My goal for 2020 was to read 48 books. I crushed it and read 54 – by far the most I have read in a year. I love end of the year “best of” lists – that’s where I get most of the books to add to my reading queue. So here is my Top Five of 2020.
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry; PJH rating: ***** I was listening in to Courtney’s work book club a week or so ago and they were talking about the next book they wanted to read – something different than the “chick lit” they usually read – something more “manly”. I googled “manly novels” and Lonesome Dove popped up so they agreed to it for their next book. (Before everyone realized it was 800+ pages I should add). Anyways… I poured through and it is so good. Really a masterpiece. So many good characters, action, well written and it of course made me cry several times. Pulitzer Prize winner: 1986
In Cold Blood; Truman Capote; PJH rating: ****1/2 I’m not sure what made me pick up this 1966 classic (perhaps because 1966 was such a good year) but I couldn’t put it down once I started. I thought it was so direct, so well written and to the point. I really enjoyed it.
The Testaments; Margaret Atwood; PJH rating: ****1/2 The follow up to Atwood’s classic The Handmaids Tale did not disappoint – even after having to wait 20+ years for it to come out. We have greatly enjoyed Hulu’s version of Handmaid’s Tale which was so well done and this novel followed along with those new plot lines nicely. The completely unexpected plot twist is just amazing and satisfying. I have always loved Aunt Lydia and Margaret Atwood is a genius.
American Dirt; Jeanine Cummins; PJH rating: ****1/2 The harrowing tale of a Mexican family crossing the Mexican border was a favorite of many this year. I thought it was an intense novel and a good read. It was interesting reading about the protests about the book in regards to culture appropriation which I think was unfair. Fiction is fiction?
Inheritance; Dani Shapiro; PJH rating: ****1/2 After a routine genetic test a woman discovers that she has a different biological father. A surprisingly readable memoir that was suspenseful as well.
Other 4 1/2 ratings from 2020 that I consider “highly recommend”:
Beheld; TaraShea Nesbit
Bossypants; Tina Fey
Dear Edward; Ann Napolitano
The Bookshop of the Broken-hearted; Robert Hillman
Biographical Fiction (is that a genre?) of the story of Christina in Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting “Christina’s World”. Going back and forth from the time Wyeth painted the painting to the back story of Christina’s family. Original, intriguing and hard to put down.
Two families living in Shaker Heights: haves vs have nots; artists vs consumers; mean mothers etc etc. It’s nice to read a novel full of Cleveland references but I was disappointed in the novel overall due to the continuing changing points of views and the very unlikely plot and charachters.
I had a bad year in 2017 in terms of reading. I only read 21 books which is pretty bad. I blame Donald Trump you MFer. 2018 will be better. My Absolute Darling has been on many top lists for 2017, has been on my waitlist forever but I found a copy at the library. I read it in one day which in itself results in a good rating. Any book you can’t put down is good in my book. But the subject matter is so awful and so violent I second guess myself. It’s also pretty amazing that it is the first novel for this author.
A teenaged boy goes to his father’s boyhood home in Seattle and learns of his father’s and father’s family’s history going back several generations. Big old house, family secrets, ghosts and trees. A good read but not as good as Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain.
A unique disutopian story set in a world that has fallen apart except that everyone is plugged into the Oasis – a world wide virtual reality game that has taken over the world. The billionaire inventor of the Oasis has died and willed his fortune to whomever can solve a complicated video game quest in the Oasis. Geeky fun full of 1980’s trivia and throwbacks. Stephen Spielberg is getting ready to make the movie – should be interesting.
Set in early 20th century NYC a woman is featured in her father’s Coney Island freak show. A young photographer discovers her late night and helps unfold her past. Interesting to read about early NYC and Coney Island.
Galbraith’s third installment of Cormoron’s Strike’s adventures finds Cormoron and Robin investigating a serial killer in London who seems to have a personal interest in the investigator. Took me forever to read this one and never got too much into it… but not a bad read.