I guess here’s where I’m meant to write that it’s been a strange year and all. Anyway, passing over that, here’s my usual list of my favourite books that came out this year. I’ve been quite picky with what I’ve included (and split into fiction, poetry and drama, and non-fiction) as I’ve read a lot of ‘good’ books this year, but I really wanted to highlight the best ones.
Books not published in 2020 are going to come separately, so my top books I’ve read this year are basically split into ‘stuff I’ve reviewed’ (this post) and ‘other things’ (the non-2020 publication lot). Links are to full reviews if you’re interested.
- The Magnificent Sons by Justin Myers – Biting look at what happens when two brothers with a big age gap both come out.
- Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed – YA mystery through the streets of Paris as teenage Khayyam tries to solve an art history puzzle (with bonus Byron as my real selling point).
- Homes and Experiences by Liam Williams – Email epistolary novel satirising gentrification and millennial culture and guilt, with a bittersweet narrative.
- Wonderland by Juno Dawson – The final of her three books in a loose trilogy (following Clean and Meat Market), this one is Alice in Wonderland retold as a fall into an elite world of ‘old money’ teenage parties. Dark, thrilling, and hard hitting, it’s my favourite of the three.
- Loveless by Alice Oseman – Working out asexuality whilst adjusting to weird university life and realising there’s not ‘one’ experience for everyone – just the sort of book I’m glad teenagers now have.
- The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeki Emezi – An entrancing novel about whether parents really know their child.
- Boy Parts by Eliza Clark – Perhaps very predictable of me to love this, an artsy Northern female take on the aesthetic antihero, but it was thrilling, very dark, and brilliant.
Poetry and Drama
- Tongues of Fire by Sean Hewitt – Lyric poems combining nature and modern, like moving from a walk to a Berlin club and back again, and beautifully describing tiny moments.
- My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long – Short, storytelling poetry with vivid images and messages.
- Underground, Monroe, & The Mamalogues by Lisa B. Thompson – Three very different plays looking at the black middle class and elements of race, gender, and respectability.
- Poor by Caleb Femi – Witty and cutting poetry and photography about growing up on a Peckham estate and the reality of geography and gentrification with class and race.
- The Girl and the Goddess by Nikita Gill – A novel in verse about a girl growing up in India, discovering herself, and interacting with gods and goddesses, whilst considering the power of storytelling.
- The Reality Game by Samuel Woolley – Good primer on online disinformation and technology.
- Data Feminism by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren F. Klein – How to think about data science from an intersectional perspective.
- So Hormonal from Monstrous Regiment – Collection of essays about how hormones impact people’s lives, full of a vast range of eye-opening experiences.
- White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad – A look at how white feminism affects women of colour and how important intersectionality is (technically this first came out in 2019, but I read an edition out in 2020 so I’m saying it counts here).