7 January 2021

Best & Worst of 2020

Looking back on the books we read this year only amplifies how long it felt. We each read a LOT of books this year but we've narrowed it down to our favourite and least favourite six. 

I think context really helped me to appreciate this book. I read it about 8 months pregnant when I was starting to have a lot of anxiety about what I had got myself into, and Meaghan O'Connell is such a great narrator and cheerleader. Her realizations over the course of the book eased a lot of my worries, or made me at least feel like it was normal to have them. It's also really funny and I feel like O'Connell is someone I'd love to hang out with in real life. My full review is here

This was the second book I read in 2020 and I really loved it. It follows a group of gay men living in Chicago during the AIDS crisis, and how they cope with losing so many of their loved ones. I would honestly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction - it is told straightforwardly and you really feel like you get to know each character. My full review is here.

Liane Moriarty rides the line between chick lit and literary fiction in a way that is so appealing to my taste. Her characters are so real feeling, with such critical thoughts and feelings that really set her work apart from shallow chick-lit authors- but it's just as addictive. I enjoyed this book so much and have thought about it at least once a week since I read it. I will definitely be reading more Moriarty this year and I am also excited for future adaptations of her work. My full review of this book is here.

This was probably the biggest surprise read of 2020 for me. I ordered it early in the pandemic because I saw that Charlie Kaufman was adapting it into a Netflix movie in September 2020. This book is a short read - only 224 pages - but it feels even shorter because you read it so compulsively. I NEEDED to know what was going on, and found myself reading in almost one sitting. I would also recommend you check out this book before watching the Kaufman movie (of the same name) ... it will give you A LOT more clarity. My full review is here.

Jaws is one of my favourite films (and arguably one of the best ever) and it was so cool to read the book from which it was adapted. Both versions are different but incredible in their own ways - in the book I enjoyed the parts written from the perspective of the shark. I know it shouldn't affect my enjoyment of it but I love the cover of this book as well and all of the "extras" included in my edition that made the reading experience so enjoyable. My full review is here if you want to learn more about those features and the story, etc.

I was definitely late to the party on this book ... I think every celebrity tweeted about it in 2019. This was another quarantine order that really moved me. I remember starting the book and finding it kind of average ... I was wondering why everyone loved it so much. But halfway through I started reading for longer and longer periods, totally engrossed in Marianne and Connell's relationship. After I finished it I went for a long walk because I didn't want to stop thinking about it. My full review is here. I would also 110% recommend the TV show adaptation (on CBC Gem for free!) because I cried every single episode. My sister is also on like her fourth rewatch of it. 

Most of the time I wouldn't even include chick-lit books like the ones Kinsella writes in these types of lists because I just give the entire genre a pass. They are what they are, nobody is trying to write a Pulitzer piece of fiction. However, this one was just especially bad. The whole thing felt corny and fluffy in a much more extreme way than usual and I found the main character especially annoying. My whole review is here.

I've had this on my shelf for years after my good friend Katie mentioned it. I was really interested in reading something personal about being a twin - an experience I obviously cannot understand. Her is a memoir about a young woman whose identical twin dies, and her experience trying to cope with that loss. This may interest some people, but I found I wasn't a fan of her writing style. I just reviewed it recently here.

I think I didn't like this book because I didn't understand a lot of it. I still have no clue how the stock market works. I generally really enjoy Michael Lewis' writing but I think the topic here was just a wrong fit for me. Full review is here.

I am putting this book on the "worst of" because I despised the characters so much that I hated spending any time with them. I have read plenty of unlikable characters, and normally don't mind, but I find I always have a hard time reading about whiny and self absorbed people. This book was also strange because the author is pretty young and clearly hates his own generation... it felt just a little too unforgiving for me. My full review is here

I read a few books about the modern military that were adapted into movies this year: American Sniper, Lone Survivor, and 13 Hours. I found myself very unattached to this one and wishing for it just to end. I've come to the conclusion it's because there were very few human elements included. It was all warfare, no romance back home or personal emotion etc. It was also written in third person by someone who wasn't there, which could have contributed to the lack of humanity. I'll be reviewing it on here next week and can talk in more detail, but I think for me to care about these I need to feel emotionally invested in at least one of the characters.

I feel guilty putting Human Acts on this list because I really admire Han Kang. Her novel The Vegetarian was on one of my past Best-Of list's! I just didn't really connect with this one and haven't given it much thought once I was finished reading. I was honestly hoping for more magical realism. My full review is here.

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