Books

My Best Books of 2020

December 31, 2020
The stack of books mentioned in this post on a windowsill, a small succulent beside the pile and an origami dragon on top.

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I keep thinking back to last year, at the end of 2019. I was sat at my dining room table, writing my best books for 2019; I remember feeling excited for the year to come. I had a regular income and had finally settled into my new working routine. I was excited to see what books I discovered in the coming year.

Except, 2020 had a different plan in mind for all of us. With Covid and numerous lockdowns, most of us found ourselves spending more time at home than we would have ever expected.

With this unexpected amount of time on our hands, many of us became divided in our reading habits. Some of us sored and went through more books than we could ever imagine, and for others, like me, there were numerous reading slumps. 

However, despite my multiple reading slumps, I ended up loving quite a few books. So, here is my Best Books of 2020. 


Maybe in Another Life By Taylor Jenkins Reid

After reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo back in 2019, I fell in love with Taylor Jenkins Reids writing style. Every book of hers that I’ve read, I’ve become captivated and had to finish them in a single sitting, and this year I ended up reading two of her novels, Daisy Jones & the Six and Maybe in Another Life.

Although I enjoyed Daisy Jones, it was Maybe In Another Life that became a favourite of mine. Hannah Martin has spent most of her adult life looking for home, so when she returns to Los Angeles, it is at a party where her life could go two ways. Told in parallel points of view, we see what Hannah’s life turns into based on a single decision. 

Strange Weather in Tokyo By Hiromi Kawakami

Another book that I picked up back in January, Strange Weather in Tokyo, is an intriguing narrative that follows Tsukiko and her former teacher who is always referred to as Sensei.

Hiromi Kawakami wrote a beautiful narrative about connection and unlikely relationships and the impact that they can have on us and our lives.

The Last Wish By Andrzej Sapkowski

After The Witcher TV show launched at the beginning of the year, it’s safe to say that I became obsessed like the rest of the world and binged watched it all in a single sitting. But I couldn’t stop there!

Instead, I decided to pick up the books and am currently making my way through it. The Last Wish is technically the first in the series and a collection of short stories – some we see in the TV show, and some are entirely new. I liked reading this one due to its familiarity but also a sense of adventure. I love fantasy but never read enough of it and hope to finish reading this series in 2021. 

Mooncakes By Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

It’s safe to say that I loved Mooncakes this year that it had to go on my list! I read this one in April and July – it became a sort of comfort blanket for me and one I know I’ll probably reach for again in 2021. 

This graphic novel has everything, with a deaf main character, a non-binary main character, same-sex relationships and a significant focus on family love and romantic. Oh, and there is magic and witches too! If you haven’t read it, then you definitely should.

Sweet Bean Paste By Durian Sukegawa

After reading Before the Coffee Gets Cold last year, I realised that I was missing out on so many books and became determined to read more Translated Fiction. I definitely read more this year than ever before, but I want to keep reading more in the new year.

I’ll admit that when I picked up Sweet Bean Paste, it was purely for the gorgeous cover, but I found an emotional and reflective tale on our relationship with others and why we shouldn’t judge based on appearance. This book hit me, and by the end, I was in tears, such a good book!

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race By Reni Eddo-Lodge

Earlier this year, with the prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, I realised my own internal biases and the fact I don’t read as diversely as I could. I’ll admit that I’ve been ignorant, but I am working to change that, I’ll make mistakes, but I’ll learn from them too. 

Like many people this year, I picked up Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, and it was an eye-opening book. I learned so much about racial biases and the UK’s history and events that I had no idea even occurred. It’s a brilliant book and an educational read that will change your perspective entirely. 

Ready Player One By Ernest Cline

Ready Player One has been on my bookshelves for years now, and after watching the film, I finally picked it up. I found the entire novel intriguing and liked how it differed from the film so much. Admittedly, I did feel that it was crammed with too many references that it sometimes felt like a fanboy listicle, but I did enjoy it. 

Let’s Talk About Love By Claire Kann

Let’s Talk About Love was a book that meant a lot to me in 2020. In case you aren’t aware, I am asexual, and since coming out, it’s been lonely. There aren’t many books out there with ace characters, let alone the main character, and it’s not something that people know or discuss as much about. 

Reading Let’s Talk About Love, is an own voices novel following Alice, a Biromantic asexual. It’s a profoundly emotional novel and one I connected too massively and gave me a lot of hope for the future. 

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling By Wai Chim

Another cover buy for me in 2020 and one that I was not expecting to love as much as I did. On the cover, I thought this was going to be a cute YA romance about an East Asian protagonist in Australia. However, this novel was so much more and tackles being a carer and mental health and how we talk about mental health. 

If you haven’t had the chance to pick up this book, then definitely take the time to add it to your 2021 TBR. 

A Kind of Spark By Elle McNicoll

Another own voices book and one that I didn’t expect to impact me as much as it did. A Kind of Spark is Elle McNicoll’s debut novel and tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial for the witch trials that took place in her hometown years before.

Addie’s story becomes so much more than a simple campaign, as she must challenge others’ perceptions due to being autistic, dealing with bullies, and finding new friendships. I devoured this in a single sitting, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book by Elle McNicoll. 

Out of Office By Fiona Thomas

Another non-fiction title to add to my best books of 2020 and one that helped me this year too. Earlier this year, I took a leap of faith and became a full-time freelancer. It’s kind of scary and requires a lot of research to find your footing, but six months down the line, I’m enjoying it and excited to see what the future holds next. 

Fiona Thomas is a writer and full-time freelancer and wrote the book Out of Office to provide her own experience and advice – and answering all the questions that sometimes feel embarrassing to ask about concerning freelance life. It’s insightful and beneficial to me and made me feel more confident working freelance. 

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow By Jessica Townsend

It wouldn’t be an end of year round-up of my best books without featuring one of Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor novels. Since featuring the first book in the series in my 2018 Best Books, it’s safe to say that I am completely in love with this series. 

As the first book in the series, I don’t want to give too much away. Still, this one was surprising indeed with new characters, relationships and changing opinions on characters we thought we knew – I can’t wait to read the next instalment. 


That’s it for my best books of 2020 – it’s been a rollercoaster of a year, and I’m looking forward to putting it behind us and seeing what books I get to read in 2021!

How about you? Which books feature on your Best Books of 2020? Have you read any from my list?

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63 Comments

  • Reply Anika December 31, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    What a great reading list! There are a few titles I haven’t heard of before so I’m definitely checking those out. And I recently bought Maybe in Another Life, so I’m hoping to start that next year 🙂

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 1, 2021 at 5:27 pm

      Oh, you’ll have to let me know what you think of it! I hope that you enjoy x

  • Reply Lisa December 31, 2020 at 4:57 pm

    Goodness, I haven’t come across any of your best books, how unusual! I’ve been reading a lot of YA fantasy (VE Schwab, Laini Taylor, Christina Henry) and revisiting an old favourite, Mary Wesley. I haven’t read as much as usual this year, but hopefully I can rectify that in 2021 🙂

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 1, 2021 at 5:28 pm

      Oh, I haven’t read much of any of those authors either! And I haven’t heard of Mary Wesley either. I’m the exact same, hoping that 2021 will be a better reading year for us both!

  • Reply Kelly Diane January 1, 2021 at 7:52 am

    You’ve mentioned some great sounding books. I haven’t read any of these but I’m always on the lookout for recommendations. Wishing you a happy and healthy New year.

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 1, 2021 at 5:30 pm

      Thank you for reading, you’ll have to let me know if you try any of these books as well! Happy New Year!

  • Reply Layla January 1, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Excellent list of books, I’m glad you enjoyed all of these!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 1, 2021 at 5:31 pm

      Thank you so much Layla! I definitely found some favourites that I’m sure I’ll be rereading again!

  • Reply Ellie January 1, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    These are some great recommendations!! Definitely adding some to my TBR

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:03 pm

      I’m pleased to hear about it! You’ll have to let me know if you get to read any of them!

  • Reply Lorraine January 1, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    I enjoyed Ready Player One for what it was and didn’t take it too seriously. The Last Wish has been on my TBR since the games came out; maybe I’ll finally get to it!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      I’m the same with Ready Player One, it was just an enjoyable read. You’ll have to let me know if you end up reading The Last Wish, I enjoyed it but the pacing is quite slow!

  • Reply Nikki January 1, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    Ah I’m also excited for let’s talk about love I really need to get a copy

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:05 pm

      It really is brilliant, it made me really emotional reading it so I can’t stop recommending it.

  • Reply amyjanealice January 1, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    Oh my gosh I haven’t actually read any of these?! So I’ve definitely got some fab recommendations.

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:07 pm

      Oh, you’ll have to let me know if you read any of them and what you think!

  • Reply Bec January 1, 2021 at 7:34 pm

    What a great list! I haven’t read any of these but am hoping to soon – especially Mooncakes!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:08 pm

      Mooncakes is such a great read – I’m determined to reread it sometime this year for sure! You’ll have to let me know what you think when you get to it!

  • Reply Kirsty January 1, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    Ooh! I enjoyed Mooncakes last year too. I really want to read some Hiromi Kawakami books soon

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:09 pm

      Reading more Hiromi Kawakami is on my list for sure, I thoroughly enjoyed Strange Weather so would recommend it as a starting point too!

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  • Reply Sophie January 2, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I also had many slumps this year, I spent ages wondering how people were able to detach enough to be able to get stuck into something. Maybe in Another Life sounds like a great read, need to add that to my list. x

    Sophie

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:10 pm

      Oh I think that you would really enjoy reading Maybe in Another Life, Taylor Jenkins Reid writing style just flows and you can’t help but want to keep reading so I think you’d enjoy it.

  • Reply Rachel - A Cascade of Books January 2, 2021 at 11:15 am

    Oooooh what a great list! I adored A Kind of Spark, and I have Hollowpox on my pile!! Lovely post! 🙂

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 2, 2021 at 4:11 pm

      Hollowpox is great! I hope that you enjoy it 😊

  • Reply Kat T January 2, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    I now want to read all of these!!

    My TBR is growing by the second!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:17 pm

      Haha I am pleased to hear it! You’ll have to let me know which books you end up trying x

  • Reply Jen January 3, 2021 at 8:52 am

    This is a great list, I haven’t heard of most of these but I’ll be sure to check them out!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks for reading – you’ll have to let me know which ones you end up checking out x

  • Reply Misa Buckley January 3, 2021 at 10:13 am

    I got The Last Wish as well, but struggled with the choppiness of the stories. I have Ready Player One on Audible (read by Wil Wheaton) but haven’t gotten to it yet. In fact, I’ve a lot on Audible that I need to work through!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:18 pm

      Haha I’m completely the same – my audible is always backed up with loads of books I need to make some time for!

  • Reply Jaclyn - Jaclynistic Vibes January 3, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I love having plenty of book recommendations as I always have one on the go. Most of these I haven’t come across, so I’ll have to check some of them out. I read Ready Player One a couple of years ago and loved it!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:19 pm

      It’s such a fun book, some issues but overall quite enjoyable read, though I am debating whether or not to read the second. Thank you for reading, you’ll have to let me know if you end up reading any of these books too!

  • Reply Lindsay January 3, 2021 at 10:47 am

    I haven’t heard of a lot of these. Ready Player One is one of my all time favourite books though. My New Years resolution is to read 52 books this year and I’ll definitely be adding some of these to the list

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:20 pm

      Reading 52 books is an awesome reading resolution to have – it’s the same as mine actually. Have you read the sequel to Ready Player One yet?

  • Reply Hannah Louise January 3, 2021 at 11:32 am

    I haven’t read any of these books but some sound right up my street! Determined to read more this year so I’ve added a couple to my list, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read! I hope you enjoy whichever one you end up picking and that you have a great reading year!

  • Reply Charley Allison January 3, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    These are some great recommendations – thanks for sharing! The Last Wish sounds great, I loved The Witcher on Netflix so I’ll have to give the books a go!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:23 pm

      Definitely give the books ago if you enjoyed the TV show for sure! However, will warn you that the books are quite slow in pacing but really enjoyable too!

  • Reply Fadima Mooneira January 3, 2021 at 1:15 pm

    I haven’t read any of these books yet. The second one on your list sounds interesting. I think I should check it out. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      Strange Weather in Tokyo is such an incredible read! You’ll have to let me know if you end up reading it and what you think!

  • Reply Literary Leisha January 3, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Great list!
    I also loved Mooncakes, really hoping for more by the writer and artist!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      I think there will definitely be more by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker for sure! I think they’re already contracted to write more I think?

  • Reply Sarah Jones January 3, 2021 at 2:15 pm

    Definitely adding a load of these to my goodreads TBR now! I read Ready Player One a few years ago and really enjoyed it (even though I was the same – some references went straight over my head!). I’m currently reading Ready Player Two and hoping it will be as good as the first 🙂
    Sarah x

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:25 pm

      Oh you’ll have to let me know how Ready Player Two is! I’ve been really on the fence about reading it since reading Ready Player One so I would love to know what you think!

  • Reply Tash January 3, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Looks like you read some fab books in 2020! I loved Daisy Jones and The Six so would love to read more of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novels. Thanks for sharing

    Tash – A Girl with a View

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:27 pm

      Taylor Jenkins Reid is an incredible writer so would highly recommend picking up Maybe in Another Life or maybe Evelyn Hugo if you haven’t read it already. x

  • Reply Cristina Rosano January 3, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Great reading list! I haven’t heard any of the authors but will check out some of them for sure! STrange weather in Tokyo sounds like a good read! Thanks for sharing x

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you so much! Hiriomi Kawakami is such a fantastic writer and Strange Weather in Tokyo is an incredible book for sure! I hope that you enjoy it. x

  • Reply Hannah January 3, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    I have been really wanting to get into reading, so this is a great post! I haven’t read any of these, but they all sound so good. I especially love the sound of Maybe in Another Life, sounds like such an intriguing read xx

    Hannah | https://luxuryblush.co.uk/

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:32 pm

      I think if you’re wanting to get into reading then Taylor Jenkins Reid is such a brilliant author to start off with! All of her books I’ve read so far have been extremely captivating and moving so I am sure you will enjoy! If you like Maybe in Another Life then I would also suggest checking out The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

  • Reply Lisa+Marie+Alioto January 3, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    All new books to me – looking forward to reading them

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 3, 2021 at 5:32 pm

      They really are! I hope that you enjoy them all.

  • Reply Kayleigh Zara January 4, 2021 at 1:16 am

    I’ve read a few of the books on this list and loved them! I’ll definitely be checking the others out. So excited to see your 2020 content x

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 5, 2021 at 7:46 am

      Thank you so much Kayleigh! You’ll have to let me know which ones you end up picking up.

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  • Reply Nicola January 4, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    I started A Kind of Spark before Christmas and loving it, so glad it made your best of list!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 5, 2021 at 7:54 am

      I’m glad that your enjoying A Kind of Spark – it’s brilliantly written and can’t wait to get my hands on Elle McNicoll’s next book for sure!

  • Reply Hayley January 5, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    What a great list! I attempted to order Mooncakes several times last year but it was constantly out of stock everywhere! Must be well loved by many.

    I also really enjoyed Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. It was such an eye opener especially about the colour blindness that we were taught as kids and the negative impact of that. I recommend that one to everyone!

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 6, 2021 at 10:03 am

      I was the same when I tried to purchase it at the start of the last year! It’s so hard to pin down but so worth it! I hope you’re able to get your hands on a copy soon! I completely agree, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, and the colour blindness that we’re taught as kids really shocked me for sure!

  • Reply Izzy Matias January 8, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing these books! I’ve only heard of Taylor Jenkins Reid because of Daisy Jones & the Six – though I have yet to read that book. I’ll have to check out the other books you mentioned. 😊

    • Reply @cupofwonderland January 8, 2021 at 7:18 pm

      Thank you so much for reading! I adore Taylor Jenkins Reid so I hope you do as well. The audiobook to Daisy Jones is really great as they have a whole voice cast so everyone is voiced by something different.

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