A look back on the books I read in 2020

I wanted to share my favourite books and thoughts on books from 2020. Rather than just share my favourites like last year, inspired by Drizzle & Hurricane books, I’ve decided to answer some key questions instead.

Due to lockdown and being off sick for much of 2020, I read far more books than I usually manage. I smashed my goal of 30 books which I then updated to 35 and smashed that goal too!

I switched from using Goodreads to record and review books to the newly launched Storygraph. It’s in beta still but I already prefer it to the clunky awkward inaccurate Goodreads.

Here are my thoughts on some of the books I read in 2020.

Favourite protagonist

January in The Ten Thousand Doors of January became one my all-time favourite protagonists this year. I love the character development she goes through in this book. Her love for her dog resonated with me. I loved seeing new found independence and courage coming out. I loved her sense of humour and creativity. I want January to by my best friend! I can’t wait to read more by Alix E. Harrow because she created amazing characters in this book.

An author you cut ties with

Whilst I’ve only read The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, I won’t be reading any of her other books. Her acceptance of what, is in my mind, animal cruelty in this book put me off ever supporting this author again. I also found her attempts to discuss and theorise on the intelligence of animals quite lacking without any particular insight.

(I also cut ties with J.K. Rowling but that’s a whole other story!)

A book that surprised you

This book went so far beyond just a story about a lost dog. It explores drug abuse, relationships, urban living, working, mid-life crises and more. But of course at its heart is a story about the powerful magic of loving a dog and how dogs really can change your life. Kate Spicer is a hilarious, insightful and unique writer. I’m so glad she forayed beyond journalism to write this book.

A book that changed your world

How to be an antiracist blew my mind. It taught me so much about racism, history and society that I didn’t even realise I didn’t know. It not only made me understand what it is to be antiracist but it challenged and reframed how I think about power, ethnicity, culture, class, capitalism, sexism, activism and even environmentalism. I now feel have a base to begin my journey to being antiracist.

A take-my-money

A book set in a post-apocalyptic future in the UK about a boy who goes to rescue his dog. I felt A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World was written for me! I feel like dogs in books became a strong theme this year!

A sequel that overshadows the first book

This Vicious Cure by Emily Suvada

I loved the whole This Mortal Coil trilogy and devoured them all in a matter of days. But the final book This Vicious Cure was so full of new suspense and plot twists with a great ending that brought everything together it definitely stood out.

Most disappointing book

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I was really excited to read Children of Blood and Bone after seeing some positive reviews. But I DNF’d this book, it just did not meet my expectations at all. For me, the characters felt flat and boring, the protagonist did not drive the story and the magic didn’t make any sense. The amazing world-building was let down by characters and plot I did not care about.

Most beautifully written

The Last Wolf by Jim Crumley

I fell in love with Jim Crumley’s stunning nature writing in The Last Wolf . There is a scene where he describes his encounter with a herd of deer which blew me away. A key thread of this book is the imagined last journey of what the author believes may have happened to the last wolf in Britain. It is poetic which I found really quite moving.

I couldn’t talk about beautifully written books without also mentioning A Black Fox Running. A masterpiece of fictional nature writing. Carter captures the beauty and wonder of the Dartmoor moors and the intimacies of the wildlife that call it home. It follows their stories from their perspective. The writing is poetic and soothing for the soul. I can’t believe I’d never heard of this book until this new edition came out. Thank you to my friend Chantal for kindly giving me this magical book.

Most useful book

As I’m planning on rescuing a dog in 2021 (fingers crossed!) I’ve been reading a few dog books to get myself up to speed on training and the latest behavioural research. I loved The Goodness of Dogs. It was a funny, informative, and honest book that shared the realities of having a dog (good and bad) with useful advice I’m sure I will refer back to again and again. If you are a planning on getting a dog or even if you’ve had a dog for a while, I recommend reading this along with John Fisher’s updated Think Dog.

Favourite 2020 books

What were your favourite reads in 2020?

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