I really, honestly read very few new-to-me books in 2020. I’m not sure exactly how few, because I didn’t keep track. If I were guessing, I would say I might have read as few as fifty books last year. That may be overstating how few, but way, way down from an ordinary year, no question about that. Since I read fewer than half as many books as I ordinarily would, I’m doing half of a Top Ten List for 2020; thus, a Top Five List.
As you know, when I did read new-to-me books, I was largely interested in stories where nothing terrible happened. That may bias the following list to some degree, but honestly, not too much. These are stories I would have loved in any year. I’m listing them in chronological order by when I read them.
The riotous Psobion festival is about to begin in the city of Boukos, and the ambassador from the straightlaced kingdom of Zash has gone missing. Ex-soldier Marzana, captain of the embassy guard, and the ambassador’s secretary, the shrewd and urbane eunuch Bedar, are the only two who know.
Here’s my review of this lighthearted story with a serious undertone. As an added note, nothing terrible happens in this story.
In a world where lightning sustained the Roman Empire, and Egypt’s vampiric god-kings spread their influence through medicine and good weather, tiny Prytennia’s fortunes are rising with the ships that have made her undisputed ruler of the air.
Here’s my review of this complicated murder mystery with the most incredibly baroque setting imaginable.
3. Network Effect.
When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.
Drastic action it is, then.
Here’s my very, very short review of this wonderful Murderbot novel.
Toronto, 1925: An ancient manuscript and a modern cult promise the secret to personal metamorphosis. An atheist graduate student falls in love with a priest. A shiftless musician jilts his fiancée and disappears. From All False Doctrine is a metaphysical mystery wrapped in a 1920s comedy of manners.
Here’s my review of this wonderful novel in which, by the way, nothing really terrible happens (at least not permanently). This is, as you may know, by the same author as the #1 entry above, though under a different name. I absolutely loved this book and read it straight through twice in quick succession. I didn’t care for the sequel as much, but I did enjoy that as well.
One day Cliopher invites the Sun-on-Earth home to the proverbially remote Vangavaye-ve for a holiday.
The mere invitation could have seen Cliopher executed for blasphemy.
The acceptance upends the world.
Here’s my short review of this novel, which was equally as wonderful as #4 (though very different) and which I also read straight through twice in succession. I know a lot of you have read this one recently and also loved it, and I hear the author is writing a direct sequel right now, so we’ll all want to keep an eye out for that!
So this Top Five list includes two long-time favorite authors — Andrea K Host and Martha Wells — but also two new-to-me authors. That’s fantastic. Nothing I love more than adding another name to my list of favorite authors! I discovered both Alice Degan and Victoria Goddard through commenters on this blog. Thank you so much for recommending them to me, and if any of you reads a book this year and thinks, “You know, this is just the kind of thing I bet Rachel would love,” by all means drop me a line about it! You all have the BEST taste in books!