Gems of 2020

Posted December 27, 2020 by Lory in blog housekeeping, lists / 20 Comments

January 2020 feels like it took place more than a year ago, but by the calendar of ordinary time, it’s just been twelve months. And thus it’s time to choose my “Gems of 2020,” which will be my last list of favorites here at the Emerald City Book Review. For my reading and blogging plans for next year, join me on January 1 over at Entering the Enchanted Castle.

In reading terms, I did not manage to read as many books as usual, but many of them were excellent. I was thrilled that Susanna Clarke finally released another book and that it was one of my favorites of the year. I journeyed through Maya Angelou’s seven memoirs, sharing in her life of pain and joy, and through other people’s lives including a brilliant, disturbing memoir of postpartum psychosis, and a fictionalized account of the last woman to be executed in Iceland.

I learned from scientists about neurological differences and the world of bacteria, unseen and misunderstood realms that lie all around us in plain sight. I also learned from the voices of people with so-called disabilities; I was humbled by their persistence and courage, and motivated to use my own senses more fully.

There were lighter reads marketed for younger readers that also brought important moral and spiritual issues to ponder, and romantic comedies that lifted my mood and reminded me that life and love are still worth striving for.

These books, and many others, kept me going through this dark and disturbing year. What have been your own favorites? What do you recommend?




2020 Releases
Fiction: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Nonfiction: Inferno by Catherine Cho

More favorites I read in 2020:

Historical Fiction: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Memoir Series: Maya Angelou’s memoirs
Book Everyone Should Read: The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
Science: I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
Suspsense: The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier
Romance: Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse
Spirituality: The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu
Sensory Differences: An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks; The World I Live In by Helen Keller; Eavesdropping by Stephen Kuusisto
Reread (and read-along): The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Series Finish: Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Around the World: The Mountains Sing by Nguyแป…n Phan Quแบฟ Mai
Classics: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Linked in the Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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20 responses to “Gems of 2020

  1. That’s one huge range of fiction and non-fiction, Lory, and while there are many titles I may never get around to myself I’ve enjoyed your commentaries and evaluations on the ones you’ve reviewed, reading them vicariously as it were!

    • Yes, quite a variety there! Though at the moment I’m drawn to comforting rereads (L.M. Montgomery, P.G. Wodehouse) I’m pleased to see I managed some more challenging material in this very chaotic year.

    • I know, I’ve already read another one that could have gone on the list (Act One by Moss Hart) so maybe I’ll sneak some more in.

    • I’m kicking myself I never read Oliver Sacks till a couple of years ago. I’m glad I have more in store to enjoy though.

  2. The Graveyard book is a big favorite of mine and I know that Burial Rites are still on my TBR.

    Great list and I hope that you will have lots more time for reading in 2021.

    Happy New Year!

    • I avoided Burial Rites for a long time because it sounded so grim, but I’m glad I read it because it was so beautifully done.

  3. I am so pleased to hear you found so many wonderful books to help you through this dark and disturbing year.๐Ÿ™‚ I pray you and yours will enjoy an easier and brighter 2021! ๐ŸŽ†
    Here are my favourite reads of 2020: and of course I always recommend everyone reading Susanna Kearsley, Terry Pratchett and Daphne du Maurier. ๐Ÿ˜

  4. Iza

    I see several books I want to read here, Burial rites, Brideshead revisited, The scapegoat and others. I need to finally read something by Susanna Clarke and Maya Angelou ! Happy new year ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I really need to read Burial Rites! You have such a variety in your list and that’s awesome. I hope 2021 is just as good to you! ๐Ÿ™‚