I had no idea where my reading was headed, at the start of this year. I was new to this thing called #bookstagram. I used it simply to document my reading and recommend books to fellow bibliophiles. There was not much else to be done with it. But it ended up becoming one hell of a ride!
I had no plans for what I wanted to read. I just read whatever books I had for my academics and only a little beyond that. This year, I discovered a great number of new books and authors, including Neil Gaiman. All thanks to my friends from bookstagram. But just as I started to gather some perspective over what I wanted to read, the pandemic hit and hit badly. I had to limit myself to reading whatever books that I had already hoarded on my shelves and I did. I read some e-books too. Until Amazon started delivering again, that is.
This year, my reading has seen some really great changes, thanks to the numerous readers that I met. Also, this is the year in which I have actually read and loved classics. I developed and actual reading taste, thanks to all the diverse reading that I ended up doing.
Good grief! Another year has come to pass, already!
When a year comes to an end, we wrap up. And that is exactly what I will be doing in this post.
Behold my top 10 books of 2020 (in no particular order)!
1. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This, here, is one of the best thrillers that I have read till date. But talking about the book, it is one of the most engrossing reads from the pen of the queen of crime herself and her last.
One of the most unique aspects of this book is the absence of any detectives of superhuman intellect and the presence of a murderer more brilliant than any detective.
It was such a good read that I ended up writing a paper on it and submitted it as my college project.
2. Quiet by Susan Cain
Being an introvert born to extroverted parents, I was constantly judged through the ideals of extroversion. I never felt on par with the expectations. I was on my way down, spiralling into an abyss of self-doubt and a lack of an individual identity when I read this book. It was a deeply personal experience, finding myself in and through its pages.
Quiet has to be one of the most well researched – if not the only- book on introversion. Although it focuses of introversion, it does not leave the extroverts behind and most importantly, does not portray them in a bad light. The book establishes that there is a need of both kinds in the world and one may not exist without the other.
The book exposes some of the most influential and well-known personalities in the history of mankind as being introverts. From Biblical characters to the modern-day entrepreneurs, every faction has plenty of introverts serving their own important functions. It was a major revelation that made me a lot more comfortable in my own skin.
3. 1984 by George Orwell
1984 is the most popular book among my Goodreads 2020 list. It is undoubtedly one of the best in the genre of dystopian social science fiction and is also one of the fictional pieces that keeps becoming more real as time passes.
This is an example of true Orwellian fiction that bares the society down to the core and hits the reader with the harshest of truths! For one, this book explores the human desire for freedom and exposes the futility of its pursuit, for freedom is not real but liberty. And the portrayal of a figure like Big Brother makes one realize the importance of choosing our idols carefully.
4. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez
An investigation of a murder that is like none other (both the investigation and the murder), that is what this book is. Everyone, including the victim, knows of the impending doom but the events play out in such a way that nobody is able to prevent the murder from happening. The plot, for the most part, covers only 6-7 hours of action that is the period in which the crime is committed is done masterfully and only in a little over a 100 pages.
One of the most peculiar things about it is that the themes become whatever you can make of them.
I would highly recommend adding it to your 2021 TBR.
5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
You definitely saw this coming, did you not?
The Graveyard Book is one book I would never forget. I am sure I will come back to it again and again. I have yet to read the paperback copy of it since I have only read it the e-book. And it is, not surprisingly, the first e-book that I completed reading.
Simplistically intricate plot, lively characters, God-level descriptions and some epic action are all that a good children’s book requires and The Graveyard Book definitely checks all the boxes.
Only after I read this book, I came to believe that came to believe that it is children’s stories that will save the world.
6. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Always start with The Graveyard Book and follow it up with this.
Anything I say about this book would be a spoiler, if you ask me, but one needs to do what needs to be done.
Dad heads out for some milk and comes back a little later than expected and has some really stupid excuses up his sleeve. It is that weird. So, add it to your TBR if not done already and move on.
7. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
This book has haunted me ever since I closed the cover on this. It is an unusual tale of love and loss that will keep you at the verge of tearing the book up and burning it. It is wild. It is calm. It is everything in between. But it is a void that sucks you in and traps you forever.
The Bronte sisters were well ahead of their time and it shows. Wuthering Heights is the sole reason I decided to pick up Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall this year.
I will read it again, and soon. You should too.
8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Yes, another Gaiman. And no, I am not ashamed.
It is the chunkiest Gaiman ever. At least, the author preferred edition is. And it is definitely worth it.
It took me a month and a week to read this genre-defying mammoth and I would read it again. It is part mythological fiction, part road-trip, and part fantasy and part sci-fi. The way Gaiman mingles the myths of different land and plays it all out in an American landscape is worthy of a paper by itself.
Always make it your third Gaiman.
9. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
This series has to be a modern-day counterpart of what was the epic up until the 18th century, given how poetic the comic (whatever I have read of it) is. It also has to be the most revolutionary comic book series of all time. The first volume single-handedly drew me into the endless world of comics and graphic novels. (See what I did there?)
The Sandman explores a lot of deep, eternally human questions but most importantly, it explores dream for the cosmos that it is and I do not think any other book in the whole world ever took it up as a theme. I could go on and on here so I will stop myself here.
Also, it is also available as an audiobook now on Audible. But read the comics first please.
10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
I read this play simply to understand The Sandman issue #19 a little better since it is called ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, itself. But I did not expect it to turn out like it did.
I have avoided Shakespeare for the longest time given how mainstream he tends to get in most circles. But reading this particular play made me realize that Shakespeare is not the G.O.A.T. without reason. I had only read some sonnets and a couple of excerpts of his plays. The only play that I read fully before this was As You Like It, which I was not a fan of.
If you are human, read Shakespeare once and if it you read only one play, make it this one.
I never posted about it on Instagram but it is probably for the better.
11. Bonus: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
When one of the greatest authors spends his all on a single novel, to the point after which he can write no more, it is clear that the result would be something historic! That is exactly what The Picture of Dorian Gray is.
The plot is one of the most gripping in all of gothic genre. Neither ghosts nor any creature of the night makes this book what it is, but only humans. It revolves mostly around the idea of how appearances are shaped by the kind of deeds that one performs, which is a really interesting take on karma.
To know more, you can just head over to my friend Aayushi’s profile (@_penandpapers) and she will make sure you are convinced to pick it up.
Did you like this list? Is there anything that you are interested to read from this list this year? Have your read any of these books? Did they make it to your top 10?
Let me know in the comments!