Best Books of 2020

Welcome, on this last day of 2020, to my annual “Best Books” List!

2020 has been a hell of a year in so many ways, but it’s been a great year for reading, even if there have been a lot of changes or outright delays in publication.

I’m not sure whether it’s emblematic of this year, of my need to escape this year, or the feeling that all contemporary stories had a bit of SFF in them as no one predicted the pandemic – who could after all – but all but one of my best books this year, the books I gave an A++ (that’s A-double-plus) rating to are either science fiction or fantasy or sit on the border between the two.

It also says a ton about the year that several of the books I loved best this year qualified as competence porn. The world seemed to be going to hell in a handbasket and I needed to read stories where people were not just doing good but good at doing good. Or even good at doing bad.

There are also two series on this list, because I either read the whole thing or most of the thing in 2020 or because the latest book in the series came out in 2020 or a bit of both.

So, drumroll please! Here is the list of my very best, most transportive readings of 2020.

A Chorus of Dragons (series) by Jenn Lyons (The Ruin of Kings, The Name of All Things, The Memory of Souls)
A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (this is in spite of the controversy, the book was awesome and she’s promised to do better)
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny
The City We Became by N.K. Jemison
The Dragonslayer (series) by Duncan M. Hamilton (Dragonslayer, Knight of the Silver Circle, Servant of the Crown
A Pale Light in the Black by K.B. Wagers
A Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne

But, but, but, because the above list is almost entirely SFF, I’d like to highlight my favorite reads in other genres this year. It’s not just that these all got A or A- ratings, but that they stuck with me through the remainder of the year. Just think of these as the very honorable mentions!

Horror: Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark
Romance: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade
Historical: The London Restoration by Rachel McMillan
Women’s Fiction: The Secret Women by Sheila Williams
Thriller: This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf
Mystery: Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood

Tomorrow starts a new year. On Monday I’ll be posting the list of the books I’m most looking forward to in 2021.

Happy New Year!

4 thoughts on “Best Books of 2020

  1. Thanks for the recap, Marlene. I get so many good recommendations from your reviews, but I somehow missed The Secret Women. Luckily, when I checked the link, I saw the Kindle version was on sale. Click!

    (Hench and This is How I Lied are also on sale as I type this, so people should definitely check out those links now if they’re interested.)

    Your blog/reviews are always an enjoyable break in my day, and even more so over this past year. Best wishes to you, Galen, and the furkids for a healthy and happy 2021.

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