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.
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.
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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