With the end of a year like no other, I am again looking back to list the twelve books, one for each month, I especially loved reading. This year, however, is tinged with the evolution of 2020 from high expectations at January to slow disintegration as the months wore on.
One of my favorite authors, humorist Dave Barry, offered his observations in his Year in Review 2020 – giving a few laugh out loud moments in following his monthly reminder of a year gone awry. He inspired me to think about how my reading morphed with my own view of the world as history marched through a challenging year.
Here is my list of twelve books read and reviewed (click on the title to read the review) throughout the year. My favorite has a star.
January: What better way to start than a book with January in the title and doors magically opening to new worlds- Alix Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January
February: The world news was getting a little scary, so I kept escaping to fantasy land with A.J. Hackwith’s The Library of the Unwritten
March: The world was really looking grim by now, so I turned to Jose Saramago’s story of how it all could be worse in Blindness
April: Spring didn’t really look like a flowery bower, so I buried myself in Eric Larson’s epic observation of Winston Churchill in The Splendid and the Vile
May: As the pandemic raged on, many of us wondered what life would have been like if 2016 had brought a different president; Curtis Sittenfeld filled the void with Rodham
June: By now, I was looking for a fictional world I did not live in; thankfully, Anne Tyler, one of my favorite authors, came through with a delightful The Redhead by the Side of the Road *
July: We all knew the pandemic was real when we heard beloved actor Tom Hanks had it in March, but his recovery led to his role in the movie adaptation of Paulette Jiles’ News of the World in July. In July, I enjoyed Jiles’ new book Simon the Fiddler
August: By now it was clear my European travels were going to be curtailed for a while, but my dreams of Paris were fed vicariously by Liam Callanan’s Paris By the Book
September: Although I couldn’t visit my Los Angeles family, I could revisit favorite landmarks in Abbi Waxman’s The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
October: Graphic novels with short but philosophical views of life are hard to find these days. Calvin and Hobbes is in retirement, but Allie Brosh has her own brand of art and humor, easy to read and fun to explore, in Solutions and Other Problems
November: By now I was watching more TV than reading, and Netflix lured me into a series called “The Undoing.” When I discovered it was based on a book, I had to reread Jean Hanff Korelitz’s You Should Have Known
December: The year is finally coming to an end, and I have been drinking a lot of coffee to wash down all the cookies, but none taking me back into the past like the Japanese translation of Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s Before the Coffee Gets Cold
* Although I am still careful to drink up all my coffee before it gets cold, Anne Tyler’s Redhead by the Side of the Road was my year’s favorite.
What books do you remember from this year? Any favorites to recommend?