2020 in Books

It was a weird, weird, WEIRD year for books and reading. Just like with everything else. I had months where I read just about nothing, and months where I couldn’t find enough books to suit me. Most of my books revolved around ghost stories or mysteries or the paranormal – that was just where my interests were this year! Altogether, I read 53 books and abandoned (after the halfway point) a further 3 (see list below for titles/why I abandoned). A good chunk of my reads – 10 – were rereads, because comfort-reading of old favorites was definitely in the cards in 2020! Here are a few reading stats from the year, followed by a personal best-of wrap-up.

Book Type: 50 fiction – 3 nonfiction
Fiction Type: 20 speculative – 24 realistic – 6 mixed
Media: 28.5 text – 24.5 audio – 0 visual
Audience: 42 adult – 10 YA – 1 children’s
Authors: 39 women – 14 men

New to me authors: 20
Most read authors: Elly Griffiths takes this for the second year in a row, with five total reads. Riley Sager/Todd Ritter came in second with four. This stat doesn’t include rereads, or else Brandon Sanderson would be tied for first with five also.

Classics: 0 (ouch)
Translations: 1 (Spanish) (ouch)
Books I wish I’d abandoned: 8 (OUCH)

Shortest Book: Dawnshard (208 pgs)
Shortest Audio: Caffeine (2 hrs 2 mins)
Longest Book and Audio: Rhythm of War (1220 pgs; 57 hrs 26 mins)

Best bookish experience: the awespren that I attracted after realizing just how ingenious is Brandon Sanderson’s writing-style-to-match-primary-narrator

Best book-related discovery: Do podcasts count? Because discovering the Real Life Ghost Stories Podcast was definitely the best discovery this year, and absolutely influenced my book choices!


Best of the Year

  • Rhythm of War: This was always going to be a favorite. Even if it wasn’t my favorite in the series – and at first pass, I wasn’t even sure I liked it – it ended up being a real pleasure and one I can see myself reading many, many times in the future.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: This book reminded me of the joy in the writing process, as well as being an intricate and well-woven story with beautiful writing and amazing characters.
  • Runner up: The First Girl Child: Slow, mythology-based fantasy with focus on real relationships (of all kinds, not just romantic) and the role of land, faith, and familial bonds on communities.
  • Runner up: The Lantern Men: As my second-most anticipated book of 2020, and the 12th book in a series I’ve loved, this was also always going to be on the list. It’s only a runner up because I read it in a time when my brain wasn’t processing books as well, so I hardly remember it. Definitely due for reread. My vague impressions are of loving it!

Abandoned Books

  • Defending Jacob: After a particularly terrible bit of writing, I did more research on the book and discovered it was about to take a turn toward a trope I really dislike anyway.
  • Depression Hates a Moving Target: Memoir about running and mental health – normally something I’d really enjoy! I did, at first. But after awhile, the book seemed to be on a loop, just repeating the same things over and over, and I gave up on it.
  • The Space Between Worlds: Science fiction with a fascinating premise that I loved right up until the midpoint, when it suddenly became an arms-race sort of book that I lost interest in quickly.

Most Fun to Read

  • Home Before Dark: I love ghost stories and semi-paranormal mysteries so much!
  • The Sun Down Motel: Ditto! This was a real chill-inducer.
  • Dawnshard: How could I not smile all the way through a book where The Lopen gets to narrate his own sections??

Most Beautiful Writing

  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: No surprise that this one is on here as the writing is one of the biggest factors in it being a favorite.
  • The First Girl Child: Same as Addie. The writing was just so careful and beautiful and lovely, haunting and delicate like music all the way through.
  • What’s Left of Me is Yours: While I’m not even sure I enjoyed this book as a whole, the writing is definitely some of the best I’ve read this year. And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t normally like the poetic, floral language it used!

 Most Disappointing and/or Distasteful

  • Little Eyes: This book had so much potential but in the end just disgusted me in so many ways. Unfortunately, too many distasteful scenes are some of the most memorable bits I’ve read the entire year. Sigh.
  • Troubled Blood: No surprise, given the transphobic narrative and extraneous baggage-writing in this one.
  • A Witch in Time: I really wanted to love this reincarnation book, but it fell short of my expectations by a lot.
  • The Hand on the Wall: Third-most anticipated book of 2020, and while I can say I mostly enjoyed it, the Scooby-Doo-esque ending was disappointing.
  • The Family Upstairs: Could have been good, but instead grew voyeuristic, exploitative, and lazy.

Best Settings, Vividness, and/or Visceral Moments

  • Home Before Dark: One of the most memorable scenes I read this year came from this book. I won’t give away spoilers, but oh god the coffee… *shudder*
  • Mexican Gothic: My brother’s ex-girlfriend had a mushroom phobia years before this book has probably given other people mushroom phobias. Ha! Extremely unique use of non-clichéd horror.
  • The Searcher: As expected, Tana French writes rural Irish setting so evocatively!
  • Voices in the Snow: Darcy Coates writes incredibly visceral creature-characters, and they were particularly striking (and creepy!) in this book.

Best Relationships

  • Raboniel and Navani, Rhythm of War: enemy scholars collaborating
  • Adolin and Maya, Rhythm of War: a man and his semi-sentient, deadeye spren
  • Dagmar and Ghost, The First Girl Child: deep love that goes for years without any acknowledgement or act
  • Ruth, Harry, Kate, and Cathbad, The Lantern Men: a jumbled chosen (somewhat-dysfunctional) family
  • Cal and Trey, The Searcher: substitute parent/child
  • Addie and Luc, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue: power struggle of the cursed and the one who gave the curse

Physical Books I Bought / Kept From My 2020 Reads


There you go. My 2020 in books! All in all, it wasn’t a bad year, even if it was a slow year. Fingers crossed 2021 will bring many more awesome reading experiences!

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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