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My Favorite Books of 2020

Not to toot my own horn, but living a sedentary life this year had a literary payoff: I more than doubled my low-bar goal on GoodReads reading 24 books, rather than my guesstimate of 10.
Below are the best* of the bunch**, and holy smokes, were they good.
(All book titles are linked to I make no money off these links — I simply want you to buy indie or support your local library!)
The Vanishing Half 
Finishing this book broke my heart. After months idling on the waitlist, I borrowed this as an ebook from my library, and lost myself so thoroughly in the overlapping narratives that I was startled — and deeply chagrined — to flip a page and end up at acknowledgments. Surely I still had 20% to go! It’s the kind of book that deserves intensive reading sessions to appreciate the careful spin of prose, but I devoured a page or two whenever I had a moment — waiting for the coffee to percolate, in the procrastinating moments before hauling out of warm sheets on those mid-December mornings. Its abrupt conclusion left me missing my other half. The tenderness, the desperation, the disappointment, the vulnerability and the loyalty humanized each character so profoundly. It’s the perfect gift for sisters, and one I plan to give anyone who hasn’t yet had the pleasure of meeting the Vignes family.

The Death of Vivek OjiThe Death of Vivek Oji
This riveting book is part-mystery, part-coming of age. It’s intimate, probing and evocative, rife with vividly searing detail. Each page pulsates with the sights and sounds of the gardens, traffic, fashion and chatter of Vivek, his friends and family and his mother’s close circle of expat friends. It’s a story of identity and acceptance, and about the depth of love and loyalty between friends and cousins. It’s also a profoundly raw story of grief, and the need to understand those we lose. In a year when so many of us lost loved ones, it felt like literary kinship.
The Glass Hotel
The Glass Hotel
This novel didn’t touch my core like the others, but it kept me entertained — and just outraged enough — to enjoy and tear through the highs and lows of the Ponzi scheme and its effects. The namesake remote Canadian hotel is just the kind of fantastical far-flung escape that feels even more romantic when pictured from the confines of the same sofa I’ve read from all year, and the jetsetting pre-Ponzi-discovery tales of zipping into Manhattan for museum strolls, or nabbing seats at cozy hotel bars sang to my cabin-fevered soul.
testamentsThe Testaments
Honestly, this isn’t nearly as good as The Handmaid’s Tale (which I read just before this, to continue a seamless narrative thread), but it felt like the lighter redemptive tale we needed in a world that could at times indeed feel threatened by totalitarian misogyny, so I will call it a win.
*I also read some true stinkers this year. Please comment if you’d like to debrief on any of the duds.
**I’ll follow this up with my favorite audiobooks of the year — so great to have on while folding laundry, cooking, taking a walk or driving. Stay tuned!

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