Laura M's Top 10: Hindsight Is 2020

2020 was such a strange, difficult year, and its tumultuous highs and lows are ingrained in our collective memory. So often books are an escape and a balm for whatever is happening in my life, and if I had to relive this year, Groundhog Day style, I would want these books by my side.


Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Translated by) Cover Image
By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780525541349
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 11th, 2020

Perhaps a foreboding start to this list, but for all of its darkness, this book was actually surprisingly funny. We follow an old woman in a remote Polish village, who is both entirely unreliable and strangely endearing. The stark, isolated setting makes for the ideal winter read.


Writers & Lovers By Lily King Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802148537
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Grove Press - March 3rd, 2020

Ah, the before times. I can't think of a better ode than Writers & Lovers by Lily King. A hopeful, buoyant novel that explores the places where grief, creativity, and romance intersect. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me swoon.


Drifts: A Novel By Kate Zambreno Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593087213
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Riverhead Books - May 19th, 2020

This is a meditative, lush novel about writing and motherhood, but it's also a beautiful encapsulation of what it's like to untangle the web of your own thoughts. I was mesmerized by this book.


Sourdough: A Novel By Robin Sloan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374203108
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: MCD - September 5th, 2017

Not only is this book incredibly relevant to everyone's sourdough craze during lockdown, but it's also the perfect escapist read. Robin Sloan explores the future of food and tech in this weird, rollicking look at human ingenuity. It repaired my faith in humanity when it was at its lowest.


The Butterfly Lampshade: A Novel By Aimee Bender Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385534871
Availability: UNAVAILABLE
Published: Doubleday - July 28th, 2020

Aimee Bender has blessed us all with her first novel since The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. At this point in 2020 we were all in limbo, unsure how long any of this would last and feeling the effects of being isolated for so long. This weird, quiet book is a beautiful compliment to that feeling - full of interiority and strangeness, the mundane and the fantastic. It made me see the beauty in the details.


Riot Baby By Tochi Onyebuchi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250214751
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Tordotcom - January 21st, 2020

This bright burning star of a book mixes the harsh realities of Black life in America with magic in a dystopian-esque future. In spare, unflinching prose Onyebuchi explores a world that is frighteningly similar to our own and a future that is imminent if we don't act to create a better one.


Squeeze Me: A novel By Carl Hiaasen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524733452
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Knopf - August 25th, 2020

This is classic Hiaasen but with a 2020 twist. We follow Angie Armstrong, a Florida wildlife wrangler who gets unwillingly caught in a web of hijinks involving several Burmese pythons, a privileged group of high society matrons, and even the President himself. If you need escapism that hits all the right satirical notes for our time, this is the book for you.


In The Lake Of The Woods By Tim O'Brien Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618709861
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Mariner Books - September 1st, 2006

Who knows where August went? I for one don't remember it. In the Lake of the Woods is an older novel, but I'm so glad I discovered it this year. This is an eerie, meditative book about a man whose wife goes missing, and we spend the majority of the novel following his disjointed memories of their life together, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. There are so many fascinating layers to this book, and it's the perfect book to get lost in over and over again.


Real Life: A Novel By Brandon Taylor Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525538882
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Riverhead Books - February 18th, 2020

If you read one book on this list, it should be this one. This book follows Wallace, the only Black student in his biochemistry grad program, over the course of one weekend as he navigates tense relationships within his friend group and the racial minefield of academia. Taylor's stunning prose is both expansive and intimate, and I could open it to any page and find a sentence that takes my breath away. You know those books that completely rearrange how you see the world? Yeah, that's this book. Read it. That's all I have to say.


Bunny: A Novel By Mona Awad Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525559757
Availability: BACKORDERED
Published: Penguin Books - June 9th, 2020

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but I wasn't feeling anything too dark and intense this year. Enter, Bunny. This book is what would happen if Mean Girls was a horror flick set in a creative writing program. Funny, biting, and weird. I loved it.


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue By V. E. Schwab Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765387561
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Tor Books - October 6th, 2020

Here we are, in the final slide into the end of the year. I wanted to end on one of those books that pulls you entirely into its own world, the kind of book that you can't put down because you are reluctant to abandon the characters and their story. Addie La Rue is the story of a young woman in the 18th century who makes a deal with the devil to live forever... but is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. This is V.E. Schwab's masterpiece, a story spanning centuries that touches on art, inspiration, and what it really means to be seen, loved, and remembered.

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