Hello everyone! I saw quite a few bloggers post these end-of-year ‘Top-something” lists, and thought I would try this out. I read a lot of books in 2020, and am still in the process of finishing books from my stack. I surpassed my Goodreads Challenge 2020 goal. I might have to make my goal next year higher. This was definitely one of my most difficult years life-wise, especially when I was dealing with the stress of being furloughed with the pandemic and all. But I’m grateful I had the chance to grow this blog, my book related social media, and speak with so many wonderful book lovers and bloggers. This also was one of my most interesting years, and I learned a ton from the books I read to the experiences I gained, and the things I lost. As far as books goes, I expanded my reading horizons more than I’ve ever done in years past, and started reading outside my comfort zone. I started this blog in 2019, but 2020 was my year of serious growth.
I’m not sure if I’ll do any more of these ‘Top-something” lists, but if you would like to see more or have any ideas – comment below or send me a direct message!
Anyways, I wanted to talk about my top five favorite reads from 2020 and why. This list is in no particular sequential order, and honestly, this was difficult to decide. The criteria for why they’re my favorite is kind of mixed, and not only based on star ratings. Mostly my favorites depend on how this book interested and impacted me. Part of my criteria also goes along with how I rate the books I read in the first place. My rating scale can be found here. Obviously, as always, the opinions are only my own.
First up is A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles! I remember this book felt like a long journey, but it was rewarding indeed. This book was memorable for me, because of how invested I found myself into the story and characters. There was a diverse cast, and at times felt like a lot to follow along, but the fantastical story roped together nicely and the underlying themes were memorable. I enjoy historical fiction novels, even though I do not read a lot of them, but this was definitely my favorite historical fiction novel read in 2020. The elegant details described in the Metropol Hotel, where the story takes place, and its glamorous characters reminded me of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Link to description
The bright orange cover of this book is certainly attractive, but the narrative was even more lively. There There was set up in multiple perspectives, and led up to a typical climactic ending where all the characters come together, but the journey along the way was what sucked me in. Highlighting the struggles of their pasts, contemporary Native Americans grapple with their predicaments and find communion in the present leading up to a big powwow in Oakland. I learned a lot about Native culture and perspective by a Native American author. I focused this year on reading more books by Native voices, and plan to in 2021 as well. Diversifying my reading became important to me, and I’m trying to hold myself accountable to it. There There was a wonderful read by a talented story teller and author, and the themes were powerful and heart-felt. Link to description
3. The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing (2016)
Finished: April 6
This was the first book I read after I was furloughed, coincidentally. It was appropriate almost, because I would become a lot lonelier after that event, no longer going to work and having to spend more time by myself. The Lonely City is not only about being lonely, this nonfiction work by the author investigates the different types of loneliness and how artists she researched in New York used and lived through their own version of loneliness. I was more fascinated by this book more than I thought, and the writing itself is more invigorating than the description makes it out to be. You may be wondering why this is one of my favorites even though I gave it 3 stars. This book was one of my favorites, because it was wholly unexpected and more emotionally investing for me than I thought. I have an art background, but had not pondered the concept of loneliness shown through art and the lives of artists until reading this book. I live a more solitary life in general by choice, and am content with it, and I have not seen the experience summed up so well in a book before. But maybe if you’re quarantined, do not read this book. Link to description
4. Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh (2020)
Finished: August 4
Ottessa Moshfegh has become one of my favorite authors in the last few years, and I talk about this in my review as well. I was really excited for this book to come out in 2020, despite the release date being pushed back due to the pandemic (probably). And when it finally came out, I was pleasantly surprised by how creeped out this book made me feel. There were so many eerie moments and details that created a strange sense of dread in me. I remember really trying to figure out the mystery of this one. Even though there were a lot of slow moments, I kept wanting to figure out how this book was going to end the entire time. It was one of my favorites, because of how this book made me feel in the end, which I believe was the author’s intention. I also love Moshfegh’s writing in general. Link to description
5. The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (2020)
Finished: November 11
This book was wholly original and the narrative was fantastic. A work of nonfiction, The Undocumented Americans follows the lives of undocumented persons living in the US and their stories. The stories were intimate and invited the reader into the lives the author interviewed. Villavicencio changed names and some details to protect privacy, but the stories are true. I talk about this in my review as well, but the main reason I loved this book was because it was not just a puff piece trying to change the reader’s hearts about undocumented Americans. But more like an expose into the day-to-day lives of how their status and backgrounds affect their way of life unlike others who have the privilege of being born in the US. It’s not only about the negative social and policy issues someone watches in US news, but how undocumented Americans work as hard as anyone else and the obstacles mentally and physically they face with uncertainty and courage. It’s not ‘poverty porn’ as they call it by any means, its only real life and educating the reader. I highly recommend this book to anyone who lives in the US, despite how one feels about illegal immigration policy. I also enjoyed the author’s perspective as well, coming from an undocumented American who sought out to write a book about friends and strangers who face similar or different issues. As you can see by how passionately I talk about this book, it is definitely one of my favorites. Link to description
Side Note: list is not in any particular, sequential order