Well 2020 is over, and I read some books this year, as I do every year. I don’t consider my reading particularly phenomenal or inspiring, but for some reason I felt like sharing this year.
My wife is a librarian who reads an intense amount of diverse books and genres, constantly challenging herself to read new things. She also reads 300 books a year. Next to her, I often feel incredible unaccomplished and sometimes I even feel guilty that I don’t read as much as I feel I “should”.
Over time I have come to know that to her as a librarian, it doesn’t matter how much you read but rather that people enjoy whatever they do choose to read. So don’t feel bad, just find something you like.
Here are some books I enjoyed reading this year!
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Probably the most popular and “current” book of the bunch, I too joined in and read the book that many people were excited about. I loved Hunger Games, and this prequel was awesome. I loved learning more about President Snow (as a teenager) and coming to understand how he became the villain that we know and hate. I think Suzanne Collins could write anything about the Hunger Games world, Panem, and I would absolutely love it.
This is a graphic novel version of the first sci-fi book written by a Black woman. It involves a modern day (1970’s) young black female writer who is transported back and forth through time to the Antebellum South. She interacts with people of that time and lives two very different lives at the same time. The juxtaposition of time periods is stark while also reminding us of the similarities of today (2020’s).
Mouse Guard: Winter 1152
This is a super fun fantasy graphic novel that focuses on deep lore and history of the “Mouse Guard”, a band of warriors that protects and serves all of mousekind. There are cities, legends, bravery, friendship, and trust woven through this book (which has other books in the series as well). I absolutely loved how it took me to another place.
To Kill A Mockingbird
One of the few books I have reviewed on Goodreads, I will post it here as well: “I was never allowed to read this book as a young teen. For some reason, my mother wouldn’t let me. She’s since passed, so I can’t ask why. Approaching 30, I’ve finally taken the time to read it. I was 30 pages in when I declared it was the best piece of literature I had ever read.”
“By the end, I had shed tears multiple times, laughed and giggled, and reflected on humanity’s simultaneous progress, and lack of progress. This is a book that I will come back to time and time again for answers about life I never knew I had.”
Brave New World
This book is weird. I mean, super weird. But I loved it. And hated it. I don’t really know how to describe this dystopian novel. I enjoyed imagining the world that had been laid out before me, but I also really hated how little sense things seemed to make. Intentional I’m sure, given the drug addled minds of the characters represented (citizens are given a happiness drug called Soma). I was torn between emotions on every page. Confused by people who were complacent to the point of being numb, and captivated by the main character’s attempts to “wake people up”. In the end, I suppose this book did something great in that it made me think, debate within myself, and wrestle with those thoughts.
This graphic novel is an adorable gay romance story between a baker’s son who wants to get out and explore the world, and a young baker that his father recently hired. Their relationship grows in thoughtful and relatable ways. There’s so much life in these pages that sometimes you forget that this is a romance. Isn’t that pretty much exactly what life ends up being? We all lose sight of what’s right in front of us sometimes, and this book really shows how love can take shape anywhere.
They called us enemy
Japanese internment camps during World War II were a very big thing that a lot of people don’t know about, or it is often glossed over. We had these in Canada as well, and quite prominently. It’s easy to forget when we are surrounded by multiculturalism now, but we should always remember these parts of our history as well. This is the story of George Takei and his family in internment camps. He is a prominent actor (I learned who he was from Star Trek, as many others have as well). I would never have guessed that he was locked up as a child for doing nothing wrong (i.e. being Japanese). This story is moving and tragic. Although I knew of the internment camps, this graphic novel brought it to life for me and gave me new understanding.
Through the eyes of her mixed-race son, Mira Jacob made me ponder things I had never considered. This boy asked so many unique and interesting questions that I could not have ever thought about, and I appreciate him and Mira for putting these conversations into print. One of the most important things I took from this book is how prominent racism is within various races and amongst each other; not necessarily always against another race. I was ignorant to that, and I am very glad to have read this book.
My Friend Dahmer
Now this is definitely the strangest book that I loved this year. It’s a very interesting graphic novel that focuses on the young life of Jeffrey Dahmer, the famous serial killer and cannibal primarily in the 80’s. This is written by someone who was “friends” (maybe more like close acquaintances) with Dahmer. I never expected to read this or even imagine that it existed, but I found it a fascinating read and learned new things. This type of book is why I like browsing the library shelves. You really never know what’s out there.
Well, there you have it. An eclectic mix of my favourite books of the year. I primarily read graphic novels this year, which was relatively new for me (at least in this quantity). I’m glad to continue filling my life with books I enjoy that I randomly pluck off the library shelf, and I encourage you to do the same. I like letting books speak to me from the shelf. Sometimes I like them, and sometimes I don’t. But if it piques my interest in the moment, it’s worth a shot. I often learn the most interesting things that I otherwise never would have come across.
What have you read this year? Anything interesting?
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