Let’s Discuss! Top 10 Books of 2020 Countdown

Hi all! 2020 was a pretty good reading year for me. I read 87 books overall, which is probably the most I’ve ever read in a year. I’m super proud of that amount and it’s allowing me to push myself for 2021! I recently sat down and filmed the video below, which covers my top 10 books of 2020. I wasn’t planning on ordering anything beyond the top 3 (or even just my favourite), but I naturally ended up numbering them, so I thought I’d do a countdown from my 10th favourite to my absolute favourite of 2020.

So, let’s get to the countdown!

10. Rules for Being a Girl

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Marin is a smart, driven, popular girl – she’s headed for Brown when she graduates and has a brilliant career as a journalist ahead of her. Especially in the eyes of English teacher Mr Beckett. He spends a lot of time around Marin, and she thinks it’s harmless . . . until he kisses her. 
No one believes Marin when she tells them what happened, so she does the only thing she can: she writes an article called ‘Rules for Being a Girl’ for the school paper to point out the misogyny and sexism that girls face every day. As things heat up at school and in her personal life, Marin must figure out how to take back the power and rewrite her own rules.

This book was such a shock for me. I received an unsolicited ARC from the publishing company and even though it didn’t sound like one for me, I thought I’d try it. And I ended up devouring it. This was so good and I really believe every teenage girl should read it!

9. Boy Queen by George Lester

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Robin Cooper’s life is falling apart.
While his friends prepare to head off to university, Robin is looking at a pile of rejection letters from drama schools up and down the country, and facing a future without the people he loves the most. Everything seems like it’s ending, and Robin is scrabbling to find his feet.
Unsure about what to do next and whether he has the talent to follow his dreams, he and his best friends go and drown their sorrows at a local drag show, where Robin realises there might be a different, more sequinned path for him . . .
With a mother who won’t stop talking, a boyfriend who won’t acknowledge him and a best friend who is dying to cover him in glitter make up, there’s only one thing for Robin to do: bring it to the runway.

This book was so much fun and I absolutely loved it. It introduced me to the world of drag and it was so fabulous, but with heartfelt and heavy moments.

8. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state candidate – as long as he’s behind the scenes. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is cancelled, her parents are separating and now her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing – with some awkward guy she hardly knows …
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worstthing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer – and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural crush of the century is another thing entirely.

I’ve really enjoyed all of Becky’s books and this was no different! I loved this partnership with Aisha and the political subject was actually so interesting.

7. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.
Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.
You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.
They don’t. They make a podcast.
In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?

Another big surprise for me was Radio Silence. I’ve enjoyed everything by Alice Oseman, but some more than others, and I thought this one would fall to the bottom of the list as I feel like Alice has developed over time and this is one of her older books. However, this was absolutely amazing and became my favourite book of hers!

6. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.
When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….
But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

I absolutely adored this and it opened my eyes so much to being transgender. It really hit me in the feels and at some points I had all over goosebumps and chills from the pure emotion of this book.

5. The Lido by Libby Page

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. The lido has been a cornerstone in nearly every part of Rosemary’s life.
But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat.
As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure. Meanwhile, Rosemary slowly, finally, begins to open up to Kate, transforming them both in ways they never knew possible.

I didn’t expect to adore this one quite as much as I did, but it was like picking up a warm cup of tea on a cold winters day. I was actually recommended this book by a customer at work because of our mutual love of outdoor swimming, and I’m so glad I took the recommendation to heart!

4. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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Review | Goodreads

When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

This was another book that absolutely opened my eyes. I read it as part of Non-Binary November and I loved it. It made me so emotional, but was so heartfelt and beautiful. I also recently read I’ll Be Home For Christmas which is a novella about the same characters which was super cute!

3. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

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Review | Goodreads

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. 

I read this one back in January 2020 and it stayed with me the whole year. It was so beautiful, but so sad and tackles grief and friendship and love. I’ve read a couple of books by Nina LaCour now and I’ve loved them all.

2. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.
Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
And love makes fools of us all.

I adored this book. I thought I’d like it, but I had no idea that I would fall in love with it the way I did. It was beautiful, I loved the setting, the romance and the characters so much. I savoured this book and I never wanted it to end. I thought it would be my favourite of the year, until….

1.The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

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Review | Goodreads | Waterstones

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

This was incredible. I didn’t read it until early December but it quickly surpassed all of my other reads of the year so far and I just adored it. It broke my heart and made me cry, but it utterly stole my heart too.

Which were your favourite books of 2020?

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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