It’s been a weird year. It began with Australia burning, which was heartbreaking. Then came covid. I assumed I would get a whole load of reading done but what actually happened was I had a period of 3-4 months when I read much less than I usually would have. I think it was due to anxiety which disrupted my routine. Anyhoo, in the end I managed to complete my Goodreads reading challenge for this year by a couple of reads.
Now, to my faves. It’s always a hard choice. Having said that, here are my favourite books from 2020:
1. Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold
The thing about this novel is that I read it last January and I still think about it today. It’s written by a dog, and that is perfectly fine and normal, and definitely not silly (as it sounds). Tassen, the dog, tells us about his life about his owner as she enters her later years. I plan to re-read this next year.
2. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Salvage the Bones was beautifully written but hard on the emotions. Ouch. In it, a poor black family in Mississippi live their lives while preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina.
3. The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay
An unusual Aussie science fiction story…I think. 😛 It was gritty and disturbing with a dash of a Mad Max feel to it. Pandemic flu is spreading and creating chaos as well as enabling people to communicate with animals. In it, Jean sets off with a dingo in tow, to find her granddaughter among the craziness.
4. Dead[ish] by Naomi Kramer
A short story I read recently that is part of a series of books, Dead[ish] had me laughing out loud on the train. A weird, blunt story full of foul language and horrid people, Dead[ish] is different and fabulous. Linda is dead, and she believes her (still living) boyfriend knows where her body is. She sets about to right the wrong.
5. The Great Divide by L.J.M. Owen
The Great Divide is a crime novel set in Tasmania that had a dark, gothic feel. It had lousy weather, a small town full to the brim with foreboding, and a new cop in town, Jake. Jake was very likable, and I have to say I didn’t guess this one’s outcome. 🙂
6. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Convenience Store Woman is an odd little story, in the best way. Keiko works in a convenience store. It was her first job, and she has stuck with it long enough that she understands the world of the convenience store like the back of her hand. It’s her life, and she likes it the way it is. But unfortunately, those around her aren’t so pleased. Keiko may well be autistic, though it isn’t stated in the novel.
7. The Whisper Man by Alex North
With shades of Silence of the Lambs and Tremblay novels, The Whisper man had me checking the doors were locked. It was a really brilliant plot, scary too, but also managed to throw in some heartwarming moments. Indeed a great read.
8. Trigger Warnings by Jeff Sparrow
A political book, and my last read for 2020, Trigger Warnings wasn’t a disappointment. I have already ordered myself a copy because some books you just have to have. The reason I need this one is in a small part it was difficult for me because I do not usually read political books. More so I had to have it because I felt Sparrow was voicing some issues that I had been thinking, toying with and/or confused about. Plus he gave me some ‘wow’ moments as I read, too.
9. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
A YA non-fiction that I found both heartrending and inspiring. A teen has their skirt set on fire (while they sleep on the bus after school) by another. The book covers the crime, but it is really about the people involved. Themes include race, sexuality, youth, education, the legal system.
10. Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
Dark Emu does not put forward full proofs but instead puts forward a good argument for a different way to view the Indigenous Australians’ lives before the British arrived. Pascoe outlines a culture that involves agriculture, land management, construction and a wider variety of food preparation ways than had been previously considered. He does so in a way that was a delight to read. Fascinating.
And now some fabulous extras (because who can choose just ten?!)
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
I finally read the trilogy, and I loved them. Katniss is an engaging, imperfect, and likeable main character, while the book’s premise is gold.
Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
How did I not find out about Bitten years ago? I genuinely have no idea. A paranormal mystery/urban mystery story involving werewolves.
A dark story that had me checking locks and under beds. Tremblay has a knack with dialogue and the characters in Disappearance at Devil’s Rock were very likable. Good stuff.
Heart of a Runaway Girl by Trevor Wiltzen
This novel shines due to its main character, Mabel. But it’s also a mystery novel, and more instalments are coming.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My Sister, the Serial Killer was a strangely endearing story written in a blunt style. I can’t tell you what genre it is because I can’t work it out for myself. It’s not a mystery or thriller, or a comedy. It is a disturbing tale of murder, family relationships (especially sisterly ones), trauma, and heartbreak that was lightened by its treatment and laughable moments.
Haunted House Ghost by James J. Cudney
This cosy mystery had a male main, Kellan, to provide a point of difference. Kellan was a fun, likable single dad and the small-town setting in this Halloween-themed story was a delight. This is book five in a series. 🙂
Three Apples Fell From the Sky by Narine Abgaryan
Three Apples Fell From the Sky was a fable that detailed the difficulties facing a small mountain village in Armenia. Much of the book was the lives, history, and struggles of the townspeople, focusing mainly on several of their stories—a lovely book.
Death in the Ladies Goddess Club by Julian Leatherdale
Death in the Ladies Goddess Club was a solidly written historical murder mystery set in Kings Cross in the 1930s. This was a rip-roaring mystery complete with Bohemians, blurred moral lines, Bacchus and communists. I can recommend it for anyone who likes mysteries, the 1930s or those interested in Australian history during that period. Unfortunately Julian passed in 2020. RIP.
A Murder at Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
Another historical murder mystery this time set in Bombay in the early 1900s. Perveen Mistry was a fantastic main character – sincere, honest and plucky.
The Sookie Stackhouse Novels 1-7 by Charlaine Harris
I’m listening as audiobooks this time. I love this series about a small-town waitress, Sookie Stackhouse, who is also a telepath. Okay, I’m being dishonest with you. I’m obsessed with it. There, I said it. Now, the storyline: When vampires ‘come out of the coffin’ Sookie is drawn to them and they to her. Along the way, there are murders, mystery and plenty of action.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Yes, I only read this one for the first time last year, and now this year I’ve already re-read it. That’s because I LOVE it. This time I tried the audiobook, and it was great, too. Check out my review.
There you have it. My top ten, plus cheats because…well, my blog, my rules. 😛
What were some of your favourite reads from 2020? Please share in the comments. 🙂