I’m going to preface this by saying that in no way is this limited only to books published in 2020. I just thought it would be fun to chat a bit about my ten favorite books that I read this year and awarded the 5-star rating to, presented in the order I read them in.
Since it was a pretty slow year for everyone, and my in-person events were temporarily suspended, I found myself reading a lot more. As I’m a YA/NA writer primarily, I consider this to be critical research for my stories as well. Fair warning: that means I read predominantly romcoms, so skip ahead unless you’re into those too.
If you want to peruse my entire Goodreads page, and take a gander at the books I’ve written, you can find that HERE.
But without further ado, let’s go!
#1: 100 Days of Sunlight (Abbie Emmons)
This one is a great riff off of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in the sense that there’s acquired (not genetic) blindness, and the characters have an interesting romantic relationship that develops over time. You’ll just have to read it yourself, because it’s incredibly sweet and poignant.
#2: What are Friends For? (Sarah Sutton)
Another cute story of childhood besties-turned-lovers. It’s a tale that is equal parts creative and mystifying in its teenaged-frustrations, but it ends on such a good note. Bonus points for a very satisfying closet-make out scene.
#3: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)
Ah okay, this one got mixed reviews from other readers but I was absolutely in love with this chilling coming-of-age narrative set in a futuristic, dystopian setting. It takes a really rapid turn toward the end that left me shaking, but I loved it and thought the concept was super clever and well-executed. The psychological elements were confusing and terrifying in the best way. Read this, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
#4: Aix Marks the Spot (S.E. Anderson)
And… back to the romcoms. This story is a lovely jaunt into the southern French countryside, where Jamie meets a cute local boy who takes her breath away. It’s culturally rich and beautifully depicted, and I loved being able to escape somewhere refreshing when I read it this past April.
#5: The Rose Gate: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (Hanna Sandvig)
Here’s a fantasy for a change of pace now – a modern retelling of the classic. A cursed prince, who’s actually quite young, adorable, and in my mind, looked a lot like a young Luke Hemmings. But like, in a castle in a different realm, with an ever-shrinking portal that holds everyone there captive. Such a fun twist!
#6: As Much as I Ever Could (Brandy Woods Snow)
This one was probably the hottest of all the books I’ve read this year. Seriously, Jett is a locally-famous racer driver, and his casual friendship with CJ slowly but surely, turns into something else. CJ struggles from traumas involving an accident she was in years ago, and a summer with Memaw is just what the doctor ordered to get her out of her funk and embracing her reality, however bleak it may seem. In my head, I pictured Jett as a very blonde Patty Walters (from the band As It Is – what, I have a thing for guys in bands, don’t judge me).
#7: The Law of Tall Girls (Joanne Macgregor)
I really enjoyed this story about high school plays, following your dreams, and being honest with yourself and your friends. It also portrayed mental health especially well, given how difficult that topic can often be. With a sprinkling of incredibly embarrassing moments, and honest real-ness, this book is not one to miss. Also, love the body-positivity around Peyton’s relative discomfort with her height (even though she eventually learns to love it, and meets a tall guy who really loves it too).
#8: Joy’s Summer Love Playlist (Piper Bee)
Watermelons, bands, and summertime romance. What more could you want? With Jin’s good looks straight out of a K-pop band, compiled with Joy’s increasingly less-subtle crush, and friends Lena and Cale added to the mix, it’s a full-ride any YA reader would love. Be sure to check out the companion book as well, B-Sides.
#9: Alex, Approximately (Jennifer Bennett)
This book had my heart from start to finish! I adored the concept of Bailey’s online friend being the object of her affections, except for one major twist (that’s provided on the back cover so it’s not a spoiler, I promise) – she doesn’t tell him when she moves to his hometown. Then it turns out that she works at a museum alongside – you guessed it – Porter (who is actually Alex, the very same guy she met online but neither of them have any idea of it). So for the entire book, you just watch them fall in loathe, then fall in love, and neither of them have any real clue about it for a while. Jennifer Bennett is fantastically good at storytelling, and I’ve since checked out more of her work and loved those too.
Bonus: I was reading this shortly before I met my very own online friend after almost four years of talking, and it was nothing short of amazing. You can read about that experience on my blog HERE.
#10: Things We Know By Heart (Jessi Kirby)
This novel had a heart-wrenching plot (literally). The protagonist literally falls for the guy who received her dead boyfriend’s heart after he passed away. I know that sounds pretty dark for a YA novel, but it was handled with such care and taste that I honestly really enjoyed it. Totally worth the spontaneous book splurge at Barnes and Noble. Another story in the John Green vein of love-loss-growth, it’s a book any hopeless romantics like me would heartily enjoy.
There you have it! These are my favorite books that carried me through this crap-sandwich of a year. Here’s to a better and brighter 2021 – I’m hopeful that it’s going to be great ❤
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!