My Top 15 Books of 2020


2020 has been a hell of a year. Still, the book selection was ON POINT! I have included some of my favorite reads from this past year.


This does not mean they were published in 2020, just that I discovered and loved them in 2020.


Each book is hyperlinked to a GoodReads profile for more information! I have included both a non-fiction and a fiction section, the books are not listed in any particular order!


Please remember to shop local! Many local bookstores have been hit hard due to the pandemic.


Support local this holiday season!


Happy reading!





Title: Beyond the Gender Binary

Author: Alok Vaid-Menon

Twitter: @alokvmenon

Instagram: @alokvmenon


Synopsis from GoodReads


Beyond the Gender Binary, spoken word poet Alok Vaid-Menon challenges the world to see gender not in black and white, but in full color. Taking from their own experiences as a gender-nonconforming artist, they show us that gender is a malleable and creative form of expression. The only limit is your imagination.



Title: The New Queer Conscience

Author: Adam Eli

Instagram: @adameli


Synopsis from GoodReads


In The New Queer Conscience, LGBTQIA+ activist Adam Eli argues the urgent need for queer responsibility -- that queers anywhere are responsible for queers everywhere.


Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today's leading activists and artists. In this installment, The New Queer Conscience, Voices4 Founder and LGBTQIA+ activist Adam Eli offers a candid and compassionate introduction to queer responsibility. Eli calls on his Jewish faith to underline how kindness and support within the queer community can lead to a stronger global consciousness. More importantly, he reassures us that we're not alone. In fact, we never were. Because if you mess with one queer, you mess with us all.

Title: A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability

Author: A. Andrews

Twitter: @_anghost

Instagram: @_anghost


Synopsis from GoodReads


A quick, easy, and educational comic book guide that will help change the way we talk about sex and sexuality for all bodies. 


"This guide can help disabled people (and their partners) on their journey toward self-love, better communication, and confidence." –– Alice Wong, Founder and Director, Disability Visibility Project


All different kinds of bods want to connect with other bods, but lots of them get left out of the conversation when it comes to S-E-X. As explained by disabled cartoonist A. Andrews, this easy-to-read guide covers the basics of disability sexuality, common myths about disabled bodies, communication tips, and practical suggestions for having the best sexual experience possible. Whether you yourself are disabled, you love someone who is, or you just want to know more, consider this your handy starter kit to understanding disability sexuality, and your path to achieving accessible (and fulfilling) sex.


Part of the bestselling and critically acclaimed A Quick & Easy Guide series from Limerence Press, an imprint of Oni Press

Title: Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities

Editors: Jos Twist, Ben Bincent, Meg-John Barker, & KAt Gupta


Synopsis from GoodReads


What does it mean to be non-binary in the 21st Century? Our gender identity is impacted by our personal histories; the cultures, communities and countries we are born into; and the places we go and the people we meet. But the representation of contemporary non-binary identities has been limited, until now. Pushing the narrative around non-binary identities further than ever before, this powerful collection of essays represents the breadth of non-binary lives, across the boundaries of race, class, age, sexuality, faith and more.


Leading non-binary people share stories of their intersecting lives; how it feels to be non-binary and neurodiverse, the challenges of being a non-binary pregnant person, what it means to be non-binary within the Quaker community, the joy of reaching gender euphoria. This thought-provoking anthology shows that there is no right or wrong way to be non-binary.


Title: Trans+ Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You

Authors: Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne

Instagram: @thelonestardiva & @karenrayne


Synopsis from GoodReads


Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Karen Rayne, PhD, and Katherine Gonzales, MBA, is an all-inclusive, uncensored guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, or gender-fluid. TRANS+ answers all your questions, easy and hard, about gender and covers mental health, physical health and reproduction, transitioning, relationships, sex, and life as a trans or nonbinary individual. It's full of essential information you need -- and want -- to know and includes real-life stories from teens like you!

Title: Life Isn't Binary

Authors: Meg-John Barker & Alex Iantaffi

Instagram: @meg_john_barker & @xtaffi


Synopsis from GoodReads


Challenging society's rigid and binary ways of thinking, this original work shows the limitations that binary thinking has regarding our relationships, wellbeing, sense of identity, and more. Explaining how we can think and act in a less rigid manner, this fascinating book shows how life isn't binary.

Title: Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex

Author: Angela Chen

Instagram: @angelaetcetera


Synopsis from GoodReads


An engaging exploration of what it means to be asexual in a world that's obsessed with sexual attraction, and what we can all learn about desire and identity by using an ace lens to see the world


What exactly is sexual attraction and what is it like to go through the world not experiencing it? What does asexuality reveal about consent, about compromise, about the structures of society? This exceedingly accessible guide to asexuality shows that the issues that aces face—confusion around sexual activity, the intersection of sexuality and identity, navigating different needs in relationships—are conflicts that all of us need to address as we move through the world.


Through interviews, cultural criticism, and memoir, ACE invites all readers to consider big-picture issues through the lens of asexuality, because every place that sexuality touches our world, asexuality does too.


Journalist Angela Chen uses her own journey of self-discovery as an asexual person to unpretentiously educate and vulnerably connect with readers, effortlessly weaving analysis of sexuality and societally imposed norms with interviews of ace people. Among those included are the woman who had blood tests done because she was convinced that "not wanting sex" was a sign of serious illness, and the man who grew up in an evangelical household and did everything "right," only to realize after marriage that his experience of sexuality had never been the same as that of others. Also represented are disabled aces, aces of color, non-gender-conforming aces questioning whether their asexuality is a reaction against stereotypes, and aces who don't want romantic relationships asking how our society can make room for them.

Title: Juliet Takes a Breathe

Author: Gabby Rivera

Instagram: @quirkyrican


Synopsis from GoodReads


Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.


Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?


With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

Title: Let's Talk About Love

Author: Claire Kann

Instagram: @kannclaire


Synopsis from GoodReads


Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting--working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual). Alice is done with dating--no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.


But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).


When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Title: Felix Ever After

Author: Kacen Callender

Instagram: @kacen.callender


Synopsis from GoodReads


From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.


Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.


When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle....


But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.


Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

Title: You Should See Me In A Crown

Author: Leah Johnson

Instagram: @byleahjohnson


Synopsis from GoodReads


Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.


But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.


The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?


Title: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

Author: Roseanne A. Brown

Instagram: @rosiesrambles


Synopsis from GoodReads


For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.


But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.


When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?


The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

Title: A Song Below Water

Author: Bethany C. Morrow

Instagram: @bcmorrow

Synopsis from GoodReads


Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she's also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.


But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she's also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

Title: Cinderella is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Instagram: @kalynnbayron


Synopsis from GoodReads


It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.


Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .


This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

Title: The Magic Fish

Author: Trung Le Nguyen


Synopsis from GoodReads


Tiến loves his family and his friends…but Tiến has a secret he's been keeping from them, and it might change everything. An amazing YA graphic novel that deals with the complexity of family and how stories can bring us together.


Real life isn't a fairytale.


But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It's hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn't even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he's going through?


Is there a way to tell them he's gay?


A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected. The Magic Fish tackles tough subjects in a way that accessible with readers of all ages, and teaches us that no matter what—we can all have our own happy endings.



Thank you for reading!


I hope that you enjoyed my top reads of 2020!


Do you have a book suggestion for me? Contact me and let me know!


Warmly,

Ryan from The Open Book Chat

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Contact Me: ryan@theopenbookchat.com

Credentials: Ryan Dillon, LPC

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