If I could identify a small handful of personal heroes to the 2020 Dumpster Fire, my local library would be near the top of the list. When there was talk of a two week quarantine (ha!) I rushed to our tiny little branch and stocked up on kid books and a few new releases. Then when they suspended all due dates and late fees and started allowing for curbside pick up, all hell broke loose. I outgrew my library book shelf. My holds that I'd been waiting forever for came flooding in. I literally couldn't keep up. Besotted with a guilty conscience, I returned several books that I just didn't get to, but what a lovely problem to have. Too many fun books to choose from. Interestingly, and probably related, I didn't have a lot of DNF's this year. If it didn't grab me from the start I had so many others to pick from. My goal this year was 60 books. As I'm writing this, with two days left in 2020, I'm sitting at 62 with another started. Not too shabby! I think the pandemic balanced out the work hours to let me keep my pace.
So without further ado:
Books I read out loud to the girls: For as much as I love reading, I suck at reading to my kids. I do okay when they’re little and we’re reading picture books, but I’ve never been great at reading chapter books together. I hate the slow pace and we inevitably lose steam. BUT, this year we did better! I found that it was a really nice wind-down for all three of us (and sometimes Eli) to settle in at the end of the day and read a chapter (or three) together. We started with Harry Potter and read books 1-3. Book 4 got a little dark for Averson, so Syd picked up there on her own. Others that we liked were The Family Under the Bridge (so dated but so sweet and a quick read) and we're working on The Lottery's Plus One. It's a great story but a little difficult as a read aloud because there are a TON of characters to keep track of. Next year I really want to read Anne of Green Gables. I'm also tempted to do Little House, but I recall reading these as an adult and being really disappointed that they didn't hold up. We'll see.
Weird Mind-Fuck books: Obviously a favorite genre of mine. Wonderland. OMG. This was so weird and scary. I still think about it a lot. The author didn't hold back at all. Definitely read it. Mexican Gothic. Totally lived up to the hype. I want to reinterpret it as a dollhouse. Bunny. This one was a WTF all the way through and I felt a little dirty when I finished.
Fun books that were easy to read: Nothing to See Here. I liked that this one had a weird element that was just accepted as a quirk. I kept waiting for a grand reveal or plot twist and it never really happened, but I liked it nonetheless. Mostly Dead Things. I LOVED the main character in this book about a lesbian taxidermist in a small town. Read this. It's totally worth it. Oona Out of Order. Okay. This one could have been a Mind-Fuck book too, but it was sweet and not as disturbing as the others. Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I loved this story and it was on my list of books that I gave out for Christmas.
M'eh. These are books that I wanted to love, but just came up a little short. I'd still recommend them, but they weren't my favorites. Olive Kitteridge. People love this one but for me it was kind of boring and slow. But maybe that's the point? Normal People. One of the rare books that I think will make a better movie.
Books about families: I definitely had a couple themes this year and read several books about families and family dynamics. These were ones that I really liked: The Jetsetters. I loved every single person in this book, and a scene at the end made me laugh out loud. The Most Fun We Ever Had. So sweet. All the way through this was sweet and lovely and you were rooting for everyone, even when they were terrible.
Read these as soon as you can: American Dirt. This book kept me up at night. It is so heart-wrenchingly good. The Book of Longings. Biblical historical fiction has a special spot in my heart. I loved this story, told from a unique perspective. If It Bleeds. This was basically a compilation of all of my favorite recent Stephen King characters in a series of short stories. Dear Edward. Oh, this one broke my heart in the best way possible. Edward is the sole survivor of a plane crash and this is the story of his life. I loved it a lot.
If you want to see my previous wrap-ups, you can find them here, here, and here. I'm thinking that I'll stick with the 60-65 goal as that seems to be the sweet spot. What were your favorites this year? I'd love to get recommendations. My hold list at the library is getting thin!
Felt the SAME WAY about Normal People, and I loved all of the others you mentioned!
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