Favorite Reads | 2o2o

Dear readers, here is a friendly preliminary message to inform you that this post was to be a scheduled post. Shocking, I know, but don’t take it too personally. This post was written late in the night from an airport December 31, 2020 while waiting for a plane to take her from one state to another as well as one year to another quite literally. Thus, originally, it was going to be posted when the grand authoress was sleeping in, happily situated in her own bed. However, the night progressed and she did not have time to finish the entire post before boarding the plane. This is merely a fun fact. You’re very welcome. But now, she has finally finished it, so Happy New Year!

2020 has come to a close, so in a newfound tradition I’m looking back through the books I’ve read this year and making a list of my favorites. Last year was my first year to do this as inspired by a friend. You can read my favorites from 2019 here.

This year I read 105* books, which is honestly shocking. I had no idea I had read that much, but I guess the lack of the usual activities throughout the year may heavily contribute to the extra books read.

*yes, quick fun fact again: technically the final tally was 105 and 1/2 books due to the fact this authoress was on page 157 of a 106th book when midnight struck and the pilot wished all the sparse bleary eyed passengers a happy new year over the plane intercom, but officially, the count is 105

The rule set for this list is as follows: only books first read this year can be included. So in other words, I reread a lot of amazing books but those won’t be on this list.

Also, while I enjoyed these books, I would not necessarily suggest them for everyone. Make sure to check content warnings before reading any of them.

Finally, understand these books are not listed in any particular order or ranking. Merely in the order I read them this year.

  • Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

I really enjoyed this book assigned for last school year/this year. It was surprisingly one of the few school books I hadn’t already read for the British literature lineup. (Though it is one I’ve been meaning to get to after hearing so much about it over the years.)

The Screwtape Letters is an epistolary novel, aka a collection of letters, (surprise!) collected of the imagined correspondence of a mentor demon, Screwtape, to his understudy, Woodworm, offering advice and tips about their vocation, while walking the young demon through tempting his first “patient,” a young man who had just converted to Christianity. It covers many topics including different types of relationships, worship, and gluttony (of both the extreme and delicate kind), and is insightful.

  • Animal Farm, George Orwell

Simply put, I adored this book. It’s such a clever sharp little thing and gleefully hilarious. Also have I used the word “brilliant” yet? Another school book, I got to write a paper on propaganda, so that was fun.

For those who aren’t familiar with this novel, Animal Farm a satire about a group of animals on an average-stereotypical-quaint-British-farm, who overthrow the human farmer (Mr. Jones) and set up their own structure of society. (AKA about the Russian Revolution of 1917.) It has the feel of strange fairytale and is filled with iconic characters that are direct caricatures of historic people and real organizations. I absolutely loved it.

(also as a side note there are so many fascinating covers for Animal Farm out there how cool is that? who knew communist pigs could be drawn in so many different ways?? but also how are you supposed to pick between them?)

  • Dune, Frank Herbert

After years of hype for this sci-fi book, I finally read it and have a lot of opinions on it. I really like the worldbuilding (though at a couple small points it was distracting with the things Star Wars was clearly inspired by from it). I also really liked how it never stopped to explain things but talked from page one as if you knew what things were, for me it made it more interesting, and I’ve always liked that presentation of world building. Also some insanely fascinating scenes, including the funeral and water ceremony in the desert (if you have read it you know what I’m talking about). I think the main idea to part to potential readers of this book, is don’t expect a hero, and especially not a noble one.

  • Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman

I am so glad I read this book. It is such solid storytelling and my first time exposure to urban fantasy. Essentially your average nobody with a dreary desk job life stumbles upon a bleeding girl on a sidewalk and decides to help her only to be pulled down (literally) into an entire world beneath London where everything works differently. The characters are fantastic (personal favorite of course the Marquis De Carabas), the world building stunning, and the main character’s arc satisfying. Finally, the ending was so perfect I couldn’t have been happier. Also the short story at the end about Marquis De Carabas and his coat is brilliant. Must read right there.

Foot note: I also read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gainman this year and it was good as well.

Further foot note: shoutout to friend who suggested both of these.

Further foot note the sequel: I want to steal the character of Marquis De Carabas so. badly.

  • The Martian, Andy Weir

I read The Martian this summer at the beach (a very particular copy – my younger brother’s copy – which has it’s copious amounts of swearing taken out with white-out*). It’s pretty easy to summarize. A man gets stuck on Mars while his crew is in route flying back to earth and has to survive long enough to try to get a message to his crew or to earth. I had watched the movie a couple years ago but the book was just as fun if not more. I’ll probably reread it for fun in 2021.

(*well most of it. there is so much swearing in it overall that my dad missed a couple instances but about one fifth of the book was gone anyways haha)

  • Pay Attention, Carter Jones, Gary Schmidt & Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (also Gary Schmidt)

I’m not very surprised to end the year with another Gary Schmidt book (or two) in my top favorites. I reread all his books I read last year (which I found at a book fair and bought) and then checked out more from the library at the beginning off summer. British butler, purple car, adorable little sisters, comedy, mending of a broken family, cricket games, what’s not to love about Pay Attention, Carter Jones??

Then Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy… I enjoyed this book and then despised this book, but overall loved it. (It’s one of those books). This one deals with darker themes than Pay Attention, Carter Jones but is just as good. I hope to continue building my collection of Gary Schmidt books.

Read more of my thoughts on these two books here. I also read First Boy by Gary Schmidt for the first time, and while it’s not my favorite of his, it is still a very good book and worth your time.

  • The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

I love this book so much and will probably often read it in the fall from now on. It’s about some strange hauntings at an opera house and the singers that are caught up in the drama when a new pair of managers refuse to obey the phantom’s demands around the opera house. I love the story, the characters, and the emotional exploration it offers about human nature. Also: wonderfully followed up by the movie. Or the musical. Or both.

Read more thoughts of mine on it here.

  • The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, Colin Meloy

First off, the art is so. good. I adore Carson’s whimsical style and the book is utterly stuffed with it. On that note, the story, written by her husband, is very similar: whimsical, quirky, adventurous, and sometimes a bit witty. They say, think Oliver Twist mixed with The Invention of Hugo Cabret but I’ve never read that one only watched the movie based off of it? Either way, it was a delight to read this story.

(If you feel like you’ve seen Carson Ellis’ art before, it’s probably because you read The Mysterious Benedict Society… she illustrated that one too)

Shoutout to my sister in law who let me borrow this one. ❤

  • Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket

Last year, I found the first eight paperbacks of A Series of Unfortunate Events in great condition at a thrift store, and so finally read them after so many friends recommending them. I scarfed them down a couple weeks ago as a last hurrah before school started, then slowly borrowed the last couple over the next month. Main thoughts:

  1. Sunny is one of my new favorite characters
  2. Why hadn’t I come up with such brilliance??
  3. These books are very enjoyable and witty
  4. Also utterly frustrating, as everything does go wrong

“This is brilliant” and “I could rip this book in half with my bare hands, why does everything go wrong” were the pattern my mind circled through during that series. Entirely witty, but entirely frustrating, it was a strange balance that formed my relationship with this series as another adore-but-it-drives-me-crazy one.

  • My Lady Jane, Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

I was pleasantly surprised about this one (I’m always very skeptical about YA). It’s a really fun concept turned into an engaging story narrated very comically. It’s the “real story” of Lady Jane Grey of England who was queen for nine days. In this fantastical twist on a historical story, the two religious groups which were at each others throats are translated into the group of people that can turn into animals vs. the group that can not and believe it is inherently evil.

  • Holes, Louis Sachar

A middle grade classic I have finally gotten around to, this book is quite fun to read. It reminds me in some ways of a N.D. Wilson book. It’s style is frank and clever, (and some times the narrator’s observations quirky like a Gary Schmidt novel?) its characters are down to earth and very realistic, while the plot feels unique and fresh. I adore Zero’s character.

  • Boys of Blur, N.D. Wilson

I almost got my brother Holes for Christmas, but instead I gave him Boys of Blur and a book he has been wanting to add to his personal library. He finished it in two days and offered it for me to read. This book is really best described for those you are familiar with N.D. Wilson as “If N.D. Wilson decided to write a zombie story” because, well, that’s the essence of what it is, and it makes perfect sense. The story happens over very little time, yet the plot goes at dizzying speeds. It’s a very strange vibe for a Zombie story but 100% a N.D. Wilson vibe. There’s a quaint small town, comical policemen, references to ancient literature, and I adore Charlie’s family.

What were your favorite books you read for the first time this year? Any suggestions for my 2021 tbr list?

*all cover art credit of amazon (not the river)*

30 thoughts on “Favorite Reads | 2o2o”

  1. There are some great books on here! I mean, Gary D. Schmidt is always wonderful, as is C.S. Lewis. I need to reread Animal Farm, it’s been absolute ages since I read it. And Holes- I love Zero. I’ve been wanting to read The Martian and Dune for some time, and maybe 2021 will be the year that I get around to them. We’ll seen.
    Hm, I think my top reads from 2020 would be Vanity Fair (despite being totally aggravating), Notes from Underground (despite being- if possible- more aggravating), The Lovesick Salesman (just adorable), Never Let Me Go (despite some inappropriate content and the fact that it’s unbearably hearbreaking), and the first few volumes of The Promised Neverland manga that I’m newly obsessed with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “aggravating” ~ that’s the perfect word. How can some books be aggravating yet so good??
      Vanity Fair is on my tbr. I got it along with a bunch of other books for my birthday last year. It’s one of the stack I haven’t gotten to yet.
      I forgot to tell you (!!) I found The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool at a thrift store last month and read it (recognizing it on the shelf of course because of you). It was fantastic. I greatly enjoyed it. And meant to comment on one of your posts about it.
      I think you would love both The Martian and Dune! 100% tell me if you read them. I’m very curious what your thoughts would be. They’re both a lot of fun to read! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do not know how books can be both aggravating and wonderful at the same time. It is certainly a mystery. Humans can be that way too though.
        Aw, it pleases me greatly that you enjoyed The Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool! 🙂 It’s a hidden gem.
        Yes, when I get to reading them, I will let you know what I think!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the way you described Dune, because I never thought of it that way but that is how it is. The worldbuilding being so good and the author just “assuming” you know it. Are you going to watch the movie when it comes out this fall?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey thanks! I had actually been thinking about that style of introducing a world through a novel, with a big project I had been working on. When I read Dune I thought “this is it. this is how i want to do mine.”
      Yes! I am very much going to watch it. I was really disappointed when it was originally postponed, and now I’m just hoping it won’t happen again haha.
      Are you going to?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes. Yes. I have been wanting it for SO LONG. My sister even read the whole thing in preparation for the movie — and she didn’t love it nearly as much as I did, but trusted me that it would be worth it, that the movie would be worth it — and then. It was DELAYED. Again. Needless to say, we are mad.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Challenge II is such a good year for Literature. At least most of it hahaha (I still can’t get over how w e i r d Sir Gwain and the Green Knight was lol) Did you have a favorite from the first semester?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YESSSS. Sir Gawain and beuwolf and the green knight never fully clicked in my mind but we’re past it now so I’m not really lingering on it 😂 I enjoyed ‘Pride and Prejudice’, and ‘Jane Eyre’ so far but I’m really excited for ‘The Screwtape Letters’ this semester!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahhhh, I love Carter Jones and his family! And the butler! And the eggplant car!
    Sunny Baudelaire is the best. We love her dearly.
    I read Phantom of the Opera a few years ago (after watching the musical/listening to the cast recording countless times). It was so interesting to read the source material of a story I was so familiar with and see what had been changed and cut out (like Raoul’s brother?? Raoul has a brother???).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh, Dune is on my list of books to read soon. It grabbed that position after I learned from a book I recently read that these hackers created usernames based off the book, and then the cybersecurity guy trying to track them down pieced it together because he had read the books to.
    Have you read The Wednesday Wars and Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt? Those are the two books I’ve read by him after hearing The Story Sponge recommend them.
    Did you hear that Andy Weir is releasing a book this year??
    Whoaa, I’ve never heard of Carson Ellis’ name before! That is so cool, thank you for including that.
    Some of my favorite books from last year were Long Bright River, How to Hide an Empire, and A Gentleman in Moscow. Ohh, have you read Gentleman in Moscow? I feel like you could really love that book. Or The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley? I didn’t know of this book until last year, but I think it might be a fantasy classic too?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huh, that’s fascinating. I’m just picturing that nerdy intern who spoke up “wait I recognize that name” hahaha. Where did you read about that?
      Yes! I have. The Wednesday Wars is my second favorite by him. Okay for Now is my favorite.
      I love Story Sponge’s posts on them haha.
      Andy Weir is releasing a new book?? Huhh?? I had not heard that.
      No! I haven’t. I have a vague memory of seeing it around in bookstores but I just looked it up and it looks so fascinating. In fact, I’m going to add all of those to my tbr lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was in this book called Sandworm! Ahaha, it was actually the coder working on the case! But I have a feeling any interns there would’ve probably realized it too.
        Yes!! It’s called Project Hail Mary, and it’s release is expected to be May 4.
        Ahhh, if you end up picking any of them, I would love to know what you think :))

        Liked by 1 person

  5. ooo you had included some books in here that interested me. Neverwhere definitely sounded like my kind of book, I can’t wait to see what kind of world this mysterious bleeding girl pulls the main character into (potential couple? i love myself a good fantasy book with a hint of romance). I’m surprised that you enjoyed reading the Martian, because one of my favorite youtubers who loves to read said that she couldn’t pick it up, there was too much science involved (it is a science-fiction though, so i was like “i think there is supposed to be loads of science involved luv”). Holes was also a book that caught my eye, because my school makes us read those in 6th grade but I missed out on it. My middle school english teacher tells me its a great book, and I think I would enjoy it
    thanks for all the recommendations, your post was very helpful :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like it would be a good book for your to check out!
      Hmm I could see how that might be distracting. I guess it doesn’t bother me as much? I remember some of it went over my head haha
      Hey you’re welcome! I hope you enjoy reading them.


  6. I think the only books I’ve read from your post are Animal Farm and The Phantom of the Opera. I’ve already given up on ever catching up with my TBR list, but how can I resist adding a few more? ^.^
    Your posts are so much fun to read, Evelyn ❤
    Favorite books of 2020? Well, too many : ) But some I particularly enjoyed were Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale, Kate Danley's The Woodcutter, Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, and E.D.E.N. Southworth's Ishmael and Self-Raised.
    Happy New Year, Evelyn. Keeping you in my prayers in the coming year ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha it’s true. I always read posts about books and then find myself adding most if not all of them to my tbr that I never finish. 😆
      I have read (and really liked) Cry, the Beloved Country, but none of those others. Which, yes, I have added them all to my list now, because that’s how it goes lol.
      Aww thanks Libby. That’s kind ❤


  7. This, my friend, is just glorious.
    I love your book posts. You should do more of them. 😊

    YES. Animal Farm. I really liked that one too. It made me sad, tho. And kind of depressed. 😔 But I also found it funny. And I loved the grouchy old donkey, Benjamin.

    Neverwhere sounds so FASCINATING. I want.

    The Martian hints at being stressful but fascinating as well.

    GARY D. SCHMIDT. Yes please. I’ve been wanting to read Pay Attention Carter Jones ALL YEAR.

    My sister tells me that the Phantom of the Opera is creepy and disturbing and I’m just like I WANT TO READ THIS SO BAD. Heh-heh. *coughs*

    I read Holes a long time ago and I can’t remember much except that I adored it. 😄

    (P.S. I’m not sure why but your little note crediting the cover art just killed me. *chokes* 😂😂😂 I need sleep. *falls off her chair laughing* send help)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awwww thanks friend. Maybe I will then! (:

      Hahaha that’s understandable. Though I just thought it was hilarious, I can see it being really depressing. I have a friend who likes horses and picked it up when she was little, thinking it was going to be a fun little story, and didn’t know the story behind it… it was apparently very traumatic for her what happened to Benjamin 😆

      The book is fantastic. And then the ending just is PHENOMENAL. If you ever read it let me know!

      “Stressful but fascinating”
      Yup pretty much lol

      Eden you should read it!! You would ADORE it!! Please. Get your hands on a copy. Somehow.

      I didn’t find it that creepy?? I don’t know?? Maybe??
      You would love it though.

      (hahahahaha I’m glad it was amusing for someone. are you okay tho? *laughs nervously*)

      Liked by 1 person

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