At the beginning of the new year I love to look back on where we’ve been, and blog happenings are no exception. I recently shared the 12 most popular posts of 2020, as determined by the numbers.
Today I’m sharing my favorite posts of the year, and as you can see, that isn’t the same thing as “popular.” There is just a sliver of overlap between the two lists—which is a lot more than in years’ past, when there’s been NONE.
These are the posts of 2020 that I personally liked the most, the ones that mean a lot to me, the ones I find myself referring to all the time. This year, when, I thought about my favorite posts, the ones that sprung immediately to mind were those that generated fantastic conversation, which feels just right for 2020.
I’ve grouped these loosely by topic, but other than that, they’re not ranked in any way.
My favorite posts of the year
Favorite book lists
Here on Modern Mrs Darcy, we publish, on average, one book list per week on all manner of topics. These are the ones that added piles of books to my TBR and surprised and delighted me with the variety of reader comments.
• 30 Jane Austen-inspired books for Janeites of all ages.
Readers have long turned to Jane Austen for comfort when life feels heavy—which means a whole lot of readers read Austen-ish novels by the bucketful this year. When I need a dose of Austen, I also reach for books that beautifully illustrate her stories, teach me something new about her life, or adapt my favorite Austen novels with a modern flair.
• 10 nonfiction books that read like novels to enjoy on the beach (or in your backyard) this summer.
This list features page-turning books I can’t stop recommending. Some are on the lighter side; others are heavy but hopeful. All contain absorbing stories that I couldn’t put down—or added to my TBR because readers with great taste have told me they couldn’t.
• 10 comforting classics to read after you run out of Jane Austen novels.
What’s a reader to do when she’s run out of Austen novels to devour? Don’t worry. There are plenty more absorbing classics with heroines you can root for. Some are short enough to read in a day; others are tomes worth reading over the next few months. Whatever your reading style, if you love Austen, you’ll likely enjoy one of these books next.
• 15 Re-readable middle grade novels that adults will love, too.
You know what tons of readers enjoyed during quarantine? Kid lit. These novels are not only short, fun, and charming—they’re also focused on likable protagonists who face challenges and solve problems, often with the support of their family and friends. Don’t miss the 200+ comments with dozens more great recs!
• 12 Feel-good fiction books you can read in an afternoon.
This list holds my very favorite feel-good books for when you need extra bookish delight in your life. I love these books because while they feel light and easy, they have serious substance beneath the surface. Their themes leave me thinking long after the final page, and their characters remain memorable. These books are about people who are trying their best, who are loving one another even if they’re screwing it up sometimes, who make mistakes and get back up. And that sounds perfect to me, for right now.
On the reading life:
• 100 things about me as a reader.
This fall I had the pleasure of joining a classroom of Alabama fourth graders to talk about books and reading (and podcasting!). They’re actively discovering their reading identities through this fun project, and invited me to play along. I couldn’t resist.
• 10 of my favorite books to read over and over again.
I’m a confirmed (and frequent) re-reader. This list holds ten of my favorite books to read again and again—books that continue to surprise me, delight me with each visit, or teach me something new about the craft of writing every single time.
• 10 favorite audiobook narrators (plus 30 excellent audiobooks they narrate).
What can push a reading experience from “pretty darn good” to “absolutely fantastic?” An exceptional voice performer. Here I share ten of my favorite audiobook narrators, plus three audiobooks I recommend from each of their audio-backlists. If you’re looking for a place to start with audiobooks, or if you’re an avid listener in search of your next read, try one of these narrators for an immersive and textured listening experience.
• A simple trick for your To Be Read list.
This little tip is for all you book journalers—and helps you make sure you actually read the books you once were excited enough about reading you wanted to add them to your TBR.
From an upended year
• Bibliotherapy for the times we find ourselves in.
This one’s a bit of an exception: it’s not a blog post, it’s a What Should I Read Next Patreon post—specifically, a podcast bonus episode that we made free and available for all to listen to, not just our Patreon supporters. In this short episode, I discuss a little book I read a long time ago that’s helped me make sense not of the pandemic itself, but hot it’s affecting people, how it’s affecting me, and what that means for all of us.
• Everything is cancelled, so join us for Stay at Home Book Tour.
Bibliotherapy can’t solve everything, but by golly, it helps. And when my own book tour was cancelled I knew I wasn’t alone. So we created this virtual series for 10 authors who couldn’t go on the road as planned. We wanted to create a series of video events that were fun, engaging, and intellectually stimulating, both good for morale and good for the soul. I think we delivered. (And you can still watch them all!)
• 6 work-from-home wardrobe staples for life these days
This post, and its stellar comments section, was such a mood booster! Once upon a time, my work-from-home life style regularly took me out of the home. But now I’m home literally all the time: no coffee meetings, no library runs, no trips. This changed the way I work, of course, but I’ve been surprised at how much it’s affected which clothes I choose to wear every day. I thought you may enjoy a peek at the items I’m turning to on the regular.
• 9 (mostly) little things I’m loving lately: kitchen edition.
This post turned out to be so much FUN! I regularly share stuff I love, and this edition is 100% food-focused. A surprise benefit was that in the process of sharing what I love, you told me (in 162 comments and counting) what you love—and I found even more new-to-me kitchen favorites! I still refer to this one all the time.
• Contemplating a creative challenge (plus 10 shelf-worthy cookbooks). Cooking and cookbooks turned out to be a huge part of our year. This post was inspired by the one before it—I made an offhanded mention about a project I was contemplating and was shocked by the comments section! (Read it and you’ll see what I mean.)
• 20 tasty and tantalizing food memoirs.
This year I’ve found fresh inspiration in one of my favorite literary genres: food memoir. Food is full of stories, from the family history behind a handed-down dish to juicy kitchen drama at a high-end restaurant to a culture’s roots and traditions. Even if you don’t love to cook, perhaps you love to eat—and enjoy a great story, well-told. This list contains food memoirs from chefs, home-cooks, and food critics.
On non-reading hobbies and other sources of great joy:
• 16 jigsaw puzzles to brighten up your winter days.
I’m a lifelong jigsaw lover, and 2020 has only swelled my affection for this beautiful, absorbing, and stimulating hobby.
• 20 board games to beat the rainy day blues.
I’ve always loved puzzles more than other games, but I’ve changed my tune in 2020—in part thanks to this post!
• Buy the flowers.
There was a time when I would never buy myself flowers, just because, unless I really “needed” them. (And by my definition, I would never need them.) It’s not that I couldn’t afford a $4 bouquet, it’s that whenever I thought about making a purchase like this, my inner critic would pipe up to say, Is this really necessary? This is where I talk about my mindset shift, and share your similar revelations and small-but-delightful mini-splurges.
On life and work:
• Behind the scenes of the Don’t Overthink It writing process
If you have even a smidge of curiosity about the writing process, this one’s for you. This post includes tons of details and tons of photos from every stage of the Don’t Overthink It writing process, from conception to the messy middle to final edits to finished book. (If you love outlines and index cards, you’re gonna LOVE this.)
• 5 common triggers for highly sensitive people, and 5 antidotes to help them survive social distancing.
Quarantine life has been hard for HSPs like myself in very specific ways. Our situation here with all family members in the same house ALL THE TIME can be massively overstimulating, and that’s a huge reason why it’s easier for me to feel wiped out these days. This post highlights common HSP triggers, and what to do about them.
• Try the Bakewell tart, and other rules I’m learning to live by.
If I had to choose one favorite post for 2020, this might be it. It’s no exaggeration to say that the things I learned writing Don’t Overthink It changed my life, and the tips, strategies, mindset shifts, and rules to live by I share in this book have lightened my mental load and brought more peace and joy into my life, in all the obvious ways and some so small they may seem insignificant, like choosing dessert. But they’re totally not, and I hope this post enables you to see how big and small are connected, and matter.
• Do the next smallest thing.
Longtime readers know that I am transfixed by the subject of urban planning: the field dedicated to the development and design of our cities and towns. This post was inspired by a book Will gave me for Christmas, and its implications go far beyond sidewalks and streetscapes.
• Your blog is your test kitchen, and other things I’ve learned in 9 years of blogging.
These are my reflections on NINE years of blogging—including screenshots from the earliest days!
P.S. The most popular posts of 2020 are right here. For more superlatives: check out my favorite books of 2020 and my favorite audiobooks and listening experiences of 2020. And for thought-provoking, essay-driven pieces, I dearly love pretty much everything on this list of my 2018 favorite posts.