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I’m an avid reader, and that’s pretty well-documented through many articles I’ve written, from amazing Black authors to re-discovering eBooks. Plus, I’m an aspiring publishing professional, so I try to read as much and as widely as possible. So, of course, I’d write another article about books.

Inspired by an article about recent reads from another contributor, I decided to recap the books I read this year. When I realized I read over 30, I knew I couldn’t cover all of them. Instead, I decided to list only books released in 2020. If you want to see everything I’ve read, check out my Goodreads for my full list. I’m still pushing for 50 books total (there’s still time!) to hit my goal for the year.

This is not meant to be a “best of” list. I don’t want to rank the books I’ve read. I also can’t read nearly as much as I’d like since I’m busy with school. I think the books are listed in the order I read them (though I’m not 100 percent certain). I’m sharing this list because I enjoyed reading all these books and hope others would too.

There’s also quite a range of genres on this list, such as young adult, women’s contemporary fiction, biography and nonfiction. I’m trying to expand my “to be read” list, so exploring more genres helps with that.

Finally, after my long intro, here are the 2020 book releases I read this year.

Mostly Likely by Sarah Watson

This young adult book follows four best friends as they navigate and support each other through their senior year of high school, college applications and relationships. Plus, years into the future, one of the four has become the president of the United States, and readers get to discover who that is through many exciting twists.

I loved the friendship between the four girls because it showcases how women can do anything. Each character had distinct personalities and different backgrounds and identities. The plot flowed well, and there’s a steady build-up to the end. Plus, the mystery of which one would become the president kept me up all night to finish this book.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Big Summer follows a plus-sized Instagram influencer, Daphne, making a name for herself. After an ex-best friend asks Daphne to be in her wedding and she accepts, Daphne finds herself in the middle of complex relationships and many secrets.

I love that Daphne is a strong, outgoing woman who embraces herself for who she is. Without giving any spoilers, the twist in the book is shocking and keeps the plot moving forward. This book is the perfect quarantine read.

They Were Soldiers: The Sacrifices and Contributions of Our Vietnam Veterans by Joseph L. Galloway and Marvin J. Wolf

This book tells the story of 49 Vietnam veterans who left a significant impact on this country after they returned from the war. This book honors the veterans who had been treated terribly by the American people and government because of the Vietnam War.

Even though I read this book and interviewed the authors for Family Magazine (the article will be out soon), I found the stories of each veteran extremely inspiring. The veterans weren’t just in the armed forces; they were refugees, nurses and others who had been involved in the war. I’m glad that Family Magazine’s editor allowed me to write about this incredible book.

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

Former gymnast Avery is still struggling to find her place after failing to make the Olympic team over seven years. Returning to her hometown, she finds herself coaching an upcoming gymnast with a cute new coach just in time for a shocking scandal to shake the gymnastics world.

I loved all of Orenstein’s other books, but this one takes the top spot for me. There is the perfect romance and a high-stakes plot. Plus, Avery begins to find herself again, which leads to an amazing character arc. The book was supposed to be published just before the 2020 Olympics (now 2021), but it is still insanely relevant due to the conviction of Larry Nassar and Athlete A on Netflix. Also, just a quick content warning: emotional abuse, sexual assault and eating disorders.

I am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds by Sunny Hostin and Charisse Jones

This memoir speaks to Hostin’s life as a Puerto Rican and African American woman. It begins with Hostin’s childhood all the way to her current career in television.

I had the amazing opportunity to get an advanced reader’s copy from Book Con (R.I.P.), but I didn’t get to read it until just a couple of weeks before the book came out. I wish I had read it sooner. There are so many themes in this book (you can just look at the title) that are all handled extremely well. The memoir highlights Hostin’s climb to the top and shows that anyone who works hard can make their dreams come true. 

 The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim

The Last Story of Mina Lee is told in two perspectives of a mother and daughter at different points in their lives. In the present day, Margot searches for answers about the life and death of her mother while reconciling with the fact that they never connected. Meanwhile, Mina, Margot’s mother, struggles in the United States as a Korean immigrant many years ago.

I love how Margot slowly learns more about her mother’s life as I got to read it for myself. Both perspectives work amazingly well for learning about each character and watching them grow. The mother-daughter relationship is beautiful, and the struggles of immigrants aren’t told through a rose-colored filter. This is an amazing read.

Mind the Gap, Dash and Lily by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

This is the third book in the Dash and Lily series. It follows Dash and Lily as they discover what they want to do with their lives and their relationship.

I don’t want to give away too much since it’s the third book in a series. I read them all after learning about the Netflix show. It’s a great book that highlights the transition to college and first relationships. I love Lily’s quirkiness and Dash’s edginess that both shine through in this book. Overall, this series is a quick and cozy read for the holiday season.

The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin

The Antidote for Everything is about two doctors who are told they can no longer treat LGBTQ+ patients and the decisions they must make as a result.

If you like medical dramas on TV, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s an extremely important and timely novel because it brings to light issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces when getting medical care, and I think that it’s handled really well. Georgia and Jonah, our two doctors, are both brave and well-developed. Plus, there’s a hint of romance that I enjoyed a lot.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

I want to note that I’m in the middle of this book, but I had to include it because I plan to finish it ASAP. Kendall is changing everything I know about feminism by shedding light on the inequality Black women face and questioning everything that mainstream media has taught me. I can’t tell much, but this is a must-read book.

I’m upset I only have nine books on this list. I know it’s a great feat, but I’m trying to read a lot more than that. Obviously, I have at least 10 more days until the end of the year to read even more. Some books I hope to finish from my TBR pile are: A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare, The Lost Book of the White by Clare and Wesley Chu, How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi, the Legend series by Marie Lu and Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reed. To do this, I’ll have to read a book a day. Plus, I have to choose two more (if I did my math right) to hit 50. Wish me luck!

If you want to purchase any of these books, try to support local and Black-owned bookstores!

Happy reading!

Rebecca is a senior and the Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Geneseo. She is a double major in English (Creative Writing) and Communication. Rebecca is also the Copy Editor for the student newspaper The Lamron, Co-Managing Editor of Gandy Dancer, a Career Peer Mentor in the Department of Career Development, and a Reader for The Masters Review. She hopes to work in the publishing industry and pitch articles to different magazines. When Rebecca is not reading, writing and editing, she can be found dancing with OGX on campus. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @Becca_Willie04!
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