Books

My Year in Books – 2020 (part 1)

Back at the start of 2020 I made it one of my aims to buy less books. There was so much on my bookshelf physically and virtually that I’d been wanting to get through.

Little did I know that there would be very little else to do in 2020.

I stuck to my goal though by making the most of my local online library, an Audible trial and going through books I already owned. I caved in occasionally for book club or when there was something I really needed to read like the release of A Marriage Unarranged.

Books like fragrances tend to take me back to a moment in time, to a situation, an event in life, what was going on with me and the world at the time.

2020 will forever be a year that goes down in history.

Here’s what I was reading.

Thumbnails of book covers discussed below.

The One That Took Me Longer Than Expected

One Day In December – Josie Silver

I started this one in December 2019 for a little Christmas romance. Then ended up in hospital with flu. So finished it late January 2020.

A comedy-drama-romance all in one (is there a word for that? A portmanteau isn’t it?) we meet Laurie who didn’t believe in love at first sight until she locked eyes with a stranger on a bus. That bus drives off with Laurie on it, the handsome stranger disappearing into the distance. For a year he fills her every thought as she hopes to collide with him again. Until she does.

This heartwarming story of friendship, destiny and regret that spans 10 years really gave me all the feels.

The One That Stayed With Me

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

From the author that wrote ‘The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas’, he has topped it.

It’s times like this that I’m so pleased I joined a book club, if not, I may never have discovered this incredible read.

1940’s Ireland, Cyril Avery is born. It takes a lifetime for him to find himself, his identity. We follow one ordinary man as he learns of his past, where he belongs, and what growing up in Ireland means. I was totally invested in the eclectic bunch of characters, witty, wholesome, genuine and heartbreaking. There are many twists, turns and secrets to unearth as we gradually learn more about Cyril, sometimes before he does.

This was my first 5 start rating on Goodreads of 2020. I read it in just a few days, fortunately I had time due to recovering from the flu. It knocked me, shock me and gave me every emotion. It’s a book I want to read again because it’s just so…. full. I urge you to read it.

It took a while before I could pick up another book.

The One I Read at Valentines

You – Caroline Kepnes

It wasn’t my plan to have this creepy addictive thriller as my Valentine.

A tale of love, control and obsession in a context where social media is life. Narrated by stalker Joe, I felt entirely immersed in his thoughts and reasonings as he goes to any length to gain the full attention and love of Beck.

I first heard of ‘You’ when it became a Netflix series. I’m still avoiding watching it. I might be a little odd but I was kinda routing for Joe and have a soft spot for him. We are quite alike, bar the obvious. I do love books, and poor grammar does make me rage.

I think I might read the next instalment this valentines.

The One About Life

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

It’s hard to explain why I loved this book so much. A subtle novel really, a collection of mini stories, of interconnected lives all based around one stern, and quite standoffish at first, lady. Olive.

Deeply honest moments of, a mostly mundane life, in a small town. We explore the impact that one person can have on many. How we as people are influenced and affected by others, by moments, and how everybody plays a crucial part in life. The world.

Although at times I wasn’t sure where we were headed, that was the point really. This book isn’t about getting somewhere. It’s about raw life, and how we all deal with it.

The One Where I Won’t Read The Sequal

One Of Us Is Lying – Karen M McManus

I like a good Young Adult/Teen novel. Reminiscing the good ol’ days with a lighter read. This mystery wasn’t one that kept me hooked.

Five strangers go into school detention together, and only four walk out. Can you figure out who killed Simon? I didn’t till near the end.

For something character led, I didn’t really warm to any of them.

The One I Can’t Really Remember

I Spy – Claire Kendal

I started this book just as lockdown hit. Maybe that’s why it’s not very memorable. I scored it 4 out of 5 on Goodreads though, so I must have enjoyed it at the time.

The One Where I Know The Author

Marriage Unarranged – Ritu Bhathal

So, I know an author! Ritu is one of the bloggers I ‘met’ when I was just starting out. She’s quite the experienced professional, encouraging and supportive.

Described as ‘Chick-pea Curry Lit’, we follow Aashi on a journey of rediscovery during a trip to India after finding out her fiancée had cheated. Family dynamics, lovable characters and a touch of humour make this a relatable and enjoyable read.

India has always been on my wish list of places to visit. The bustle, colours and food. This romantic comedy filled with culture and atmosphere made me feel as if I have experienced a glimpse of what it would be like traveling with friends. An experience I’m unlikely to have.

The One With The Voice

The Dutch House – Ann Patchett

Another book club read. When I discovered that the audiobook was narrated by Tom Hanks, I knew it was the format for me!

Centred around an eerie family mansion, in a soothing, earthy voice we follow brother and sister through 5 decades as they stalk the house they used to live in. A house that is the very life of them. Abandoned by their mother, and loosing their father at a young age, they are left with step mother and siblings who snatch their house and childhood from them.

Place can be integral to a story. I’ve always had an interest in the tales held within buildings, and this house is like a character all of its own.

The One That Kept Me Guessing

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewel

This tale had a touch of the gothic to it, a darkness that I loved. Told from three main points of view, over many years, a mystery unfolds.

Twenty five years ago police are called to sounds of a crying baby. When they arrive, along with a healthy ten month old, they discover the dead bodies of three adults dressed in black, and a note.

A book that fully deserves to be described as unputdownable, I sunk deep into this eerie, unsettling story of a dysfunctional family and their bizarre lifestyle.

Having recently downloaded or put on library hold a selection of Jewel’s novels. This is an author I want to explore more.

Thumbnail images of the book covers discussed.

The One When I Needed A Boost

Never Greener – Ruth Jones

Shielding was fully set in, media was depressing, and my previous two reads had been quite heavy and so when I saw that Never Greener was available via my local online library I thought I’d give it a go. I’m not much of a comedy reader, although I love a good tv show. Having really enjoyed Gavin and Stacy back in the day. The touching, gritty, down to earth comedy drama, I thought it might be similar in book version.

When Callum bumps into Kate by chance, a girl who’s heart he broke 17 years ago. They have a decision to make. Do they find out what could have been, or do they continue with their individual lives, lives that are just plodding along.

At some point we all wonder ‘what if’. The different paths we could have taken. That life must be greener on the other side. Well, maybe sometimes what we have means more to us than we realise.

I got into this so much more than I expected. I felt for and connected with these relatable characters.

The One I’ll Never Quite Understand But Love All The Same

A Year Of Marvellous Ways – Sarah Winman

Marvellous is a quirky ninety year old woman that has spent almost all her life alone, living in a remote creek. She spends most of her days on the steps of her caravan waiting, for what, she isn’t sure.

Freddy Drake is a young soldier on a mission to fulfil a dying mans wish, to hand deliver a letter to the friends father.

This pair of lovable, lost souls, collide along the way when Freddy becomes stranded. The characters form a bond, one that is needed by both.

A magical, poetic read. Like a fairytale. I felt lost in places, but maybe that’s the point. We all are.

To be continued…..

What have you been reading?


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An image to pin. Title text My Year in Books - 2020 (part 1) is it grey text on a cream background. Above is a photo of a teacup and saucer with open books.

18 thoughts on “My Year in Books – 2020 (part 1)”

  1. Firstly, thank you, Gemma, for mentioning me, and my book baby, and for calling me an ‘experienced professional’ since I usually feel like a bumbling buffoon!
    Secondly, apologies for the late response. All I can say is “School!” 🙄🤦🏽‍♀️
    Out of the 167ish I read last year, I read, Olive Kitteridge, with mixed opinions.
    I’ve read a few other Lisa Jewell books, but not The Family Upstairs. Her writing is pretty dang brilliant, though, isn’t it?
    Look forward to part 2! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I meant to read Ritu’s book when it came out and still haven’t – one to add to my list. I notice a couple of books here from the book club. I found the Family Upstairs disturbing, but at the same time it’s one of those books that shows you how easy it is for things to slip into what’s dysfunctional or unhealthy when it happens slowly, so slowly that you almost don’t see it, until of course it’s too late. I like your selection here and how you don’t just stick to one kind of read. With work and study I haven’t been reading much lately, but there are some suggestions for me here, so thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes it was very disturbing, I do enjoy that kind of thing though. You’re right it happens so slowly that they almost didn’t see it. That’s what makes it more disturbing I guess.
      I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the book club, especially this past year.

      Like

  3. 2020 was a good year for reading. I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies too, an excellent read albeit a painful one.

    I also read something called ‘A Little Life’. First time I can remember crying to a book. Not just crying but properly sobbing.

    I came across The Family Upstairs elsewhere recently so I’ll add that to my TBR. Shame about the One Of Us Is Lying book, sounds like a wet lettuce. Great to see Ritu’s book in there too! Books are great for experiencing things you might not have the chance to in real life. It’s why I walk around in Florida and Japan on Google maps. It’s the closest I’ll get to going to such places.

    I’m currently reading, alongside the usual American crime thriller gore, a book another blogger had recommended. “We Are Never Meeting In Real Life| by Samantha Irby. It’s more of a personal essay piece and it’s hilarious in its down to earth reality of what life is like.

    xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh ‘A Little Life’ is on my digital library hold list, I’ll get tissues at the ready!

      I’ve not really explored Google Maps other than when I need to get somewhere. That’s a great idea though, to get a feel of those places I long to go but never will.

      Great to chat Caz. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah 2020! I thought I’ll finally read more but thanks to school I couldn’t.. glad and greatful that I could read 3 books.. that year.. I finally got my hands on “around the world in 80 trains” by my all time favorite author Monisha Rajesh. I loved her first book so so much.. “around India in 80 trains” she portrayed my country so well.. with all the good and the bad, Ah I love her writing style.
    okay sorry for fangirling haha. I also read ‘Pride and prejudice’ and loved it too! then I also read “Kika and me” this was much before the lockdown hit but I loved it so, so much!
    lovely post as always and looking forward to the next part 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A terrific post! Yes, who would have thought that we’d end up with so much “at home time!” I read 2-3 nonfiction books for every fiction book I read, and have focused on a lot of travel and entertainment memoirs…looking forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

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