Here we are! We’re at the end of another year, which means another check of what were my favorite reads of the year! (This also means another post I’m going to struggle with because I so rarely give anything 5 stars anymore that finding 10 is a bit of a challenge. On the upside, you know I’m serious about the “favorite” part.)
Without further ado, let’s get started! These are in no particular order, just 10 top picks.
Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2020
1. More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
I love stories about music, so this standalone contemporary romance about a girl who runs a music blog and a boy who has a music podcast (and happens to be the son of a semi-famous former rocker) definitely checks my boxes. Great characters, excellent plot, and wonderful character development.
2. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Speaking of character development, this book should have won the Goodreads Award for YA. Like, even I went into it thinking it was going to be really cheesy (if you’ve read this, please tell me you just got my pun), but it’s actually amazing. You’ve got a girl, heir to a growing fast food chain, and a boy, son of mom-and-pop deli owners, clashing on Twitter. It is one of the first books I’ve ever read that actually harnessed social media in a realistic way without sounding like a fifty year old pretending to know how Twitter worked.
3. The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke
This isn’t YA, it’s a Victorian-era romance novel, but I think it’s worth mentioning since I’ve read so many romances this year to deal with 2020. This one, set in the 1880s England, involves a female newspaper owner who writes love advice in the newspaper and ends up angering a very influential duke in the process. It’s witty, snarky, and fun. And I loved seeing so many independent women in this book.
4. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
Ah, the finale of the Truly Devious series! Loads of twists and turns, lots of surprises, and a whole lot of fun. I really enjoyed this. What more is there to say? Maureen Johnson slays. (Um…literally? It is a murder mystery.)
5. Soulswift by Megan Bannen
I read this as an ARC months ago, but it was fascinating. It’s a standalone fantasy, which immediately means it’s pretty unique. But on top of that, you have two characters who come from very different backgrounds and cultures, and I loved how that played out. How they argued over philosophy and discovered something beyond their own upbringing. It was emotional and so hard to put down once I got into the story.
6. Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab
Back when we thought we might actually have Olympics this year (curse you, COVID), this was the perfect way to get ready for it. In this story, we meet two swimmers on track to become Olympians, if they’re willing to put in the work. It’s a love story, both to the water and to each other. But it also has a dark side that definitely made it stand out to me.
7. Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen
Speaking of dark side, this book had that in spades…though it’s also one of the most hopeful books on the back half of this list. In it, our protagonist is a wild child, and I mean wild. Her parents can no longer put up with it and send her off to a survival camp in the desert as a kind of intervention. It’s a rough start, I won’t lie. She unlikable at first, and I certainly don’t condone the intervention style, but this is a story of growth and personal development. I really liked seeing her change over the story and I thought it was really well written.
8. The Toll by Neal Shusterman
With the overall tone 2020 took very early on, I tried to avoid politically-leaning books (see: my DNF of King of Crows by Libba Bray), so it’s a little ironic that I loved this book. The whole Scythe series has been a direct reaction to the current political climate of many countries around the world. This finale was absolutely the same thing, but it was still weirdly fascinating and different. It felt very timely and I did rather enjoy seeing certain events happen.
9. Some Boys by Patty Blount
Ok, if you have triggers about rape and violence toward women, this is not your book. And while that probably didn’t sell many of you on this book right from the get-go, I swear it’s amazing. We’ve got a protagonist who was raped by the town’s golden boy–and when she reports it, everyone turns against her. She’s afraid of being alone with boys now, not that I could blame her. So when she’s forced to spend detention with her rapist’s best friend cleaning out lockers, she’s terrified. And he starts to learn just what she’s been going through and how it affects her. It’s not a perfect story (there are times our lead male does have some issues), but I thought it was a very brave story.
10. Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis
Ooooh, man, this story left an impact! Our protagonist here gets herself lost in the woods after catching her boyfriend cheating on her at a party. Drunk, she stumbled off the path and can’t find her way back in the morning. This is 100% a survival story and there are times it gets utterly disgusting. Graphic disgusting. But that made it feel more realistic. And also, that’s kind of McGinnis’s style, so I’m actually not even mad about that. I knew what I was signing up for.
11. Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
Now, I know this is 11, but I really wanted to mention this too. This is a Regency romance novel, but it’s oh so fabulous. A group of wallflowers band together to become friends and find matches for each other, since clearly the men in the ballrooms are dumb and don’t see their worth. But let me tell you, this one packed a punch. There’s one scene in particular where I completely melted. I had to read it twice, it was that good. And it wasn’t even a kissing scene! Character development is great, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s got so much heart. I really loved it.