Reading List 2020

(Non-fiction marked with *)

December (tis the hide away at home)
94. Severance, Ling Ma. Apocalyptic fiction, for the year that's in it. Didn't love it.
93. *A Ghost in the Throat, Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Beautiful memoir/mediation on translation, parenthood, and lots of other stuff.
92. Winter Papers, Vol, 6. Annual arts anthology; always good.
91. There, There, Tommy Orange. Not as good as I'd hoped. 
90. *On Immunity: An Inoculation, Eula Biss. Timely! Great narrative non-fiction.
89. *Men We Have Reaped, Jesmyn Ward. Memoir. Brutal.
88. *The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot. Ten years late to this - really powerful.
87. *Zami: A New Spelling of my Name, Audre Lorde. Excellent autobiography.
86. Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, Andrea Lawlor. Outstandingly clever, funny and poignant.
85. *In the Dream House, Carmet Maria Machado. Superbly inventive memoir.
84. Amy & Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout. Beautifully engrossing, as ever.
83. There's No Such Thing as an Easy Job, Kikuko Tsuruma. Review here.

November (will this year never end)
82. The Ballad of Peckham Rye, Muriel Spark. As weird and jumpy as you'd expect.
81. Should We Fall Behind, Sharon Duggal. Review here.
80. Missionaries, Phil Klay. Review here.
79. *Strangers: Essays into the Human and Nonhuman, Rebecca Tamás. Intriguing short collection.

October (Tier Three! Nothing makes sense any more!)
78. The First Woman, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. Review here.
77. Fleishman is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner. Loved this.
76. Cassandra at the Wedding, Dorothy Baker. Excellent.
75. *If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance, ed. Angela Y. Davis. Horribly essential.
74. Death in Her Hands, Ottessa Moshfegh. Review here.
73. Blonde Roots, Bernardine Evaristo. A work in which Blaks enslaved Whytes; brilliant.
72. That Old Country Music, Kevin Barry. Review here.
71.*Negroland: A Memoir, Margo Jefferson. Fantastic memoir/history exploring race and class and gender.
70. My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite. A quick, fun, thought-provoking read that didn't push its themes far enough.
69. Must I Go, Yiyun Li. Review here.

September (the schools are BACK!)
68. *The End of Policing, Alex Vitale. Analysis of the problematics of the police as a state institution. Very good but kind of chickens out towards the end with not enough emphasis on abolition. 
67. Such a Fun Age, Kiely Reid. Disappointing. Review here.
66. Mordew, Alex Pheby. Part one of a new fantasy trilogy. Beautifully written.

August (got out of Manchester for a bit!)
65. Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler. Follow-up to no. 64. Also great (and depressing).
64. Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler. Horribly prescient.
63. Zero Hours, Neil Campbell. Disappointingly sexist.
62. Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward. Oof. Stunning.
61. Mr Loverman, Bernardine Evaristo. Sad and funny.
60. Flights, Olga Tokarczuk. Excellent. If you like Rachel Cusk, etc.
59. Kindred, Octavia E. Butler. Outstanding time-travel novel exploring slavery and its legacy.
58. *The History of White People, Nell Irvin Painter. A critical (but VERY accessible) study of the construction of whiteness as a social category.
57. Not to Disturb, Muriel Spark. Not one of her best.

July (might get to go into somebody else's house soon?)
56. Strange Weather in Tokyo, Hiromi Kawakami. Absolutely beautiful - that ending!
55. *Tell Me How It Ends, Valeria Luiselli. Heartbreaking look at the treatment and detention of refugee children in the US.
54. Picnic at Hanging Rock, Joan Lindsay. Reminded me of Spark.
53. Sozaboy, Ken Saro-Wiwa. Brilliant use of language.
52. The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid. Very cleverly constructed. 
51. Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. Good stuff.
50. The Bitch, Pilar Quintana. Review here
48. An Orchestra of Minorities, Chigozie Obioma. Really interesting use of storytelling. 
47. Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams. Review here.

June (this will never end)
46. *Your Silence Will Not Protect You, Audre Lorde. Essays and poems. Deeply sad and deeply energising.
45. A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James. Difficult, but worth it.
44. That Reminds Me, Derek Owusu. Lyrical novel, almost like a series of prose poems.
43. Honeydew, Edith Pearlman. Fantastic stories; she's as good as Munro.

May (still in lockdown...)
42. Infidelities, Kirsty Gunn. Short stories; not dissimilar to Sarah Hall.
41. 253, Geoff Ryman. Interlinked character sketches. Sharp and clever.
40. Requiem For a Dream, Hubert Selby Jr. Outstanding use of voice and deeply sad.
39. Symposium, Muriel Spark. Cutting as ever.
38. *Extreme Cities, Ashley Dawson. Climate change and city life. Terrifying.
37. *Revolting Prostitutes, Juno Mac and Molly Smith. Marxist feminist dissection of sex workers' need for labour rights.

April (still in lockdown...)

36. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. Savagely unflinching look at slavery, though I wasn't entirely convinced by the form.
35. *Notes From an Apocalypse, Mark O'Connell. Nonfiction. Just as good as his first book.
34. *Trans Like Me, C.N. Lester. Nonfiction. Essays on being trans; essential reading.
33. The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel. Not enough here.
32. *New Dark Age, James Bridle. Nonfiction; scary as hell.
31. Handiwork, Sara Baume. Nonfiction: reflections on making. Lovely.
30. May We be Forgiven, A.M. Homes. Hilarious, sad, beautiful (though tres middle class).
29. The Magician, W. Somerset Maugham. Occult shenanigans. Not really my thing.
28. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, Emily M. Danforth. Excellent YA novel about gender and sexuality.

March (guess which month the COVID-19 lockdown kicked in, eh?)
27. Memento Mori, Muriel Spark. Death stalks a group of elderly folk. Sharp as ever.
26. Adults, Emma Jane Unsworth. A really fucking worthy follow-up to Animals.
25. *When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi. Really contemplative and poignant.
24. The Fermata, Nicholson Baker. Pretty bizarre, pervy in a funny way, weirdly sweet.
23. *The Uninhabitable Earth, David Wallace-Wells. Absolutely terrifying. Everyone needs to read this.
22. Hallam Foe, Peter Jinks. Not as good as the movie, but entertaining, especially in the latter half.
21. The Lying Days, Nadine Gordimer. Her first novel: political/moral awakening in Apartheid S.A. Excellent.
20. A Brilliant Void, ed. Jack Fennell. Anthology of Irish science-fiction covering several hundred year. Really interesting.
19. This Sporting Life, David Storey. Man, this is bleak (and very powerful).
18. Theft, Luke Brown. Fantastically readable and brilliant on Brexit. Top stuff.
17. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark. Reread for work. Still great.
16. Weather, Jenny Offill. Review here.
15. Last Ones Left Alive, Sarah Davis-Goff. Captivating feminist dystopian novel set in Ireland - can't argue with that!

14. Strange Hotel, Eimear McBride. Review here.
13. The Shapeless Unease, Samantha Harvey. A memoir/essay/hybrid text about a year of insomnia. Fascinating.
12. The Odyssey, Homer (obvs). This was for work - it's a long time since I've read this and the translation was new to me. Odysseus is an asshole, guys.
11. Lowborn, Kerry Hudson. Nonfiction account of growing up in poverty in the UK - a scathing indictment of the government's lack of care for out most vulnerable and the way the poor have been demonised.
10. In Search of a Distant Voice, Taichi Yamada. Surreal account of a man's (possible) breakdown.
9. The Gustav Sonata, Rose Tremain. First novel of hers I've read (I've read her stories here and there). Good stuff.

8. Actress, Anne Enright. Excellent book - review here.
7. Arlington Park, Rachel Cusk. A savage look at marriage and the British well-to-do suburbs.
6. The Night Brother, Rosie Garland. Enormously engaging historical novel about gender.
5. Olive, Again, Elizabeth Strout. Excellent sequel.
4. My Biggest Lie, Luke Brown. Publishing, Borges, heartbreak (and lots of lying).
3. Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout. Reread because it's been too long.
2. Bina, Anakana Scholfield. Oblique and poignant.
1. Winter Papers, Vol. 5, ed. Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith. Annual anthology - always worth a read.

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