What were your favourite books in 2020?
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.