Like all readers, I’m always chasing my new favourite book or five star read, hoping to feel that explosion of rainbows in my heart where a book consumes me and is quite literally un-put-down-able. I was fortunate enough to have read fifteen books that made me feel this way in 2020 and that got a glowing five star rating. Here they are in the order that I read them:
The Seven Husbands of Eveyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
If you saw my recent post Best and Worst Reads of 2020, you’ll already know that The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo made it into my top five best reads of the year. I absolutely adore this book and will be eternally grateful for it because it was the first book since I was a teen that gave me that over-excited, giddy, heart exploding with glitter type feeling that you only get from reading a truly phenomenal book.
Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
After falling in love with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I immediately reached for Daisy Jones and The Six, and it did not disappoint. The premise and format in which it’s written made for such a unique and compelling story. Main characters Daisy and Billy got underneath my skin and their turbulent, bigger-than-life personalites and lifestyles drew me in. This is a book that I could read over and over and still enjoy every time.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
As is the case for many people, Harry Potter was the series that introduced me to reading as a child. For that reason I turned to it last year in the hopes it would help re-establish me to the world of reading. My attachment to this book largely stems from my adoration for Remus Lupin. Nonetheless, I decided this would be the final time I pick up Harry Potter because of the issues surrounding the author. I’d highly reccommend reading A Cup of Wonderland’s post for more insight.
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
I attempted to read The Hobbit so many times as a child, but never seemed to get past the first few chapters. This time I read it with friends as a buddy read so was motivated to read until the end and I’m so glad I did. Tolkien truly was/is the King of Fantasy and despite being a children’s book, the world-building and lore was astounding. Bilbo quickly became one of my favourite fictional characters of all time and for his character arc alone this book deserves five stars.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
This book was truly stunning. I loved the illustrations, the poetry and the exploration of identity. It was a truly empowering and inspirational read; a story of pride. This book may be targeted at LGBTQIA+ readers, but it’s a book for all, because it’s not just a celebration of queerness, but a celebration of life, love and being true to yourself no matter what.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
All Boys Aren’t Blue was featured in my previous post as one of my best reads of 2020 and absolutely deserving of making that list. George M. Johnson’s story is emotive, powerful and inspirational. I could feel his passion and dedication to the LGBTQIA+ community seeping off the page.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Another book that made it into my best reads of 2020. Wuthering Heights soared to the top of my favourite books of all time list immediately after I finished it. I connected so deeply to the story, themes and characters. I love that this book didn’t attempt to moralise or provide justification – the characters are terrible people that do terrible things, but they’re still human.
Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
Winnie-the-Pooh was also featured in my best reads of 2020, although The House at Pooh Corner wasn’t. These books are the most re-read of any others on this list. I find myself listening to the audiobooks over and over again. They bring me so much comfort and warmth. My only regret is that I didn’t read them sooner.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
A Thousand Splendid Suns shattered my heart into a million pieces in the best possible way. It’s a tragically beautiful tale of hardship, endurance, love and sacrifice. Khaled Hosseini’s writing is stunning and ticked every box for me. The depiction of female friendship was beautiful and the main characters, Mariam and Lilah, were so complex. The historical backdrop of Afghanistan elevated the story and intertwined with Mariam and Lilah’s struggles perfectly.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Despite how short this book was and how simple the plot was, boy, did it pack a punch. The Outsiders cut to the very core of how it feels to be an outsider living on the fringes of society, overlooked, forgotten and unimportant. Ponyboy and the gang were ostracised from their family, community, school and wider society, and this tale conveys the pain and the consequences of experiencing that level of alienation. The character relationships and dynamics were so well developed and I deeply sympathised with each of them. There’s so much to unpack with this book that I could continue, but that will be reserved for a future review, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in hearing more of my thoughts on The Outsiders.
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
Speaking of books that pack a punch… The Poppy War absolutely blew me away. R.F Kuang crafted a unique perspective on a fantasy story by interweaving real-life events from Chinese history with fantastical elements. It was a fast-paced, action-packed tale that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. There was an element of unpredictability, a sense that anything could happen, and it’s rare to find a book with such high stakes.
And Every Morning the Way Home Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is proof that a book doesn’t have to be long to have impact. This is the first and only book to date to make me sob. Yes, truly and completely sob. Fredrik Backman’s prose was stunning and his use of imagery captivating. He took an illness – dementia – and combined it with imagination to create a heart-wrenching accessible story that captured exactly what loss and grief feels like. The tag line for the book is, “A little book with big heart” and that sums it up in one.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
My memory of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was foggy at best, so re-reading it after so many years felt like reading it for the first time. For me, this was the strongest book in the series. The balance between action and comedy, and plot and character development was spot on. I couldn’t put the book down and finished it in one day!
However, to iterate my previous point this is the last time I’ll be reading the Harry Potter series and in featuring this book in this post I am not in any way endorsing the works of the author. In addition to the post from Cup of Wonderland, I’d also recommend reading my_weird_bookish_heart’s post on Instagram about why we can’t and shouldn’t separate the art from the artist.
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
The Importance of Being Earnest was a buddy read with friends that we did over the Christmas period. I’d been in a bit of a reading slump in December and this over-the-top, frivolous and hilarious play was just the thing to pull me out of it. The sheer ridiculousness, use of irony and wit had me laughing out loud. There are interesting explorations of Victorian society and gender relations but the true reason I rated it five stars was simply because it was SO MUCH FUN.
There we have it, the fifteen books I rated five stars in 2020.
How many books did you rate five stars in 2020? Have you given any of these books five stars? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear about the books you rated five stars and why.
Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.