And we’re here…the very last day of 2020.
I had to conclude this…wild year with a round up of my favourite books of 2020. I’ve spent the last few months thinking about this and it was incredibly difficult. This year I really read such a variety of different books and according to Goodreads, I read around 62 books. Whilst I am going to aim for 75 next year, I want to point out whether you read a 100 books this year or just 1 book in 2020, you should be extremely happy with yourself. This year has been incredibly hard on so many of us. I know I’ve struggled. Books became my solace but I know it’s difficult for everyone.
A huge shoutout to the Fantasy genre because I’m not sure what I would have done without it this year! That being said my Top 10 is such a range of different genres that I’m actually quite content with my final ten.
So let’s get into it…
10. Taking Up Space – Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi
I really wish I’d had this book at university. There’s so many things that I would have done differently. That being said I read this book feeling so validated in all my experiences at university and even when it comes to the wider world. From the degree I studied to mental health, this book covered everything...
As a minority in a predominantly white institution, taking up space is an act of resistance. Recent Cambridge grads Chelsea and Ore experienced this first-hand, and wrote Taking Up Space as a guide and a manifesto for change.
FOR BLACK GIRLS: Understand that your journey is unique. Use this book as a guide. Our wish for you is that you read this and feel empowered, comforted and validated in every emotion you experience, or decision that you make. FOR EVERYONE ELSE: We can only hope that reading this helps you to be a better friend, parent, sibling or teacher to black girls living through what we did. It’s time we stepped away from seeing this as a problem that black people are charged with solving on their own.
It’s a collective effort.
And everyone has a role to play.
What can I say that I haven’t already said about this book? Check out my review of it -> HERE . This was such a beautiful debut from Rosanna Amaka. I’ll be purchasing a hardback version to grace my shelves soon. A story about hope, love and intergeneration trauma…
Brixton 1981. Sixteen year-old Michael is already on the wrong side of the law. In in his community, where job opportunities are low and drug-running is high, this is nothing new. But when Michael falls for Ngozi, a vibrant young immigrant from the Nigerian village of Obowi, their startling connection runs far deeper than they realise.
Narrated by the spirit of an African woman who lost her life on a slave ship two centuries earlier, her powerful story reveals how Michael and Ngozi’s struggle for happiness began many lifetimes ago. Through haunting, lyrical words, one unforgettable message resonates: love, hope and unity will heal us all.
You’ve probably seen and heard this book everywhere. And as Brit Bennett sophomore novel, I can’t help but give her endless props for it. Check out my review -> HERE. A historical fiction novel that kept me hooked. If you haven’t read this book yet – take this as your sign to pick it up!
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.
Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect
A phenomenon. A British Classic. Bernardine Evaristo deserves all the praise and awards she got for this novel. This was an exploration of the multi-cultural hub of British women in all their forms. Check out the review for this -> HERE…
This is Britain as you’ve never read it.
This is Britain as it has never been told.
From Newcastle to Cornwall, from the birth of the twentieth century to the teens of the twenty-first, Girl, Woman, Other follows a cast of twelve characters on their personal journeys through this country and the last hundred years. They’re each looking for something – a shared past, an unexpected future, a place to call home, somewhere to fit in, a lover, a missed mother, a lost father, even just a touch of hope . . .
6. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
The writing was truly beautiful. I felt so connected with nature through the author’s descriptions. It definitely had me hooked towards the end. I didn’t want to put it down. This is probably one of my favourite covers to date. An astonishing debut novel.
For years, rumors of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.
5. The Dragon Republic – R. F. Kuang
The Second Instalment in The Poppy War Trilogy. Kuang really came into her writing with this book and left me completely devastated. As fantasy novel goes, this book was exceptional. It’s rare that I prefer the second book to the first book but in this case, I have no regrets with my choice.
Rin is on the run…
Haunted by the atrocity she committed to save her people, addicted to opium, and driven by the murderous commands of Phoenix, the vengeful god who has blessed Rin with her fearsome power. Rin’s only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold her homeland, Nikan, to her enemies. With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. She throws herself into his war.
After all, making war is all she knows how to do…
4. Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala
This book revealed just how much history was missing from my knowledge – especially Black British history. Akala uncovers and reveals the uncomfortable truths behind the British Empire. It was really an eye-opener for me. Check out my review -> HERE.
From the first time he was stopped and searched as a child, to the day he realised his mum was white, to his first encounters with racist teachers – race and class have shaped Akala’s life and outlook. In this unique book he takes his own experiences and widens them out to look at the social, historical and political factors that have left us where we are today.
Covering everything from the police, education and identity to politics, sexual objectification and the far right, Natives speaks directly to British denial and squeamishness when it comes to confronting issues of race and class that are at the heart of the legacy of Britain’s racialised empire.
I’m such a sucker for love but this was everything and more. Black women were placed at the forefront of this beautiful ode to romantic love. Check out my review -> HERE
A high-born Nigerian goddess feels beaten down and unappreciated by her gregarious lover and longs to be truly seen.
A young businesswoman attempts to make a great leap in her company, and an even greater one in her love life.
A powerful Ghanaian spokeswoman is forced to decide whether to uphold her family’s politics, or to be true to her heart.
Whether captured in the passion of love at first sight, or realising that self-love takes precedent over the latter, the characters in these vibrant stories try to navigate this most complex human emotion and understand why it holds them hostage.
Moving exhilaratingly across perspectives, continents and genres, from the historic to the vividly current, Love in Colour is a celebration of romance in all of its forms.
I’m still amazed at how Yaa Gyasi managed to encompass 300 years of Black history in exactly 300 pages. It’s a masterpiece. An incredible feat that deserves endless applause. I’m looking forward to reading Transcendent Kingdom in March! Check out my review -> HERE
Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.
Will I ever shut up about this book? Probably not. If you follow me on my social pages then you’ll know already just how much I LOVED this book. Tracy Deonn did the DAMN thing. Check out my review -> HERE.
After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential programme for bright high-schoolers at UNC – Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape – until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.A flying demon feeding on human energies.
A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.
And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts – and fails – to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.
The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.
She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets – and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down – or join the fight.
And that concludes my favourite books of 2020. This has been such a great start for The Black Book Blog.
A few special mentions to:
Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas – I cried my eyes out during the last 200 pages of that book. It just missed out on making my top ten list but it would have been no.11
Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett– I was really amazed at this book and I learnt so much from the main character. Definitely a favourite.
I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite – I LOVED this book. It just didn’t quite make my top 10.
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that’s supported this blog. This blog is literally my baby and I pour my heart and soul into it. I have so many HUGE plans for this blog starting in January! I can’t wait for you all to see what I come up with!
Happy New Year! Wishing you all an amazing, happy and prosperous reading year in 2021!
Love and blessings x