Rummanah Aasi

2020 is a year many of us would like to forget. It was a hard year for all of us, but there were a lot great books released this year to help us distract and educate ourselves. Though I have not posted many reviews in 2020, I did read a lot of great books. Here are my favorite books of 2020. As a quick disclaimer, these books may not all be 2020 releases but I did read them in 2020. These books are ranked according to the interest level. 

Favorite Adult Books

I have not read as many adult titles that I would have liked to in 2020 due to the serious content and the ongoing pandemic. I noticed that I read mainly for escapism, especially from the months of March-December, but there were two serious books that I absolutely loved.  

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin: I read James Baldwin for the first time in the fall of 2019 as part of my library's classic literature book club. I spent the whole day reading and rereading this exquisite book. There is so much to unpack in this book: sexuality, race, masculinity, freedom, privilege, etc. Is it tragic or hopeful? Can it be both? Neither? I don’t know, but I will be thinking about this book for a long time.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell:  My Dark Vanessa was by far the hardest book I read this year. The book highlights the complexities of the #MeToo movement. I had so many emotions swirling in me after finishing this book. It is hard to say “I enjoyed” this book because of its content but it has given me a lot to think about and I need to find someone to discuss it. You definitely have to be in the right head space to read this one, but definitely do pick it up. *Review coming soon.

Favorite Children Books

I read quite a few good children/middle grade reads this year, but two books stood out to me this year.

The Prettiest
by Brigit Young: The Prettiest by Brigit Young brings the #MeToo movement to middle school in an accessible, inclusive, and ultimately empowering story about fighting against toxic masculinity and sexual harassment.

Three Keys by Kelly Yang: A wonderful companion novel to Yang's debut middle grade novel that covers racism, immigration, privilege, and xenophobia. *Review coming soon

Favorite YA Books

Young Adult books dominate my reading pile. I had a hard time keeping up with all the new releases for 2020. I read a lot of memorable books so it was very hard to narrow down this category. 

Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo: My favorite Elizabeth Acevedo novel to date. This is a beautifully written story about sisters, family secrets, toxic masculinity, and grief among other things. 

Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake: The Last True Poets of the Sea is a character driven novel that is loosely inspired by Shakespeare's gender bending comedy play Twelfth Night and invokes so many emotions about family, friendship, and mental health.

Parachutes by Kelly Yang: Parachutes is an insightful look at privilege, power, race, identity, and class.
*Review coming soon

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi: A young adult adaptation of Dr. Kendi's award winning novel Stamped from the Beginning, which traces the history of racism and the many political, literary, and philosophical narratives that have been used to justify slavery, oppression, and genocide.  *Review coming soon

This is My America by Kim Johnson: Weaving together gripping murder mysteries and a heartfelt narrative about a girl trying to save her family, Johnson explores the systemic, generational effects of police brutality, mass incarceration, and racism on the Black community.

This is My Brain in Love by I.W. Gregerio: A great discussion of mental health and the stigma of mental health particularly in communities of color. *Review coming soon

Favorite Graphic Novels/Manga

I read several fantastic graphic novels in 2020. This was another category that was hard to narrow down.

Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks and Scones
by Ngozi Ukazu: A great conclusion to a graphic novel series that will warm your heart. 

Heartstopper Volumes 1 and 2 by Alice Oseman: Two teens sorting out their identities and falling in love.

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed: The best graphic memoirs that I have read thus far this year. 

Honorable Mentions

The following books are the ones that left a lasting impression on me that I would also highly recommend reading:

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists by Mikki Kendall
American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Burn by Patrick Ness
Cosmoknights Vol 1 by Hannah Templer
Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram
Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Fence Vols 1-4 by C.S. Pacat
Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki
The Pretty One by Keah Brown
Punching the Air by Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi
The Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang
Tell Me Who You Are by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi
This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewel
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
When They Call You a Terrorist (YA Edition) by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele
1 Response
  1. Looks like a good reading year despite the pandemic! I have a number of these books on my TBR list for 2021.

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