Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.


As a quick update on last week’s post, books I hope Santa brings, I received none of them – not a single book was brought by Santa this year.

So, the chance of doing a Christmas book haul post did sort of evaporate at that point! To be fair, when I notice a book that I’d like, I do tend to buy it. Like then and there! Not a great one for delaying that particular gratification!

So, moving on, let’s look back at the best reads that I had the pleasure of reading this year – literary gems and heart warming novels and simple fun reads. And it has been a good year for reading – despite finding some of the Booker Longlist a little disappointing – so it might be hard to limit myself to ten!


Let’s start with those books which are a hug between the covers – because let’s be honest, 2020 has been a tough year and we have all needed those heart warming reads!

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Abbi Waxman

Three reasons to love this book:

  • The bookshop seems like the perfect place to work and hang out
  • Representation of social anxiety
  • A wonderful ensemble cast of supportive friends and new found family who form the beating heart of the novel.

The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers

Three reasons to love this book:

  • Found families working together and loving each other with respect for their differences
  • Representation of sexuality and gender spectra
  • “The universe is what we make of it. It’s up to you to decide what part you will play”

The House In The Cerulean Sea, TJ Klune

Three reasons to love this book:

  • An incredible sense of love and tenderness and of family breathe through the pages of this book
  • Representation of homosexuality and of overcoming prejudice
  • “A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

Chillers and Thrillers

As if 2020 didn’t contain enough chills for us all – or perhaps as a reminder that even in 2020 things could be worse!

When Will There Be Good News, Kate Atkinson

Three reasons to love this book:

  • Reggie Chase! A new character in the Jackson Brodie series.
  • Coincidences and the dark comedy and absurdity that they can create
  • “Oh, God. What was happening to her, she was turning into a normal person.”

Transcription, Kate Atkinson

Three reasons to love this book:

  • Juliet Armstrong – simultaneously tough and capable but oh so young and naive and vulnerable! And whose point of view is distinctly flippant!
  • A wonderful recreation of the world and voices of the 1940s
  • “The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel”

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

Three reasons to love this book:

  • An isolated locked in location with a terrific sense of claustrophobia and terror – just right (or perhaps too on the nose) for the 2020 experience
  • A cast of memorable characters, few of whom are likeable, and a genius plot twist
  • “One of us in this very room is in fact the murderer.”

Literary Gems

Hamnet, Maggie O’Farrell

Three reasons to love this book:

  • Agnes Shakespeare – semi-feral, wildling, witchy and utterly compelling – a warm beating heart and love in a story of so much pain
  • The sheer beauty of O’Farrell’s language recreating sixteenth century Stratford
  • “She grows up, too, with the memory of what it meant to be properly loved, for what you are, not what you ought to be.”

Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardino Evaristo

Three reasons to love this book:

  • The interwoven stories of women of colour in England shine a light on all it is to be alive in this country, to be human – her women are complex, challenging, difficult and oh so real!
  • The representation of race, colour, sexuality, gender spectra is exceptional
  • “life is an adventure to be embraced with an open mind and loving heart”

Summer, Ali Smith

Three reasons to love this book:

  • It concludes and completes the Seasonal Quartet in the most sublime and beautiful way
  • The up-to-the-minute quality of the writing that incorporates covid and George Floyd’s death, which is simultaneously eternal and timeless
  • “Millions and millions of people across the country, and across the world, saw the lying, and the mistreatment of people and the planet, and were vocal about it, on marches, in protests, by writing, by voting, by talking, by activism, on the radio, on TV, via social media, tweet after tweet, page after page…”

The Mercies, Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Three reasons to love this book:

  • The depiction of the harshness of life in seventeenth century Vardo, bereft of its men after a disastrous storm, feels real and authentic in both its moments of joys and in its claustrophobia
  • The representation of gender – and of lesbian love – and the horror felt by men at the prospect of capable women, leading inevitably to the cry of “Witch!”
  • “Grief cannot feed you, though it fills you.”

Young Adult Joys

Pet, Akwaeke Emezi

Three Four reasons to love this book:

  • The unvarnished honesty in this book, wrapped up in the clothes of a fairy tale, is so immensely powerful and important
  • The depiction of Pet itself, a huge monstrous hunter summoned to hunt a monster by Jam’s mother’s painting and Jam’s blood
  • Representation of transgender and of sign language
  • “Angels could look like many things. So can monsters.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Holly Jackson

Three reasons to love this book:

  • It is a cracking good thriller in which an apparently closed case is reopened by our protagonist Pip
  • The revelation of darkness hiding beneath calm and serene exteriors: neither the murder victim, Andie Bell, not the town are without very dark secrets
  • “The people you love weren’t algebra: to be calculated, subtracted, or held at arm’s length across a decimal point.”

Burn, Patrick Ness

Three reasons to love this book:

I could reduce this to three words: Patrick Ness, Dragons. Do you need more?

  • This is an intensely well plotted novel which opens in the style of an insanely good thriller before becoming something other at the midpoint
  • Representation of gay relationships
  • “I’m just a girl.” “It is tragic how well you have been taught to say that with sadness rather than triumph.”

And for fun

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir

Three reasons to love this book:

  • Lesbian – the enemies to lovers trope between Gideon and Harrow is delicious!
  • Necromancers – so many skeletons and varieties of necromancy and sheer exuberant joy in the imagining of it all!
  • Haunted Gothic Palace in Space – all the paranoia and claustrophobia of And Then There Were None with additional undeadness!

Yeah…. that’s more than ten isn’t it. Oh well. And I would have included And The Ocean Was Our Sky but decided against it because I had already slipped in a Patrick Ness.

I do hope you all have had as much joy and success and peace and escape in reading as I have this year – heaven knows we have all needed something! And let’s raise a glass to 2021 on Thursday!


January 5: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021
January 12: Resolutions/Hopes for 2021 (bookish or not!)
January 19: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To (You could take this opportunity to tell us what’s left on your seasonal TBRs from last year. Or books you were super excited about and then you didn’t get to them.)
January 26: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020 (If you didn’t read 10 new authors, that’s fine! Just do what you can.)

46 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books of 2020”

  1. Great list, will have to have a more thorough look. Nina Hill was just an ok book for me. She did not really grow on me! Becky Chambers is a good one though and I still need to continue. The sequel has been tempting me for a while now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m just reading your post and nodding my head and smiling because I love so many of these books and your reasons for loving them. Nina Hill is definitely a favorite, as is Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. I had a lot of fun with A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder too. I didn’t get to it this year, but I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews for The House In The Cerulean Sea so that one is high priority for me in 2021.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The library I work at just got a huge order of books in, including The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. It definitely sounds interesting and like something I should add to my TBR.

    Liked by 1 person

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