Top Ten reads from 2020

As I bring my other blog, The Emerald City Book Review, to a close, I’ve just posted my seventh annual list of “Emerald City Gems” — my favorite reads from the past year.

For Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, here’s a selection of ten of my top favorites. What are yours?

  1. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke marked the elusive author’s triumphant return to fiction with a strange, compelling and beautiful meditation on the spaces that separate and define us.
  2. Inferno by Catherine Cho was a stunningly written memoir about the author’s descent into postpartum psychosis, and her tentative recovery.
  3. The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier was a suspenseful and thought-provoking entertainment that played on questions of identity, ethics, and the ties of family.
  4. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk was essential reading for anyone interested in the topic of trauma and recovery.
  5. I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong provided much-needed factual information about the world of microbes, as well as pointing out how much we still have to learn.
  6. Jill the Reckless by P.G. Wodehouse was a sparkling romantic comedy and a slyly humorous glimpse at the backstage Broadway the author knew so well.
  7. The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu was a spiritual and practical guide to the essential art of forgiveness.
  8. An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks was an eye-opening look at nine individuals with neurological and sensory differences, that may change the way you see the world.
  9. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh was a melancholy masterpiece that explored the author’s love affair with a vanished England.
  10. The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai brought the violent twentieth century history of Vietnam to life, through the story of a family and their ultimate path to healing.
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32 thoughts on “Top Ten reads from 2020

  1. I really liked the Scapegoat! Have you seen the new-ish film with Matthew Rhys? (I think was mid 2000’s) Definitely worth watching if you can find it, they make some changes but I loved it as an adaptation.

    1. No, I haven’t seen it but I can imagine this story would make a great film! I’m glad you found it worth watching — not sure if I can get a hold of it here, it’s tricky in Switzerland. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Quite a few bloggers have included the Susanna Clarke in their top ten lists, and I would too. Recently I also enjoyed Perry’s Melmoth (though I was unsure at first), Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth and Chatwin’s Utz, all of which happened to be set in Prague at one stage or another.

    And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Tempest-Tost among a handful of worthy titles read this year, though a few were a bit of a slog (I won’t shame them here by citing them by name!).

    1. Interesting that your recent reads had that connection! Something about that area is drawing me at the moment so I might check out those three. The Orsinian tales are set in the same general area, too, though in an imaginary country.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed Tempest-Tost and consider you well on your way to becoming a fellow Davies devotee!

  3. I’ve seen Piranesi on several people’s lists today. The books on your list that interest me the most, though, are I Contain Multitudes and the Oliver Sacks book — although I would also like to read some Wodehouse one of these days.

    1. Those are great books, so informative and eye opening! If you haven’t read Wodehouse, I could recomnend trying Jill the Reckless – I think you’d enjoy it and it’s a quick read. Also, available for free as an ebook!

  4. Lory, I am very pleased to see Daphne du Maurier’s The Scapegoat on your list – I haven’t read that one yet, but Maurier also made it onto my 2020 favourites with The Loving Spirit. I have also put The Book of Forgiving on my wishlist after reading your thoughts on it during NonFicNov. 😊

    Here are my favourite 2020 books: https://thebookwormchronicles.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/%f0%9f%93%9a-top-ten-tuesday-my-favourite-books-of-2020-%e2%ad%90%e2%ad%90%e2%ad%90/ 🙂

    1. And I’ve not yet read The Loving Spirit, but I’d happily read my way through all of du Maurier’s novels. I’m quite sure you’ll enjoy The Scapegoat when you get to it.

  5. Looks like you found some good ones this year! I haven’t read any of these, although I did read REBECCA for the first time this year. I loved the spooky vibe but found the book underwhelming overall. I don’t think I’ll try another by her, but I’m glad you enjoyed THE SCAPEGOAT.

    Happy TTT!

    Susan
    http://www.blogginboutbooks.com

    1. Hm, I think you might still enjoy another du Maurier … I loved Rebecca but I can see it not being to everyone’s taste. However, when there are so many books one has to make choices. Thanks for stopping by, I enjoyed your list as well.

  6. The Scapegoat is one of my favourite Daphne du Maurier novels, so I’m pleased to see it in your top ten! I haven’t read any of your other books, but Piranesi is on my TBR for 2021.

    1. I’m so glad it’s gotten such appreciation this year. And fingers crossed that Clarke’s health will permit her to keep writing … maybe a little quicker this time? It was a long wait.

  7. I liked The Scapegoat to much I had my book group read it a year or two ago. Maybe save your next book by her for du Maurier Week in May? It would be fun if you participated. If you have not read Jamaica Inn, I would recommend that next.

    I have also read Brideshead and possibly the Wodehouse. That title does not sound familiar but there was one year where I thought I read every book he ever wrote!

    I have not done my Best of 2020 List yet. Given that I have read 15 or 16 books by Louise Penny this year, I could probably pick my ten favorites!

    1. Yes, I need to put DDM week on my calendar now! I’ve read Jamaica Inn, but there are plenty I haven’t. The House on the Strand has been calling to me for a while.

      I also need to get around to Louise Penny. Maybe this will be the year.

  8. Have you read The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama XVI and Desmond Tutu? I read it a few years ago and enjoyed what they had to say. I should look for The Book of Forgiving.

    So many bloggers have mentioned An Anthropologist on Mars this year that I finally added it to my TBR.

    Happy New Year!

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