We present our list of the Top 10 Best Books of 2020.
Top 10: All Adults Here (Emma Straub)
Geek Score: 3.08/5.00
Just because her last friends hadn’t stuck around didn’t mean it would happen again. She could be cool this time; she could roll with it, whatever it was. Friendship was so weird. People spent so much time talking about falling in love, but making friends was just as hard—if you thought about it, it was crazy: Here, meet some total strangers, tell them all your secrets, expect no hurt or humiliation to come of it.
“All Adults Here” is a discussion about family life, and life in general. This novel reminds us that ordinary stories are worthy of being told in a book. The story ends in a festival parade with the family members somewhat resolving their issues. In most instances, I’ll be annoyed with such a cliché ending, but a happy ending fits this novel.
Top 9: What If It’s Us (Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera)
Geek Score: 3.31/5.00
I want to say I’m sorry but I know he won’t hear it. He’s crying. This is not just about tickets. I’m a screwup and he thinks I’m not into him as much as he’s into me. I take out my phone and sit beside him.
“Arthur? Can you look up for one sec? Please.” I pull up YouTube. I have to make this right now more than ever I hand him one earbud and keep the other. I type Hamilton karaoke, and when Alexander Hamilton comes on, I sing along. I put myself out there the way Arthur did with “Ben.” I feel him watching me as I try keeping up with the lyrics, as I try not to focus on the various people walking by us as I make a mockery of the performance that will soon be happening right behind us. One minute in, Arthur doesn’t react. But then:
“My name is Alexander Hamilton,”
Arthur says. Lead role. Of course. We vibe along to the rest of the song, singing together—one of us significantly better and more carefree than the other. But he’s the only audience I’m caring about.
“What If it’s Us” highlights several issues about the difficulties of coming out and young relationships. The book gives us only the reality, stripping away the dreamy scenes of a YA book. And as in reality, there’s no happy ending in it. This is another hit for Adam Silvera and his co-author Becky Albertalli.
Top 8: A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Tahereh Mafi)
Geek Score: 3.38/5.00
I broke off a blade of grass. Folded it in half. “I’m not brave,” I said to her. “I’m scared all the time, too. But whenever I think about taking it off, I realize my reasons have to do with how people treat me when I’m wearing it. I think, it would be “easier, you know? So much easier. It would make my life easier not to wear it, because if I didn’t wear it, maybe people would treat me like a human being.
“A Very Large Expanse of Sea” is a powerful voice in a world that needs stories like this to understand the diversity in society. The story is told through the eyes of a teenager, so her world views are a little bit limited. But I admire Shirin’s courage, and through her, readers will learn about seeing light in dark times, and a different kind of bravery that does not let people’s bigotry and hypocrisy prevent you in pursuing your dreams.
Top 7: The Last Word (Hanif Kureishi)
Geek Score: 3.42/5.00
“My life , as I lived it, has been Marx Brothers film, a series of detours, mistakes, misunderstandings, missed opportunities, delays, errors, and fuckups. I am a man who never found his umbrella.”
Could it be that in the “The Last Word,” Hanif Kureishi writes himself as Mamoon to tell his own story? Or is it Harry? I believe that that this is one of the important books of our time, showing the writer in every one of us, trying to write our own story. “The best stories are the open ones, those you don’t quite understand.”
Top 6: Pent Up (Damon Suede)
Geek Score: 3.55/5.00
Both naked under the flashing sky, hot rain sliding over them and their erections jousting between them. Finally. They’d made it here at last.
“I don’t care.” Andy whispered and blinked close, his eyes colorless in the dark. Unaccountably, he laced their hands together and held their mutual fists at his flexing hips. Their knotted knuckles grazed Andy’s perfect, perfect ass. Ruben panted and leaned their foreheads together while the rain slid down their faces.
Andy nodded, watching his eyes.“ We both are.”
He smiled. A kiss. “I hope so.”
Like Damon Suede’s “Hot Head,” ‘Pent Up” is sexually charged from page one. The characters Ruben Oso and Andy Bauer are very engaging with the anticipation build up which would hook any readers until the last the page. In this book, Suede proved that MM books need not be all sex all the time, depth and and a mysterious could come a long way.
Top 5: Rain Falls on Everyone (Clár Ni Chonghaile
Geek Score: 3.92/5.00
“Theo sped down the slope. He closed his eyes and he could feel the red dust rising from the ground to tickle his nose. The wind was pulling tears from his eyes and he was going so fast the sun couldn’t lay its hand on him. His own shadow couldn’t keep up as he flew through time and space and all the dimensions, going faster and faster until he felt like he was finally outrunning himself.”
“Rain Falls on Everyone,” tells us the everyday life of ordinary people: their struggles, their hopes, and dreams, the happy moments. The voice of the characters is genuine and through them, Chonghaile tackles some of society’s ills: drugs, violence, racism, and suicide.
Top 4: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes (Suzanne Collins)
Geek Score: 4.30/5.00
A puff of wind blew across the stage, and the girl slowly lifted her head. Somewhere else in the crowd, a deeper, distinctly male voice sang out.
“You could take my pa,”
“But his name’s a mystery.”
The shadow of a smile played on Lucy Gray Baird’s lips. She suddenly pushed herself to her feet, strode to the center of the stage, grabbed the mic, and let loose.
“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.”
“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” delve into many themes like politics and society with the history of Panem and the Hunger Games that will keep the reader’s interest. The objective is to provide an origin of the Games which the book did at length though the story lacks the allure of the trilogy that makes you turn the pages with gusto. More than anything, it’s an essay about philosophy with discussions about the concept of war and peace.
Top 3: Patron Saints of Nothing (Randy Ribay)
Geek Score: 4.51/5.00
I smile to myself as I put the letter away. I rest my head against the window and close my eyes. I drift off to sleep thinking of my cousin and me, of humanity and its problems, of oceans and islands. I imagine both of us, patron saints of nothing.
The book shines when it turns its attention to the central issues: poverty, corruption, justice, and moral values. I also enjoyed the conversation of these topics in front of Juan Luna’s painting Spoliarium. The intention was not lost on me as it, to borrow the words of our national hero Jose Rizal, “embodied the essence of our social, moral and political life: humanity in severe ordeal, humanity unredeemed, reason and idealism in open struggle with prejudice, fanaticism, and injustice.” The discussion about the prerequisite of being a true Filipino to understand the issues hounding the country was great. The words ringing in my ears long after I finished reading the book.
Top 2: A Heart in a Body in the World (Deb Caletti)
Geek Score: 4.53/5.00
She made it. Her heart and her legs have brought her to this new place. Now, she hears the cheering. Go, Annabelle, go! You did it! Come on, Annabelle! They are chanting her name. Annabelle! Annabelle! Annabelle! She sees them—her people, her familiars. Her team. There’s a small crowd with them, on both sides of the street. Everyone is wearing red, and waving their arms, and jumping up and down.
“It is clear that this endeavor is much more about the head than the body,” Annabelle thought during her run. In a way, Deb Caletti’s “A Heart in a Body in the World,” is not about gun violence and the politics that surround it, but the trauma of a person involved in such an incident. It is a story about the process of grieving and healing.
Top 1: Dear Evan Hansen (Val Emmich, Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul)
Geek Score: 4.66/5.00
Slowly, I raise my chin and lean into the microphone.
“I fell,” I say, my voice carrying off into the distance .I push out the words one by one. “I lay there… on the ground.…” I shut my eyes. Any second now.“ But see, the thing is, when I looked up… Connor was there.”
He always is. Somehow. Day after day, he comes, the thought of him. Visions in the night. His name on my arm. No matter what I do, where I go, a constant reminder. Of what? Of who I am. Of who I could be. Who I should be. I open my eyes.
“That’s the gift that he gave me… to show me that I wasn’t alone. To show me that I matter.” I do. Don’t I? And not just me.“ That everybody does. That’s the gift that he gave all of us. I just wish…It’s the worst part. How unfair it is. I wish we could have given that to him.”
This book is a gift, and an important one because it defines and validates you in a way that is hard to explain. In a world where everyone does not care about you, we need Evan Hansen’s letter to remind us, once in a while, that everything will be alright.