If one of those things is picking up new books then allow me to look back on my reads of 2020 – so that you can check out what I’ve been reading. And who knows, maybe even find your next read somewhere in the list as well!
I have grouped my reads into fiction and non-fiction so that you can head straight to the section that is most interesting to you.
Let’s kick the list of with the two romantic comedies I read last year. I read them both back to back, both were really well received, however, I did like one much, much more than the other.
I started with The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary and this won’t surprise you as
I believe everyone and their dog has read The Flat Share last year. For good reason; it’s a really endearing romantic comedy with likeable characters and a story around an unusual meet cute! I enjoyed the inevitable ups and downs in their blossoming romance – this would have been an excellent poolside read if being on the side of a pool had been a thing last year…
Right after that, I picked up Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams which promised and equally unusual love story and it sure started out that way. The premise of near misses, what if-s and unusual ways to communicate reminded me a bit of One Day by David Nicholls, which I really adored! However, I have to say that Our Stop didn’t quite catch me – the story was just that tiny little bit too absurd, the characters that tiny little bit to stylized, the story just too trope-y. On top of that, I personally found that the book took itself so seriously that it came across quite pushy. It’s still an enjoyable read for fans of romantic comedies but I enjoyed the Flat Share much more.
The next one will be an odd pick for most of you I’m sure as Krabat by Otfried Preußler is a young adult fantasy book from the 70s, typically read as part of the curriculum in middle schools. I never read this book in school but always loved the movie based on the book that came out in 2010. Krabat is an orphan boy of 14 years, barely surviving. A mysterious sorcerer lures him into his mill where he becomes his student and learns the art of dark magic. Things look good for Krabat for the first time in years but he quickly learns that absolutely everything comes at a cost. After yet another re-watch of the movie I though why not pick up the book and give that a read – and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It has formed this franken-story in my head now where the best parts of the movie with a little more meat from the book come together to a narrative that I’ll come back to enjoy many times over!
The next book in line is young adult fiction as well, but not from the 70s but from 2020: The Ballade of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.
Listen, I simply could not not pick up this book. I am a massive Hunger Games fan and I wish the Hunger Games books and movies where not young adult books so that more people would consider them a good story beyond the YA trend wave they were part of. The premise is interesting – we witness formative events in President Snow’s youth and his first steps towards the character we know from the Hunger Games trilogy. Fascinating to have a main character who is so loaded already that he is the antagonist in the story (think Anakin but for teens). There’s a massive risk that Collins lets this slip into almost a redemption story for Snow which I wouldn’t be here for, but time inside the mind of an evil manipulator is always fun. I’d say it’s rather obvious that the book has been written with the movie adaptation in mind. The story itself is compelling in the sense that I am fascinated by how Panem became what it is. The actual story with and between the characters, however, is a bit weak. But I take it as long as I can spend more time in Panem. Absolutely no question that I will pick up the next volume of this series as well as soon as it comes out.
And now onto the last one in the fiction category – a book that is the perfect segue into the non-fiction portion of this post. If it wasn’t for the way the book bends time and explores mutually exclusive outcomes and what-ifs After The End by Claire Mackintosh could have easily been non-fiction. The story itself is heart breaking: What happens if a child is terminally ill and both parents want only the best for their kid – but they fundamentally disagree what “the best” in this scenario is. How do you make decisions in such a situation? What does this mean for your relationship? Your feelings? Your future? A fantastic book that explores all these and more painful questions through the eyes of totally lifelike and relatable characters. Not an easy read for sure and you have to be open for the books style to explore different avenues of reality that could have been. But if you are it’s so thought provoking and moving. I am so glad I read this.