Top Five Books of 2020

2020 is a wrap! Here’s a look at librarians Katie & Jessica’s top five reads of 2020.  Listen to them discuss their top reads in the Livingston Public Library’s LtownRadio podcast, available to stream on your favorite podcast services! 

Katie’s List:

  1. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry – By far my favorite book of the year. It follows a field hockey team in Danvers, CT circa 1989 and whether or not they signed a pact with a dark force by putting their names in an Emilio Estevez notebook. I don’t want to say any more and ruin it for readers, but it’s witty, female driven and the most fun I had in 2020. 
  1. Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers: Monstrosity, Patriarchy, and the Fear of Female Power by Sady Doyle – This was such a fascinating read. I’m a pop culture junkie, and this book was a deep dive into women of the “female dark side”. Plus, the T-Rex from Jurassic Park makes an appearance and still reigns supreme. 
  1. The Return by Rachel Harrison – A book that I had no expectations for but ended up loving. It explores the friendship of a group of women who reunite after one of their own has gone missing. But she has come back a changed woman, and could possibly be harboring a dark secret. This embodied female friendship and the relationships all rang super true to me. 
  1. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – I’m a big fan of Riley Sager in general, I really enjoyed his previous books, most notably The Last Time I Lied. I was on a gothic horror kick in 2020 and this (and my final book selection) fit the bill perfectly. A perfect blend of disorienting hauntings and family drama and it kept me guessing right until the last page, not an easy feat when you’ve read so much in the genre.
  1. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I went into this book not knowing anything about the plot, and it turns out that this was right up my alley. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s a typical gothic yarn, a young bride falls sick while living in a dilapidated house with her new husband – or has she? This is the type of book that I love and am shocked (in a good way) that it was so popular in the mainstream! I’m always happy when horror or science fiction gets picked up by a larger audience since they tend to be niche. 

Jessica’s List:

  1. On Ocean Boulevard by Mary Alice Monroe – I adore all of Mary Alice Monroe’s novels, but her Beach House series is my absolute favorite.  There is something about returning to the Carolina coast with characters that have become almost like friends that is just so comforting.  In this latest installment, Cara’s niece Linnea returns to Sullivan’s Island searching for a new career and carrying a broken heart.  (Similar to how Cara returned home 16 years prior). This novel is the perfect mixture of a romance, family relationships, and of course, sea turtles. 
  1. How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal

In the beginning of 2020 I was reading a lot of books, but as the year progressed I found myself falling into reading lulls and struggling to find books that captured me.  How to Bake a Perfect Life pulled me out of my reading slump and I ended up devouring this novel in one evening.  The funny thing about this book is that it had sat in my to-read pile for years.  The cover depicts a chick-lit novel, which could be why I put it off for so long.  However, the storyline was a deep and enchanting tale about the relationship between mothers and daughters. (Reminder: Don’t judge your books by the cover. You never know what you’re missing out on!)    

  1. Idiot by Laura Clery 

I discovered Laura Clery’s comedy on YouTube during quarantine.  I adored listening to this audiobook, which at times was funny and at other times sentimental.  What I like about biographical audiobooks like this one, is that they are narrated by the author.  Listening to the book was like a more indepth version of watching her videos on YouTube.  

  1. Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain 

Diane Chamberlain is a master storyteller and her latest book which was published in the beginning of 2020 is a real page turner. Taking place in North Carolina in both 2018 and 1940, this novel tells the tale of two artists, small town secrets, and one painting that unites them despite the decades. Diane Chamberlain will also be joining the Livingston Public Library’s Bookish Vibes book club on January 11 at 7pm.  

  1. This is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf 

Do you like to listen to true crime podcasts?  Well, I don’t, but I do enjoy a good crime story every now and then.  This audiobook pulled me right in and gave me true crime podcast vibes.  25 years ago, Eve Knox was brutally murdered.  She was just sixteen years old.  Now, her best friend Maggie is assigned to the case following the resurgence of new evidence– a shoe found by two boys.  When everyone has a secret, who can be trusted? And who really did kill Eve?  You’ll have to read it to find out!

-Katie & Jessica, Adult Services & Acquisitions

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