Arts & Culture

Top Three Reads of 2020

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, our beloved former book-columnist, Alessandra Gugliotti, gave us her book recommendations of 2019. Now, fifty-two weeks and two days later, here, once more, are three of my own battered favourites to adorn your shelf. Here you will find volumes that will keep you awake past midnight, that will beckon to you to come deep into their worlds, and whose characters will leave an impression on your reading soul. 


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (the prequel to The Hunger Games series), by Suzanne Collins is an engrossing story that revolves around the life of Coriolanus Snow. It offers a bird’s-eye-view of his victories and sorrows, his friends and foes, and his path to infamy. This story lays down the foundation of the Hunger Games, the sculpting of a dictatorial leader, and a number of familiar ballads. Collins introduces us to her characters, from protagonists to villains, including Lucy Gray Baird, Sejanus Plinth, and Dr Gaul. This novel is fresh from the printing press, and it is a brilliant read, especially if read after the trilogy.


Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

This may be the only classic novel I have ever willingly read in a brief amount of time. Within the pages we find Elizabeth Bennet, numerous dirt roads leading to respectable acquaintances, and a myriad of written books. While being a classic romance, this work was written by the clever and ever-resourceful Jane Austen and has numerous laugh-out-loud instances with a handful of memorable minor-characters such as Mr. William Collins and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Pride and Prejudice is an anywhere-read: a book that can be consumed in any environment from an airport to the front porch. 


A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities is the most annotated volume on my personal bookshelf. Written by Charles Dickens, no single detail within these 341 pages is laid waste. Everything, from the blood stains on the brick wall to the familial connection of a governess are significant to the tale. Set during the late 18th century and the French Revolution, Dickens guides readers through the lives of Sydney Carton, Charles Darnay, Lucie Manet, and many others. This is a story filled with genuine brain-human-beings that portray the honest world, and it is a splendid read for Saturday afternoons.  


Comment below and share what your top three reads of the year were!


  1. Oh these are all great books! I especially love Pride and Prejudice! & the Movie is great too! I’m also currently reading A Tale of Two Cities

  2. The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes is the really good.

  3. Another great review, Maia – and I’m so glad you loved Austen & Dickens!

  4. Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is SOOOOO good!! I’ve been meaning to read Pride and Prejudice, but I don’t have the motivation to do it because I already watched the movie like 3 times (loved it, but still)

  5. Great article, Maia! I enjoyed it.

  6. ooh, Tale of Two Cities was so touching- I really admired Sydney Carton;-;
    my top three favs from 2020
    1) Romance of the Three Kingdoms (it’s like China’s Illiad and you guys should read it if you like warring strategies and stuff!!)
    2) Black Hole by Martha Bartusiak (For those who love black holes this book is amazing!!)
    3) Mere Christianity by C.S Lewis (this is really thought-provoking.)

  7. Cool. Maybe I’ll read those someday. Good job. 🙂

  8. Yesss!!! Amazing book choices! I have yet to read “Pride & Prejudice”, but I’ve read “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and “A Tale of Two Cities”.

  9. I love Pride and Prejudice!!! And I’ve also read Tale of Two Cities but I prefer Jane Austen.


  11. Mhmm. Agreed. The Wingfeather Saga is good. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Green Ember, LOTR, FOTR, The Hobbit…

  12. Wow! I love Pride and Prejudice, and I want to read A Tale of Two Cities sometime. My three top books from 2020 are probably:
    Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton
    The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara (It’s an incredibly moving novel about the Battle of Gettysburg, very sad but… I love it)
    The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

  13. Good job.

  14. Mallory Coburn ????


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  17. Yayyyy for the Wingfeather Saga and The Green Ember!

  18. Yesss Jane Austen is so good!
    My top 3 for 2020 would probably be:
    The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom
    My Father’s Daughter, by E. L. Konigsburg
    The Shining Company, by Rosemary Sutcliff

  19. I literally *just* finished reading “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” two nights ago! I got so excited to see it on your list haha. And yes…I stayed up until 1:15 to get to the end XD. I think my mom has “A Tale of Two Cities” somewhere in a box…I have to find it and read it now! Great job, as always, Maia!

  20. My favorite three reads of the year were:
    The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner
    Tom’s Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce
    The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliff