For the fourth year now, I am doing my best books that I read in this year in a category list rather than in raked order, Why? Because why I loved these particular books matters more to me than the order in which I would place them. How I interacted with them, how they affected me, how they stayed with me is what is important here because that is why they are my personal "Best."Some of the categories are the same from year to year, others change. This is because the books I read create their own experiences and categories to me personally and I want to capture that experience each year along with the titles. I am not a robot, I am a human reader, even if reading and suggesting titles is my job. In order to remind myself [and all of you] of the joy in what we are paid to do, I am trying to create a year end best list that captures, celebrates, and acknowledges that.
Also, by this time, lots of people have already weighed in with critically acclaimed "best" lists for weeks now, so why do you need more of that from me? I played my part in that side of the "best" debate with my Best Horror of 2020 list as part of #LibFaves20. That is a place where my opinion on what is the BEST matter from that expert perch.
What I bring here on the general blog that is most helpful to all of you out there in the trenches, is a list that reflects my best experiences as a reader. This is a list that is personal to me, my tastes, and my weird quirks. You can use it to help other readers, yes, but because it is so specific to me, it is actually better used by you as a conversation starter.
For example, you can ask people "What is the most fun you had reading a book this year?" or "What title was the biggest surprise to you?" Or for 2020 specifically," What is your feel good book of the year?" Those are questions readers can answer much more quickly and easily than "What was your favorite book?" These are also questions that encourage longer conversations.
The categories I have listed here provide great conversation starters to offer to your patrons. You can even use my answers to keep the conversation going by saying, "I was thinking about this question because Becky said [fill in the title] as her answer."
The point of my "Best" list is to both offer books that I loved this year, while also presenting an example of a regular reader view of a "best" list.
Below you will find my list of the best books I experienced in 2020 [regardless of publication year] in 13 categories created by me. It is arbitrary but so what? It's my list of what mattered to me the most this year. Each title links to a longer review which will explain why it is the "best" book for that category, and will include my "Three Words."
I'll be back in 2021. Have a safe and happy New Year.
Becky's Best Books I read in 2020
Best Feel Good Book of 2020: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Best Books from 2019 Best Lists That I read in 2020: Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead and The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Best Book I read in 2019 That Actually Came Out in 2020: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
Best Surprise: The Seep by Chana Porter
Best Backlist Gems: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green and Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Best Audios: [Tie and both because of how the stories were told; the audio enhanced the reading experience for me] 7/12 Death of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton and Recursion by Blake Crouch
Best Horror: The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones but second place is Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. [My full top 10 horror of 2020 is here.]
Best Historical: The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai
Best Speculative: House at the Bottom of the Lake by Josh Malerman
Best Books By Big Name Authors: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel and Anxious People by Fredrik Backman [These books didn't need to be good to sell copies and get readers, but they were excellent.]