As you might guess, I read compulsively. I’ve taken a look back at my reading (61 books so far this year) during 2020 with help from my Goodreads account and here are thirteen of my favourite books of the year. They’re not all recent releases, as books often wait in my Towering To Be Read Pile and because I’m still working my way through the 501 Books to Read Before You Die List. If you want to buy a book as a gift, or you want to treat yourself, I’d recommend any of these books. If you order through the links provided a tiny fee is paid towards supporting this blog.
If you’re not a reader, or prefer posts about the history of unusual words, don’t worry normal service will resume next Monday.
They’re listed in random order. I can’t rank books, I love them too much.
Postcard Stories – Jan Carson (Amazon.com)
52 flash stories, all originally written and posted on postcards to friends by this talented writer during a year of writing. Funny, wry, and touching. A wonderful glimpse of her life in Belfast. A slim volume, worth a try.
Leonard and Hungry Paul – Ronán Hession (Amazon.com)
A gentle, though-provoking read that will stay with you afterwards. Leonard writes encyclopedias for children and Paul is a quiet soul who works part-time as a postman. Their friendship is the heart of the book which helps us to see the beauty in silence and how not every tale needs a fast pace or an explosion to make it important.
The Dry – Jane Harper (Amazon.com)
A small town in the Australian outback is nearly two years into a drought when a tragic death occurs. A city policeman returns for the funeral of his best friend and is drawn into investigating the death while trying to understand an earlier crime that scarred their teen friendship. Brilliant writing, structure, and setting.
The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern (Amazon.com)
I loved her first book, “The Night Circus”, and this one didn’t disappoint. A secret world beneath our own holds all the stories ever created and it is in danger. Perfect fantasy for book and library fans everywhere. Intricate plot with stories within stories so read with your brain switched on.
The Fiery Cross – Diana Gabaldon (Amazon.com)
Outlander is my favourite histfic series and I read this book for about the fifth time in 2020 before watching the TV adaptation. Set in pre-independance America and following one family as they find a place in the New World despite the approach of war.
The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson (Amazon.com)
Picked this up second-hand and flicked into it while queuing. Hooked instantly by the feisty old man and his adventures. Very funny. There’s also a sequel, can’t wait.
The Wheel of Time Series – Robert Jordan (Amazon.com)
I finished reading the 14 books of this epic fantasy series this year. It’s set in a medieval-style world with plenty of magical creatures and quests. Along with strong male characters we also have feisty female characters from queens to village healers to leaders of rebel magic groups. Link is to a box-set but there are various editions, shop around.
Victim Without a Face – Stefan Ahnhem (Amazon.com)
I read this in the spring and I know I read until 4.30a.m. to finish it and can still recall the tense, twisty, ending. Fast paced, well plotted, Scandi thriller with characters you care about. What more do you need?
Artemis – Andy Weir (Amazon.com)
I loved “The Martian” so I rushed to get this in hardback. He’s back in space, this time on the moon but the book isn’t about NASA and space pirates this time. The moon has been colonised by Earth and it’s about to encounter its first heist. Readers, he had me at “moon heist”. Well written, good science, great setting, twisty heist.
Redeemer – CE Murphy (Amazon.com)
Rosie the Riveter meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as a factory worker at the end of WWII discovers she has a rare talent for fighting demons. It’s just that she wants to sort out her life before her boy comes home from the front line, so could the demons hang on a minute please?
This is Happiness – Niall Williams (Amazon.com)
Niall Williams is a beautiful writer but not only is his prose elegant, his characters stay with you after you close the book, and his plots are compelling. I have an entire section of his books on my shelves (a rare honour). This one follows a small town when the team arrives to bring electricity. Part coming-of-age and part love song to the past, it will transport you to rural Ireland in the mid 1900s.
The Hunting Party – Lucy Foley (Amazon.com)
If you travel on the train through the western Scottish highlands you will pass these tiny railway stations in the middle of nowhere. They serve deer hunting estates for absent landlords. Some are rented out to high-paying guests. When a group of old college friends gather at one for a snowbound reunion the tensions are immediately obvious. When a body is found, it gets a lot more serious.
Words The Sea Gave Us & How To Get Your Name In The Dictionary – Grace Tierney (Amazon.com)
My first two books inspired by this blog are out now in paperback and ebook (all the ways to get them are listed here along with reader reviews etc). “Words The Sea Gave Us” covers nautical words and phrases from ahoy to skyscraper. “How To Get Your Name In The Dictionary” explores the lives of the people whose names became part of the English language including Boycott, Sandwich, Guillotine, Casanova, and Fedora.
Right, that’s enough book chat. Next week I’ll be back with strange and unusual words. Wishing you happy reading in 2021.
Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,
p.s. this post contains affiliate links which make a small payment to the blog if you choose to purchase through them. #CommissionsEarned. Alternatively, you can use my digital tip jar to say thanks for this year’s words.
p.p.s. You can read about my 2019 and 2018 Books of the Year too.