Did you finish the 2020 Reading Challenge? With a book for every week, here are all 52 books I read this year for my 2020 Reading Challenge.
A few days before Christmas, I looked at the books stacked on my nightstand and realized I still had two books to read to finish the 2020 Reading Challenge.
How embarrassing would that have been to have failed my own reading challenge?!
Admittedly, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if I didn’t finish. I always tell people that the Booklist Queen Reading Challenge is more about the journey than the destination. There’s no prize for finishing all 52 categories. The reading challenge is just a means to focus your reading efforts to increase your reading and read more diversely.
But, still, I would never live it down if I didn’t finish. I picked the categories, for goodness sake.
If you’re curious, here are all 52 books I read this year. Some were excellent, some were terrible, but all satisfied a reading challenge category.
Now I’m off to start planning my books for the 2021 Reading Challenge!
1. Book Becoming Movie in 2020
Forget the black hats and broomsticks. Witches are real. They look just like ordinary women and their goal in life is to make children disappear. Roald Dahl’s classic children’s fantasy about a grandmother and grandson’s encounter with witches was a rather enjoyable read. Dahl is one of the most imaginative writers you’ll ever read and his unique style of storytelling is rather timeless.
2. Goodreads Winner in 2019
In the vein of The Fault in Our Stars comes a love story of two teens with Cystic Fibrosis. Living in and out of the hospitals their whole lives, Stella and Will develop a close bond while dealing with the same disease. Because they have Cystic Fibrosis, they must stay six feet apart at all times or risk infecting each other and jeopardizing their chances of a lung transplant. But when your a teen in love, six feet apart seems like an impossible feat. I found this star-crossed teen love story touching and emotional.
3. Less Than 200 Pages
4. Published in the 1920s
Hemingway’s debut novel has been on my to-read list for ages, so I thought I’d use the 2020 Reading Challenge to force my hand. While I really enjoyed A Farwell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Sun Also Rises just didn’t do it for me. It’s the story of a group of expatriates in Paris drinking their way through life and their vacation to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. It felt like the ’20s equivalent of reality tv – a peek into the vacuous life of the slightly rich and slightly famous. Just be aware you also get a peek into 1920s slurs and prejudices.
5. By An Author of Color
Teen mom Emoni Santiago is struggling to balance work, school, and life during her senior year. When a culinary arts elective is offered, Emoni is excited to hone her already extraordinary talents. However, she’s unsure how she can afford the class trip to Spain. Acevedo does a brilliant job displaying the complicated life of Emoni. With insightful looks at teen pregnancy, cultural and racial expectations, and multi-generational families, Acevedo gives you plenty to think about in her young adult novel.
6. Love Story
Taylor Jenkins Reid
At 87 years old, Hollywood bombshell Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to reveal her story – all the salacious details of her unapologetic life rising to stardom and about her seven husbands. After all the hype this book has received I expected a sure-fire five-star read. I loved Daisy Jones & The Six, so of course, I would love this one, right? Unfortunately, I just didn’t. Reid’s writing is just as clever and the story keeps you engaged through all seven husbands. I think I just expected too much. Evelyn Hugo was a more modern-day Scarlett O’Hara whom I just never fully connected with. However, don’t let me put you off from reading the book. I seem to be in the minority here, and if you read it, you’ll likely love it.
7. History Book
Bestselling author Erik Larson turns his attention to Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister as he unites a nation in the face of the horrors of the London Blitz. With thorough in-depth research, Larson brings Churchill to life – sharing details on his political and personal life. However, Larson’s thoroughness is also a drawback. Although not quite as long as Churchill’s own six-volume work, at over 600 pages, you need to love history books to appreciate this thick tome. Larson shows Churchill’s life in great detail, bordering on repetitive. Just be prepared for an informative read instead of a thrilling read.
8. Title With Five Or More Words
Fleeing the Spanish Civil War, Victor Dalmau marries his brother’s widow Roser out of necessity. Starting over in Chile, Roser and Victor find a way to make work a marriage neither one wanted. Although I loved how much history I learned from this multi-generational family drama, the narrative felt too emotionless and didn’t produce any connection with me. The slow plot made this a struggle for me to finish.
9. 2019 Bestseller
After the success of Morgenstern’s first book, The Night Circus, this love story set in a secret world of magic has been the talk of the book world. Graduate student Zachary Rawlins stumbles upon a mysterious book full of fantastical tales, only to find himself in the narrative. He follows hints to a secret library, preserved by guardians intent on protecting it. From there he finds himself swept into a magical mystical world, and, hopefully, you will be, too. I sure was. Although I wish the book wasn’t quite so long, I was completely caught up in the layers upon layers of the story. I never reread books, but with a story this complex, I might have to make an exception.
10. Clever Title
Realizing that her extreme shyness and social anxiety were limiting her, Jessica Pan set out to tackle her nightmare scenarios: talking to strangers, traveling solo, and doing stand-up comedy. As an introvert myself, I related heavily to her social anxiety. While I’m not quite as shy as Pan, I do struggle talking with strangers or even replying to emails and texts. This memoir started strong with a hilarious story about the Queen but then quickly fizzled out to an okay read.
11. Short Story or Essay Collection
Mary Laura Philpott
What do you do when you’ve successfully got it all – marriage, children, house, and career – and still don’t feel happy? With her keen observations on modern adult life, Philpott recounts her internal midlife crisis with wit and humor. A thoroughly enjoyable audiobook, hearing Philpott’s narration felt as if I was in the middle of a heart-to-heart with a close friend.
12. More Than 400 Pages
In the fifth book of J. K. Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series, Private Investigator Strike takes on the cold case of a mother who mysteriously disappeared forty years ago. Meanwhile, his trusty colleague Robin Ellacott is going through a messy divorce while struggling with her feelings for Strike. Currently, Rowling is embroiled in a Twitter controversy over transgender comments, which has spread to her chart-topping book. In my opinion, though the story is definitely not unproblematic, it’s really no worse than the earlier books in the series.
At over 900 pages, Troubled Blood is a massive undertaking that should have been edited down to a more reasonable length. If you are in it for a thrilling mystery, you’ll be disappointed. The central cold case proceeds at a steady pace throughout, with plenty of red herrings but no exciting climax. Not even a slow-burn, the mystery was simply background noise. Honestly, the only reason to read Troubled Blood is for the will-they-or-won’t-they aspect of the relationship between Strike and Robin, which I enjoyed more than in any other book in the series (hence my rating).
13. Makes You Laugh
Bestselling Christian author Jen Hatmaker’s eighth book is a tribute to women. I’d only ever read an article she wrote about the end of school (which was hilarious), so I had no idea what to expect. Her book relies more on her personality than its substance, so I highly suggest you pick up the audiobook. If you don’t like her down-to-earth “Heaven help us” attitude, you won’t like her book. It is a Christian book, so certain chapters are preachy. However, I can see where many Christians will complain: she takes less than conservative stances in positions and language and frequently mentions alcohol. Overall, I took away nothing from this book, but I did laugh a ton.
14. Famous Author You’ve Never Read
With little care for innocence or guilt, criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller is excited by the potential of a big score on an easy case when a rich playboy is accused of murder. Until things become much less cut and dry and Mickey must use all his wits in the face of pure evil like he’s never seen.
Connelly writes a realistic and compelling mystery that will keep you intrigued throughout all the twists and turns. With well-developed characters, I can see why his books are such huge bestsellers, even though his gritty legal thriller story wasn’t really my style.
15. Set in Asia
When Japanese bombs start falling in Nanking in 1937, Hu Lian and her university classmates must walk 1,000 miles to safety in China’s interior. The group is tasked with guarding The Library of Legends, an ancient collection of myths. Along the way, Lian begins to fall in love with a wealthy fellow student and realizes that one of the tales from the Library of Legends seems to be awakening the spirits of the story. Mixing historical fiction with some magic, The Library of Legends was a charming read touching on themes of destiny, fate, and choice.
16. Reread a Childhood Favorite
L. M. Montgomery
Every girl should be required to read the adventures of orphan Anne Shirley who uses all her imagination and spunk to win the hearts of everyone around her. She’s the girl every girl wishes she could be. Rereading this childhood classic, I found it just as entertaining as an adult and loved every minute of it.
17. Celebrity Memoir
Everywhere I turn, I hear amazing things about Trevor Noah’s memoir, so it was finally time to read it myself. Before reaching fame as a comedian and the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was just a boy growing up during the last days of apartheid in South Africa. The mixed son of a white father and a black mother, Noah didn’t fit in anywhere – since sexual relations between races was illegal. Noah hilariously narrates his antics as a young man, and yet he still manages to include deep substance and sharp commentary. My only regret is that I didn’t listen to the audiobook, which I’m told is hilarious given Noah’s spectacular power over accents.
18. New York Times #1 Bestseller
Growing up in a Southern black community obsessed with skin color, the Vignes sisters run away at age sixteen. Though identical twins, their lives end in completely different paths. One returns to live in their hometown while the other secretly passes as white. A fascinating story from beginning to end, Bennett explores more than race, as she contemplates how the past affects future generations when their daughters’ lives intersect. Nuanced and complicated, this thought-provoking book is just what you want out of literary fiction.
19. Based on a True Story
At the top of my list of books to look out for in 2020 is Ariel Lawhon’s amazing World War II novel. Nancy Wake, a New Zealander living in Paris, becomes a spy for the British and rises to one of the top leaders of the French Resistance and one of the most decorated women of the war. The story is split into two narratives – the first starting with Nancy parachuting into France in 1944 and the second telling of her courtship with her husband, Henri Fiocca, before the war. You’ll fall in love with Henri and cheer on Nancy as she transforms into a fierce fighter and respected commander. As the earlier timeline catches up with the later one, you’ll feel all the emotions of a woman caught up in a terrible war.
20. Genre You Don’t Usually Read
Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary teacher in Galveston, Texas. When her friend and mentor dies, the school needs a new principal. When her former crush is chosen, Samantha is nervous and excited. Until she finds out he is now a stiff humorless man determined to change everything in the name of safety. Although the characters were rather one-dimensional and predictable, I still adored this darling love story. As long as you aren’t expecting award-winning literature, it’s the perfect beach. I must confess, I ended up reading this one twice this year.
21. About a War
Serving as a Navy SEAL in the Iraq war for over a decade, Chris Kyle was the deadliest sniper in American military history. Kyle’s autobiography (written with the help of Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice) is a frank account of his life – from his roots as a Texas cowboy to his four tours in Iraq with the SEALs. The ghostwriters did an excellent job leaving the story in Kyle’s voice while given it needed structure. Kyle’s story is unapologetically his own, an unvarnished account of his experiences, with lots of f-bombs to go with it. I was fascinated by the rare opportunity to get such candid insights into a man and to see life in the military from his viewpoint, and occasionally through from his wife’s perspective.
22. Bottom Of Your To-Read List
Jane Sherron De Hart
Respected throughout the law profession for her jurisprudence and consistent legal theory, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has recently taken on almost a cult following. Jane De Hart recounts Ginsburg’s life from childhood to law professor to Supreme Court Justice. Ginsburg made a life of creating opportunities where they hadn’t existed, striking a balance between having an exceptional career and family and fighting gender discrimination. Jane Sherron De Hart does a great job sharing Ginsburg’s history and how she was able to forge a path thanks to her circumstances. The middle section of the book is rather dense, describing in detail Ginsburg’s brilliant legal strategy. However, the author’s bias flares up and interferes with parts of the third section of the book covering more recent events. In all, I’m glad I read it, but I would only recommend it if you enjoy thicker legal biographies.
23. A Beach Read
When she was sixteen, Emmie Blue released a balloon with a note which is discovered over 100 miles away in France. This leads to a lifelong friendship between Emmie and Lucas. To Emmie, it feels like she was destined to be with Lucas. When Lucas gets engaged to be married, Emmie realizes that you can’t leave your life up to fate.
A heartwarming love story about friendship and loyalty, Dear Emmie Blue is one of my surprise favorites of recent months. I devoured the story in a day (thanks to self-isolation) and I couldn’t get enough of Emmie Blue. I loved the complicated relationship between Emmie and Lucas, and Emmie’s journey of self-discovery during the novel. Honestly, it’s the perfect light read to pick up. (Trigger warning: Sexual Assault.)
24. A Book Everyone Is Talking About
Garett M. Graff
How did I not read this book last year? When it started cropping up on best-of lists, I knew I had to read it especially since I was planning to visit the 9/11 Memorial. Graff spent years collecting stories about 9/11. In this outstanding book, he compiles quotes from various people together to fill out a brilliant oral history into a timeline of that fateful day. Let me tell you, this is powerful reading. I had to digest it in small pieces because I started to cry from the very first page. As an older millennial, 9/11 was a defining day in my life, I was old enough to understand that everything had changed. However, reading this account helped me truly understand the absolute confusion of the day. I paid more for this book than I have for any other book. And I have to say, it was worth every penny. If I could rate it six stars, I would.
25. Recommended by a Family Member
For decades, Charles Krauthammer wrote a weekly column in The Washington Post. Just before his death, he compiled a collection of his best pieces from his published works and speeches into The Point of It All. Known for his neoconservative viewpoint and brilliant mind, Krauthammer shares his thoughts on everything from bioethics to foreign policy. Although you might not agree with all his viewpoints, his book will make you think deeply about the topics discussed. A great read for anyone interested in politics and current events.
26. From The 50 States Reading List
As a young idealistic lawyer, Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice defending the most desperate clients. One case, in particular, stands out: Walter McMillian, a young man on death row who is obviously innocent. Stevenson inspires his readers to consider how compassion is needed for true justice to be served. An exceptional read, Stevenson will help you realize how unjust our justice system is.
27. About a Controversial Topic
In Mexico, bookstore owner Lydia is charmed to meet Javier, a man who shares her taste in books, only to find he is the local drug lord. When her husband exposes Javier’s secrets, the wrath of the cartel falls upon her family. Lydia and her son Luca must flee from his wrath – all the way to American soil. Right away, Cummins captures your attention with a gripping tale of Lydia fleeing for her life. From start to finish, I found the story mesmerizing, as Lydia and her son become migrants, attempting to reach refuge in America.
In all, I found nothing wrong with the book, though it is nowhere near “The Grapes of Wrath of our time.” The real controversy lies in the publishing industry itself. The lack of diversity makes it hard for “own voices” stories to be heard. This leads to very valid concerns about the industry only wanting “trauma porn.” The terrible marketing job for this book didn’t help at all.
28. By an Indie Author
Since I mistakenly put Indie Author instead of Indie Book on my 2020 Reading Challenge, I decided to re-read this self-published young adult book. After a car accident, Tessa is left blind, though her doctors think it’s only temporary. Into her life strolls Weston, a double amputee determined to lift Tessa out of her depression and help her see the joy in life. The catch: he won’t let anyone tell Tessa that he has lost his legs. The story is really about Weston – not only how he lost his legs but also about his eternal optimism and inner fears. It’s a brilliantly sweet and endearing story that I read in one sitting, bawling my eyes out at times.
29. A Book About Sports
I needed to read a book about sports for the 2020 Reading Challenge, so I decided to pick up the audiobook version of the memoir of the co-founder of Nike. In grad school, Phil Knight had a crazy idea that Japanese running shoes could overtake the domination of German company Adidas. He partnered up with his former track coach to help design innovative shoes and traveled to Japan to bring this crazy idea to life. Following the ups and downs of the journey that built a billion-dollar company, Knight’s memoir will hook you in with a band of eccentric characters and an underdog story with excellent narrative pacing. Knight’s memoir is exceptional and one of the best books I’ve read this year.
30. A Play
Thornton Wilder’s allegorical play is generally considered his most popular work. In the small village of Grover’s Corner, you glimpse into the life of two neighboring families – the Gibbs and the Webbs. Act One establishes their daily life, Act Two covers love and marriage, and Act Three discusses death. I read the play in under an hour, and though it will never be might favorite, it does have a sweet message of appreciating life while we live it.
31. An Audiobook
Caroline Criado Perez
In an eye-opening book, Caroline Criado Perez shows that we live in a world designed for men that systemically discriminates against women. With overwhelming statistics, Perez exposes the prevalent gender-data gap in countless fields, including medicine, technology, and urban planning. The staggering evidence will blow your mind and make you rethink everything you thought you knew. If you have a chance, Perez’s audiobook narration is spectacular, catching every hint of sarcasm, disbelief, and anger in the author’s voice.
32. The Next Book in a Series
After winning honors at the Institute, Darrow finds his standing in Gold Society at risk when he is outmaneuvered by friends and enemies alike. The only way he can see to bring down the Golds and allow the sons of Ares to rise is to start a civil war. The second book of the Red Rising trilogy will keep fans happy with nonstop action, political machinations, and nonstop action throughout its almost five hundred pages.
33. Nonfiction Topic You Love
Greg McKeown encourages you to the pursuit of less in all aspects of your life. Described as essentialism, McKeown urges you to learn how to decide what is most essential and then cut out anything else. All about reclaiming your life through powerful choices, McKeown will make you realize it’s not about having more time, it’s about doing the right things with the time you have.
34. Middle Grade Fiction
An intense middle grade read about three children all trying to escape. Josef is a Jewish boy fleeing Nazi Germany on board a boat bound for Cuba. Isabel is a Cuban girl trying to reach Florida on a raft in the 1990s. Mahmoud is a Syrian boy fleeing the violence of Aleppo who hopes to reach safety in Germany. All three stories convey the horror of refugee life. Normally I would have loved this bestseller, but I found it too difficult a topic for my already pandemic-besieged mental state. I would recommend you consider maturity and sensitivity levels before recommending it to a child.
35. Recommended by a Local Librarian
Walking home one night, Jason Dessen is kidnapped and forced into an alternate reality. He’s been thrust into the multiverse, a world where instead of marrying his wife when she got pregnant with their child, he single-mindedly persevered on with his research. Although the middle was a bit slow, Crouch’s premise will boggle your mind and the story concludes with a thrilling finale.
36. Debut Novel
If you are wanting a touching contemporary read, you’ve found the perfect choice in socially awkward Eleanor Oliphant. She has the habit of saying exactly what she thinks and much prefers to spend her time alone at home. When Eleanor and her slovenly coworker Raymond help an elderly gentleman after a fall, the three become friends, and Eleanor learns that opening up isn’t always a bad thing.
At first, I was wondering if this beloved book club book would end up being an overrated bestseller. Eleanor’s abrupt style was rubbing me in all the wrong ways. However, as you learn more about Eleanor’s history and her abusive mother, you realize how extraordinarily strong Eleanor is. You’ll fall in love with this girl who just needs a little love. A wonderful read that I can’t recommend enough.
37. A Book That Will Make You Smarter
After studying habits, journalist Charles Duhigg turned his attention to the science of productivity. Duhigg focuses on eight key productivity concepts and illustrates them with fascinating anecdotes and interesting statistics. Although not as gripping as The Power of Habit, I still enjoyed this book. I suspect that once I actually have time to implement his tips, I’ll get much more done with my blog.
38. A Modern Classic
While writing a story about the overcrowding on Mt. Everest, investigative journalist Jon Krakauer got much more than he expected. Climbing to the summit on May 10, 1996, Krakauer’s group was engulfed by a storm that ended up claiming five lives. With his firsthand account of the glories and dangers of climbing Mt. Everest, Krakauer will have you gripped to the page as you follow along with his expedition. A heartstopping modern classic that anyone with an outdoor mindset will love.
39. Book You Haven’t Read by An Author You Love
If you love watching Downton Abbey, you’ll want to check out Kate Morton’s debut novel. At 14, Grace Hadley becomes a housemaid at Riverton House, a grand estate in England. Looking back at her life, Grace tells of her connection to the glamourous Hartford sisters, Hannah and Emmeline, and the events that lead up to a shocking suicide of an up-and-coming poet. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed *most* of Kate Morton’s historical fiction novels (Yes, I’m looking at you, The Clockmaker’s Daughter), and her debut novel did not disappoint.
40. With a Color in the Title
In the world of marketing, good isn’t enough. You need to be remarkable – a purple cow. Godin points out that playing it safe won’t work anymore – you can’t just buy a million tv ads to win over audiences. Instead, you need to be unforgettable, else you’ll find yourself invisible. All in all, it was an okay read. However, since it was published in 2002, it was fascinating to see what Godin got right (the fall of tv as we know it) and what he completely missed (he thought cell phones were a dying market).
41. Translated from Another Language
Although he swore to his mother he would never visit Amsterdam, the city of his birth, Israeli writer Yoel Blum visits the city and discovers a family secret. In the Jewish museum, he sees an image of his happy family – an image that includes a little boy that isn’t him. Although I found the historical mystery compelling, the narrative often confuses you between past and present, slowing the pace of the story to a crawl. House on Endless Waters is a very literary work, reveling in the lyrical nature of words and best suited to those who delight in artistic writing.
42. With a Hideous Cover
Septuagenarian Julian Jessop feels like the world lacks authenticity. So he writes his deepest truths in a notebook which then gets passed along from stranger to stranger adding their own truths. Along the way, they will find connections they didn’t realize they were missing.
Despite its poor cover art, The Authenticity Project was a delight to read. The heartwarming interaction between the characters reminded me of Fredrick Backman’s A Man Called Ove. With a light love story and a few fun surprises, Pooley has penned the perfect little cozy read for winter.
43. A Mystery
In a Maine resort town, Avery Greer and Sadie Loman strike up an unlikely friendship. Avery is a local orphan while Sadie belongs to one of the wealthy families who vacation on the coast. Inseparable for years, Avery is rocked when Sadie commits suicide. Now with the one-year anniversary of Sadie’s death, Avery realizes Sadie was most likely murdered. Megan Miranda is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers of thrillers. She weaves a tangled web, giving you plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep you guessing. The plot twists and revelations give the book a gripping pace, and I loved every minute of it.
Newsletter Reading Challenge 2021
44. A Book About Politics
Ibram X. Kendi
With the renewed interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, Kendi has penned the premier work on racial justice in America. Kendi’s premise is that the opposite of racist policies is antiracist policies that actively aid in creating more equity between races. Using history, law, ethics and, science, Kendi shows what an antiracist society would look like and helps illustrate how we can contribute to the building of a more equitable world.
Kendi is not shy from pointing out his own flaws, prejudice, and even racism as his views have grown and changed. He understands that humans are multi-faceted. A person is not racist – they can hold racist beliefs or uphold racist policies. I loved how he points out that we can only associate attributes to individuals, not entire races. Just with any other book, I didn’t agree with everything Kendi said, yet he gave me plenty to think about and I know his book will reshape my opinions going forward.
45. By a Local Author
Maggie Sullivan is living out the third act of her life, enjoying lively friendships in her downtown Salt Lake City apartment complex. Just before Christmas, a handsome gentleman takes an interest in Maggie while at the same time Maggie discovers her great-niece, ill and homeless. Thus begins a story of forgiveness and second chances.
Frankly, I only picked up this book to fulfill my 2020 Reading Challenge category, and because it is set in my old neighborhood in downtown Salt Lake City. The book caters to a distinctly Utah audience. While the story itself is not religious, the story mentions terminology from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that wouldn’t be familiar to many readers. The writing overall was about what I expected – with clumsy character development but an okay plotline.
46. With Two Authors
With a book deal and a new show, home remodeling and design experts Melissa and Rusty Tripp are about to hit it big, if they don’t kill each other first. It’s up to their assistants Carey and James to keep things on track, and maybe find some love along the way. The writing duo Christina Lauren has developed a big following with their romance stories, so their newest book will be highly talked about this spring. Having read it, it’s exactly what you’d expect – a quick light-hearted romance that’s ready to be made into a tv movie. Character development is kept at a minimum while romantic tension is kept at a maximum. Not exactly my usual fare (I will admit I skimmed over all the sex scenes), but sometimes it’s nice to read something that doesn’t make you think much.
47. A Book You Own But Haven’t Read
I have this insane goal of reading every classic book ever written, so I picked up a copy when I saw it at a thrift store. Set in a pre-industrial small Ohio town, Winesburg, Ohio is a collection of short stories about the people in the town. The closest thing to a main protagonist is 18-year-old George Willard, who has a bit part in every story. The characters have to deal with love, loneliness, mental illness, and the desire to escape small-town life. In all, it’s a good representation of that time period though it’s not exactly a gripping read. A rather forgettable classic that’s best suited for English majors.
48. Reread a Favorite Book
Published in 1949, George Orwell’s terrifying vision of the future is just as important today as when it was written. Telling the story of Winston, a depressed Party worker who longs to join the Resistance, 1984 shows the horror of a totalitarian society continually at war. Commonly referenced in modern culture (i.e., Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime,), 1984 is one of the best dystopian novels of all time and my all-time favorite book.
49. 2020 New Release
After a careless Facebook comment, Jivan, a Muslim girl from the slums of India, is accused of a terrorist bombing. Jivan’s only hope for an alibi: Lovely, a transgender woman who dreams of becoming an actress. Meanwhile, her old gym teacher decides to use Jivan’s downfall as a means to improve his political prospects. Majumdar’s debut novel illuminates the struggles of life in India and leaves you pondering the selfish side of human nature.
50. A Book You Saw Someone Reading
Without warning, Le Cirque de Rêves arrives in town, a circus that only operates at night. Within its walls are two competing magicians, Celia and Marco, bound together in a high stakes challenge. When they fall in love, a love so magical it affects the world around them, their dangerous game becomes even more precarious.
Could a book that has been on my to-read list for 7 years and been raved about by all my close reading friends live up to its hype? Why yes, it could. From the first page to the last, Morgenstern had me captivated with her seductive and mysterious prose. I love how she slowly draws the reader in, charming them with gorgeous descriptions that stay with you long after you have read them. If I were to write fiction, I would want to write as she does.
51. Borrowed From a Friend
Best known as the host of the tv show Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe charms with this collection of entertaining short stories. Each story showcases Rowe’s signature wit as he recalls anecdotes from his life and from interesting historical figures. Each tale is very short, just 3-5 pages generally, and leaves you guessing who the story is about until the very end. If you are looking for a lighthearted nonfiction pick, be sure to pick up this one.
52. A Self-Improvement Book
Can you have it all? Laura Vanderkam thinks you can, as long as you plan for it. Vanderkam’s productivity book has you break down your week into its 168 hours, and show you how to make the most of them. With plenty of statistics to test your assumptions about how we actually spend our time, Vanderkam will convince you that you have more time than you realize. A great read for all, but especially helpful for women trying to balance career and family.
Did you finish the 2020 Reading Challenge? What were your favorite books you read?