sob
The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev

Christmas-Themed Romances
How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan & Joanna Shupe (this one was my fav in this category) 
Holiday Spice by Samantha Chase
Stuck on You by Portia MacIntosh
Holidate by Monica Murphy
We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
It's a Wonderful Wife by Camille Pag├ín
Sleigh Belles by Beth Albright

More Romance Novels! I Was in Need of Happy Endings!
Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy
The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper
How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon
No Judgments by Meg Cabot
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
Tessa Dare's Girl Meets Duke series: The Duchess Deal (Romance Novel That Made Me Laugh Out Loud More Often Than Expected), The Governess Game & The Wallflower Wager
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Maya Banks's McCabe TrilogyNever Love a HighlanderSeduction of a Highland Lass & In Bed with a Highlander
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Beverly Jenkins's Old West series: Forbidden & Breathless
Jen DeLuca's Well Met series: Well Met & Well Played
If I Never Met You & Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Tessa Bailey's Hot & Hammered series: Tools of Engagement & Love Her or Lose Her
Save the Date by Monica Murphy
Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
Alisha Rai's Modern Love series: Girl Gone Viral & The Right Swipe
The Kissing Game by Marie Harte
Alexa Martin's Playbook series: Blitzed & Fumbled

Books I Didn't Know Enough About Before Reading Part 1: This Book Was Highly Recommended and I Didn't Realize It Would Be So Disturbing and Later Saw It Won Accolades in the "Horror" Category
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Books I Didn't Know Enough About Before Reading Part 2: Somehow I Ended Up Reading TWO Voting-Themed YA Novels
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli

Favorite YA Novel of the Year
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Other YA Novels
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

Book Answering the Question: "What if Jesus Was Married?"
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

Fiction Based On Horrifyingly True Stories
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Multiple Timelines! Uncovering Family Secrets!
The Untelling by Tayari Jones
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

Miscellaneous Fiction
Lila by Naima Coster
Grand Union: Stories by Zadie Smith
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner

I Have Not Officially Decided Yet But Despite Enjoying the Book Very Much, I Think This May Be One of the Very Few Cases Where I Actually Prefer the Screen Adaptation to the Book
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Conclusion to the Epic Logan Family Saga Originally Begun with Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor

This Book Wins My Least Favorite Book I Read in 2020 Which is Mostly Because I Found All the Characters Unlikeable and the Plot Confusing
Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman