Best Books I read in 2020

December 18, 2020


 I recently found a note in my phone that I'd created in January with some goals for the year ahead (LOL). This year has obviously felt like a decade so I barely remember writing those goals but one of them was to read more books than last year which I officially accomplished! I'm currently at 39 books and hoping to make it an even 40 in the next couple of weeks. I'm so behind on Recent Reads posts so I decided to just do a year end wrap up with my favorite books I read this year. 

Unmarriageable. I read this book in January and LOVED it. Still can't believe that was this year. It's a semi-modern (early 2000s) retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Pakistan. I wouldn't say that I'm a huge Pride and Prejudice fan but I do love a retelling of the classic story and this version does not disappoint. 

Discovery of Witches trilogy. I was in the middle of this series when the pandemic took over our lives and it really is the perfect quarantine trilogy. This series is set in a world where witches, vampires and daemons exist. When a witch named Diana opens a magical book that hasn't been seen in years it sets into motion all of the creatures coming out of the woodwork. One of those creatures is Matthew de Clermont, a centuries old vampire. They team up together, despite witches and vampires spending time together being a taboo, and eventually start to fall for one another. You'll fall in love with Matthew, the world that Deborah Harkness has built is something special and there are some pretty steamy scenes. There's a show on Sundance as well that has Matthew Goode as Matthew de Clermont 😍 and lots of beautiful European landscapes. 

Normal People. I read this in January so again truly can't believe it was this year and that the show also came out this year (howwww) but I really enjoyed this book. It's set in Ireland and follows the on and off relationship between Connell and Marianne as they move through high school into university. Their relationship evolves in such interesting ways over the years as they come together and apart over and over. This book does a great job of exploring relationships and mental health. I will also say that I think this is a rare case where the show was actually better than the book. The actors were fantastic, they had such great chemistry and it was shot so beautifully. So read the book and then binge the show if you haven't! 

Such a Fun Age. This book transitions back and forth between Emira, a young Black woman, and Alix, her white employer's point of views. Emira is in her mid-20's and while she's trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life she is a part-time nanny for Alix's family. At the beginning of the book Emira is with the child she nanny's at the grocery store and gets stopped because the security guard suspects she has kidnapped the child since she is a Black woman with a white child (not a spoiler it's in the book description!). The book then follows the aftermath and how that incident shapes the relationship between Alix and Emira. I really enjoyed this book and it was one of our book club picks over the summer and made for a great discussion. 

The Wedding Party. Jasmine Guillory can always be counted on for a delightful escape. Her first book The Wedding Date, is one of my faves that set up this universe of characters. She's since written several books that are kind of like spinoffs about other characters from the original book. You can start with The Wedding Date or jump in anywhere else and it will still make sense. Maddie and Theo can't stand each other but are both best friends with Alexa, who is getting married, so they find themselves forced to spend time together as they help Alexa plan her wedding. During their forced time together they realize that there is an attraction between them that they just can't shake and that Alexa absolutely cannot find out about. This book was delightfully steamy, which Jasmine Guillory does so well. The perfect break from the current stress of the real world. 

Paper Princess trilogy. This on my best books list but I will start out by saying these are not "good" books. They're so bad they're good. There are three books in the series and I read all three of them in a week because I couldn't get enough. Ella, is a high school student making her way through life with no family and no support system. She even resorts to stripping (stick with me here) to support herself. Then her dead father's best friend, Callum Royal, finds her and asks her to come live with him and his five sons at their mansion. These books are the perfect example of what Grace from Bad on Paper calls "rich unsupervised teens" and I am HERE for it. Ella struggles to find her footing in this new world filled with money, mean girls and the Royal boys who are reluctant to let her into their lives. These books are semi-ridiculous but so addicting!

Homegoing. This is a multigenerational story that starts in Ghana in the 18th century and follows two half-sisters and their descendants. One sister marries a British officer who's stationed in the Gold Coast of Ghana, whereas the other sister is enslaved and sent to America. Each chapter follows a different descendant up until present day chronicling how colonization and slavery impact their descendants for generations to come. I loved this book. The subject matter is obviously dense and can be dark at times but you really get invested in all of the characters even though you only get to spend a chapter with them. This was one of those books that I constantly found myself doing supplemental googling to learn more about the Gold Coast and the slave trade in Ghana and Ghanaian history in general. 

On the Island. I will start by saying that I read this book in 36 hours. Ashley Spivey (one of my faves for book recs) likened it to The Idea of You, which you may know is one of my all time favorites. The Idea of You is definitely better but this book scratched that same itch. Anna, who is 30, is traveling to the Maldives for the summer to be a tutor to TJ, who is 16 and missed a lot of school due to chemo treatments. Their private plane crashes on the way and they find themselves on a deserted island just the two of them. As the years on the island pass they become friends and eventually more. I know it sounds slightly creepy but I promise it's not and nothing happens with them until TJ is 18. This was another good-bad book but I tore through it because I needed to see what happened.

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style. I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Holmes (no, not the one of Theranos fame) who is a former WSJ reporter who spent 10 years reporting on the business of fashion. Better known as @eholmes on IG, Elizabeth has grown a dedicated following of royal enthusiasts on social media. She has a very popular segment she does called So Many Thoughts where she comments on what Kate and Meghan wear and the messages they're sending through their clothing. She wrote a book this year that analyzes the stylings of the Queen, Diana, Meghan and Kate and it is phenom. I devoured it! There are tons of gorgeous photos but plenty of Thoughts as well in typical @eholmes fashion. I love how much of an advocate she is for normalizing that fashion isn't frivolous. You can say so much about yourself with what you wear. You can vote with your dollars for ethical business practices, supporting persons of color, support causes that matter to you, help small businesses and so much more. This would be the perfect book for the royal enthusiast in your life!

Open Book. I couldn't forget Jessica Simpson's memoir! I listened to this as an audiobook and could not get enough. I am not a regular audiobook consumer but it's fun to hear the celebrity narrate their story. I didn't know much about Jessica's backstory but had heard such great things that I gave it a try. Let me just tell you, she does not hold back. She goes all in talking about all of her exes (Nick! John! Tony!) and talks about the abuse she faced as a child and her alcohol dependence as an adult. I wouldn't say I was a huge JS fan but this book has made a stan out of me. Girlfriend runs a billion dollar clothing company and just signed a huge content deal with Amazon so she's doing big things even though she may not be in the spotlight. 

What's the best book you read this year?

xo Catherine 

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