I hardly blogged this year and did not take part in any reading events or commented on blogs of fellow bloggers. This year has been tough and since I wasn’t in a good mood, I ended up DNFing more books this year than I ever did in my life.
But still there were some good books that I read and here are the top 10 books I read in 2020 (not in any particular order) –
1. They called us enemy by George Takei
This was a powerful memoir about author’s own experiences in Japanese internment camps in US. I had no idea that this even happened in history as I had never read about this before. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbor during WWII time, all the Japanese who were in US including Japanese who were born in the US and had never been to Japan, were taken to these camps where they were imprisoned for years together for no fault of theirs. The hardship that this family faces is heartbreaking and at the same time educative as there is no mention of these internment camps in any other book.
2. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
I hardly read fantasy or science fiction this year. I just wasn’t in the mood to read any. I read this book before COVID hit and it was amazing. I had read Mistborn by this author earlier and wasn’t that impressed by the writing. But this book was one of the best fantasies I had ever read. I now understand why this author is famous. I wanted to read Stormlight Archive in 2020 but that did not happen. I hope to read it in 2021 at least.
3. Drive your plow over the bones of the dead by Olga Tokarczuk
I already raved about this wonderful book in my blog post here earlier. I went into this book with very low expectations as I had read nothing by this author but was blown away by her writing. I can’t wait to read rest of her translated novels in 2021.
4. Man’s search for meaning by Viktor E Frankl
I wanted to read this book for a long time now. This year has been hard and I was looking for meaning in my own life when I decided to pick up this book and the timing could not have been better. If you are feeling low because of the pandemic, do pick this book. If I were to choose just one book from this list for you to read, this would be it. The author is a psychologist who spent several years in Nazi concentration camps and saw how prisoners broke down because of all the torture they underwent. He went on to study those who suffered but yet endured all the pain and came out alive, including himself. Through his studies, he presents a therapy which was very interesting to read about. This is one of those life changing books and is definitely one of the best books I have ever read in my entire life.
5. The Nature Fix by Florence Williams
This year I read several books about nature as I suddenly became obsessed with nature. This was a book that I randomly picked while browsing on Amazon for books on nature. The author does extensive research on why nature is good for our health and wellbeing by travelling to different places and trying nature therapies there. I will write a detailed review of this book, along with the other books on nature that I read this year soon. Living in concrete jungles, it’s very important for us to get exposed to nature often.
6. Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami
It’s a love story of a girl with her school teacher which I never expected to like as it sounds pretty weird. I have heard many people mention that Japanese lit is very slow and quiet compared to American/western fiction which is in your face and very loud. I have to agree after reading this book. The main characters even though in love with each other take time to realize and express their love. They don’t just jump into bed like folks in western novels do after a drink in the pub. I loved how the author took time to develop these characters, gave them a personality apart from being lovers and how nicely she let the love blossom. The main protagonist is a feminist which made me love this book even more. There is plenty of discussion about Japanese food and drinks in this book as that is how the main protagonists meet in the story. There is a short story at the back of this book which was okay. The ending was touching and I liked the note on which it ended.
I am definitely going to try more books by this author. She is a new favorite of mine.
7. Malorie by Josh Malerman
This is the sequel to Bird Box which was a favorite book of mine. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It was a thrilling ride and the first 75% of the novel was the best. I wasn’t a huge fan of the last 25% simply because the author tied everything at the end with a neat bow and a happy ending. I would have sort of preferred a much darker ending I guess. But we do learn quite a bit about the creatures but not all questions are answered like what exactly are they? Where did they come from?
8. Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
I went into this book with low expectations but loved it. It is a thriller about a woman whose husband is a serial killer and she is hiding away from him and the world with her two children. There was unease and unsettling, creepy feeling throughout the novel. Thankfully I couldn’t guess the killer until the point when the author decided to give clues about his identity. That made the book more interesting and difficult to put down. The ending makes me want to read the next book in the series. I want to read the rest of the books in this series soon. I finished this book and then soon heard the news about the author’s struggle with cancer and her death this year and felt really sad.
9. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
I read a lot of Japanese fiction and manga this year. It’s a beautiful book about a woman who is content with her life as a part-time convenience store worker. She doesn’t really feel that she needs to work at a better place or get married. So when the society keeps pressurizing her to conform to the norms, she starts thinking if she really needs to change herself. The ending was great. The book had some humor and it kept me engaged throughout.
I loved the book mainly for the message that not everyone needs to do something just to please the society. Just because the society has some unwritten rules, they see anyone who deviates from these set norms as a weirdo. But we do not need to change ourselves just to please others.
10. All you need is kill by Ryosuke Takeuchi
I read the manga version of this book. Even though I had seen the movie Edge of Tomorrow, I didn’t remember anything so it was almost like experiencing the story for the first time. It’s about this guy who ends up getting killed in a war and then wakes up living the same day again and again. The story was brilliant and made me think a lot. I want to read the novel now. I watched Edge of Tomorrow again after reading this manga and loved it. This was the best manga I read this year and one of the best scifi stories I have ever read.
Updated: I ended this year with a 5 star all time favorite book. I am so glad that I read such a great book as my last book of this year.
11. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
I had this book on my tbr for 6-7 years or more. I finally got hold of an audiobook version and listened to it this week. The story was so interesting that I did not feel like putting it down for even a minute. It has vikings, bloody battles and is full of exciting action and wars. This is a historical fiction based on the time period when England was under attack from Vikings (Danes in this story) constantly. The book is full of strong brave men and not many great female characters. But I still loved it as it sounds so realistic to its time period. I can’t wait to watch the Netflix TV adaptation of this series.