My Top Ten Books of 2020


Jane Naylor, Staff Writer

Like most teenagers, when I am instructed to read a book, I instantly groan. Reading is a chore for school and the furthest thing from enjoyable. However, the ample free time available to me during the pandemic has actually restored my love of reading for pleasure. 

Reading is so much more than a burden. There are many books today that are written for a young adult audience–books that relate to topics we are interested in–whether that be easy to read young adult books, history books, classics, or biographies. 

With that, I present to you my top ten books that I read in 2020. To preface, the majority of these titles are painless and fun to read young adult novels revolving around two subjects: teenage romance and murder mystery (or even better, a combination of both).

10. Love and Luck, Love and Gelato, Love and Olives series, by Jenna Evans Welch 

If you want to read a book that feels like you’re on vacation in Europe, then one of these books is the best option. Set in Ireland, Italy, and Greece, these three books are magically written to feel like you’re vacationing in a new country. All three are about young women coming of age in a foreign place, often having problems with family members to solve and romantic relationships to navigate. Although the three books aren’t directly related to the same characters, if you read all three, you’ll certainly find connections between some of the characters!

9. When Stars are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

This is a biographical graphic novel that has beautiful drawings and a heartwarming story filled with hope. Omar and his non-verbal younger brother Hassan are Somalian refugees and orphans living in a refugee camp in Kenya. They have no access to sufficient medical care and there is never enough food. Their father died while fighting in Somalia, and they haven’t been able to find their mother since arriving at the refugee camp years ago. When Omar gets the opportunity to attend a formal school, meaning he would have to leave his brother behind by himself, he takes it–in hopes of changing their future. 

8. Jo & Laurie, by Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz 

An adaptation to the legendary Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, but with the plot and ending we all wanted. The book focuses on Jo and Laurie’s relationship more than any of the other sisters. The late 1800s feministic yet romantic approach from Jo’s point of view adds to the annoyingly epic Jo and Laurie love story. 

7. For Days of You and Me, by Miranda Kenneally

Every May 7th, students at Coffee County High School take a school trip with their entire grade. And every May 7th, Lulu and Alex seem to find each other, making their relationship more complicated and exciting, as each year the destinations of the trips get more mature. From the science museum to Six Flags, New York City, and London, Alex and Lulu always come back to each other, but it never lasts. After a series of ups and downs and other relationships, the couple realizes the journey of love may be the biggest trip of them all. 

6. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson 

Pretty, popular, and platinum blonde, Andie Bell, was supposedly killed unexpectedly by her boyfriend, Sal Singh. After Andie was killed, Sal allegedly killed himself, “proving” he was guilty. For her senior year final project, the character, Pip, reinvestigates the case because she doesn’t believe everything adds up. After her research, she becomes even more suspicious after uncovering dark secrets that might prove Sal was innocent. This novel is extremely captivating and hard to put down, there are so many plot twists that you will think you know the murderer–until you don’t. 

5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (curated by Barbara Heller) 

This Jane Austen classic completely exceeded my expectations. After Netflix added the 2004 make of the movie this summer, I instantly became obsessed with the enemy to lover plot between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett and decided I had to read the book. Austen originally wrote it as an epistolary novel, meaning it was written through letters. Included in the version I have are the 19 letters handwritten and hand folded in the early 1800s style that make the book come alive even more. 

4. Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell 

Eleanor, the new girl, is a misfit who comes from a tragic home life. Park is quite the opposite–he’s gentle, has a sense of self, and comes from a solid family. These teenagers are just trying to figure out life in 1986, Omaha, Nebraska. When Eleanor walks onto the bus on her first day of school in her new town, she has nowhere to sit–until she sees Park sitting alone in the back. Apprehensive and angry that he had to share the seat with someone, Park falls in love, and soon the couple becomes each other’s first loves, through many ups and downs along the way. 

 3. Cousins, by Karen M. McManus

Karen M. McManus is my favorite YA author, and has written my favorite murder mystery-romance novels including the “One of Us is Lying” series. This book is written about three cousins that have never met who come from a strange and distant wealthy family, owning an island off the east coast of Boston where they own a glamorous summer resort. After being invited there by their so-called “grandma”–who had cut off all four of her children twenty years ago unexpectedly–Jonah, Milly, and Aubrey meet for the first time on the ferry ride over. The secrets, relationships, and friendships they uncover are more than they could have ever imagined. 

2. They Wish They Were Us, by Jessica Goodman 

If you like Gossip Girl or the “One of Us is Lying” book series, this book takes pieces from each of those to make a gripping murder mystery story. At the most prestigious private school in Long Island, Gold Coast Prep, the most popular students are called “Players,” who are members of the school’s most secret society. It’s Jill’s senior year, she’s finally at the top of the “Player” society–it’s her year.  Although, their seemingly perfect life isn’t so perfect. Freshman year, Jill’s friend, Shaila, is allegedly killed by her boyfriend, Graham. Jill randomly starts receiving texts from a random number, claiming Graham’s innocence. Investigating further could jeopardize her family, friends, and her future–but if Graham didn’t do it, who did? 

1. … One Way or Another, by Kara McDowell 

It’s Christmas break in Arizona. An anxious teenage girl, Paige, has two options: she can go to New York City with her mom for the holidays or she can go with her boy-best friend–who she’s secretly in love with–to his cabin in northern Utah to see the snow and participate in winter activities. After hitting her head while doing goat yoga, her anxiety makes her extremely indecisive. The story takes the reader separately through what would happen if she went to New York, and what would happen if she went to the cabin–but we never really know until the end which place she chose. In the end, decision making can be extremely hard and stressful, but no matter what decisions you make, you’re going to end up exactly where you’re supposed to be and exactly with the person you’re supposed to be with. And we certainly all have our person.