Back in December 2011, I started a series, Authors, Alcohol & Accolades, which asked some of my favorite authors about their preferred drinks, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic. There have been 11 editions of this column so far, with more coming in the future. The inspiration for this series is that I am a voracious reader, of both fiction and nonfiction, and I wanted to combine that interest with my love of food & drink. The series has proven popular and it has been fascinating to explore what authors enjoy drinking.
Each year, as an addendum to that series, I've been posting a list of my Favorite Fiction Books, including books of Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and Mystery/Crime/Thriller. During the past twelve months, I've read over 270 books, both fiction and non-fiction, which provides a large pool for my choices. Most of the books on these lists were published in 2020, though there are some exceptions which were published in prior years but which I didn't read until this past year.
Onto my Book Recommendations...
First, let me provide my Top Three Reads Of The Year, those three books which thoroughly impressed and engaged me, compelling and creative works which I'm sure to read again in the future. These exceptional books have my highest, and unqualified, recommendation. They are not listed in any specific order of preference.
Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby
What an intense and riveting thriller! This is Southern noir, about a retired wheelman being pulled into one more heist. The wheelman is a black man, living in rural Virginia, and the book explores his life experiences, as well as his relationship with his father. That makes this book a very character driven thriller, although there is plenty of exciting action as well. It is such a compelling tale, with plenty of twists, and Cosby has crafted an impressive thriller that really should be a movie.
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
A haunting and horrific tale, this is a story of several Native Americans who get into trouble when they are younger, and then must confront a vengeful elk spirit. Interesting characters, brutal imagery, intense action, and just such a powerful horror novel. It explores some social issues as well, which are well integrated into the story. Jones has created one of the best horror novels of the year, and this book also needs to be a movie.
Ink by Jonathan Maberry
Maberry is one of my favorite authors and he never disappoints me. This new horror novel is one of his creepiest, involving tattoos, blow flies, and stolen memories. The prose can be so poetic at times, while some of the imagery can be horrific and disturbing. Intriguing characters, plenty of plot twists, and pure fun. Though it is a standalone novel, it is related to his Pine Deep series, which will make it more appealing to anyone who has read those other novels.
Second, let me provide a top ten list of my other Favorite SF/Fantasy/Horror Novels of 2020. Please note that these books are not in any specific order of preference. I've also added a top ten list of Honorable Mentions.
Carved From Stone & Dream (Los Nefilim #2) by T. Frohock
Ashes of the Sun (Burningblade & Silvereye #1) by Django Wexler
The Shadow Commission (Dark Arts #3) by David Mack
The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull
Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clare
Ash & Bones (City of Sacrifice #2) by Michael Fletcher
Daughter From The Dark by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko
Ancestral Night (White Space #1) by Elizabeth Bear
The Deep by Nick Cutter
The Burning God (Poppy War #3) by R.F. Kuang
The Aleph Extraction (Galactic Cold War #2) by Dan Moren
The Shadows by Alex North
City of Stone and Silence by Django Wexler
The Bard's Blade (The Sorcerer's Song #1) by Brian Anderson
Starship Alchemon by Christopher Hinz
The Harrowing of Doom by David Annandale
Third, here are my top ten Favorite Mystery/Crime/Thriller Novels of 2020. From gritty noir to more high-tech thrillers, this books are exciting and riveting, sure to get your blood pumping and your heart racing. Again, these books are not in any specific order of preference.
Don't Look Down (Shadows of NY #2) bt Hilary Davidson
The Revelators (Quinn Colson #10) by Ace Atkins
The Dark Corners of the Night (UNSUB #3) by Meg Gardiner
When These Mountains Burn by David Joy
The Pistoleer by James Carlos Blake
The Ninja Daughter (Lily Wong #1) by Tori Eldridge
Into the Fire (Orphan X #5) by Gregg Hurwitz
Joe Pickett series by C. J. Box (It's a 20 book series & I read all 20 this year, thoroughly impressed by them)
Fourth, here are a few of my Favorite Anthologies, Novellas & Short Stories of 2020. These often seem to get ignored on many other "Best Of" lists but I believe they are definitely worthy of attention.
Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones
Murder Ballads & Other Horrific Tales by John Hornor Jacobs
The Best American Noir of the Century edited by Jame Ellroy & Otto Penzle
All of the books on this list garner my earnest recommendations and you should check them out. They would make great holiday gifts for others, or even yourself. Please support an author, a small, independent business person, and buy more books. And if you read and enjoy a book, please leave a review of that book online and tell all your friends about it. The author would greatly appreciate your efforts.
What were some of your favorite books this year?