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
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
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 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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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!! 😊