Books of 2020

Due to health and other life complications, over the last several years I haven’t been able to read as much as I would have liked to. I was lucky to finish more than a few books in a year, so it’s been something of a surprise that in this year that has been hellish in so many ways, I was actually able to get in a lot of reading. Part of that was because my youngest reached a slightly more independent stage, so she doesn’t insist in being in my arms at all times. Another part of is that I just simply gave up on managing any of my responsibilities that didn’t absolutely require my attention right away. (There is a bathroom in our house that I’m pretty sure must be haunted by now because the neglect has made it a prime location for all things creepy.) 

I don’t think I’ve ever put together one of those lists of all the books I’ve read in a year. Probably because it would hardly have counted as a list. This year it actually seems like something worth doing. Even just as a reminder that reading voraciously is one of the few things from 2020 that I want to take with me into 2021. I’m not going to try to remember every book I read, though. Just the ones that really stuck with me. So, in roughly the order I read them, here goes:

The Living by Isaac Marion (final book in one of my favorite series)

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (Swoon)

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (I’ve been gifting this to everyone I know)

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard (Best slow-burn, enemies to lovers story of the year?)

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater (Oh, Ronan Lynch)

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Lovely)

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow (Magical and poignant)

Roar by Cora Carmack (Haunted me for several days following)

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett (Very cool world building)

A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney (Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.)

The Unselected Journals of Emma M. Lion: Volume 3 by Beth Brower (I tell everyone these books are the perfect fall read.)

Merciful Crow by Margaret Owens (Got so into my mind I dreamt about it.)

I also got to be a reader for Volume 4 of Emma M. Lion and for a steampunk sci-fi by Kathy Cowley, both of which I loved. Kathy has The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet coming out in April 2021, so be on the lookout for that.

Warm Bodies(es): Two Stories I Wouldn’t Want to Live Without

WarmBodiesPosterAfter going goo-goo over the Warm Bodies film, I finally read the book and am kind of blown away by the fact that although the two versions may include a lot of the same events—may even feature some of the exact same dialogue—they couldn’t have felt more different. It’s almost like two completely different stories and I love, love, LOVE that they both exist.

The movie = charming, funny, touching.

The book = introspective, melancholy, complicated.

Mood-wise, the film feels more like a Nick Hornby and the book leans toward, um, maybe a Cormac McCarthy feel?

The thing is that though the two versions are different from each other, in the end they’re both about the same thing: love, what it means to be human, what it means to have hope. But while they use essentially the same characters and the same plot, they explore their themes from different perspectives and this is fascinating and lovely to me. It says something about stories, how alive they can be and how they can grow and change depending on who’s telling the story, whose reading/watching/listening to it, and when.

And we need different perspectives in the world, different renditions of the same story. It teaches us more about ourselves and it’s one thing that keeps us civilized.

So thank you, Isaac Marion, for writing the book and thank you, Jonathan Levine (and associates), for making the movie. I’m so glad I live in a world with both of them.