I know it's rather late to do a review of 2020, but I'm a rebel...
Goodreads, which I use to track these things, informs me that I read 46 books in 2020. That's pretty good going - no doubt a result of Lockdown. By my count it's 27 fiction and 19 non-fiction, more of the latter than I expected to be honest. For those who want the full list, I restarted a monthly round-up of all my reading in May 2020, so delve into the back-list.
In the past I tried to give my top-ten (sometimes giving separate lists for fiction and non-fiction), but I always found that tricky, so this year I'm again going to give highlights rather than shoe-horn things.
My first book of 2020 was a re-reading of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, not a small undertaking but one that I enjoyed greatly. It rates as one of favorite books. At the time it came out, the merger of historical writing and fanasty was quite novel. There have been many imitators since, but not many of them have been able to carry it off: the secret is that Clarke has masterty of both genres and brought something new to each of them. I followed it up re-reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu, a collection of short stories set in the same universe as Strange and Norrell.
Strange and Norrell came out in 2004 and Ladies in 2006; fans had been impatiently waiting for the next work since then. It came out in September 2020. After avoiding reviews and other publicity, I read it in November. My initial opinion of it can be seen here. Suffice to say, I enjoyed it: it rates as my BOOK OF THE YEAR.
Joe Abercrombie, The Shattered Sea Trilogy
- Half a King
- Half the World
- Half a War
I'm a long-standing fan of Joe Abercrombie. This trilogy, published in 2014 and 2015, was written and marketed as 'Young Aldult Fantasy'. I'm not quite sure what that means, perhaps there was less gore and sex than in Abercrombie's other works, but they (and other 'adult' themes) were still there. Certainly there was no diminishment in the qualtity of his writing.
I read them in March and would certainly recommend them.
Mainly Non-Fiction in April and May
April and May saw a few non-fiction books that are worthy of notice.
- Gentlemen Captain
- The Mountain of Gold
- The Blast that Tears the Sea
- Robert W Chambers, The King in Yellow
- Arthur Conan Doyle, Tales of Unease
- H P Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
- M R James, Collected Ghost Stories