20in20: My 20 Backlist Titles for 2020

Hey there, book nerds!

How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was fun and full of bookish shenanigans. On Friday I braved the weather and attended Brigid Kemmerer’s A Heart So Fierce and Broken tour stop at Interabang here in Dallas.IMG_9039 I got to catch up with some beloved book pals (like Nicole from A Myriad Of Books) while learning about Brigid’s writing process, police ride alongs, and what we’d do if the tornado sirens going off became more than warnings. Everyone — included our beloved indie — is fine so no worries, dear readers. On Saturday I woke up to snow (yes, you read that right) and after enjoying the short-lived winterIMG_2824 magic, I attended my monthly book club meeting. You can check out a few members of The Peter Gallagher Book Club in this photo. The story behind our namesake is somewhat long so I’ll save that for another day, but know that we have a good time and have become the staff’s favorite monthly reservation. On Sunday I spent time “book prepping,” which includes: taking and editing photos for Bookstagram for this upcoming week, drafting blog posts, and hopefully (it hasn’t happened yet) some reading.  Screen Shot 2020-01-01 at 9.33.04 PMToday’s post is something I’ve seen circling about the interwebs in various formats, and I thought I’d give it a try. Depending on the challenge you chose (Contemporaries, diverse reads, etc.), readers are vowing to read #20in20. Due to the fact that my owned backlist is OUT. OF. CONTROL. I decided to make my challenge a generic #20in20. To make my selections fair, I compiled a list of all my owned and unread books and had a random number generator pick 20 titles. The following books are what the RNG picked for me to read in 2020. Here’s hoping that by December 31st all of these will be marked as “read” on Goodreads. Check out the list below and let me know where to start!Screen Shot 2020-01-01 at 9.33.04 PMtop201

1) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Released: 09/30/1868 ★ Current Rating: 4.07 ★ No. of Ratings: 1.5 Million+

Opening lines: “‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. ‘It’s so dreadful to be poor!’ sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress. ‘I don’t think it’s fair for some girls to have plenty of pretty things, and other girls nothing at all,’ added little Amy, with an injured sniff.”


2) Pen & Xander by Laekan Zea Kemp

Released: 10/31/17 ★ Current Rating: 4.55 ★ No. of Ratings: 33

Opening lines: “Grease hisses and pops beneath the staccato drums bleeding from the speaker above my brother Angel’s head. The song fades beneath the clank of metal and the sound of his voice calling orders across the kitchen.”


3) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Released: 09/20/11 ★ Current Rating: 4.33 ★ No. of Ratings: 161,163

Opening lines: “My father was a king and the son of kings. He was a short man, as most of us were, and built like a bull, all shoulders.”


4) Life After Juliet by Shannon Lee Alexander

Released: 07/05/16 ★ Current Rating: 4.15 ★ No. of Ratings: 324

Opening lines: “I’m not sure how long I’ve been back in school. I don’t really do days anymore. Time is measured in pages. I’ve read 3,718 pages since Dad dropped me off on the first day. It’s been 108,023 pages since Charlotte died.”


5) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Released: 06/13/17 ★ Current Rating: 4.32 ★ No. of Ratings: 129,820

Opening lines: “Film legend and ’60s It Girl Evelyn Hugo has just announced that she will auction off 12 of her most memorable gowns through Christie’s to raise money for breast cancer research.”

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6) Mine: A Hate Story by Andie M. Long

Released: 05/??/17 ★ Current Rating: 4.07 ★ No. of Ratings: 442

Opening lines: “People are abhorrent. Before, I was tolerant, friendly, with the human emotion of wishing to be liked, adored even. I thought I was. What a stupid, ignorant b**ch.”


7) Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Released: 10/12/13 ★ Current Rating: 4.33 ★ No. of Ratings: 54,889

Opening lines: “‘The ancient Greeks believed that after death, all souls, whether good or bad, would descend to the underworld, the kingdom of Hades, deep in the earth, and dwell there for eternity,’ Bailey read aloud, his eyes flying across the page.”


8) Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

Released: 09/19/17 ★ Current Rating: 4.15 ★ No. of Ratings: 973

Opening lines: “Benedick Scott was on his way to freedom or profound failure or, if the usual order of things held up, both.”


9) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Released: 07/10/18 ★ Current Rating: 4.25 ★ No. of Ratings: 54,887

Opening lines: “The real story isn’t half as pretty as the one you’ve heard.”


10) An Assassin’s Guide To Love & Treason by Virginia Boecker

Released: 10/23/18 ★ Current Rating: 3.68 ★ No. of Ratings: 1,412

Opening lines: “It is not the usual interrogation. There are no manacles, no dark chambers, no threats, at least not those that involve chains or whips or whispers of bad things to come.”

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11) The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Released: 02/09/17 ★ Current Rating: 4.47 ★ No. of Ratings: 53,856

Opening lines: “Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.”


12) Now Is Everything by Amy Giles

Released: 11/07/17 ★ Current Rating: 4.26 ★ No. of Ratings: 1,855

Opening lines: “Emergency first responders scramble up and down the hill around me like ants, trying to see what can be salvaged. We’re on different frequencies. Theirs is manic and frenzied, searching for life, while I watch without seeing.”


13) Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

Released: 12/07/16 ★ Current Rating: 4.24 ★ No. of Ratings: 32,771

Opening lines: “I woke up screaming. Or pretty close to screaming considering I was still getting over a cold I’d caught from Josh two weeks ago that had left me sounding like a chain-smoker going through puberty.”


14) Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Released: 01/09/18 ★ Current Rating: 3.94 ★ No. of Ratings: 2,775

Opening lines: “I’m not a particularly good daughter, but I sat through a month of therapy for my parents’ sake. I’d like to think they got more out of it than I did.”


15) Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Released: 09/31/19 ★ Current Rating: 4.22 ★ No. of Ratings: 20,534

Opening lines: “There’s something haunting about a body touched by magic.”

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16) The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Released: 08/08/17 ★ Current Rating: 3.91 ★ No. of Ratings: 3,597

Opening lines: “A demon was knitting outside the hospital.”


17) The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

Released: 06/13/17 ★ Current Rating: 3.85 ★ No. of Ratings: 17,402

Opening lines: “If I told you my mother’s name, you’d recognize it right away. My mother was famous, though she never wanted to be.”


18) A Million Junes by Emily Henry 

Released: 05/16/17 ★ Current Rating: 4.00 ★ No. of Ratings: 7,535

Opening lines: “From my bedroom window, I watch the ghost flutter. She shifts and warbles in the dark yard, her pink sheen caught in moonlight. I wonder if she’s looking up at the spread of stars or if she’s facing the farmhouse, watching us. Maybe things like her don’t have eyes. Maybe they wander, unseeing, through the world.”


19) The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Released: 03/08/16 ★ Current Rating: 4.18 ★ No. of Ratings: 15,165

Opening lines: “There were things Dillard Wayne Early Jr. dreaded more than the start of school at Forrestville High. Not many, but a few. Thinking about the future was one of them.”


20) House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Released: 08/06/19 ★ Current Rating: 3.98 ★ No. of Ratings: 12,720

Opening lines: “Candlelight reflected off the silver anchor etched onto my sister’s necklace. It was an ugly piece of jewelry and something Eulalie would never have picked out for herself.”

Screen Shot 2020-01-01 at 9.33.04 PMOkay, book nerds! Those are the 20 titles I’m determined to get to this year when I’m not reading arcs, anticipated new releases, or other mood reads. Wish me all the luck because I’ll need it! Are you participating in #20for20. Which titles are on your MUST READ IN 2020 list? Which title in this list should I read first? Should I go in order? Use a RNG? Let me know below!

AND, AS ALWAYS: HAPPY READING!

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11 thoughts on “20in20: My 20 Backlist Titles for 2020

  1. Kate says:

    I’d suggest reading “Song of Achilles” first because that book was SO GOOD! Your last row has some solid titles in it, I haven’t read most of the others – good luck with your goals! I definitely need to whittle down my backlist too…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dedra @ A Book Wanderer says:

    The Song of Achilles is on my tbr for this year as well. And Nice Try, Jane Sinner was so good! I thought it was terribly underrated. I’m a little east of Dallas, but we only saw a few flurries that melted on contact. I’m jealous you had enough to build a mini snowman! 😉 Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nerd Narration says:

      Twinning! Here’s hoping we both get it done! Everyone I know that’s read Nice Try adores it, but it is seemingly under reviewed so I can’t wait to get to it! Aww sorry you didn’t get much snow to play with! Hope the pictures help! =D

      Liked by 1 person

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