I love to read, and every year I participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge where at the beginning of the year I set a number of books I want to read, and throughout the year I try to stay on task for that goal. In 2020 I set my goal for 100 books, and by December I had surpassed that goal (I ended with a total of 118 books read, my best ever!). With all of the craziness of 2020, and being stuck at home because of COVID, I had even more time to read than usual, and crossed some truly amazing books off my list. I had so many noteworthy reads from this past year and I wanted to share some of them with you. These books cover a variety of genres and styles and I hope that there is something on this list that speaks to you. I highly recommend checking them out! With no further ado…
My Top 20 Books of 2020
(In order of publication date)
Go with the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann
A graphic novel about four high school sophomores who bring the fire to their school administration for their neglect of their students’ access to menstrual products and the taboo nature of periods. Go with the Flow is perfect for middle school and high school students, especially those who menstruate, and anyone up for aiding in the revolution!
The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious #3) by Maureen Johnson
The third and final installment in the Truly Devious Trilogy, a series about murder, mystery, and a high schooler determined to uncover secrets that have been buried for decades. I recommend this series for YA readers, mystery lovers, and murders that go unsolved.
Heartstopper Vol. 3 by Alice Oseman
The third installment in a beautiful and heartwarming series of graphic novels (adapted from a webcomic) in which Charlie and Nick navigate their growing friendship and the struggles of their relationship to come. I loved the first book in this series so much that I ran back to the school library for the second one the very same day I finished the first. Later that day returned yet again to the school library with one of my best friends in tow to make sure she read too. Since then we have become huge Heartstopper fans, and even my mom has read them!
The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
A stand-alone fantasy novel by the author of the fantastical Daughter of the Pirate King Duology (fun fact: I first read Daughter of the Pirate King while at a baseball game!), The Shadows Between Us is the story of a girl named Alessandra who is determined to rule her kingdom. First, she must brave the court of The Shadow King, seduce him, and kill him. As grim as this may sound, this was a really fun read! Tricia Levenseller excels at writing snappy dialogue and morally-grey characters, so if you are looking for a courtly adventure filled with scheming, betrayal, and lots of witty banter, this one’s for you!
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
The story of Ollie and his summer love Will Tavares. School starts and Ollie discovers that Will is closeted, and unwilling to come out to be with him, or even to acknowledge their acquaintance. This book is equal parts heart and humor, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good gay love story, where the romance isn’t the only thing keeping you reading. This book is perfect for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and other queer romances.
The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
A middle-grade novel about a girl named Alberta, who lives with her two dads and loves to surf. When the bed and breakfast across the street is sold to a Black family like hers, Alberta is so excited and can’t wait to make a new friend. Things change when Alberta and the new girl, Edie discover a box of old journals in the attic of the bed and breakfast, and embark on a journey to discover the truth of the past, and to understand what it means to be Black in the present.
Music From Another World by Robin Talley
A YA novel told through the letters of two teen girls living in California in the late 1970s. Tammy and Sharon are paired as penpals and what starts as a long-distance friendship, over time, becomes something more. At the height of anti-gay sentiment in America, Tammy and Sharon find safety with each other and learn what it means to fight for what you believe in. Through the power of punk rock, letter writing, and friendship, these two girls might just change each other’s lives forever.
Check, Please!, Book 2: Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu
The second, and final, volume in Ngozi Ukazu’s webcomic turned graphic novel series about a pie-loving, gay, college student named Bitty and his adventures with the Samwell University hockey team. The first Check, Please! graphic novel is my favorite EVER (and that is seriously saying something)! Over the past few years it has become my comfort book and (pre-covid) would accompany me on all my travels. I can’t explain how much these books mean to me without you having read them yourself, but I can tell you that after I finished reading the second volume this spring, I actually couldn’t sleep for a few days because I kept waking myself up from laughter and happiness. As crazy as it sounds, it turns out that that is possible. Bitty will forever live in my heart, and if you venture into these pages, I have no doubt he will make a home in yours too. I recommend Check, Please! to fans of graphic novels, witty humor, lgbtqia+ representation, and wholesome main characters.
The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen
Set in the summer of 1955, a biracial teenager named Ethan Harper is sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in a very white southern town in Alabama. When Juniper Jones, with her fiery hair and free spirit comes into his life, it begins to look like this summer might not be too bad after all. Juniper’s plan for how to have an invincible summer is set into motion and the two set out to do it all. This novel was beautiful and heartbreaking and I recommend it to readers of all ages. This is the summer that Ethan learns what it means to be Black in America, but it is also the year he learns what it means to be a true friend.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
A YA rom-com about two teen girls who start rival-henna businesses for a school project. Nishat is navigating her life post coming out as lesbian, and when she reconnects with her childhood friend, Flávia, who is brilliant and charismatic, she can’t help but fall for her. Nishat is struggling to balance her identities as a muslim and a lesbian, and she can’t seem to stop from crossing paths with Flávia. It slowly becomes clear that Nishat’s crush isn’t going away any time soon…
Wow! That was a lot of books, but we’re not done yet! Stay tuned for part 2, which will be coming soon. To be notified when I post, follow me on Instagram or sign up for email updates through my blog. Your support means so much! Have you read any of the books on this list? What were your favorite releases of 2020? Share them with the community in the comments below! Until next time…
The Woodland Wallflower