Well… this certainly was a year, wasn’t it? I remarked on social media recently the dark humor that is watching planner community videos from the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 as they set up their new productivity systems. I know I had a nice little planner for my writing life that basically went blank after May. I tried, I really did, but this year was a rollercoaster more than most, and all the goals I had set and tried to achieve just became less important. I am hoping to jumpstart things in this next year, but I’m keeping my expectations low.
One thing that didn’t change for me was my reading habits! I had a number of life changes this year, and I’m grateful that through it all I had a bunch of good books to keep me steady and keep my mind occupied amidst all the uncertainty. So here’s a list of the books I enjoyed the most this year.
The Shakespeare 2020 Project. Up until June, I was totally on track reading Shakespeare’s entire catalog with a fun group of people on Facebook. I am a little sad I didn’t get to finish it through, and hopefully sometime in the future I will. I ended up purchasing the Shakespeare app with all the plays and explanations of the words to help me better understand the context (and I also didn’t want to be reading from a huge book of the collected works or a bunch of paperbacks. I read better and faster when it’s off my phone.) A few of the participants are moving on to reading all of Charles Dickens in 2021!
Jesus and John Wayne. I wrote up a review for this book months ago, so you can find that here. But it’s still a topic that resonates with me and what I think about a lot still. This was a good introduction to the concept.
My Dark Vanessa. This was one of the fiction books I truly enjoyed this year. And “enjoyed” isn’t the right word. A book about a woman reckoning with the affair she had with her high school English teacher isn’t enjoyable. But the writing was totally top notch, the main character incredibly relatable, and the story relevant and terrifying and achingly beautiful. It was a difficult book to read, but I also couldn’t put it down.
Paper Bullets. This one I got to read early to review for Library Journal! (It’s behind a paywall, alas.) This was a FASCINATING story about an artsy lesbian couple who lead their own rebellion against their Nazi occupiers and were imprisoned for it. If Hollywood doesn’t attempt to make a movie about these two, they aren’t doing their job. If you enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, you’ll relish this one.
Can’t Even. I’d had this book on my radar for a while, and after a number of media outlets mentioned it, I decided I better quickly get it into my reading plans. I was not disappointed. This so definitively nailed my experience as a millennial it was shocking. It laid out so many thoughts that I’ve had in recent years and offered explanations for how my generation has ended up with the problems we have. It’s not a total downer, either, which was greatly appreciated, and the author also gave some hopeful suggestions and ideas and some camaraderie that at least lets the reader not feel so alone in their experiences. HIGHLY recommended for both millennials and those who love them.
What did you read this year that you enjoyed?