I love discovering new-to-me authors. That feeling of finding a new writer that opens your world up to so much more great writing. I tend to read a lot more books by authors I haven’t read before than authors I have. And it’s something I’m pretty happy about. While I will always love reading a book by a familiar author, I also love finding new authors to be excited about.
Today, I thought I’d share the authors that I read for the first time this year and absolutely loved. I actually read far more new-to-me authors this year than authors I was already familiar with. Not all of them were books I enjoyed, but I did find a few new favorites. These are authors whose books I really enjoyed, and who I’m excited to read more from. There are quite a few, so let’s jump right in!
In no particular order, these are all of the authors I read for the first time this year and loved:
I know I’ve said this a million times already, but I still can’t believe that I waited until 2020 to read Octavia Butler. Why did no one sit me down and make me read this? Because I was seriously missing out, and I’m still a little salty about it. But it’s fine, because I did finally read one of her books, and I absolutely loved it! I started with Kindred, which I think was the perfect book to start with. I haven’t read any of her other work (yet), but Kindred made me want to read it all. There are so many, but I think my next one will be either Fledgeling or The Parable of the Sower.
I picked up The Unbearable Lightness of Being prior to my trip to Prague back in February. It feels super weird to say that I went on an international trip in 2020, but it happened. I wanted to read some Czech literature before my trip. I’m pretty sure this is the only one I got around to (though I had previously read a few Kafka books, which is a MUST if you’re going to Prague). And I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. It just felt like the slightly quirky classic literature I really like to read. I’m definitely planning on read more of Kundera’s work.
This is the only author on this list that I have actually read twice already. I picked up Bringing Down the Duke at the beginning of the year, and loved it! Historical romance isn’t really my thing in general, but when the main character is a suffragette, sign me up. Naturally, when the sequel came out later this year, I picked it up. And I enjoyed A Rogue of One’s Own nearly as much as the first one. I think Evie Dunmore might just be warming me up to historical romance. It probably won’t ever be something I read a lot of, but I will definitely read anything Dunmore comes out with at this point.
I’m probably not the only one who noticed everyone talking about Sadie a few years ago. I actually picked up a copy, and then just never read it (which happens to me a lot, and it’s a terrible habit). I think part of the reason was that everyone was raving about the audiobook, which has a full cast. And full cast audiobooks weren’t really my thing. Until I found a book that changed my mind this year, and finally decided to listen to Sadie. And I loved it. I’m not super into YA at the moment, but this felt like a much more mature YA, which I’m into. I liked it enough that I already got my hands on an ARC of her next novel, The Project, which is coming out early next year.
A romance novel with a fat, chronically ill main character is something I think we all need. Get a Life, Chloe Brown was so fun and it just made me smile. Sometimes, I just need a fun contemporary romance, and I think Talia Hibbert definitely earned a place on my list of go-to authors. I already picked up the sequel, and will definitely be reading it the next time I’m in the mood for a fun romance. Honestly, I did make it a point to explore diverse contemporary romance this year, and of five books total I read, this is the only one I really enjoyed. So it definitely made my reading year a lot better.
I’m pretty sure I’ve had one of McLemore’s books sitting on my shelves for at least two years. Probably longer. It’s been a while. It’s not the one I read this year, but I did read another one of their books, Blanca & Roja, which is a YA retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. I love fairy tales, but retellings are kind of sort of hit or miss for me. This one really worked. I loved the story and the diversity, and this made me open to reading more YA, because the characters were mature enough not to annoy me. I also just really loved their writing, and am excited to read more.
Chanel Miller’s memoir, Know My Name, absolutely blew me away. I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks this year, and I kind of always have to be doing something while I listen. This is the only book that I truly just sat still and listened to. It was so beautifully written, but also really impactful. It just felt like an important book to read. I do hope she writes more because she’s a hugely talented author, and I’d love to read it. Easily one of my top five memoirs of all time.
Emily X. R. Pan
This is the last YA author on my list, and one I unexpectedly loved. I picked up The Astonishing Color of After for the post where I let Buzzfeed decide what I read (which was super fun and unexpectedly successful). I had definitely heard of this book, but honestly wasn’t super excited about it. It just felt like a lot of the bloggers or booktubers I had seen recommend didn’t share a lot of the same reading tastes. Which is fine, but made me think this wouldn’t be a book I would particularly enjoy. It’s YA, and also deals with a mother-daughter relationship, neither of which typically work for me. Somehow, this one did, and I’m really happy I read it. Will definitely read more.
I think this is another author I read because of the Buzzfeed post, and one of the reasons I am very glad I did that reading experiment. Sin Eater was a new release, and also Megan Campisi’s debut, that I hadn’t heard anything about prior to picking it up for that post. It also has a few elements that don’t generally work for me. It’s an alternate history, which almost always makes this former history major cringe. A lot. But Sin Eater was just really interesting and fun. For this being her debut book, it was definitely a success, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
Ibram X. Kendi
This year, I read Stamped from the Beginning: A Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and it is easily the book I learned the most from this year. I think Kendi did such a great job of addressing the issues, how they began, and how many of them are still huge problems in today’s society. As a white person who grew up in a conservative community, this book really opened my eyes to the inherited biases I didn’t know I had, and how I need to do better. I really do want to read his other book, How to Be an Antiracist, because it’s definitely something I want to continue working towards.
Yet another author I read because of Buzzfeed. (Seriously, that post turned out insanely well.) Honestly, How to Stop Time had been on my radar for quite a while. And I don’t think I read the synopsis, because if I did, I probably would have read it. But I finally got around to it, and I have absolutely zero regrets. Okay, maybe I regret not reading it sooner. I loved it so much! I already picked up Haig’s newest release, The Midnight Library, and am very excited to read it soon!
Those are all the new-to-me authors I read for the first time this year and really loved. I am very excited to read more from all of these authors, and already have a few books on my shelves to do just that.
Are there any amazing authors you’ve discovered in 2020?