Well, here we are, back in a Lockdown and starting 2021. It does seem to be rather a hiccup in proceedings, but nevertheless, there is always a silver lining to these things. As we look forward to a year yet again shrouded in uncertainty, it seems poignant to also reflect and realise what lessons we have learnt from the last year. If you look back and realise that you didn’t get to read enough books, or you’ve set a New Years Resolution to read more often, then we’ve got you sorted!
Looking forward to the books to come is fun and all, but you have to wait. For a quick and easy way to start your journey, let us here at Boar Books give you a rundown of the best books for 2020 in all genres, which you’ll be sure to love! Even better, they will be easy to grab from your local indie store or great sites like bookshop.org. After all, you’ll be supporting yourself (although maybe not your bank account) and independent shops all over the UK who will be struggling most over Lockdown.
Fiction – The Midnight Library:
Many of you might already follow the writer of this incredible novel on Twitter, @matthaig1 or have read some of his truly touching works before, such as: Notes on A Nervous Planet, How to Stop Time, and Reasons to Stay Alive. The Midnight Library, however, is truly a breakout piece in a collection of already brilliant writing.
The novel centres around Nora, a young woman who feels like she has nothing left in life but pain. She finds herself in The Midnight Library, where she is greeted by the librarian who she visited as a child. The shelves are filled with books, all outlining possible twists and turns which may have taken place in her life, had she made different decisions. This is a tale that asks us as readers to look inwards, to our anxieties, strengths, and weaknesses and how the littlest acts of compassion and kindness can have the biggest impact on so many lives. This is a simply heartwarming tale which everyone should read.
Non-Fiction – Hood Feminism:
A book that anyone who calls themselves a feminist should read. After the hypocritical shambles of Florence Given’s alleged ultimate feminist manifesto, this is the book which should be praised for its contribution to intersectional feminism in 2020.
As the Evening Standard perfectly puts it, “required reading for any feminist, Kendall explores why mainstream feminism neglects to see how race, class, sexual orientation and disability intersects with gender with a clear-eyed assessment of how to fix it.” Bold, brave and highly educational, Mikki Kendall takes us through the highs and lows of modern feminism. She outlines that the 21st century feminist movement has lost its way, glorifying its white saviours, ignoring pivotal members of the community who have done so much in the past, and continuing to contribute so much in the present day. “Food insecurity, the living wage and access to education are feminist issues. The fight against racism, ableism and transmisogyny are all feminist issues” – and yet do we think about these as such? This fiery, controversial and powerful text is essential reading in creating a society of equality. We couldn’t recommend this book highly enough.
Horror – Mexican Gothic:
The captivating cover is enough to have us buying this book, and the ending is enough to make us obsessed! Personally, I am not a horror fan, but this book had me up all night, and not in a bad way. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s novel is a shining example of the re-emergence of the Gothic genre. If you’re a fan of Dracula, Jane Eyre or Rebecca, this is a novel you have to get your hands on.
Noemi is the peak of glamour: a well known, if not a little stubborn socialite who knows which styles to wear, and which circles to move in. But when she receives a frantic message from her cousin, who up until this point was a glassy-eyed newlywed, she knows something is uncomfortably wrong. Catalina reports of ghostly visions, night terrors, and claims that her new idyllic husband has taken to slowly poisoning her. Both you, the reader, and Noemi don’t want to believe the voices in the walls and the terrifying dreams that come when she moves into High Places, the old British mansion, where Catalina now lives. But how can you trust your mind, when nobody seems sane enough to believe you? If horror-filled thriller novels with delicious hints of 19th-century classics, and a glamorous coating of 1950s couture don’t fill your heart with joy, then what will?
Fantasy – House of Earth and Blood:
Do you hate drama, mystery, thrills, sex and suspense? Then please don’t read this book. However, if you do love these things, boy oh boy, does best-selling author Sarah J Maas have a treat for you. In the first novel of her new adult fantasy series, Maas invites you to the world of Crescent City, where all your teenage obsessions just got a whole load more glam, blood-drenched, and sexy.
Half-human, half-fae Bryce Quinlan is the party queen of Lunathion. She is joined by her best friends Danika, heir apparent to the most powerful Wolf Pack in the city, Juniper, a faun and famed classical dancer, and Fury, a Vanir assassin. But when Bryce discovers a murder that turns her whole life upside down, she becomes a shell of her old self. When it seems Bryce is next on the murderer’s to-do list, she partners up with the enslaved Hunt Athalar, a fallen Angel. Together they begrudgingly begin to unfurl the mystery of the events taking place in the city, pulling them both deeper into deadly territory. A beautiful fusion of Game of Thrones fantasy, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer action, this is a slick read which is impossible to put down.
YA Fantasy – The Queen of Nothing:
When Holly Black, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, writes a YA fantasy, you know it’s going to be a good one. The Queen of Nothing was the hotly anticipated finale to the multiple award-winning series Folk of the Air, which includes The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King. Authors and screenwriters should take note because this is how you do a finale. We’ll keep this review as spoiler-free as possible as this is a series you have to get your hands on if you’re a fantasy fan.
Black’s narrative style is immersive from the very start, and it’s truly rare to have a series where every book is just as addictive as the next. If you feel like you need a fantasy world filled with faeries, politics, and unpredictable twists and turns, Folk of The Air is your go-to!
Memoir/Autobiography – A Promised Land:
Deeply personal, passionate and inspiring, this is the read you need to take time out to get your teeth into during this chaos. Tracking his journey to the White House and beyond, Barack Obama lets us into his world and into his mind. As described in The Sunday Times – “Beautifully written and disarmingly candid . . . leavened with telling asides, poignant vignettes, painterly character sketches and an occasional corker of a joke.” Obama is a genuinely incredible writer, leader, and father.
Science – A Life On Our Planet:
Another man who has beautiful writing, and an even more important message: “See the World, then make it better.” Sir David Attenborough certainly holds a very special place in many of our hearts. His latest Witness Statement on the climate crisis and preserving our precious ecosystem should have an equally important place on all our bookshelves.
There’s no histrionics or political bias to dismay you here, just poignant messages and heartbreaking facts, from a man who has seen the world at its most intimate and asks us, the public, to fight, so future generations can follow in his footsteps and do the same. Part memoir, part scientific plea, Attenborough writes in an accessible and emotive style which will captivate even the most discerning reader.
Graphic Novel – Fangs:
You’ll probably be familiar with Sarah Andersen, due to Sarah Scribbles, the hilariously sarcastic and relatable webcomic that can often be found circulating on social media. This is her step into print, in a little bit more serious way, although not too severe, you’ll be glad to know.
Elsie is a 300-year vampire, who after years of searching for love, meets Jimmy the Werewolf in a bar. Their comedic but beautiful relationship ensues, and we watch and laugh along as they go about their day to day lives filled with supernatural problems, dark jokes and beautiful illustrations. This is a light, and delightful story that you’ll want to sink your fangs into.
Is your appetite whetted? Is that Christmas money just screaming out to be spent on one of our recommended books? If so, you’re welcome. Feel free to let us know what you think, and maybe even pen a review of your own.