So far in the year I’ve already read more than 200 books, and plan to squeeze in a few more. While I try and talk about as many books on here that I can, a few are always going to kind of slip through the cracks. So today I’m talking about some really incredible books that I just didn’t mention enough throughout the year.
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
I know I’ve talked about this one in a few posts more recently, and I’m pretty sure some of my posts later in the month are going to mention it too but that’s still not enough. This is absolutely going to make it onto my top books of 2020 list because it’s just such a beautiful book, and it’s so underrated. It has just over 3,000 ratings on Goodreads and I only know one other person who’s read it and that was only on my recommendation. It’s a truly beautiful book that looks at everything from love, to destructive behaviours, to shipwrecks, to family and family history. Even with all of that, it’s such a quiet and yet completely disarming book. It was one of those stories that completely drew me in right from the beginning, and by the end, I was sobbing. I read this in May this year, and I’m really hoping I’ll get the chance to reread it in 2021 and again, and again and again from here on out. So I think it’s save to say that not only has it made that top list for 2020, but probably my top books of all-time too.
The Coconut Children by Vivian Pham
This was actually one of the first books I reviewed here on Earl Grey Books so it obviously has a special place because of that. I might have been blogging for over eight years now, but with every new blog, there are always a few books and posts that stay in my memory. If you’re interested in seeing that review, you can find it here. I’d been kind of going back and forth as to whether to buy this one when it arrived in a WellRead subscription box earlier this year. I picked it up pretty soon after that and I was so glad when I did. Like The Last True Poets of the Sea, this is a quiet but powerful read. I think that sort of sums up a lot of the books I really loved in 2020, there’s something about a book that can make you feel so much without having to show-off that particularly interested me this year. Again, this looks at a lot of different topics, though family relationships also plays a big role in here. Vivian Pham also has an incredible way of telling a story, especially from a young debut author. But don’t just take my word for it, Laura @ Laura’s Adventures in Literature just posted a review that is way more eloquent than this little spiel!
Bloodchild and Other Stories by Octavia E. Butler
I did talk about this one very, very briefly in one of my 2018 project posts but those couple of sentences are not nearly enough. This was my second Butler, though that’s mostly because it was such a struggle to get her books here for the longest time. I think it’s becoming easier now that there seems to be a renewed interest in her as well as redesigned covers and whatnot. Anyway, this is a collection of truly amazing short stories. I was already in serious awe of Butler’s talents just from reading Kindred, but this just solidified that. I am not a short story person—I’ve gotten a little better this year, but I’m just not good with them but this was the exception. I think it helped the quite a few of these looked at disability and mental and chronic illnesses and that’s always something that is going to grab my interest. My two favourite stories were The Evening, the Morning and the Night and Speech Sounds, and even though it’s been a few months they have still stuck with me. I’d also love to reread this in the New Year!
Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
I think Jacqueline Woodson is criminally unspoken about in the online book community. She’s often nominated for awards, including this one that got nominated for the Women’s Prize this year, but I very rarely see her actually mentioned on blogs or Booktube, or even on Bookstagram or Book Twitter. I guess maybe it’s because her books are often in verse and that can turn people away, but she’s so incredible! If you’re someone who enjoys Elizabeth Acevedo, then you’ll probably like Jacqueline Woodson too—her novels in verse are just as incredibly written and easy to read. I don’t know why people aren’t recommending the two of them together, sure you’ll end up sobbing a lot but they’d be so great to read in tandem with one another. Red at the Bone is a pretty short read, but oh boy does it pack a punch. Seriously, I went from ‘oh this is so good’ to literally a sobbing mess within the space of a few pages. That’s the kind of book that deserves to be talked about.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Another book that just completely blew me away this year. I hadn’t read Brit Bennett’s first book when I had this one arrive, again from WellRead. This is sort of a family saga told over a number of years and sort of two generations, and honestly, that is not my kind of book usually. I kept this one on my shelves because it did sound interesting and then I heard Brit Bennett talk at Melbourne Writer’s Festival and was instantly hooked. Honestly, that was one of the best writer’s talks I’ve ever seen and I am so thankful MWF made their program digital this year so that we all got to see that. Right from the beginning, I was just amazed by how much I was invested in this story especially when it’s something so far out of my comfort zone, but Bennett grabs onto you and she does not let you go. I’m so happy that I ordered The Mothers for myself for Christmas to read in the New Year.
So those are just five of the incredible books I’ve read in 2020. Of course, I’ll be doing more extensive top books of 2020 type of posts in the coming weeks so check back for those if you’re interested in seeing more!