2020 Sonderbooks Stand-outs!

It’s time to announce my 2020 Sonderbooks Stand-outs!

These are simply my favorite books of those I read this year, the books that stand out in my mind after a year of reading, the ones that moved me most.

These are not necessarily the best books of the year. They’re not necessarily the highest quality. And I’m a white straight lady. I can see and recognize outstanding books coming from many different perspectives and even put them forward for awards, but they won’t necessarily win as high a place in my heart. These are books I especially loved reading this year.

It’s late on New Year’s Day, so I’m just writing a blog post to make the announcement, but a webpage for these will come soon. I haven’t posted reviews of all the books yet — especially not the ones I read for the Cybils — so I will work on getting all these reviews posted.

I also have to add a disclaimer. Although I’m ranking the books, I’m trying not to think too hard about it and go with my gut. If I were to rank them tomorrow, they might end up in a little bit different order. These are all good books, and I highly recommend them!

Here are my numbers of books read this year:

Books reread: 7 (Mostly L. M. Montgomery books, since I’m still slowly trying to reread all of her books.)
Fiction for Adults: 14
Nonfiction for Adults: 49
Fiction for Teens: 60
Fiction for Children: 38
Nonfiction for Children and Teens: 152 (many picture books in that set)
Picture Books: 329

For a grand total of 649 books read in 2020!

In my list of stand-outs, I left out the books I reread, and I left out the new translation of the New Testament, by David Bentley Hart. It doesn’t seem fair to compare books I read for the first time with old favorites, and especially not with a new translation of the Bible.

Among the rest, I chose these favorites:

Fiction for Adults:

1. A Dance with Fate, by Juliet Marillier
2. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
3. The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
4. The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nahesi Coates
5. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
6. The Queen of Sorrow, by Sarah Beth Durst
7. The Testaments, by Margaret Atwood

General Nonfiction for Adults:

1. Know My Name, by Chanel Miller
2. My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me, by Jason B. Rosenthal
3. Me and White Supremacy, by Layla F. Saad
4. Keep Moving, by Maggie Smith
5. The Earth in Her Hands, by Jennifer Jewell
6. The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben
7. So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo
8. The Orphaned Adult, by Alexander Levy
9. Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds, by Ian Wright
10. Beneath the Tamarind Tree, by Isha Sesay

Christian Nonfiction for Adults:

1. Jesus Undefeated, by Keith Giles
2. Shameless, by Nadia Bolz-Weber
3. Grace Saves All, by David Artman
4. A More Christlike Way, by Bradley Jersak
5. Try Softer, by Aundi Kolber

General Fiction for Teens:

1. The Bridge, by Bill Konigsberg
2. We Used to Be Friends, by Amy Spalding
3. Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo
4. The Hand on the Wall, by Maureen Johnson
5. Even If We Break, by Marieke Nijkamp
6. The Vanishing Stair, by Maureen Johnson
7. The Edge of Anything, by Nora Shalaway Carpenter
8. Dangerous Alliance, by Jennieke Cohen
9. This Is My Brain in Love, by I. W. Gregorio
10. The Light in Hidden Places, by Sharon Cameron

Speculative Fiction for Teens:
1. Return of the Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner
2. Igniting Darkness, by Robin LaFevers
3. The Queen of Nothing, by Holly Black
4. Red Hood, by Elana K. Arnold
5. Elatsoe, by Darcie Little Badger
6. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, by Garth Nix
7. The Guinevere Deception, by Kiersten White
8. Cemetery Boys, by Aiden Thomas
9. A Phoenix First Must Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell
10. Burn, by Patrick Ness

Fiction for Children:

1. Fighting Words, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
2. Prairie Lotus, by Linda Sue Park
3. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, by Dan Gemeinhart
4. Wink, by Rob Harrell
5. Monster and Boy, by Hannah Barnaby
6. A Long Road on a Short Day, by Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney
7. Catherine’s War, by Julia Billet
8. Before the Ever After, by Jacqueline Woodson
9. A Home for Goddesses and Dogs, by Leslie Connor
10. Stepping Stones, by Lucy Knisley
11. Mañanaland, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Longer Nonfiction for Children and Teens:

1. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
2. An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese
3. Infinite Hope, by Ashley Bryan
4. Almost American Girl, by Robin Ha
5. Playlist, by James Rhodes
6. The Magnificent Migration, by Sy Montgomery

Nonfiction for Children:

1. When Stars Are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
2. Create Your Own Secret Language, by David J. Peterson and Ryan Goldsberry
3. Sounds All Around, by James Chapman
4. The Superpower Field Guide: Moles, by Rachel Poliquin and Nicholas John Frith
5. Overview, by Benjamin Grant with Sandra Markle
6. Can You Crack the Code?, by Ella Schwartz and Lily Williams

Nonfiction Picture Books

1. Honeybee, by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
2. The Fabled Life of Aesop, by Ian Lendler and Pamela Zagarenski
3. The Boy Who Dreamed of Infinity, by Amy Alznauer and Daniel Miyares
4. The Imaginaries, by Emily Winfield Martin
5. Girl on a Motorcycle, by Amy Novesky and Julie Morstad
6. Child of St. Kilda, by Beth Waters

Fiction Picture Books:

1. Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away, by Meg Medina and Sonia Sánchez
2. Lift, by Minh Le and Dan Santat
3. Rita and Ralph’s Rotten Day, by Carmen Agra Deedy and Pete Oswald
4. In My Garden, by Charlotte Zolotow and Philip Stead
5. Madame Badobedah, by Sophie Dahl and Lauren O’Hara
6. Every Color of Light, by Hiroshi Osada and Ryoji Arai
7. I Can Be Anything, by Shinsuke Yoshitake
8. The Blue House, by Phoebe Wahl
9. Swashby and the Sea, by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez

I know — I’m not good at narrowing down my lists! But all the more reading joy!

Happy Reading!

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