Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “Favorite Books of 2020.” I thought it would be difficult to pick ten, but once I went through my Goodreads, the final choices weren’t too difficult. I did choose books released in 2020 and earlier as I read two due out in 2021 that I loved but I didn’t feel like they fit this list. I will list them at the end as bonuses! These are in no particular order!
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – I was so engrossed in this world, and it made me want to read more portal/historical fantasies.
Sin Eater by Megan Campisi – This alternate Tudor history captivated me from the get go and almost a year later, I’m still thinking about this.
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – Magical libraries? Yes, please. This also reminds me of like… Robin McKinley’s world building and style a little bit, and I think that’s one of the things that has kept me coming back to Rogerson’s work. I can’t wait for her next one!
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – This was something unlike anything else I’ve really read before, and I’m intrigued by the concept of twins and their connections.
Little Weirds by Jenny Slate – I don’t know why this made me sob so much, but I related to a lot of things about Slate’s personal life that she’s revealed in this essays, and I eventually want to add a copy of this to my shelves since this was a library read!
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – I knew this would be a favorite before I even read it, and it lived up to all of my expectations!
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I keep recommending this to people because it appeals to so many different readers. I’d been intrigued by the concept since it’s announcement, and when I got around to reading it, it just surpassed every hope I had for it. If I truly had to choose, Mexican Gothic is my second favorite read of the year.
Fable by Adrienne Young – I love YA pirate fantasy, and this was a delight for me to read. I don’t usually immediately run to request the sequel after reading, but I did for this one and I’m glad the release dates between the duology are not far apart!
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse – My favorite book of the year, hands down.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey – I’ve enjoyed every book by Gailey, and this was no exception! A post-apocalyptic wild west in which librarians are spies and transport contraband on the fringes of society??? YES.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – This was so much fun and really evoked the fun, campy, science vibes of The Martian (which I thought was lacking in Artemis). I don’t want to spoil it too much, but the characters in this are hilarious and great.
The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey – I read this a few months ago and literally think about it once a week because this domestic sci-fi thriller is just that good. Gailey can do anything and I’ll read anything they write.
Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children No Solicitations No Visitors No Quests
Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.
No matter the cost.
For us, the places we went were home. We didn’t care if they were good or evil or neutral or what. We cared about the fact that for the first time we didn’t have to pretend to be something we weren’t. We just got to be. That made all the difference in the world.
Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway is a fairy tale homage. McGuire weaves in a lot of fairy tale and childhood fantasy references that make this a joy to read to try to connect all of those threads. Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children is a place where parents send their troubled, “uncontrollable” children. The children who have been sent there are those who have said that they’ve visited other worlds, other places, through actual doors or through other means that are probably immediately identifiable to those who read a lot (a wardrobe, a rabbit hole, etc).
This story really resonated with me because of the quote above. For me, so much of growing up and becoming myself meant learning how to shed the masks I wore, and sometimes still wear. When you find that place in life where you feel like you can be completely yourself without shame or fear is like nothing else. Sometimes it’s as simple as aging, sometimes it’s the people you meet and become friends/family with, and sometimes it’s the actual place in which you live that helps shape everything. And then, when you’re taken away or removed from that place, even if you only visited for a moment, all you can really think about is getting back to that place. Longing and nostalgia can be as powerful a drug as any others, and sometimes the only salve is finding people who have shared experiences and feel the same way as you. Realizing you’re not alone is such a healing thing.
If you like reworked fairy tales or stories about belonging and loss, you really need to read this. I can’t wait to read the others in this series.