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In a normal year, I might be saying something like, “It’s hard to believe, but the end of June is already here.” Not this year! Now it’s, “The end of June is FINALLY here.” If you’re anything like me, time has crawled with months of quarantine and establishing a whole new way of life. Add to that, the long overdue call for an end systemic racism that has finally moved to the spotlight, but change there also feels far too slow. I guess it’s just a slow year, but it has given me plenty of time for books. As of this writing, I’ve finished 60 this year, many of them very, very good. For a wide variety of reasons, nine stand out as my favorite books, so far this year.
Last year five out of the nine books on this mid-year “So Far” list were on my Best Books of 2019 list. (Though to be honest that list had a total of 12 books!) These nine favorite books are in order of publication date and nothing more!
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
Grove Press (3/3/20) – 320 pages
– Lily King’s writing in this was simply gorgeous
– She completely got grief, especially the loss of a mother.
– Loved Casey, a woman determined to succeed as a writer.
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (debut)
William Morrow (3/10/20) – 384 pages
– A complex story of woman who both loved and hated her abuser.
– Reading it created a sense of discomfort, almost complicity.
– Personal nature of Russell’s story made it hard to let go of.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
The Dial Press (3/10/20) – 352 pages
– This was a very female empowering memoir.
– Doyle overcame many challenges in her life and come out stronger.
– In her own words, “Own your wanting. Eat the apple. Let it burn.”
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore (debut)
Harper (3/31/20) – 320 pages
– Elizabeth Wetmore’s just plain great writing, very atmospheric.
– The opening scene of a girl fleeing a violent rape was so raw it hurt.
– Story of women trying to find their power in a world of men.
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah (debut)
W.W. Norton Company (4/7/20) – 312 pages
– A dual timeline book with the past being more important.
– The story had very complicated, painful family dynamics.
– Despite a school shooting, this is a character-driven story.
A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet
W.W. Norton Company (5/12/20) – 224 pages
– This was a completely original spin on a dystopian story.
– A cautionary environmental warning using Biblical references.
– The next generation served as the saviors in Millet’s tale.
Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
Random House (5/19/20) – 432 pages
– Sittenfeld’s premise of Hillary’s life had she said no to Bill.
– Hillary’s life reimagined, but the world around her unchanged.
– Ah, if only!
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Riverhead Books (6/2/20) – 352 pages
– Viewing stigmas around skin color within a Black community.
– Watching twin sisters on very different paths throughout their lives.
– A generational story coming full circle with their daughters.
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
Little, Brown and Company (6/16/20) – 432 pages
– Hilderbrand’s modern take on a “Same Time Next Year” story.
– The story begins at the end, driving the reader forward.
– Truly likable characters in a great beach read!
What are some of your favorite books of 2020 (so far)?
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Jade @ Reading with Jade says
The Vanishing Half & 28 Summers are two books I have added to my wishlist lately after hearing much positivity surrounding them – happy to hear you enjoyed them, and the other 7 titles also!
I think you’ll enjoy both those books, Jade.
JoAnn @ Gulfside Musing says
Haven’t read any of these yet, but just picked up The Vanishing Half and 28 Summers from the library. Can’t wait to get started!
You’re in for some great reading!
Allison | Mind Joggle says
We didn’t have any overlap this year! But, it’s been a really weird reading year for me, so I haven’t gotten to some yet that I want to. So many on your list are on my TBR yet for the year: Rodham, Untamed, 28 Summers, possibly Writers & Lovers. I’m just finishing The Vanishing Half and that definitely would have made my list if I hadn’t published a little early 🙂 My Dark Vanessa was just too much for me.
I felt a little guilty the entire time I was reading My Dark Vanessa, but I still really liked it.
I haven’t read any of these, but Rodham sounds fascinating!
We are trying to choose our book club book for next month. I had great hopes for The Vanishing Half but it just didn’t measure up for me. I thought it was very scattered and piecemeal. I did like the plot premise but the characters seemed chopped up – disjointed. And I felt the ending (Part 5?) was rushed and not what I expected with how the relationships were progressing. Sorry…I know it is getting high praise.
Everyone’s reading tastes vary. There are plenty of books I didn’t like as well as others. For example The Knockout Queen is on a lot of people’s “best so far” lists and that book was just okay for me.
You’ve completed a lot this year! And I’m glad you’re such a great vetter of books … we tend to like similar fiction. I have read 2 of these : Lily King which I enjoyed and Rodham … which you probably liked more than me. I liked some of it … but felt the story went a bit off the rails in places. Still it was interesting. I want to get to the Lydia Millet & Brit Bennett mostly. and then 3rdly Valentine perhaps. A lot to read left this year!
I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts on the Lydia Millet book. Catherine Gilmore tried it and DNF’d it.
Les in OR says
You’ve done very well, if you’ve read 60 books so far this year. I usually read about half that in six months, but the pandemic, political news and protests have been too much of a distraction and I’ve only managed to finish 27 at this point. I’m hoping the next few months will be better, especially if I can step away from my laptop and stop reading the latest news.
I haven’t read Lily King, but Writers and Lovers is high on my list, as so many readers have enjoyed it. I suppose I should just buy a copy so it will be available to me as soon as I’m inspired. I also want to read The Vanishing Half and 28 Summers. And Rodham. Time to do some book shopping!
My favorites of the year, thus far are:
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (great audio!)
Glass Houses by Louise Penny
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny
Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (reread)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The River by Peter Heller
Two Girls Down by Louise Luna
I may not be reading a lot, but I’ve had quite a few winners, so far, so I can’t complain.
You definitely have a great list there. Daisy Jones was my favorite books last year and The Only Plane was my favorite nonfiction. The River also made my top books list last year. I read Nothing to See Here, but I’ve heard from you and others how great the audio was.
27 books in six months is far more than most people read in a year and in this crazy year any reading is an accomplishment!
I loved My Dark Vanessa and Vanishing Half. Liked, but didn’t love, Writers & Lovers.
Just downloaded Valentine.
It’s dark, but so beautifully written.
What an excellent year! I want to read Writers and Lovers. Hearing amazing things about it. I was skeptical of The Vanishing Half because of the hype. But everyone seems to love it
Jules Buono - book blogger says
Great list!! I’d say Vanishing Half and 28 Summers were my top 2 so far, but also loved Long Bright River and it’s lasting impact on me. Writers & Lovers was such a pleasant surprise.