Happy New Year party, people! HAHA. Absolutely kidding. I watched the Office until midnight when the show was forcefully removed from my Netflix account. With the new year ahead, I have been taking the time to reflect on the positive parts of 2020, and having the opportunity to diversify my reading list this past year was one of my favorites.
Reading is an activity I have loved my entire life. If there is such a thing as a giant closet reader, it would be my identifier as most folks do not immediately look at me and assume that it's one of my hobbies. But with my job, social activities (jokes), and other obligations on the horizon, I wanted to create a realistic goal to read more in 2020. Boy, did I get my wish and then some...
I hate to admit this, but I am a total resolutioner. Creating goals is very fun for me, and as the iPhone's #1 user of the notes application, I keep most of my resolutions here. I could honestly write an entire post on goal making and common misconceptions behind doing so (actually, that's the next blog post!), but my realistic goal was to read one new book per month. Shockingly, I accomplished it and am still going strong with the same resolution in 2021! Today, I wanted to highlight my literary year in review to inspire you and yours to read more in the new year.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
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Every person I know has recommend this book to me. (Already know I'm going to get some heat for this) Personally, not my favorite book, but I enjoyed the Hulu adaption because Reese Witherspoon can do no wrong in my eyes. 'Little Fires' is a story about an upper-middle-class suburban Cleveland family who has their idyllic bubble interrupted by newcomer Mia Warren and her daughter. The story started slow but built up toward the end when more information was revealed. After reading Ng's first novel, which I could not put down, 'Little Fires' did not hold a candle for me to her other writing. Again, such an unpopular opinion, but the remarkable thing about reading is every person can see a book from a completely different perspective!
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
I owned this book for a couple of years before picking it up and read online that it is really a "take or leave it" with the "hard to love" main character Eleanor Oliphant. Although the story picked up toward the end, it was challenging for me to get through. A quirky novel set in England, this wildly popular book was just ok for me. But you best believe I'll be seeing the movie when it comes out!
Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
I've read almost all of Rachel Hollis' books and always feel motivated to quit my job and pursue my passions after reading. However, one specific part of this book really irked me. She talks a lot about her relationship with a guy that treated her poorly and ended poorly...then ends up marrying him. UGH! It just really bothered me for some reason. I will always be a Hollis fan, but just my two cents.
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
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Full disclosure bought this book for the cover art because it was pretty. This book was intriguing in style as it is told by an older woman recounting the items she has inherited and the dark secrets behind them. It was hard to connect with Judith mainly because I disagreed with her actions, but inevitably you understand the whole picture of how and why her journey happened. Definitely a unique read!
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
If you love to travel, Anthony Bourdain is a staple figure in the business. Kitchen Confidential was the first book that Bourdain ever wrote about the cultural underbelly of the culinary industry. Although I could not ever really get into a rhythm of never putting it down, I loved learning about Bourdain's history in the restaurant business. If you have ever worked in a restaurant, definitely pick up this book!
Educated by Tara Westover
I. Could. Not. Put. this. Book. Down. I loved this memoir of Tara Westover and her unconventional family living in rural Idaho. The historical connections with Ruby Ridge and Y2K were fascinating, and the story was so eye-opening to how people perceive getting an education. Please do yourself a favor and pick it up, a must-read!
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
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I hit my stride with reading books I couldn't put down toward the middle of the year. Another phenomenal book that I read in no time whatsoever. This book follows the real events that transpired before and after the arrest of Harvey Weinstein. There was so much about the case that I did not know and that of the affected women—shedding light on an important subject in today's society!
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
I purchased a couple of classic novels by Ernest Hemingway when I visited the Ernest Hemingway House on a trip with my mom to Key West, Florida. I finally decided to read this (very short!) novel, and it was not too shabby! Classics are always tougher to interpret as they have underlying symbolism and dated language, but it was easy to read his writing. I'm excited to try more classics in the new year!
Modern Love by Emma Straub
I loved this book. Recently adapted into an Amazon Prime Video series, Modern Love is a collection of essays derived from the New York Times column. The essays are about all kinds of love, whether missed connections, fleeting love, or eternal; the pieces were entertaining to read. My personal favorite? The creator of a favorite dating app's true love story!
The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
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Wow. Wow. Wow. 10/10. The Other Woman was so well written and had a twist that I fully did not expect at the very end. A novel about a woman who meets "the perfect guy" in every way, until she meets his mother. Taking you through the trials and tribulations of their relationship, I read it cover to cover over a 48 hour period. Sandie Jones, I will be reading more of your novels this year!
The Jetsetters by Amanda Eyre Ward
This book was cute but borderline cheesy. It was an easy beach read over this summer that captured a few interesting plot points but nothing earth-shattering. The novel follows a woman who has recently found out that she won a cruise around the Mediterranean and corralled her 3 adult children to travel with her. Yes, I purchased for the Mediterranean travel content.
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak
Absolutely adorable read. At first, I read a chapter and said "nope", but revisited the book this year. Wow, stick around because the plot takes an unexpected turn in a coming-of-age story. The book is set in the 1980s in the dawning of the computer age and follows two young kids working on the latest and greatest video game. Light subject matter with a really sweet ending!
You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
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This is a book I will be re-reading yearly, as it is a great reminder for us all to kick our lives into gear, especially in today's world. I owned Sincero's book for a couple of years, but finally, I sat down and read it (thank you 2020). The message is so well-written and funny! Great if you're looking for a little kick in the pants for the new year.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet
A beautifully written book. A long time follower of fellow book lover Carly the Prepster, she gushed about how it was one of her favorite books of 2020. Naturally, I was "influenced" and was not disappointed - I actually wrote about it in one of my Reale Radar posts! The story is about two light-skinned African American women living parallel lives after one sister marries a white man and the other a black man. I thought the book was incredible!
Normal People by Sally Rooney
I purchased this book on our trip to Woodstock, Vermont, having no idea that Hulu had turned it into a show! I flew through this novel, although the book truly is about "normal people" Maryann & Connell and does not necessarily have any big twists. However, you are rooting for their love the entire time!
Conviction by Denise Mina
This is a book I would LOVE to see become a movie because the plot completely felt like one! This is a clever book that had some heart-pumping thriller moments. The book alternates between the main character listening to a true-crime podcast and trying to solve said true crime, cool modern touch to this quick read.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
I read this book insanely fast as it indeed was a gripping page-turner. After reading Little Fires Everywhere earlier this year, I was skeptical about Ng's debut novel. Wow, was I wrong. I loved this book that followed an Asian American family in the aftermath of their daughter's death. The novel's opening line, "Lydia is dead, But they don't know this yet" is so profound. LOVED!
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes by Elissa R. Sloan
My last book of 2020! If you spent your pre-teen years in the late 1990's early 2000's, this is the book for you. The book follows the girl group "Gloss" in the wake of founding member Cassidy's suicide. I read that author drew inspiration from the Spice Girls and the premise if one of them were to pass away—a spellbinding book with mental health awareness sewn into its fabric as well. 10/10.
Read My 2020 Book Selections