Hi guys, it is time for my best books of the year article! Just a quick aside – little self-promotion time: I am putting this on my main website because I know that a lot of people maybe if they aren’t super-duper into reading they might not know about or check out my book website, but I do have a completely different book website called can read. I post once a week (I try), and so if you are interested in 2023, maybe reading.
Some more you don’t know where to get started, we have a lot of fun over on cars can read, so go ahead and check it out, but if you’re just a casual reader and you are looking for the next book, I hope that this leads you in the right direction and that being said let’s jump on in.
I read so much this year, and I honestly think this is the year that I had read the most in my entire life because even when I was kind of like my peak bookworm self when I was a kid, I don’t think I read at the rate that I did this year.
Especially with quarantine, I spent almost all of summer in the rocking chair that I’m looking at right now, reading hundreds of pages a day. I read so many excellent, outstanding, honestly life-changing books (subtly life-changing)
It was quite difficult for me to narrow it down, and I don’t think if you ask me in like a week or two – I’m not going to be completely happy with this list, but as it stands, January 3rd? 4Th?
Whatever it is. This is the list that I came up with, and I can confidently say that these are my favorite books of 2020. That being said, let’s start. So I would say all of this began in April 2020 when my life changed.
I will be quick about this book because I’ve talked about it so much, but of course, I’m talking about six crows and its sequel crooked kingdom by my queen Leigh Bardugo.
Six of Crows
This is a young adult/new adult fantasy that is a heist novel where we have six misfits that go off to steal something to make a bunch of money so that they can go live their lives free from the gangs that they’re in or all the other situations that they’re put in. There is a bit of magic thrown in there, but it wasn’t like an over-the-top fantasy, as I’ve said before.
We didn’t have fairies floating in or like dragons or something like that. The characters, I love them all so much, the story is excellent, the banter is lovely. It will become a Netflix series this year in April, I believe, and I’m excited about it. This was just the book that made me dive so deep into your fantasy.
It’s the reason why I read so many books this year, and I can’t thank it enough. It’s the reason why I started book tube, and it’s the reason why I started talking to Cindy, who is now my ultimate online girl crush. Life-changing things.
So if you’re looking for a book that you hope will grab your attention and I don’t know, it will make you just happy! That’s the book that did it for me, so six of crows.
I can’t promise this is the last time you’re going to hear about it because I know I’m going to talk about it again, but thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for literally changing my life in April of 2020.
Switching it up, my next book is everything I never told you, and I believe this is one of the first books that I read in 2020.
It is rather dark, it is more of an adult book, and it follows our main girl, who we learned from the very first page, has died.
And the book basically goes forward in time, so the family was dealing with searching for her. It also goes backward in time, so we learn about her brothers and sisters, but it goes so far back that we see her parents as kind of young adults as well. I just thought it was so beautifully written because I don’t know it was exciting how much it focused on the parents’ upbringing and how that shapes how they parent and how their children behave.
I just thought it was very moving, obviously very sad, but I figured it beautifully did it, and I went into it not knowing what to expect, and I tried to start reading little fires everywhere, and I didn’t like it.
So I had pushed away the rest of her writing, but this just caught me by surprise. I thought it was beautiful, so if you’re looking for more of a drama talking a lot about family and emotions and the way that we choose to live our lives and how other people have such an effect on how we are as people, it was beautiful, so I recommend everything I never told you.
Okay, next up, we’re just going to continue with the like sad and the heart-wrenching. I finally read human acts by Han Kang. Again, I have talked about this before, so I’ll be quick, but it talks about the Gwangju uprising in the 1980s where hundreds if not thousands of people were killed by troops sent in by the dictator here in Korea in the 80s.
And this is important because it’s still, for some reason, a hot topic where some people claim that it didn’t happen, all these people are lying, or it wasn’t the Korean government that did it. It was, you know, North Korea.
Whatever. It is still a critical topic to know about, but the way that Han Kang wrote it was so hard to read, but it was powerful. She focused on a group of kids, like middle school kids, who were held up in this particular part of the city, and they were helping deal with the unclaimed dead bodies, and it switches a bunch of points of view, one of which is wild to read.
I mean, it’s just a challenging book to read, and I think she did it so incredibly well. You learn about this historical event in a way that you don’t usually do it.
I think I said it before, but usually, when you see films about this particular period, it’s a lot of, I don’t – like the person runs up and stands in front of a tank and like these big sweeping heroic things, but you don’t hear about the kind of tiny things that happen that are just as powerful and just as sad, and this focused on that.
A very, very important book, I think. If you want to hear more about it, I will link a book article that I did where I talk about it but yeah, definitely a compelling read if you’re interested in Korean history. Just absolutely breathtaking, heartbreaking, and one of my favorites of 2020.
This Is How You Lose the Time War?
Okay, I’m going to try to be calm about this book because I’ve excited it up so much. It is this how you lose the time war by Amal el-mortar and max Gladstone. So it is written by these two different authors, and it is I learned a new word today – it is an “epistolary?” It’s an epistolary novel – I don’t think I said that right.
But that word means that it takes the form of letters, which it does. So this book follows these two female soldiers, I guess you would call them, I don’t – agents? And they work for opposing agencies. One is called the agency, and the other is called the… Shoot, it’s something to do with like greenery? Forest? The garden? I should have looked that up. I forget.
Anyway, they’re on two opposing sides of this time war, and so what their job is, is the time travel up and down the timeline, and they change certain things so that the timeline they want to happen happens. So they’ll go back and like poke somebody, and he falls off a cliff, and someone sees, and they write a poem about it, and that poem inspires this, and then that inspires this, and there’s a revolution and you know, the butterfly effect kind of thing.
They are top of their game, number one MVP player for each side, so they see each other as enemies, kind of like arch-nemesis, and so they sort of start taunting each other with letters even though they are not supposed to be communicating. And we read those letters.
What unfolds is what starts as this friendly rivalry and evolves into a love story. This is a book that you either love or hate because you don’t get a lot of world-building. You have to just go with the flow with many things.
Rivalry and evolves into a love story
It is written in such a strange, poetic way that most things are metaphors, and you just again have to roll with it, but for me, I thought it was beautiful, and I wanted to know more. I think I said it in another article, but it felt like I got this tiny little taste of this beautiful love story, and I just wanted the whole thing.
So it’s a book that I think about a lot because I’m like, “man what happened in between all those letters? What happened after?” I want more of it. I would appreciate it if we got more, but I also do not want a sequel. It’s concise, so if you’re looking to start the year with something different, really poetic, and just kind of makes your brain see beautiful things, honestly, I would highly recommend it.
Again, it’s like a love it or hate it thing – I will not feel offended if you don’t like it, I get it. But for me, I read it in one sitting at my favorite flower cafe – I can picture it, I was sitting outside with my tea, and I just gobbled it up, and it was beautiful, beautiful! So yeah, this is how you lose the time war.
The next book was quite difficult to pick because, as you know, I have just fallen deeply into the ya fantasy world. I was big into it in middle school. Then high school and college came, and I didn’t read a lot, to be honest, so I missed it. There’s like this huge chunk of time that so many excellent books came out, and I’m just playing catch up, so I’m going to make an article on my book website maybe next week that talks about the ridiculous amount of you fantasy books that I read this year.
You can look forward to that, but I wanted to pick another one that wasn’t six of crows to talk about, and for some reason, the series I’m going to mention – I don’t know why it has such a hold on me.
I read so many great series, as you know, if you watch my book website, I’ve talked about a lot of them, and I cannot tell you why this one hit me so hard because I would argue that it’s not.
The Black Witch
It’s not better than many of the books that I read, but for some reason, it’s just one that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure book akin to a court of thorns and roses, I would say because the story has some parts where you’re just kind of like –__– but it also had me laughing out loud and screaming at the page and crying so we’re going to talk about it.
And I don’t think a lot of you have read it, so it is the black witch series by Laurie forest, and the reason I don’t think a lot of you guys have read this book is that when it came out, actually I think even before it came out, there were book reviewers that got to read it first. This one particular book reviewer wrote a – I forget, I feel like it was 9000 words – it was like a book-length review of this book, talking about how racist it was, how homophobic it was, and all this stuff, and so people didn’t buy the book.
People just canceled it without – they just read the review, and they didn’t read the book, and so in case you were one of those people who is like ~oh my god, is cari recommending a racist book?~ Hear me out. The book is about this one girl who is raised in a very conservative society.
It is conservative religiously, and it is undeniably racist; they believe that they are the superior race, and they have magic, which is why it’s called the black witch. She is raised on a farm away from magic, away from her family, who is involved in politics.
She knows the farm and her uncle and brothers, and that is all. She’s just raised with this conservative society’s outlook on life, you know, like “all these other people are so dangerous, you know.
You don’t hang out with people.” Backward thinking. And then she goes to university, and she has to deal with the fact that her roommate and her classmates are all these people that she was raised to think are poisonous and like literally if they touch you you have to go to church to be blessed—ridiculous stuff.
But the thing that all the cultures have in common is the kind of all feel that way about each other. Everyone hates each other. Everyone has these ridiculous, really ridiculous prejudices about each other.
So the first book is honestly just her getting over that. Opening her eyes to a bigger world and dealing with her prejudices and learning history from other lenses and stuff like that. So the theme is: discrimination is wrong, and you need to know from different perspectives to get over that.
Of course, the rest of the story is about evil players at play, and she has to kind of with all of her friends save the world. And I honestly don’t know how it ends because we still have two more books.
I loved it. It had a bunch of yearning, if you’re into that, like a lot of just heart-wrenching scenes. Like I said, kind of a guilty pleasure book. The third book wasn’t excellent, but I think because the series is five books long – the two first two books were influential, and the third one, I feel like, was just kind of a hump she needs to get over to write the next two books.
The Black Witch Chronicles Series
I would recommend if you are looking for a ya fantasy book that you haven’t read yet, check it out! The black witch by Laurie forest. And please encourage her to finish the fourth book because I need that book, Laurie, in 2021.
And last but not least, this book came in the very last week of December, and I read it because I read with Cindy’s best books of 2020 list, and I’m so glad that I did. I am not very interested in memoirs other than Patti Smith, whose memoirs don’t feel like memoirs.
And I also read when breath becomes air, which surprised me, and I also did enjoy that, but the book that I want to talk about that is on my favorites list of 2020 is known my name by Chanel miller. And trigger warning, this is about the Stanford r*pe case where his brock what’s his name turner – he took advantage of Chanel miller while she was passed out and luckily two students saw him and caught him.
And she remained anonymous throughout the trial, throughout until this book came out – years. And this is just her story. From her waking up in a hospital, not knowing what the hell is going on, not knowing why she is there, going through the initial trial, going through the appeal, going through all this stuff – no one around her except for her immediate family know.
It talks a lot about PTSD, and it talks about how, you know, she – it was, it was just a powerful book. If you’ve ever dealt with assault or trauma or anything like that, she put certain things into words that I couldn’t express ever like I never thought that I’d be able to pinpoint it. I almost didn’t even recognize certain things within myself that she said it, and I was like yeah.
It was just compelling; it doesn’t focus on brock that much. It was really – she was taking her time to talk about herself, and it was only really, really powerful, and her writing is excellent. It was so engaging.
Yeah, I just honestly can’t. I can’t recommend it enough. Know my name by Chanel miller. And to end it on a lighter note in case any of you guys are scratching your head wondering where it is?
The house on the cerulean sea?
Didn’t Cari mention this book? What’s going on? Yes, I will say the house on the cerulean sea – leave me alone! So I have talked about this book to death, so I’m going to be real quick here – house in the cerulean sea by T.J. Klune.
I incredibly enjoyed this book. It is just a concise book about a man who works for the government, and he has to go check up on this house of kids to make sure that everything’s you know up to par – it’s an orphanage, and he’s making sure that it’s safe and all that stuff.
However, the kids are all magical creatures. He is terrified of magic, so it’s just a hilarious, heartwarming fantastic story, and if you want a quick read, something that can honestly like get you into reading if you don’t know what you’re interested in, it’s kind of got a little bit of everything so I would highly recommend house in the cerulean sea, it’s another one of my favorites of 2020 for sure.
So anyway, that is my list; I would love to hear what your favorites are. I feel like this year, like I said, I was kind of playing catch up, so I’ve just read so much your fantasy, and I’m happy about that, but I want to dive back into all of my thrillers and everything like that so any recommendation you have for me, please let me know, I’d be so into it.
I hope that in 2021 we all find some excellent books that we love. I hope that if you want to start reading again, definitely ask down below – like most of the books I’ve read – six of crows, for example, are because of the insane people in my comment section that have excellent book taste.
So really honestly, guys like from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for all of your recommendations, literally from the bottom of my broken heart because some of you guys recommended books to me that have just shocked me to my core and changed me as a human being so thank you but also go easy on me this year.
Please. Thank you so much for reading this article, and if you want more book content, visit my website regularly and read my book website, and I will see you guys next time! Happy new year. Bye!