2020 is coming to an end, and for my own curiosity, I thought I would share the books that were good books, but not quite my favorite in the last 12 months. I count December 2019 in this collection since I’m obviously not done with December 2020 yet. This is my final list of the year. These books were ones I didn’t truly connect to, but had enough merit that I felt someone else might enjoy them.
#IMomSoHard – I read this book by Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley on a whim from my library at the end of 2019. While it had some funny parts to it, it was a bit tone deaf when it came to infertility and pregnancy loss.
Followers – Debut novel by Megan Angelo. Divided into a present-day and a future point after a cataclysmic event called The Spill, we follow Orla and her roommate, Floss, as they chase fame and fortune through social media. The writing was pretty fluid, but I felt like the characters lacked depth.
Born in Fire – Nora Roberts romance novel. I’m not big into romance, but I inherited this three book trilogy from my grandmother. Apparently, I have read this author before and didn’t remember, but the big problem I had with this story were the problematic relationships that edged on the side of abuse and codependency. Set in Ireland (whichc is my favorite part about the book), Margaret Mary is a glass artist who is also quite the loner, but her world is turned upside down when an art dealer takes an interest in her work.
Mask of Shadows – Debut novel by Linsey Miller. I met the author at a Farmer’s market and decided to give her book a try. The story follows a gender-fluid character named Sal who enters an assassin contest. There were a lot of characters in this contest which made it difficult to follow, but the last part of the book was the most interesting part, once a lot of the minor characters are killed off.
Never Let Me Go – A Kazuo Ishiguro novel set in a boarding school for special students, this book was overall just unfortunate for me. But if you like science fiction, a little romance, and a lot of flashback foreshadowing until everything is revealed in the end, I would recommend it.
Any books you read this year that weren’t quite bad but weren’t quite for you?
So this was the stack of books I set out to read in the month of February. I actually read more than just these books, and I didn’t completely finish the stack. However, I knew I would be reading at least a few of these into March. Here’s how the reading month went.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. This was a Life’s Library book club pick, and I knew nothing about it going into it. I had never read anything by this author before, but I knew that she was very respected and lots of people enjoyed her writing. I liked this book, but it gave me nightmares. It’s a dystopian novel set in 2024 (the book was written in 1993). It felt like our society would only have to take a couple of steps in the wrong direction to end up on the pages of this book. It’s a heavy book, full of violence, sexual assault, promiscuity, and language. But it will stretch you in much needed ways.
Followers by Megan Angelo. I think I found out about this book either by Instagram or my local library’s website. I believe this is a debut novel. It is also a kind of dystopian future, but I didn’t feel as deep into this story as I did with the Parable of the Sower. It follows two characters, Orla and Floss, in present day who are roommates chasing after fame and all the promises of being famous and then jumps every other chapter about forty years into the future after a big event called The Spill suddenly made people distrust the government and putting any of their information online (this reveal didn’t feel realistic, which it doesn’t have to, but it took me out of the story a bit). In the future, we follow Marlow who lives in a town that is watched by millions of people (like a Truman Show type of town) and she begins to question the life that has been written for her by the powers that be. All of the book centers around this idea of fame and the cost it takes to get it.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. I loved this book. I heard about it on a podcast, and I’m so glad I picked it up. It addresses stress, the science behind it, and how we can survive it. It is directed to women and the stressors that most women face (including the patriarchy and the bikini industrial complex). Everything was fascinating and challenging, and I felt like the authors really tried to take on this subject as clearly and with as much data as they could. It’s definitely one that I will re-read at some point.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow. The book for the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. This was such a sweet story of fantasy and imagination. January Scaller lives with a rich bachelor while her father hunts for priceless treasures all over the world. One day, she manages to open a door into another world, but when she tells her guardian about this experience, she is locked away and convinced that she needs to put away such childish fantasies. But these doors keep coming back into her life, and with a door comes change, she just has to have the courage to step through them. Reminded me a bit of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.
Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel. This is the third book I have read by this author, and I was able to be a part of the launch team for this book (which let me read the book before it came out). Anne is the kind of writer that makes you feel like you are chatting with a friend over coffee when you read her books. The kind of friend who does excellent research on a topic that she can’t wait to share with you. I made so many notes with this book, great points to remember and incorporate into my life. Highly recommend!
Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons. This was a book recommended on Instagram by some other authors I follow. I had been wanting a book about stress coming from a Christian perspective. But I think I was expecting something a little different than what I read in this book. I thought I was going to get more of “when this happens, it’s good to remember this” kind of language, but the book seemed to be a list of self-care options that worked for the author throughout her life. Things that may help others. I think I preferred Burnout because there was more science of why things work which is what my brain really likes. It was still a good book, and the last couple of chapters raised my overall rating, but it wouldn’t be the first book I would recommend about stress or even Christian self-help.