The Best Books I Read in the First Half of 2020

The six best books I’ve read so far in 2020! Tell me what your favorite books have been so far this year in the comments!


The Romance of Tristan by Béroul

I think some people got the impression I did not actually like this story based on my review, which admits that parts of it are contradictory or don’t make sense (and segments are literally missing), but I did enjoy it! It’s wild and over the top like some of the most entertaining medieval literature, and it leads to interesting questions and conversations about God, love, duty, and more!


The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

tenant of wildfell hall cover

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is definitely a gem I’ve been overlooking for far too long. I love nearly every book I’ve read by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, so I have no idea why I haven’t read this until now. On the bright side, I do think I appreciate a story about strong women surviving abusive relationships more now as an adult than I might have if, say, I had read this as a teen.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

The Alchemist

I did say in my initial review that I don’t quite love this book or find it as life-changing as many people do, but I did enjoy it! It was different and interesting and quite motivational, and it made me think about everything from destiny to purpose to religion to love, so it was a very worthwhile read.

Thorn by Instisar Khanani

I love fairy tale retellings, and Thorn reminded me why. An original take on “The Goose Girl,” it kept me glued to the pages as I wondered how the protagonist would reclaim her rightful identity and manage to save her new home from a terrible ruler.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea cover

This is a beautiful and unique novel that’s imbued with magic–but in a more subtle way than one typically associates with high fantasies. It’s also a wonderful celebration of literature. I highly recommend it.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Toll Scythe 3

I really just mean the entire Scythe trilogy when I list The Toll. Shusterman’s story is bold and original and not quite like anything I’ve read in YA recently–or probably ever. It also makes the reader think about life and death and even God and free will.


14 thoughts on “The Best Books I Read in the First Half of 2020

  1. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    I’m curious about romance of tristan and very excited for thorn after your review (I’ve got a copy waiting on my kindle now 🙂 ) And really happy to see starless sea is good as well (should get my hold on overdrive soon! 😀 )


  2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    I like that you point out that comments might have picked up on themes you didn’t mean to highlight so much in your reviews. I feel like this happens to me all the time. I write a critical paragraph or two (I feel this is necessary for any book review 4 stars or fewer) and that seems to be all anyone focuses on! I feel less alone now.

    I just started The Starless Sea last night! I hope I love it as much as you do. I’ve been waiting until this month because it’s a book club read. Ugh, the anticipation!


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Oh, yes, it happens all the time! I completely agree people tend to pick up on the one negative thing. Maybe because those paragraphs are often more specific? I have a much easier time explaining why I don’t like something than why I do. So I’ll have a whole paragraph about why the magic system in a book doesn’t make sense at all and then two sentences like, “Uh, yes, the main character is cool. Loved her. Moving on…”

      In this case, I *did* say that the author kills a character off and then, apparently…forgets and mentions him being alive later in the story. I can see how someone would think that’s objective flaw and the book must be pretty bad even if I ultimately said I really enjoyed it!

      I hope you love it, too!


  3. Michael J. Miller says:

    Whenever I read posts like this I think how fun it would be to write one…and then I get anxious as I start to overthink the books I’d choose XD. ‘The Romance of Tristan’ is still on my TBR (and it may end up tying into another post I’m researching for my series on romantic archetypes in Spider-Man comics (we’ll see)) and who knows? I may end up doing a post like this if I can ever get out of my head long enough to write it. But at least I was able to enjoy yours WITHOUT making myself anxious with my choices!


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I usually go back over my Goodreads ratings for ideas, and then I surprise myself because I have things in the five star category I wouldn’t actually put on a “best” list, and things in the four star category that I would! (Sometimes it’s because I give picture books five stars because they’re great picture books, but they don’t really speak to me, but sometimes I guess I actually change my mind a bit about books?)

      I am very intrigued about this possible connection between Tristan and Spider-Man now!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        The post is still a work in progress so I don’t think it will be showing up anytime soon. In fact, you may forgot we even had this conversation when it pops up a few months from now XD. But either way, I’m excited about it!

        And I find that true of my experience with books but also with movies and TV, too. Sometimes I’ll fall in love with something and be so blown away by it…only to find myself not caring about it as much later. Or the opposite happens and something I saw as “eh, alright” at first can end up being one of my favorite books/movies/TV shows. It’s kind of fun when that happens, though!


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