This past year, I completed my reading challenge of 50 books! This is quite a big deal to me because I haven’t read anywhere near this many books since I was in middle school. It’s not even the quantity that means a lot to me, but my re-ignited habit of reading. While I’ve always loved reading, I’ll admit and say it hasn’t been the first hobby I’ve thought of in quite some time. Before diving into this challenge, I would usually pull out my phone or turn on Youtube when I was bored rather than read, and I’d read solely for the Instagram content, or read because reading felt more proper than binging television. Yet now, because I pushed myself to actually complete a reading goal, my love for reading has returned. Therefore, this year I will aim to write more posts about my returned love for stories and novels, so stay tuned for recommendations, reviews, and so forth!
I thought it’d be fun to start this year with a bookish post with some of my recommendations from last year. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.
My top 5 favorite books of 2020
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People is about two people and their tangled love story, which starts in high school and extends all the way until post-college. We follow Connell and Marianne through their own personal lives and internal as well as external battles as they come together, and are soon after separated again and again. Somewhat tragic but equally beautiful, this realistic story about failed communication and the power of connection will strike you right in the gut.
I first watched the show on Hulu on a random Tuesday night with sushi and kombucha. Wanting a simple, intriguing show, I got what I was looking for and so much more. I ended up bingeing the show and went out to buy the book the next day, devouring it over winter break. The book, in my opinion, was better (but all books are, really) as it really dove into the character’s actions and their reasons for the silly decisions we see on the show. But, the show was also quite fantastic. This was probably my absolute favorite book of last year and I would honestly recommend it to anyone, as it teaches so many valuable lessons on relationships and people.
One Day In December by Jose Silver
One Day In December is about a woman named Laurie who catches the eye of a handsome man at a bus stop one day in December. Sadly, the bus rolls away before she can get off to talk to him. Destined to find him, her seemingly “true love”, Laurie searches the city for months until she gives up. That next December, however, Laurie’s best friend Sarah shows up with her new boyfriend, Jack, who just so happens to be the guy from the bus stop.
This story was a wild ride, for sure, and I adored every minute of it. And while it seems like a Christmas book, it rarely takes place during the winter, so you can really read it at any time. There were tons of issues, strange pacing, and unlikeable characters, but the funny thing was, I didn’t care. This book was shamelessly my guilty pleasure over winter break, and I ate it up without a care in the world. I was bawling, staying up late into the night and turning the pages like a madwoman. And when I finished, I both felt exhausted and filled to the brim with warm fuzziness. Oh, it was so good!
Follow Me To Ground by Sue Rainsford
This book was weird. Like, really weird. But, if you know anything about my reading tastes, you might know that I love weird fiction or any stories that make me question reality as an entirety.
Follow Me To Ground is really about… I have no idea. In a brief summary, it follows a daughter and father as they “heal” people in neighboring towns. They were born from the Ground, and are gifted with the power to displace illness, heal failing organs, and even death by opening up the patient after putting them to sleep, burying them in the Ground, then feeding the Ground the illness. The father-daughter duo isn't quite human, and only appears human because they were crafted from body parts of the dead. Then, the daughter, Ada, falls in love with a human man, and in doing so, makes a decision that both disrupts her fate and the way of the Ground.
Like I said: weird. But, in a masterful sort of way. If you are also a fan of bizarre yet beautifully written stories, Follow Me To Ground is just for you.
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things by Iain Reid
This movie is also a Netflix film, which isn’t nearly as good as the book and is so different from the book I now actually sort of hate the movie… but that’s for another blog post, haha.
I’m Thinking Of Ending Things is about a woman who goes on a trip with her boyfriend to meet his parents and on the way there, thinks about ending their relationship but is incredibly conflicted. However, as the novel progresses, you learn there is much more going on beneath the surface. This is a very unique novel that will constantly have you confused and filled to the brim with questions. The ending has a huge twist, and I can assure you, you won’t be able to put this book down until then. It’s absolutely incredible and everyone should read it. No more needs to be said.
The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea
The Glass Woman is set in 1686 in Iceland and features a young woman, Rosa, who marries Jon Erikkson, a fisherman whose wife died from illness a few months prior, in order to save her town. She travels far to his secluded, cold cabin near the ocean and resides there, however, Jon is incredibly neglectful and in short, not the kindest of husbands. There is a strange noise coming from the attic, loneliness, and insanity has begun to sink in, and the death of Jon’s wife suddenly seems… peculiar. Rosa spends the novel trying to find ways to escape this marriage, as well as investigate Jon and his past.
This book is a beautiful historical fiction, mystery, and romance all blended into one. I loved learning about Icelandic runes and folktales while also being engrossed by this lyrical, intriguing novel. Oh, so good!
I hope these book recommendations have intrigued you! They are all wonderful books to dive into this upcoming year, especially when you find yourself in a rut and need something new and different. I tried to add enough variety to these recommendations as well to appeal to a large group of readers--so hopefully one of them you find that you enjoy!
Have a lovely year reading!