Friday, January 1, 2021

Best Books of 2020


2020 was a peculiar year. I do not think anyone expected the pandemic or quarantine. I started off flying to Scotland to study abroad, which got cut short early (thanks COVID), then I spent the rest of the year inside doing online university. How strange. Thankfully, I was able to escape reality and delve into some pretty amazing books. That is the beauty of fiction--they will always be there to transport you to other worlds and lives amidst the chaos of our own. These books made me laugh and cry, but most of all they brought me immense joy. 

the song of achilles by madeline miller

The Song of Achilles explores the well known tale of Achilles and The Iliad but approaches it from different perspectives. Madeline Miller, who wrote one of my 2019 favorites, Circe, embraces the true mythology but expands it and gives lesser known characters a voice and a story. This book is told from Patroclus' point of view as he and Achilles grow up together and eventually go to war together. If you know mythology, you go into this book already knowing the ending. But that does not prevent the flood of emotions from hitting you. Not only is the writing superb and the story complex and emotional, the characters come to life on the page in such a way that you begin to care deeply for them. I am not much of a crier, but this one drove me to tears. Even those who do not typically find themselves drawn to Greek myths will enjoy this story.

gideon the ninth by tamsyn muir

This was one of the first books I read this year and wow, did it blow me away. I picked Gideon the Ninth up on a whim last year because the premise seemed so promising. In a nutshell, it is about necromancers in space. The story follows Gideon, who has grown up in the Ninth House alongside the heir to the throne, Harrow. The two women despise each other due to longstanding arguments and tragedies. But the Emperor has called for necromancers to participate in a deadly game to win a chance at immortality, and Harrow needs Gideon's help. Gideon the Ninth is wicked sharp, hilarious, and filled with mystery and sword fighting. The action packed plot will keep you guessing as it twists and turns, while the enemies to lovers romance will touch your heart. Go pick it up, read it, and love it. 

the starless sea by erin morgenstern

The Starless Sea is not a story for everyone, but it sure was perfect for me. At first, I was scared Erin Morgenstern's second novel would not live up to her first, The Night Circus, which is beloved by all, including me. I am happy to say I was wrong. In fact, her newest novel might have surpassed her first in my heart. A whimsical, ethereal, and strange tale of magic, love, and a hidden library, The Starless Sea is a love letter to story telling and prose. I fell into the pages like Alice fell into Wonderland. If you dislike purple prose and twisting, turning tales of magical realism, you probably will not enjoy this. I love all of those things, so it blew my socks off. It follows grad student and nerd, Zachary, who discovers a book with a chapter about him and an event from his younger years. Entranced by the tales and the markings on the side, Zachary discovers an ancient secret society and library set deep within the earth. The library has fallen into disrepair over time and the only living creatures left are a strange girl named Mirabel, a mysterious man, and a plethora of cats. Soon Zachary finds himself wrapped up in a battle to save or destroy the library for good. 

skyward by brandon sanderson

I don't think anyone is shocked to see a Brandon Sanderson book on this list. He truly is the master of magic systems and world building. Skyward is his first young adult novel and rather than fantasy, it is science fiction. Once you crack it open, you will be sucked into an action packed plot that keeps you turning the pages for hours on end. I loved the characters: Spensa has so much spunk and her talking AI ship that she discovers is hilarious. Brandon Sanderson manages to build an expanisve world while keeping up a quick pace interjected with some levity to lighten the serious themes. Spensa wants nothing more than to become a pilot like her father. However, she has to fight tooth and nail to get a spot in the school since her father died a coward and traitor during the last great space battle. Spensa knows the lies about her father cannot be true--he was the most valiant and skilled pilot in the fight against the alien race that has been attacking their planet for decades. She must fight to earn her place as a pilot while trying to expose the truth about her father's death. Oh, and did I mention her talking ship that she finds crashed in the caverns of her planet that she begins to rebuild? 

rules of civility by amor towles

I did not expect this book to floor me, yet it did. If you have read any other posts previously, you know I adore fantasy and science fiction books more than anything else and that is what I tend to read. But sometimes, a fiction or mystery novel sneaks its way into my rotation and surprises me. The Rules of Civility studies how the smallest events and happenstances can change the course of your entire life. Katey Kontent is a young typist in 1930s New York City. Her life is mundane and expected until she and her roommate happen to meet a suave, charming young banker named Tinker. The unlikely friendship incites a series of events that alters Katey's life for good. This book enraptured me and sucked me into the story from the very first line. I did not want to put it down because I was so swept up in the ambiance and richness of life unfolding within the pages. 

What were your favorite books of 2020?


  1. Happy new year, Erin! I'm glad you enjoyed these books in 2020. I also loved The Starless Sea.

    1. Happy New Year to you, too, Emily! Hopefully this coming year is better than the last. I am so happy you also liked The Starless Sea, since I know some people really disliked it.

  2. THE SONG OF ACHILLES YES. I haven't read Rules of Civility, but your description of it makes it sound like something I'd really like! I know I really enjoyed A Gentleman in Moscow; it was one of my very favorite books the year I read it. This year, some of my favorite reads were The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and War of the Foxes by Richard Siken.

    1. RIGHT? It is just SO freaking good and emotional. I think you really would enjoy Rules of Civility. It was such a good surprise this year and I cannot wait to read A Gentleman in Moscow soon. I have heard such great things about it. I am so happy you finally read ADSOM, too! What a fantastic series. Happy New Year!