This year, I read somewhere between 90-95 books, which is lower than previous years — and lower still when you realize that a sizeable chunk (maybe close to 20?) or those 90+ were rereads of old favourites. There were weeks during the height of the COVID lockdown here in March/April when I couldn’t wrap my brain around any new reading and just reread books I already knew and loved and felt safe with. Despite that, I did manage to read some stunning new books this year.
I found it super hard to narrow down even just my fiction reads to a Top Ten list this year — I went through my reviews for the year and made a note of all those that were “five star reviews” in my mind (not that I give stars, but you know what I mean). That left me with a Top 16, which would be fine except … I just like round numbers, multiples of five, Top Ten lists generally.
The ten novels I finally narrowed it down to as absolute favourites are listed below with links to my reviews. They’re listed in the order that I read them during the year, not in a ranking from 1-10 – that would be impossible!
Top Ten Fiction:
- Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
- The Mirror and the Light, by Hilary Mantel
- The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd
- The Empire of Gold, by S.A. Chakraborty
- Some People’s Children, by Bridget Canning
- Hamnet and Judith, by Maggie O’Farrell
- Piranesi, by Susanna Clark
- Jack, by Marilynne Robinson
- Watching You Without Me, by Lynn Coady
- Transcendent Kingdom, by Yaa Gyasi
As I said, very tough choices. Some great books got left off the list, but you can look back through all my reviews for the year to see all the ones I raved about.
I wanted to do non-fiction as a separate list this year, because although I didn’t read as much of it (and thus have only a Top Five not a Top Ten), there were some real stand-outs on that list too.
Top Five Non-Fiction:
- What the Oceans Remember, by Sonja Boon
- How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi
- The Skin We’re In, by Desmond Cole
- Pale Rider, by Laura Spinney
- Native, by Kaitlyn Curtice