Saturday Six #10: Best Books of 2020

I wasn’t sure what last year would mean for me in terms of reading. For the previous seven years, I’d worked at least part of the year at a library, and I’d run one, then two, book groups, so I had the very good fortune to read on work time. For those years, I typically averaged 35-40 books a year, between the “work” books and the personal books. I knew that transitioning away from a library job would sadly mean fewer books read, and 2020 was the first full year I’d not worked at the library, so I set my goal at 12, hoping against hope that I could manage a book a month.

Well, after all that, I actually managed a little over TWO books a month, thanks in part to some quick re-reads of my old, comforting favorites and reading three chapter books aloud to my daughters. At the end of the year, I looked back over my list (the delightful “Your Year in Books” feature on Goodreads), and realized that my three favorite books came in January, July, and December, a nice, even spread throughout the year, with other good ones in between.

Here are my six favorite books of 2020, listed in chronological order of when I read them. (Side note: If you want to read more about why I liked them, you can see my full reviews on Goodreads.)

Living Memento Mori by Emily DeArdo. How wonderful to start off the year with a book published by a dear friend! It was also a perfect, introspective, faith-filled way to begin my reading year. (If you missed my interview with the author, you can read it here.)

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. Romances and chick-lit have gained a lot of depth recently; they’re not *quite* as lighthearted when the characters have deeply tragic pasts. Even though it’s not a romance, I think Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman kind of kicked off that trend, and I like it. I connected with The Flatshare in a big way, and the romance was super-sweet, too. (I’m going to give an honorable mention to The Switch, also by Beth O’Leary. Two words: ugly cry.)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. First-timer here! I’ve never been interested in reading these books, but when my husband began to read the series aloud to the two oldest girls, I wanted to be in on the story (though separately) too. It’s been years since I saw the first movie, so the story still felt fresh in many ways, and I admit to shedding a tear or two at the end.

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo. I already mentioned this one in my Halloween edition of Saturday Six, but it has to go on my list of favorites. One reason I loved this was the excellent reader on the audiobook (I listened to most of it on a 22-hour solo road trip), but the bigger reason was that it was the retelling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” that I might have thought to write one day.

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton. This was my second Chanel Cleeton of the year, and I liked it a lot more than When We Left Cuba. But, admittedly, Last Train featured a major weather event (the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935) as the turning point, and I just can’t resist that sort of thing.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Whether one is facing depression, suicidal thoughts, or just disenchanted with how life has turned out, this book has so many profound and life-giving messages about who we are, and how we are shaped by the life we’ve lived…and even the lives we didn’t live. I don’t often do this because I know everyone has particular tastes, but I universally recommend this book!

Not only did I get to read all these (and more) amazing books, but 2020 sure was a good year to escape to a better world, if only for a little while. And looking back on past years’ reading lists only makes me more excited about the good stories I’ll discover in 2021. (Spoiler Alert: I’ve already found two!)

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