BEST BOOKS OF 2020: HONOURABLE MENTIONS


hi everyone!! im back with another post in my end-of-the-year reading wrap up, this time about some great books i read this year that didn’t quite make it into my “best books of the year” list. still, these were all books i enjoyed a lot, so i wanted to talk about and recommend them!!


The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding: Bridget Collins: 9780008272111: Amazon.com: Books

Sometimes I’m the kind of reviewer who nitpicks every aspect of a book: unnecessary plotlines, inconsistent characterization, dumb character decisions. But sometimes despite all those things, I still enjoy a book, and The Binding is a great example of that. This book had a bunch of very glaring issues: the first part was boring and narratively inconsequential, the writing was so descriptive that it often dragged the pacing of the book, some characters made some very questionable decisions. BUT. Despite all this, I still really enjoyed this book??? Like I still find myself occasionally thinking about it?? Sometimes I am a very easy-to-please reader: give me some drama, give me some romance, and I am fully invested in your book. And The Binding certainly gave me both of those things. Also the audiobook was great and super immersive.


Verge by Lidia Yuknavitch

Verge: Stories: Yuknavitch, Lidia: 9780525534877: Books - Amazon.ca

First of all, gorgeous cover omg. I really loved this short story collection – it was pretty eclectic in terms of its content, but I think overall I was struck by how deeply sympathetic it was towards its characters, who were largely people experiencing some kind of marginalization in their lives. I debated over whether to put this in the Official Favourites list or the Honourable Mentions list, but I decided on the latter because, like many books on this list, it didn’t stick with me as much as I wanted it to. (This might’ve been because I listened to it on audiobook, but I guess we’ll never know…) Still, great short stories, and beautiful writing too!!


Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Real Life,' by Brandon Taylor book review - The Washington Post

(my review)

Real Life was a great book. Brandon Taylor is an excellent writer; the way he builds up the stifling and oppressive atmosphere of this book is so good. Some of the characters in this book…phew. This book really had me fuming at how shitty people can be. The only reason this is in my honourable mentions as opposed to my official favourites list is because it’s proved to be a little forgettable for me; it doesn’t quite hold up against some other favourite books I read this year. But still, a great book and I can’t wait to read Brandon Taylor’s upcoming short story collection, Filthy Animals.


The Fire Starters by Jan Carson

The Fire Starters: Carson, Jan: 9781781620465: Books - Amazon.ca

(my review)

(shoutout to Rachel who is the biggest The Fire Starters stan ever, and whose review made me wanna pick this book up!!)

Jan Carson is a BEAUTIFUL writer. Like I still remember specific passages from this book because they were just so searing and powerful. Based on the merit of Jan Carson’s writing alone, I would’ve given this book 5 stars. But where this book lost me a little bit is in its plot. I think I just wanted to a bit more from it plot-wise, or maybe a different perspective or something. Regardless, I can’t wait to see what Jan Carson comes out with next because she is so clearly a talented writer.


Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller

Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life:  Miller, Lulu: 9781501160271: Amazon.com: Books

This was such a beautiful, big-hearted book. Lulu Miller’s audiobook narration of it, too, was TOP-NOTCH. The book starts out as an exploration of this man that you’ve probably not heard about–David Starr Jordan–and then comes together so beautifully when the Lulu Miller starts tying in her research into him with her own life and experiences. This is an excellent nonfiction book for anyone who wants something memorable, well-written, and moving.


Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning: Hong, Cathy Park:  9781984820365: Books - Amazon.ca

Again, another book I loved in the moment but that’s included in my honourable mentions because it was a little forgettable, and because some of the essays somewhat missed the mark for me. Those small qualms aside, though, Cathy Park Hong’s essays are incisive, considered, and super thought-provoking. I’d love to buy and reread this at some point because I think there’s so much to glean from this book.


James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster

James Acaster's Classic Scrapes - The Hilarious Sunday Times Bestseller  eBook by James Acaster - 9781472247209 | Rakuten Kobo United States

I couldn’t not include this book because it was such an absolute DELIGHT to read. We don’t deserve James Acaster. This book is the most Chaotic Good book that has ever existed. Just James Acaster getting into the most absurd of situations and somehow trying to get through them in the most earnest (and hilarious) ways. If you want something lighthearted and funny to listen to, definitely check out the audiobook of this one.


Mostly Hero by Anna Burns

Mostly Hero

I loved this novella from Anna Burns. It’s a parody of superheroes that starts off ridiculous and fun but develops into something touching and insightful by the end. So, classic Anna Burns.


Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Solutions and Other Problems: Brosh, Allie: 9781982156947: Books - Amazon.ca

I can’t not love anything by Allie Brosh. This one had me laughing out loud during every chapter. It gets a little weaker in the second half, but this was absolutely worth the wait.


Fangs by Sarah Andersen

Fangs: Amazon.ca: Andersen, Sarah: Books

And finally, this short little book I read a couple of weeks ago that was SO CUTE. This is just a bunch of mini-comics following a vampire and a werewolf who are dating and the kind of weird but fun things that pop up in their relationship because of their vampire and werewolf status. And, again, it’s SO CUTE. Like I can’t imagine anyone not liking this.


Et voila! Those were my honourable mentions from this year. Books I loved in the moment but that were a bit forgettable maybe, or had some minor issues that pushed them out of the official favourites list. In my next post I’ll be discussing my OFFICIAL FAVOURITES OF THE YEAR (!!!)–one post for fiction, and another for nonfiction–so stay tuned.

have you read any of these books?? did you have some honourable mentions from your 2020 reading?? id love to know!! 😊



#NonFictionNovember: UPLIFTING NON-FICTION RECOMMENDATIONS


hello everyone!! it’s officially NON-FICTION NOVEMBER and im so excited to share some of my fav non-fiction books with you this month!! non-fiction november is a month-long readathon hosted by Olive from A Book Olive on YouTube as well as (this year) co-hosted by Sabrina from Steakuccino, Natalie from Curious Reader, Jill from The Book Bully, and Andreea from Infinite Text

this week im recommending some more uplifting non-fiction books!! i love non-fiction but oftentimes the subject matter is very heavy and it’s nice to have some uplifting reads in between the heavy stuff to balance it out. pretty much all the non-fiction i read i read through audiobooks, so for all these books ive included a sample of their audiobooks in case you wanted to also listen to them on audiobook. also, all of these audiobooks are narrated by their authors!!


Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller

Why Fish Don't Exist | Book by Lulu Miller | Official Publisher Page |  Simon & Schuster

A wondrous debut from an extraordinary new voice in nonfiction, Why Fish Don’t Exist is a dark and astonishing tale of love, chaos, scientific obsession, and—possibly—even murder.

David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. In time, he would be credited with discovering nearly a fifth of the fish known to humans in his day. But the more of the hidden blueprint of life he uncovered, the harder the universe seemed to try to thwart him. His specimen collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake—which sent more than a thousand of his discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life’s work was shattered.

Many might have given up, given in to despair. But Jordan? He surveyed the wreckage at his feet, found the first fish he recognized, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. And this time, he introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world.

When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a foola cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the world beneath her feet.

Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why Fish Don’t Exist reads like a fable about how to persevere in a world where chaos will always prevail.



Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

Little Weirds: Slate, Jenny: 9780316485340: Books - Amazon.ca

Hello and welcome to my book. Inside you will find:

× The smell of honeysuckle
× Heartbreak
× A French-kissing rabbit
× A haunted house
× Death
× A vagina singing sad old songs
× Young geraniums in an ancient castle
× Birth
× A dog who appears in dreams as a spiritual guide
× Divorce
× Electromagnetic energy fields
× Emotional horniness
× The ghost of a sea captain
× And more

I hope you enjoy these little weirds.

Love,
Jenny Slate



Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh

Eat Up: Food, Appetite and Eating What You Want: Tandoh, Ruby:  9781781259603: Books - Amazon.ca

(Note: Ruby Tandoh was a contestant on the Great British Bake-off and I love her writing!!! She’s gone on to do so much amazing work since being on GBBO.)

Think about that first tickle of hunger in your stomach. A moment ago, you could have been thinking about anything, but now it’s thickly buttered marmite toast, a frosty scoop of ice cream straight from the tub, some creamy, cheesy scrambled eggs or a fuzzy, perfectly-ripe peach.

Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Food nourishes our bodies, helps us celebrate our successes (from a wedding cake to a post-night out kebab), cheers us up when we’re down, introduces us to new cultures and — when we cook and eat together — connects us with the people we love.

In Eat Up, Ruby Tandoh celebrates the fun and pleasure of food, taking a look at everything from gluttons and gourmets in the movies, to the symbolism of food and sex. She will arm you against the fad diets, food crazes and bad science that can make eating guilt-laden and expensive, drawing eating inspiration from influences as diverse as Roald Dahl, Nora Ephron and Gemma from TOWIE. Filled with straight-talking, sympathetic advice on everything from mental health to recipe ideas and shopping tips, this is a book that clears away the fog, to help you fall back in love with food.


James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes by James Acaster

James Acaster's Classic Scrapes - The Hilarious Sunday Times Bestseller by James  Acaster - Books - Hachette Australia

James Acaster has been nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award five times and has appeared on prime-time TV shows like MOCK THE WEEKLIVE AT THE APOLLO and RUSSELL HOWARD’S STAND UP CENTRAL.

But behind the fame and critical acclaim is a man perpetually getting into trouble. Whether it’s disappointing a skydiving instructor mid-flight, hiding from thugs in a bush wearing a bright red dress, or annoying the Kettering Board Games club, a didgeridoo-playing conspiracy theorist and some bemused Christians, James is always finding new ways to embarrass himself.

Appearing on Josh Widdicombe’s radio show to recount these stories, the feature was christened ‘James Acaster’s classic scrapes’. Here, in his first book, James recounts these tales (including never-before-heard stories) along with self-penned drawings, in all their glorious stupidity.


Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

#NonFictionNovember: FAVOURITE NON-FICTION AUDIOBOOKS


hello everyone!! it’s officially NON-FICTION NOVEMBER and im so excited to share some of my fav non-fiction books with you this month!! non-fiction november is a month-long readathon hosted by Olive from A Book Olive on YouTube as well as (this year) co-hosted by Sabrina from Steakuccino, Natalie from Curious Reader, Jill from The Book Bully, and Andreea from Infinite Text

this week im recommending some of my favourite non-fiction audiobooks that ive listened to recently!! all of these books have been favourites from this year and ive also included samples of their audiobook so you can get a sense of how the authors narrate their books (that’s another thing about these books: they’re all [brilliantly] narrated by their authors!!).


Inferno by Catherine Cho

Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness: Cho, Catherine: 9781250623713:  Books - Amazon.ca

Inferno is the riveting memoir of a young mother who is separated from her newborn son and husband when she’s involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward in New Jersey after a harrowing bout of postpartum psychosis.

When Catherine Cho and her husband set off from London to introduce their newborn son to family scattered across the United States, she could not have imagined what lay in store. Before the trip’s end, she develops psychosis. In desperation, her husband admits her to a nearby psychiatric hospital, where she begins the hard work of rebuilding her identity.

In this memoir Catherine reconstructs her sense of self, starting with her childhood as the daughter of Korean immigrants, moving through a traumatic past relationship, and on to the early years of her courtship with and marriage to her husband, James. She interweaves these parts of her past with an immediate recounting of the days she spent in the ward. 


The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward

The Terrible: A Storyteller's Memoir by Yrsa Daley-Ward

From an explosive new literary talent, a searing, moving memoir of family, adolescence and sexuality.

This is the story of Yrsa Daley-Ward, and all the things that happened – ‘even the Terrible Things (and God, there were Terrible Things)’. It’s about her childhood in the north-west of England with her beautiful, careworn mother Marcia, Linford (the man formerly known as Dad, ‘half-fun, half-frightening’) and her little brother Roo, who sees things written in the stars. It’s about growing up and discovering the power and fear of her own sexuality, of pitch grey days of pills and powder and encounters. It’s about damage and pain, but also joy. Told with raw intensity, shocking honesty and the poetry of the darkest of fairy tales, The Terrible is a memoir of going under, losing yourself, and finding your voice.


Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran

Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to  Fit In: Tran, Phuc: 9781250194718: Books - Amazon.ca

For anyone who has ever felt like they don’t belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature.

In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The Metamorphosis, The Scarlet Letter, The Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.

Appealing to fans of coming-of-age memoirs such as Fresh Off the Boat, Running with Scissors, or tales of assimilation like Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Displaced and The Refugees, Sigh, Gone explores one man’s bewildering experiences of abuse, racism, and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock. Against the hairspray-and-synthesizer backdrop of the ‘80s, he finds solace and kinship in the wisdom of classic literature, and in the subculture of punk rock, he finds affirmation and echoes of his disaffection. In his journey for self-discovery Tran ultimately finds refuge and inspiration in the art that shapes—and ultimately saves—him.


Constellations by Sinéad Gleeson

Constellations: Reflections From Life: Gleeson, Sinead: 9781509892730:  Books - Amazon.ca

For fans of Maggie Nelson and Leslie Jamison, Sinéad Gleeson’s essays chronicle—in crystalline, tender, powerful prose—life in a body as it goes through sickness, health, motherhood, and love of all kinds.

We treat the body as an afterthought, until it no longer can be. Until the pain or the pleasure is too great. Sinéad Gleeson’s life has been marked by terrible illness, including leukemia and debilitating arthritis. As a child, she bathed in the springs of Lourdes, ever hopeful that her body would cooperate, ever looking forward to the day when she could take her body for granted. But just as she turns inward to explore her own pain, and then the marvel of recovery, and then the arrival of her greatest joys—falling in love, becoming a mother—she turns her gaze outward. She delves into history, art, literature, and music, plotting the intimate experience of life in a women’s body across a wide-ranging map. From Nick Cave to Taylor Swift, Botticelli to Frida Kahlo, Louisa May Alcott to Lucy Grealy, Constellations is an investigation into the different ways of seeing, both uniquely personal and universal in its resonances.
 
In the tradition of some of our finest life writers, Gleeson explores—in her own spirited, generous voice—the fierceness of being alive. 



A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground | CBC Books

A bold and profound meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America from award-winning Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott.

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, sexual assault, gentrifcation, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections both large and small between the past and present, the personal and political–from overcoming a years-long battle with head lice to the way Native writers are treated within the Canadian literary industry; her unplanned teenage pregnancy to the history of dark matter and how it relates to racism in the court system; her childhood diet of Kraft Dinner to how systemic oppression is directly linked to health problems in Native communities.

With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future.



My Time Among the Whites by Jennine Capó Crucet

My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education: Crucet,  Jennine Capó: 9781250299437: Books - Amazon.ca

In this sharp and candid collection of essays, first-generation American Jennine Capó Crucet explores the condition of finding herself a stranger in the country where she was born. Raised in Miami and the daughter of Cuban refugees, Crucet examines the political and personal contours of American identity and the physical places where those contours find themselves smashed: be it a rodeo town in Nebraska, a university campus in upstate New York, or Disney World in Florida. Crucet illuminates how she came to see her exclusion from aspects of the theoretical American Dream, despite her family’s attempts to fit in with white American culture—beginning with their ill-fated plan to name her after the winner of the Miss America pageant. 


if you have any fav non-fiction audiobooks PLEASE dont hesitate to recommend them to me–im on a bit of a nonfiction kick right now so i would LOVE some recommendations if you have any!! 😊

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram