Saturday, December 12, 2020

Best First Time Fiction Reads 2020

2020, terrible in so many ways, was, at least a good reading year. I usually rank my first time reads, but I’m not sure that’s a great way to approach it. This year, I’m listing nineteen books that I read for the first time that were flat out great. I’m looking through the list trying to find a number one, but at least five or six would take that title on a given day. So here it is. 

Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey

The Confidence Man by Herman Melville

The Course of the Heart by M John Harrison 

Dead Astronauts by Jeff Vandermeer

Exhalation by Ted Chiang

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

Glimmering by Elizabeth Hand

God’s Country by Percival Everett

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

Last Summer at Mars Hill by Elizabeth Hand

The Likeness by Tana French

Looking for Jake by China Mieville

Palimpsest by Catherine Valente

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke*

Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Titus Groan/Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake

Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

And here are an additional sixteen, all very good and read for the first time this year, that might jump up if I were making this list on a different day or on reread. This Census Taker and Different Seasons were the hardest to not put in the upper tier.

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis

Different Seasons by Stephen King

Dora Bruder by Patrick Modiano

Hard Light by Elizabeth Hand

In a Lonely Place by Dorothy Hughes

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

Midnight Robber Nalo Hopkinson

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

Nicotine by Nell Zink

NumberNineDream by David Mitchell

The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzche and Other Odd Acquaintances by Peter Beagle

Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather

Silas Marner by George Eliot.

Tar Baby by Toni Morrison

This Census Taker China Mieville

Caveat: I hope to read Pierre (and maybe White-Jacket) by Herman Melville, The Glass Key by Daschiell Hammett, and Lamb by Christopher Moore, and those could end up somewhere on the list.


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