As of December 15, when I’m submitting this article, I have read 111 books in 2019. Most were good, some were fantastic, and a few (but fortunately very few) were quite awful. To help guide you in your 2020 reading, I’ve selected 10 books I read this year that I would recommend to any Everygirl. These aren’t necessarily my favorite 10 books, as I intentionally picked books to appeal to different reading tastes, but I thought each of these books was excellent in its own right.
Of course, I have my own personal reading tastes as well, so here’s a quick rundown of my year in reading to give you an idea of my biases and blind spots: 82 of the 111 books I read were fiction. 94 were written by women, and 63 were written by People of Color. I listened to 27 audiobooks and read the other 84 titles in print or on my Kindle. As you can see, my reading skews heavily toward fiction written by women (and often about women), which I hope everyone will read more of this year.
Throughout my year in reading, I read books that made me laugh, books that made me angry, books that made me cry, and (the best) books that made me turn the final page, close my eyes to savor the last words, and then immediately text my book club friends to suggest what we should read next. Because I can’t text all of you, please consider these my heartfelt recommendations for what you should read in 2020.
A Book You Can’t Put Down
Jane Harper has never disappointed me, and I can’t wait until she writes another novel. This mystery is set in the Australian outback and features three brothers in the remote reaches of the country — one of whom is found dead in the first pages. Not only was the book a thrilling ride (I read it in less than 24 hours), but I also learned so much about farming in the scorching outback, which was fascinating. The Lost Man is a standalone, so you don’t need to read Harper’s other mysteries first (though I also recommend them!).
A Book to Challenge You
This collection of interviews with Syrian emigrants and refugees was published in 2017, but sadly, the stories are still happening today. Although each tale in the book is individual to its teller, the themes of struggle, hope, desire, and fear are universal to communities in conflict. In this way, reading this book will not only help you understand the situation in Syria but also the plight of other refugees and oppressed communities worldwide. (The book begins with an introduction covering the recent history of Syria, then sorts the interviews into different time periods. For the greatest comprehension, I recommend reading the introduction in its entirety, then rereading the relevant parts of the introduction before each corresponding section of interviews.)
A Book to Read with Your Book Club
This debut novel is the perfect pick for your next book club meeting. Miracle Creek has so much to discuss — living with a disability, parenting a child with a disability, immigration, consent, experimental therapy — but despite all the important issues in this story, they never take precedence over the characters themselves. I think I’ve recommended this book to everyone I know, and now I’m recommending it to you.
A Book to Make You Laugh/Best Audiobook
Looking for a book to make you laugh? Pick up Ali Wong’s memoir, Dear Girls — preferably the audiobook narrated by Wong herself. The comedian begins by ordering her daughters not to read this book until they turn 21, and you’ll quickly learn why. If you haven’t seen Wong’s stand-up comedy yet, you probably want to watch a special (or two) to make sure you enjoy her humor before you dive into this raunchy and hilarious book.
A Book to Make You Cry
What happens when the First Son of the United States falls in love with the Prince of England? You’re going to want to find out! This book made me laugh, guffaw, and choke up with (happy!) tears. The 2020 U.S. election is a major event in the book, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to escape politics with your reading this year, but overall it is a delightful read.
A Book for Fantasy Fans
I’ve seen this fantasy book compared to Harry Potter, but I consider it more appropriate for fans of Game of Thrones. The Poppy War begins with the almost trite story of an orphaned girl from a poor province who tests into the most prestigious school in the nation, to everyone’s shock (and disgust), but it quickly morphs into something dark and thrilling. You won’t want to stop reading Rin’s story when you finish this book, and luckily, the sequel (The Dragon Republic) is already out. The third and final book is expected to be released in 2020, so if you don’t like anticipation, wait until The Burning God publishes later this year and then gobble up the trilogy all at once.
A Great American Novel
Up until 2018, I had never read a Toni Morrison book. I finally picked up The Bluest Eye last year and was blown away by Morrison’s literary genius. This year, I joined a Toni Morrison book club on Instagram to motivate me to read more of her books, and Song of Solomon was far and away my favorite of the year. One of the best parts of reading this novel is that I finally understand so many references in other books that I never realized were paying homage to this American classic.
An Award Winner
If you love reading interconnected character vignettes that form a novel (similar to Homegoing or The Book of Unknown Americans), don’t miss this year’s Booker Prize winner from Nigerian-British author Bernardine Evaristo. Girl, Woman, Other tells the unforgettable stories of 12 British women in an idiosyncratic style Evaristo calls “fusion fiction.” The book is genius, and it is far too good to share this year’s Booker award with Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. (Feel free to fight me in the comments.)
A Book for Women
Carolina de Robertis
Cantoras features a group of queer women exploring the idea of chosen families and seeking freedom in Uruguay under the oppressive regime of the 1970s. I love reading books by and about women (refer to stats in my opening paragraphs for proof), but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that is so completely about women, as The Reading Women pointed out in their (fabulous) podcast. I can only think of five identifiable men in the entire book — three are vile, one is forgettable, and one is a very sweet dad — and I don’t even remember if any of them are named.
A Book for Minimalists
The easy hook is to say this book is for fans of Marie Kondo, but really, this book is for people who want to go beyond decluttering to simplify the parts of their lives that really matter. This compact book contains practical, actionable tips to identify your priorities and remove excess from your life in ways that will make you feel freer, rather than saddle you with a long list of to-dos in the name of achieving the trendy state of “minimalism.”
Which books are at the top of your reading list in 2020?