I had a really great reading year this year! I found a lot of great new stuff, remembered why fantasy is my favorite genre, revisited old favorites, and stretched myself with the Global Reading Challenge. Here are my favorite fiction reads this year!
Claire of the Sea-Light by Edwidge Danticat: I picked this one up on recommendation from a trusted source for the Caribbean segment of my Global Reading Challenge. I enjoyed it so much. Danticat has such a beautiful way with words and people and it was no surprise to me when she shortly after got picked for Reese Witherspoon’s bookclub. I will definitely be picking up more Danticat in the future.
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb: This one is actually a re-read. I read it for the first time in 2013 at a summer program, and it was probably the first book I ever read that made me understand exactly how powerful literature can be to help us understand ourselves. The book was my favorite until Frankenstein, though I hadn’t revisited it for fear that it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered. Seven years later, it still is amazing, and still is one of my favorite novels of all time.
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: This is another favorite that I discovered through my Global Reading Challenge. Somehow I made it though advanced high school classes and an entire bachelor’s degree in English without ever reading Hurston. I deeply enjoyed this novel. I have a lot more Hurston on my 2021 reading list (more to come on this!), so I’m really excited to get back to her beautiful prose.
Fable by Adrienne Young: I’ve been so thrilled for this release for so long, and I was so glad it lived up to the hype! For some reason, I’ve struggled to get into The Girl the Sea Gave Back despite devouring Sky in the Deep multiple times, so I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy this one as much, but I really loved it! Young is very good at crafting worlds without her prose or plot being bogged down by it. She’s someone that I read because I like her stories, but also because I admire her craft so much!
Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis: How I had never heard about this book before now, I’ll never know. I found it as I was working through the Popsugar reading challenge. I wasn’t thrilled about the western category, but someone on the Goodreads thread suggested this fantasy western, and I wish I could find out who it was an send them a thank you note. This genre bender was all kinds of amazing, from the world-building, to the plot pacing, to the characters. I’m so eager to read the second book in 2021!
Wilder Girls by Rory Power: This book was WILD. Like actually the craziest and scariest thing I’ve read all year. I loved it. Stephen King can have several seats. This book really just kept delivering — creepy setting, sapphic romance, complicated girls, pandemic paranoia. I wish there were more books, but so far, I think this novel is a standalone. I’ll have to pick up her second book in 2021 and see if it’s just as good!
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: I LOVED THIS BOOK! Once we get into the top 3, it gets harder for me not to talk about these books in all caps. This novel was unlike anything I’ve read before, and it reminded me of how much I love fantasy — specifically fantasy by and about women. Maybe I’m biased, but I just feel like women craft fantasy environments in such rich, complex, and intelligent ways, and Ngan reminded me just how empowering that can be for readers. I just got my hands on the second book, and I’m excited to get to it in the new year!
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones: A last minute read turned into one of my favorite of the year, and probably one that I revisit for many years to come. I picked this one up to fulfill a part of my PopSugar challenge for a title that had gold/silver/bronze in the title, and because I had liked American Marriage when I read it last year, and because Tayari Jones is an Atlanta native like me. The premise — the daughters of a man living two lives come of age in Atlanta — was interesting, but I really fell for the women in this novel. I found myself reading this contemporary novel with a Gothic bent (and thinking of Beloved a lot), and I’d love to write about the ideas I had about Jones’s story and the Gothic elements she used in the future. Silver Sparrow is moving portrait of family, womanhood, and how girls make space for themselves in the world.
Beloved by Toni Morrison: Yet another, Why haven’t I read this before? moment! Sometimes, I think books come to us when we need them, and though I didn’t realize it when I finished the book in January, 2020 was really the year to read about a haunted house. When I go back to school for my PhD, I want to study how women write horror, specifically how they write domestic horror, and this novel made me excited about that all over again. Morrison is a master, which goes without saying, but this is easily one of my favorite novels of all time.
The Dragon Republic by R. F. Kuang: THIS BOOK MAKES ME WANT TO SCREAM ALL THE TIME!!!! I am so obsessed with this series, but the second book was the champion of the three to me. It’s been almost a month since I finished the series, and I still catch myself having a “stare out of the window into the rain” moments with it. Kuang mastered the angry woman who will not be talked down, and frankly, it was so liberating and empowering to ride with Rin to the bitter end. I wish Kuang would write ten more novels set in this world, but unfortunately, she has said she won’t be revisiting the story in the future. Oh, well, guess I’ll just re-read these and wait for A DARK ACADEMIA from her in the future! UPDATE: OH MY GOD THE BOOKS GOT PURCHASED FOR TV!!
Thank you all for following along with me this year! Share with me your favorite fiction novels in the comments below!