• Sophia Blackwell

100 Books



This year has, in many ways, been a fire in a garbage factory. However, it’s been a vintage one for books. To celebrate the book world’s Super September, here are my picks for Autumn to help you navigate your way through this lovely harvest. Remember that all these books are made with love, and that not just the authors but the editors, marketers and publicists only want the best for them. All you need to do is choose – and support your local indie bookshops while you’re doing it! My top ten from the first eight months of the year are below – interestingly, given that I’m a fiction addict, half of them are non-fiction. I’ve also hit my 100-book target for the year – aiming for 150 by the end of 2020. To see what I’ve been reading since January, scroll to the end of the post.


My Autumn Top Ten

Fiction

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson – Like Toni Morrison at her best, this novel focuses on a young mother’s journey to college and back, and its repercussions on her family.


The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – This masterful book about identity and ‘passing’ in the twentieth century is one of my top picks for the year. Bennett’s ‘The Mothers’ is also great – like a modern Thomas Hardy novel with a lot of sweary church ladies.


Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes – If you don’t fall in love with Innes’ heroine, the gobby, hard-drinking, Scottish-Independence-seeking singer Clio Campbell, you have a swinging brick for a heart.


Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett – Tequila, taxidermy and teenage love fuse together to create a tale of queer self-discovery like no other. Following Kristen on Twitter, with her endless supply of dad jokes, pet anecdotes and Floridian cocktails, has also made my year a bit brighter.


Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers – A muted and beautifully observed tale which at first comes across as a cosy look at post-war life in England but covers some very strong themes including schizophrenia, repressed homosexuality and backstreet abortions. As soon as you realise the significance of the opening chapter, you’ll be biting your nails.


Non-fiction

The Good Ancestor by Roman Krznaric – A paean to slowing down, thinking long and trying not to destroy the world, with some practical solutions for repairing the damage we’ve done.


Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker – Twelve kids, six schizophrenic – I haven’t read a more compelling medical memoir since The Girl Who Was Born a Boy.


The Consequences of Love by Gavanndra Hodge – The dark side of Swinging London, as a young woman deals with the unexpected death of her little sister and unpacks her feelings about her Dad. Was he ‘a bit of a character’ or did he damage them all irreparably? Or both?


Wintering by Katherine May – A unique memoir about the dark seasons of life.


In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado – A luminous look at abuse, eroticism, coercive control and putting yourself back together.

My 100 Books in 2020

• Middle England - Jonathan Coe

• One Year of Ugly- Caroline McKenzie

• Big Sky- Kate Atkinson

• The High Moments- Sara Ella Ozbek

• Requiem for a Knave- Laura Carlin

• The Talk of Pram Town- Joanna Nadin

• The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor- Rana Haddad

• The Motion of the Body Through Space- Lionel Shriver

• Love and other Thought Experiments- Sophie Ward

• Actress- Anne Enright

• The Group- Lara Feigel

• Red at the Bone- Jacqueline Woodson

• The Strawberry Thief- Joanne Harris

• The Harpy- Megan Hunter

• Tulip Fever- Deborah Moggach

• Monogamy- Sue Miller

• The Vanishing Half- Brit Bennett

• Station Eleven- Emily St John Mandel

• The Anointed- Michael Arditti

• The Pull of the Stars- Emma Donoghue

• The Mothers- Brit Bennett

• Rainbow Milk- Paul Mendez

• The Magnificent Sons- Justin Myers

• The Pharmacist- Justin David

• Mostly Dead Things- Kristen Arnett

• Friends and Strangers- J. Courtney Sullivan

• Scabby Queen- Kirstin Innes

• Small Pleasures- Clare Chambers

• My Dark Vanessa- Kate Elizabeth Russell

• How to be Famous- Caitlin Moran

• Did you see Melody?- Sophie Hannah

• The Last Act of Adam Campbell- Andy Jones

• The Model Wife- Julia Llewelyn

• If the Dress Fits- Carla de Guzman

• Diary of a Confused Feminist- Kate Weston

• Like a House on Fire- Caroline Hulse

• When You Read This- Mary Adkins

• If I never met you- Mhairi McFarlane

• Grown Ups- Marian Keyes

• The Cancer Ladies Running Club- Josie Lloyd

• Just Friends- Holly McCullough

• Only You- Kate Eberlen

• The 24-hour Cafe- Libby Page

• Pretending - Holly Bourne

• For when I’m gone - Rebecca Ley

• No, we can’t be friends- Sophie Ranald

• A Ration Book Wedding- Jean Fullerton

• A Borrowed Life- Kerry Anne King

• Very Nearly Normal- Hannah Sunderland

• Precious You- Helen Monks Takhar

• Logging Off- Nick Spalding

• Invisible Girl- Lisa Jewell

• Big Summer- Jennifer Weiner

• The Shelf- Helly Acton

• A Groom with a View- Sophie Ranald

• The Other Passenger- Louise Candlish

• In Case You Missed It- Lindsey Kelk

• Out with the Ex, In With the New- Sophie Ranald

• Five Hundred Miles from You- Jenny Colgan

• The Lies You Told- Harriet Tyce

• The New Girl- Harriet Walker

• Ghosts- Dolly Alderton

• Olive- Emma Gannon

• A Sense of Place- Maisie Mosco

• You can’t fall in love with your ex (can you)?- Sophie Ranald

• Dancing the Charleston- Jacqueline Wilson

• Unfiltered- Sophie White

• ‘Twas the Nightshift before Christmas- Adam Kay

• The Good Ancestor- Roman Krznaric

• Motherwell- Deborah Orr

• Things I Learned from Falling- Claire Nelson

• Staunch- Eleanor Wood

• Mrs D is Going Without- Lotta Dann

• Very Short Introductions: Dementia, City Planning, Canada, American Military History, US Supreme Court and French Philosophy

• With Friends like These- Danny Wallace

• Everybody Died So I Got a Dog- Emily Dean

• Where There’s a Will- Emily Chappell

• What have I Done?- Laura Dockrill

• Frida in America- Celia Stahr

• Uncanny Valley- Anna Wiener

• The Consequences of Love- Gavanndra Hodge

• Hippy Dinners- Abbie Ross

• Hidden Valley Road- Robert Kolker

• Wintering- Katherine May

• A Place for Everything- Anna Wilson

• Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls - Nina Renata Aron

• In the Dream House- Carmen Maria Machado

• The Pink Line- Mark Gevisser

• Uncovered- Leah Lax

• Glorious Rock Bottom- Bryony Gordon

• Coming Undone- Terri White

• Bingo Love- Tee Franklin

• With Some Wild Woman- Jill Gardiner

• Reckless Paper Birds- John McCullough

• The Times I Knew I Was Gay- Eleanor Crewes


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© 2020 Sophia Blackwell

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