the Little Red Reviewer

The Books that Brought Me Joy in 2020

Posted on: December 30, 2020

This is not a list of 2020’s best books,  because I hardly read any new stuff this year.

This not a list of “the best books I read this year!”, because let’s be honest, I hardly finished any books at all this year.  My attention span went on strike this year, and I’ve already forgiven myself.

With all that in mind, this is a list of the books that brought me joy this year.  to be frank, these were the books that got me to stop doom-scrolling.  Some of these, I didn’t even review.  oops.

I’ve linked to my reviews, and if these look good please consider getting yourself a copy through Indiebound or


The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin – one of my favorite comfort reads. Great story, hella fun characters. Mythology that is alive and well. Really excellent sex scenes.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – I did not expect to laugh my head off so much while reading this!  If you ever want a deep dive in my wacko sense of humor, read this book. I also really dig the formality of the face paint.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing  by Hank Green – what an absolutely ridiculous book! And I couldn’t put it down! I loved the dichotomy between the fast paced social media world that seemed dark and always raining, and the dream world where it was silent and whatever pace you wanted and sunny all the time.  And I might have cried at the end.

Ration by Cody Luff – I don’t even know what genre this is. is post-apocalyptic horror a thing? It might be that.  Typically this kind of book would be too dark and too scary for me, but man, Ration hit me in the sweet spot.

Machine’s Last Testament by Benjanun Sriduangkaew – We created an AI who would help us become better people, and then abandoned the AI. That AI grew up and now runs a planet where humans gotta behave really, really well to earn citizenship. What could possibly go wrong?  Never read Sriduangkaew? this novella is an excellent place to start.

Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee – Jedao and Cheris’s youth? mouthwatering meals? Jedao learning what he likes? Orphans, loyalty, and long simmering anger? OMG YES PLEASE.

The Twice Drowned Saint by C.S.E. Cooney – I loved this novella. it is over the top in the absolute best way, it feels like an old timey candy store. the writing is. . . luscious. Yes, that’s the word, luscious.

The Tyrant Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson – I was tempted not to put this book on this list, because this is gut-punch of a book with oh, so many triggers wasn’t exactly joyful to read, but? I really needed to know what happened at the end and Dickinson’s world building is just so. damn. good.

Star Trek: Collateral Damage by David Mack – who’s the jerk who really enjoyed this book and didn’t review it? me.  Oh noes, poor me, I’ll have to re-read this highly enjoyable book again next year and review it then! I also need some rec’s for Star Trek books that are as good as this one.


I also watch a whole lotta Star Trek Deep Space Nine this year.


What books brought you joy this year?



9 Responses to "The Books that Brought Me Joy in 2020"

V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. I savored this book to the point of reading one line at a time toward the end, using a folded sheet of paper to keep from glancing ahead. A wonderful achievement.

Liked by 1 person

I have heard SO MANY wonderful things about this book! The couple of Schwab books I’ve read I’ve enjoyed, so I’ll need to add this one to the list. I love your trick about using the folded paper, so your eyes can’t skip a few lines ahead!


All of the Murderbot Series by Martha Wells, Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; any book by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Le Guin and I am going to read more by P Djeli Clark as I thought The Haunting of Tram Car 015 was a delight.

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that reminds me, I need to get caught up on Murderbot. a novel came out in 2020, and i think there is another title due in 2021? so far I’ve only read the first 3 or 4 novellas. I really want to read The Haunting of Tram Car 015! Gods of Jade and Shadow was such a nice read, I loved the mythology in that one.


I really have to get back to Hexarchate Stories… Did you find all Baru Cormorant stories equally good? I only read the first one.

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What’s nice about the Hexarchate stories is you can take small bites of them. read a story or two, come back a week later read another story or two. sure, they are all in the same world, but they are little snippets so there’s no pressure to read them all in one large chunk of time.

Baru Cormorant. those books are a COMMITMENT. they are long, the plot is complex and heavy, they’ll break your heart about a hundred times. the 2nd book did suffer from “middle book syndrome”, and after reading the 3rd, I liked the 2nd book much better. It’s almost like the first book functions as a stand alone, and then books 2 and 3 are really one complete story that is the sequel to book 1. the end of book 3 really did make the whole thing worth it for me, and I loved the worldbuilding and the different cultures that the author created. There is a ton of politics and philosophy and social science in those books to chew on, which i also appreciated.

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I heard that about book 2 from my reading buddies and one of them wasn‘t keen on the third book either, so I am hesitant… I‘ll see!

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Hallo, Hallo!!

I struggled with reconciling my own readerly life in 2020. When I first started to look at it from a retrospective POV I was disheartened but after working on my End of the Year Survey I realised I had read more than I first thought possible and although my focus on reading was as non-existant as yours as I just felt 2020 started wrong-footed in January and then took some serious nosedives in the months which followed — I realised I had settled into some stories like you said that not only made me wicked happy for discovering them but their *worlds!* were epic, lovely and blessedly imaginatively diverse!!

I especially loved the stories I read for Middle Grade Fantasy as I finding I am truly gravitating towards that section of lit more and more each year whilst I was charmed by a Dark Fantasy which still blows my mind as I rarely read Dark Fantasy and its generally a hard sell for me! lol

Like you though, I also resolved to be kinder to myself, celebrate the stories I read which resonated with me and ‘let go’ of whatever I had hoped to accomplish in 2020. After all, its a New Year now and I’ve already started it on a better foundation than 2020! Go me.

Oh! The landmark book which gave me bursts of joy and smiles and laughter and just #booklove feelings overall was “Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish” – which I listened to in audiobook and read in print in tandem with each other. I consider those special treats and it couldn’t have been a more fantastic memory for me out of 2020.

I look forward to seeing what you read this year and I’m so thankful you had some reads that pulled you through the adversely challenging year we all survived.

Liked by 1 person

I’ve been on the fence about trying Gideon the Ninth because reactions have varied so widely i don’t know what to think. But knowing it’s funny may just swing it. 😊
My reading for 2020 is the strangest mish-mash, but I enjoyed and was comforted to re-read all my Jo Walton books and I discovered I quite like Agatha Christie audiobooks. 😁


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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