2020 Reading – Mid-Year Review

One thing I can say for #stayinghome, it’s been good for reading. It’s the weekends, in particular, that have opened up with stretches of time not spent hanging out with friends or doing grocery shopping or going to the movies. I miss those activities. I long for a return to certain aspects of “normal” (while I also dread others). But I’ve also discovered during this time that I fear two kinds of scarcity: food and books. I have been fortunate to still be able to access an abundance of both and for that I am deeply grateful.

I have read a lot of really great books this year so far, so many that it would be foolhardy to try to mention them all here and I can foresee a challenge in narrowing my end-of-year list to select my top picks. So for now I’ll simply call out some gut instinct favorites (in no particular order):

  • While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in the Time of Climate Change by M. Jackson. In this memoir, Jackson wrestles with twinned griefs—the deaths of both her parents within a year of each other and the devastation already being wrought by the climate crisis. It’s a beautiful book.
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. The first young readers fairy tale I’ve read in a long time where I didn’t have a sense of exactly where it was going.
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir. I’ve recommended this to a few people who found it wasn’t their cup of tea. And that’s fine. But still. Lesbian. Necromancers. IN SPAAAACE!
  • The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker. If you’re able to stomach a more literary pandemic, this book about a plague of sleep that envelops a college town is well worth your time.
  • Here For It, or How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thompson. I laughed, I cried, I grew. A lovely memoir-in-essays.
  • Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. I’m still trying to figure out how Wilson managed to write something so funny and also so subtly profound. A magic trick of a book.
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. This book messed me up—in a worthwhile way.
  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. The form and style of this memoir, Machado’s attempt to represent and understand her abusive lesbian relationship, results in the kind of book that makes me want to write. I can think of few higher compliments.
  • The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery. I loved this stand-alone romance as a kid. I delighted in being back in this world as an adult.
  • The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin. The best thing I can say about Jemisin is that she’s the pre-eminent fantasy writer of our present moment. The second best thing I can say about her is that she writes fast and thank the gods because I really want to get my hands on book two.

The list below includes title, author, page count, and if the book was re-read or not. A * indicates that I like and recommend the book. A ** star means I really, really liked it and think it’s truly great. Several of these books have longer posts on the site as well.

TitleAuthorPage #sRe-Read?
*1. The Ten Thousand Doors of JanuaryAlix E. Harrow371No
*2. While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate ChangeM. Jackson218uNo
*3. The Girl Who Drank the MoonKelly Barnhill386No
4. What We’re Fighting For Now is Each Other: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Climate JusticeWen Stephenson220No
5. Magic for LiarsSarah Gailey333No
*6. The Ocean at the End of the LaneNeil Gaiman178Yes
*7. The Yellow HouseSarah Broom376No
8. The DeepRivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes166No
9. The Witches are ComingLindy West259No
10. The Secret Lives of GlaciersM. Jackson236No
*11. Gideon the NinthTamsyn Muir444No
*12. RebeccaDaphne de Maurier403No
13. Winnie-the-PoohA. A. Milne, w/ illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard161No
*14. The DreamersKaren Thompson Walker299No
*15. Till We Have FacesC. S. Lewis309No
*16. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the DeadOlga Karczuk, Trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones274No
*17. The Return of the SoldierRebecca West90Yes
18. The Woman DestroyedSimone de Beauvoir254No
*19. The Book of DelightsRoss Gay271No
*20. The Bear and the NightingaleKatherine Arden312No
*21. The Mirror and the LightHilary Mantel757No
*22. Here For It, or How to Save Your Soul in AmericaR. Eric Thomas257No
*23. The City We BecameN.K. Jemisin434No
*24. Just KidsPatti Smith290Yes
*25. The PassionJeanette Winterson160Yes
*26. Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going CrazyJoanna Macy & Chris Johnstone238No
27. The Girl in the TowerKatherine Arden346No
28. The Glass HotelEmily St. John Mandel301No
*29. The Winter of the WitchKatherine Arden358No
30. Rose MadderStephen King420Yes
31. The Crying BookHeather Christie171No
*32. The Blue CastleL. M. Montgomery218Yes
*33. The Mermaid the Witch and the SeaMaggie Tokuda-Hall357No
*34. In the Dream HouseCarmen Maria Machado242No
**35. The Vanishing HalfBrit Bennett343No
**36. CirceMadeline Miller385Yes
37. The Hundred Thousand KingdomsN.K. Jemisin398No
38. DevotionDani Shapiro343No
39. CladeJames Bradley320No
*40. Nothing to See HereKevin Wilson354No
*41. Orange World and Other StoriesKaren Russell266No
42. The MothersBrit Bennett275No
*43. The Bone ClocksDavid Mitchell624No
*44. The Song of AchillesMadeline Miller369No

Anything else on this list you’re interested in learning more about? Thoughts on any of these titles? What are you favorite books this year?

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay 

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