My 2020 reading challenge

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well!

To continue the tradition started in 2019, of setting myself reading challenges, I challenged myself to read 20 books in 2020.

I think I certainly owe most of this completion to the quarantine because I could read for long periods of time without worrying about anything else. It also wasn’t the biggest reading challenge by most standards. My goal for 2019 was to finish 15 books, since I had gone into quite the reading slump in 2018 and didn’t want to set my sights too high, for fear of not reaching them and feeling disappointed later on. This year, the number went up from 15 to 20. It’s not a lot of books, but for me, it’s a pretty big deal.

My one main sub-goal for this year’s reading challenge was to read more books by women and I think I’ve done decently well on that front. Out of the 19 authors I encountered this year, 12 were women. So, without rambling much further, here are the books I read in 2020!

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

My first book of the year was, like I mentioned in my post about it, a palate cleanser of sorts. It was short, refreshing, and had been on my list for years.

Rating: 5/5, it was everything I expected it to be, and I really did love how simple and heart-wrenching it was.

Five Little Pigs, by Agatha Christie

I had gotten into quite an Agatha Christie phase in 2019 and I felt like I just had to read another book by the queen of crime and so I chose Five Little Pigs. While it didn’t come near my favourites and was even predictable for me at this point, I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. I think I’ll keep up the tradition and read a Christie novel each year, let’s see!

Rating: 4/5

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

I keep forgetting I’ve read this book but as soon as I remember, all the emotions I felt while reading it come flooding back. I think I mentioned this in the post about it as well, but it’s a heavy read, but absolutely worth the while.

Rating: 5/5

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh

Okay, this book. I remember feeling disappointed and a bit irked by the privilege the main character of this book had, and while the story really would not be possible without the privilege, it just seemed so far-fetched and superficial (annoyingly so at times). But, a solid concept that really drew me in so I have to give points for that. Didn’t really like the execution much.

Rating: 3.5/5

Normal People by Sally Rooney

I remember feeling devastated and overwhelmed after I finished Normal People, and I have the distinct memory of thinking “This is my favourite book, oh my god.” After the effects wore off, not so much. It certainly is a good book and will definitely carry you with it as if you’re caught in the undercurrent, but once you’re back to the shore you begin to see why it isn’t as great as you thought it was. Good, certainly. The greatest? No. Plus, I bear a personal grudge against this book because I couldn’t read anything for weeks after I read it (maybe a sign of it being a great book but that’s up to you now).

Rating: 4/5

Flights, by Olga Tokarczuk

Stunning book, absolutely stunning. Definitely took me a while to get into it but when I did, wow. It is a beautiful book and I can see exactly why it’s gotten so many awards. This book had a lasting impact on me. It gave me my favourite quote ever, for one. I even used it in a small presentation I had to give in class about Philosophy and Works of Art. It even made me write one of my more poetic book reviews and I kind of like that. This one is definitely one of my favourites from 2021.

Rating: 4.9/5, the 0.1 has been deducted for the time it took me to get into it in the beginning, but that’s purely personal.

Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi

This book is madness. Devastating read #2. I can’t say much about it so you can read my review on it by clicking on the title.

Rating: 5/5

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

This was another good read. I really did love it, I think it’s an amazing, touching, amusing book. Count Rostov is probably my favourite book character from 2020 and I’ve never even thought about having a favourite character across books before. I just think the way he’s written is fantastic. A Gentleman in Moscow has very charming characters overall, and I like them more than I like the book. But of course, they add to why I like the book at all.

Rating: 5/5, I was wondering if I should rate this book lower, but I can’t bring myself to.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender

Third devastating read of 2020. Made me want to throw up. But, unlike Normal People (devastating read #1), The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake had lasting effects and I love it now, in retrospect, just as much as I did when I first read it. This is another book with some really good characters.

Rating: 5/5

Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This is such a lovely little book. It was so soft and sweet, and thinking about it makes me want to cry. I’ve certainly cried for other books on this list, but here the tears are necessary to mention. There’s no reason why I have to mention that I cried, I just have to put that across. I do have to say, though, that the writing style won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s just different. This book feels like snow.

Rating: 5/5

The White Book, by Han Kang

I’m going to be very honest, I do not remember much of this book at all. But, unlike The Bell Jar (another book I keep forgetting about), it’s not that I forget I’ve read it, but that I don’t remember what was written in it. I remember the main plot and some words here and there, and also this overall heavy feeling of loss, but not much else. I can’t explain it, but this book feels like a soft, lesser known song by The Cranberries. I also remember not wanting to write a proper review for this book since it felt very, very personal; like it isn’t mine to talk about.

Rating: 4/5, just going off of my original rating on goodreads.

Mostly Dead Things, by Kristen Arnett

I might try to write a book review for this one, but I’m not sure. It was an odd book. And it felt very extremely American in the funniest way, even though it wasn’t meant to be funny. It was interesting enough for me to like it, but didn’t have much of an impact on me at all. I’ve never thought about taxidermy, but know I guess I have some information about it. I very literally feel like shrugging when I think about this book and I think that sums up what I feel pretty accurately.

Rating: 3/5, I can’t rate it lower, because it was decent, I mean, *shrug*

The Fading Man, Christian Hayes

Another “eh” book. I did like it by the end, but it just too too long to gather my interest.

Rating: 3/5

Spirit of the Season, Brian Lamont

Sometime in the middle of last year, I decided to write book reviews on Online Book Club, and god, I’ll see if I can write a separate post about it because that was an interesting experience. I wrote four book reviews on there before the year ended and this was the first one. It was a sweet little book. Very different from what I usually read, but I feel glad that I read it.

Rating: 4/5

The Sacred Indian Tarot, by Kiren Rai

This one’s more a tarot deck than a book but I’m including it on the list because the guide book that came with the deck was absolutely beautiful. It was a longer guidebook than the ones I had been used to and getting that extra bit of insight really made it so much more fun to connect with the deck. Also, Kiren Rai happens to follow me on my tarot Instagram account which is both bizarre and amazing.

Rating: 5/5

The Seconds, by Merlini

The Seconds was (haha) the second (haha) book that I read as part of my Reedsy Discovery experience, and again, it wasn’t a book that had a lasting impact on me, but I did enjoy reading it.

Rating: 3/5

In the Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado

My dears, we have reached one of my most favourite (if not The Most) books of 2020: In The Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado. I was absolutely torn while reading this masterpiece between devouring it within seconds, and pausing to just take some necessary, deep gulps of air. Hopefully, I’ll write a proper review on it soon because this short paragraph can do it no justice.

Rating: 5/5 (if I could, I’d give it more)

We Are Voulhire: A New Arrival Under Great Skies, by Matthew Tysz

This is the second in a series of four books I read on Online Book Club, and with the just-above-average experience I had had with “book review websites” before, I wasn’t expecting much from this book but honestly, it was pretty great! I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, the story, the world-building, and even the fantasy — which I was skeptical about since I seem to have lost the wide-eyed-wonder with which I used to consume the fantasy genre. I even got $5 for each of the three books I read from this series (which unfortunately went down to $3.75 because taxes and PayPal fees, but I’m still grateful) that I gladly spent on thrifted clothing.

Rating: 3.5/5

We Are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko, by Matthew Tysz

I don’t have a lot to say about the second book in the ‘We Are Voulhire’ series that wouldn’t be the same as what I said for the first, so yes, it was good! Thumbs up from me!

Rating: 3.5/5

We Are Voulhire: Someone Else’s End, by Matthew Tysz

Most definitely my favourite book from the series and this one actually made me want to finish the series in its entirety, but unfortunately, the rest of the books weren’t available on Online Book Club (except for the seventh one, and skipping books makes no sense). Someday, I might return to the series, but since my curiosity isn’t eating away at me yet, today is not that day.

Rating: 4/5

The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Meanings, Brigit Esselmont

And here we are; my last book of 2020. This one took the longest to read because I would consider it more for educational purposes than for enjoyment, but I certainly did enjoy reading it. I think this book is a great source for anyone looking to start reading tarot because the author shares a very in-depth understanding of the cards in very simple, clear terms and any beginner would appreciate that. I haven’t read that many guidebooks but this one is definitely the best one out of all of them.

Rating: 5/5

That’s the end of my 2020 reading list! This post has been in the making for over a month due to my inconsistent bursts of energy and motivation to do pretty much anything, but that’s perfectly alright, I’m trying :))

Did you read a lot (or some) in 2020? Hope you’re all doing well!

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