What were your favourite books in 2020?

DeeDee Adelaide

We haven't had a reading/book thread for a while, so it seems like as good a time as any to ask what you read this year that really stayed with you, and/or you'd recommend for other people. I read 99% domestic thriller trash this year - I kept buying non-fiction, but I just couldn't get into real life in these Uncertain Times. So there weren't that many 'wow' books in my reading in 2020, but here's a few that stood out from the pack. Please share yours as I'm sure lots of us are always up for new recos, and one can never have too many books on the TBR pile. Here's my standouts for 2020:

The Southern Book Club's Guide To Slaying Vampires - Grady Hendrix

This was my favourite book of the year. I love Southern writers - they have a very particular, wry style of writing that is unique and instantly recognisable, and this is no exception. Set in the late 80s through the 90s, it's ostensibly about a group of upper middle class housewives who discover a sinister presence in their neighbourhood. What seems to just be a fun-ish story about a group of bored, daffy women who maybe aren't that daffy after all, actually has a lot of subtext about sexism and racism that makes the story more thoughtful than it initially appears.

The Perfect Widow - A.M.Castle

This is just another domestic thriller about a woman whose husband has been killed at the beginning of the novel, and a police officer who suspects the wife knows more about it than she's letting on. So far, so BBC mini series, but I found this one particularly well written and quite a page turner and a rare 4/5 on Goodreads for me.

Strangers - C.L. Taylor

Three strangers all with their own stories, whose lives collide suddenly one day. Another good page turner that had me staying up way too late for 'just one more chapter'.

The Operator - Gretchen Berg

A lot of people hated this book, and it's not well-rated on Goodreads, but I was quite fond of it and I'm not quite sure what others didn't like about it. I read it very early in the year and I still remember it, which is super unusual for me (I can't remember anything about the books I read last week). This is set in the 1950s about a switchboard operator who knows what goes on in her small town thanks to occasionally listening in on conversations, and one day overhears something about her own life that shocks her. What I liked about it was how well the author captured the setting of small town 1950s America, and that while the protagonist was not particularly likeable, you could understand and empathise with why she was the way she was.

When No One Is Watching - Alyssa Cole

This was my favourite book of the year before I read Southern Book Club. I picked it up based on the title and the cover, without bothering to read the blurb, because I assumed it was just my usual readable but junky story of some dopey wife being hoodwinked by her dodgy husband. I was surprised when I started reading and found it was actually a mystery about an inner city neighbourhood being rapidly gentrified and the mysterious disappearances of the previous Black occupants of the houses. This was so far out of my usual reading zone, but I loved it and I learned a lot, particularly because in the notes at the end the author recommends a fascinating (and infuriating) podcast about gentrification called There Goes The Neighborhood. 

Eine Fraumostlywright


  • Fiction was Recursion by Blake Crouch. Solid Sci Fi recommendation from Jim. Also have been rereading The Expanse books like crazy. Those are always a favorite. 

    Non-Fiction was Rage by Bob Woodward. I'm a sucker for those political books and Woodward getting Trump on the record is a solid read.
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @Peeps I’m not much into sci fi but I keep hearing people rave about Recursion so I think I’m going to check it out. I have read one of his others - the one that was made into a mini series with Matt Dillon - and I quite liked it. 
  • MoonMan13MoonMan13 Northern Kentucky
    Gnomon, by Nick Harkaway. I listened to the audiobook so that can impact the experience for sure, but I found that the confusion level was kept at my perfect tolerance throughout. Not sure I could tell you the fine points of the plot machinations but I think its characters (and voice acting) caught me. It's a bit post modern in its conceit if I'm gathering the parts together correctly, but I enjoyed it.
  • My favorites that I read so far in 2020, not organized by author or genre:  (heavy on SciFi)
    The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
    Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
    The Bel Dame Apocryphia series by Kameron Hurley
    The Cuty We Became by N.K. Jemisin
    Dune by Frank Herbert
    We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
    In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts:Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate
    The Murderbot Diaries series by Martha Wells
    The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
    The Patterning Instinct: A  Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning by Jeremy Lent
    In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
    This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
    Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
    A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

  • edited December 2020
    @Dee, I just put The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires in my library queue. I keep hearing about it from various sources, and yours was the deciding recommendation. Thanks!  I think I'm reading stuff like sci fi and horror to escape from the wretched present.  Can't do any serious political or Important stuff right now either. My dad is always reading at least 2 books at a time and they are all about climate change and peak oil and I don't know how he does it. 
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    @Eine Frau Ooh, I hope you like it! 

    I have read mostly trash this year even though I have an ever growing pile of non-fiction for similar reasons. I can’t face reality in 2020. 
    Eine Frau
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