2020 Round Up

Coming at you from lockdown 3.0.

I have never in my life been so ready for NYE. That’s not because I’m going to a fun house party wearing a sparkly outfit and drinking gin with my friends (looks like Tier 4 Me will be doing the exact opposite), but because it means we can finally kiss goodbye to what is objectively the worst year in recent memory.

Today, however, we’re focusing on the positives. In spite of the fact we are now in our third lockdown, 2020 has not been all bad. It saw the end of the Trump presidency, dolphins returning to Venice and, to top it all off, the UK got half price Nando’s in August.

I started this blog two weeks before my undergrad dissertation deadline during Lockdown 1. And while in this third lockdown it has started to get a bit cabin fever-y, being at home has allowed me the time to read some incredible books and have some great discussions too. I can’t believe that over 2,000 people from 30 different countries have clicked on this site this year. I am baffled.

We also started the Book Club this year and have had some wonderful chats on Zoom. Hopefully next year some of us can meet up in person (imagine), open a bottle of vino and talk about books together.

While the posts have slowed since I started my masters in September, I’ve loved having the freedom to write about what I’m reading in a non-academic way – there’s only so much literary criticism a gal can take. Here’s to another year of reading and chatting shit on the internet.

My round up

Total Books Read: 42*

*I’ve decided not to include academic books I’ve had to read for my degrees because that’s boring af. Am pleased with this number though – hopefully next year I’ll reach the big five-oh.

Here’s a run down of my favourite books this year…

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve mentioned this book on my blog but go hard or go home.

Girl, Woman, Other has been my favourite book of the year – it is a one of a kind. Bernardine Evaristo is such an excellent writer and she deserves all the success she’s had this year.

If you haven’t read this, make sure it’s first on your 2021 TBR pile.

You can read my review here.

Such A Fun Age – Kiley Reid

Funny, poignant and engrossing, Such a Fun Age is the novel for our times. This is easily the best debut I’ve read.

Exploring police brutality, fetishism and white privilege, Kiley Reid takes a look at racism from angles we rarely see on the news but still exist every day.

This was the first book I reviewed this year – you can read all about it here.

Intimations – Zadie Smith

Speaking of novels of our times – this is another. Zadie Smith’s collection of essays, Intimations, looks at life right now – in the midst of a pandemic.

Smith captures how we all feel right now – insecure, unsteady, remorseful of the lives and times lost.

The only thing that might depress you is the fact we are still in the same position we were six months ago. Love that for us.

Swimming in the Dark – Tomasz Jedrowski

We read Swimming in the Dark for ‘people’s choice‘ in September and it was my favourite book club pick.

Following the life of Ludwik, a boy discovering his sexuality in Soviet-occupied Poland, Swimming in the Dark is incredibly moving. Jedrowski gives us a glimpse of a hidden history while also telling a beautiful love story.

I cried at the end, which is always a good sign.

If you want to read my thoughts, take a look here.

Dominicana – Angie Cruz

https://whatlilyread.com/2020/06/16/dominicana-angie-cruz/

From a quiet town in the Dominican Republic to the bustling, musical streets of New York, Dominicana explores identity, womanhood and duty from the perspective of a young female migrant.

Again, the word ‘poignant’ comes to mind. Dominicana‘s role in helping us understand that America is a country built and sustained by immigrants should not be underestimated.

The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams

This is a play. “A play?”, you may be wondering, “Would you really choose to read a play?”. Not ordinarily, but I make an exception for this one.

The Glass Menagerie is a masterful piece of writing and an incredible play. It is little plot and big characters done very, very well. I love Tennessee Williams and, if you’re not bowled over by Streetcar, this is a great intro to his work.

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The whole time I was reading The Secret History, all I could think was, ‘Why haven’t I read this sooner?’

Dark academia aesthetic with a murderous twist, this is the best mystery novel and was a strong contender for my favourite book overall.

Again, if you haven’t read it yet, make sure to put it on your list for 2021.

Collected Poems – Robert Frost

2020 was the year I read Robet Frost for the first time – it soon became my favourite collection of poems. Prior to this, I had only heard about him from the Suite Life of Zack and Cody when Cody talked about the meaning of ‘two roads diverged in a yellow wood’. Anyone else remember that?

Give ‘Mending Wall’ a read. It’s witty, sharp and relevant to our increasingly isolationist world.

Or is it? Frost’s writing is playful – it’s filled with the suggestion of meaning but the meaning is very rarely clear. Very frustrating stuff, but equally great.

p.s. sorry about the photo – this book is in my uni house so pic is from my Christmas gift guide.

Beloved – Toni Morrison

Again, WHY haven’t I read this book before this year? Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize winning masterpiece, Beloved, is equally as heartbreaking and brutal as it is spooky.

Beneath the ghostly presence of Beloved lurks the ever more terrifying and unimaginable spectre that is the Atlantic slave trade. I’ve never read anything like it.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 – Cho Nam Joo

Finishing my 2020 round up with, you guessed it, another piece of feminist literary fiction. Because that’s what we talk about here.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is one of the first translated books I’ve read (as far as I’m aware, at least) and I am in love with it. While the novel focuses on women’s issues in South Korea, it is universal. Kim Jiyoung is everywoman.

That’s it! Thank you for a wonderful 2020 despite all the doom and gloom. I’ll be posting some cosy reads and a few reviews in the next few days.

Happy New Year.

Lily xx

Published by Lily Evans

writing about books

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