My 2020 in Books

2020 truly was a year for the books (don’t worry, I instantly regretted that pun). This is the year where I discovered that I’m obsessed with contemporary romance novels (think Berkley, not Harlequin). I was a super-avid reader as a child, but I found it harder to make time for it as an adult. Nothing like being stuck at home for nine months to catch up on old hobbies!

Here are a few of my favorite things from the year!

Favorite Fiction (in no particular order)

  1. The Bookshop of Second Chances – Jackie Fraser (to be released in 2021)
  2. Kindred – Octavia Butler
  3. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
  4. Beach Read – Emily Henry
  5. Well Met – Jen DeLuca
  6. The Bright Side of Going Dark – Kelly Harms
  7. Normal People – Sally Rooney
  8. The Friend Zone – Abby Jimenez

Favorite Non-Fiction

So, technically all of the “non-fiction” I read this year was either presented in memoirs style (10% Happier) or to fictionalized to protect the identities of the innocent (Three Women, lol). So for this somewhat amorphous category, I’m picking The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West. Yes, technically they are humor essays. However, they are boldly political, analytical takes at culture at large rather than explicitly personal essays, very much a response to the evils of the Trump administration and the #MeToo-era reckoning of the sex pests. This book informs and challenges as it entertains, and for that, it has won the top slot in its category.

Favorite Memoirs

Open Book by Jessica Simpson – I loved this book so much that I listened to a 4-part podcast series about it after I was finished. I was shocked that I could be so invested in the story of an artist to whom I hadn’t previously given much thought. I listened to the audiobook (obtained through my local library!), and not only was Jessica’s performance incredible and emotional, her (literary) voice came through so clearly in her writing. Honorable mention: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.

Favorite Essay Collection

This one feels like choosing between my own (currently non-existent) children. Humor essays are my all-time favorite genre of writing, so they comprise a significant portion of what I read in general. Although David Sedaris will likely always be my favorite humorist, this year it went to a tie between Wow, No Thank You and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. These two books had me wheezing from start to finish. I’ve actually never been so inspired to write before (although of course, I didn’t follow through because everything I produced was absolute garbage compared to the Word Science herself).

Best Audiobook Performance

While this book didn’t make it into one of my favorite slots, I had to shout out Rachel Bloom’s unbelievable performance of I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are. This was a joy start to finish, and she performs a literal musical in the middle. Rachel Bloom is a STAR.

In Progress

These are the books I’ve started (and enjoyed) this year but didn’t finish by midnight on the 31st:

Week Links [14 September]

i worked all weekend on re-organizing and snazzing up my kitchen, and i realized that i have a wild affinity for the color i call “versailles blue.” literally, every louis xvi-era décor has this shade of blue–when the world reopens, check your local art museum to fact-check me. also, sofia coppola’s marie antoinette is an amazing and underrated film.
  1. Is it too soon to decorate for Christmas? I don’t really do Halloween (even though my wedding anniversary is 30 October…go figure), so I’ve started incorporating general fall decorations—pumpkins, jewel and earth tones, and wreaths. I’m sure my consumerism is ruining the earth (and not the 100 corporations that are responsible for 71% of global emissions…), but the Target dollar grab-and-go section (does it have a name?) is my jam for decorations. I actually reuse the stuff year after year, and I like not having to be precious about storing them in the basement. Also, being able to find $3 gems means that you can decorate for even the “in-between” holidays like Dia de los Muertos and Valentine’s Day. I was such a cynical jerk until my mid-twenties, when I realized that, given life’s general bleakness, anything that can inspire a little bit of joy or peace is totally worth it. Which is why I own two Christmas trees despite being a lifelong atheist. Anyway, where was I going with this? These wicker pumpkins are adorable, rainbows belong everywhere, and you’ve got to be kidding me with these cable-knit cuties.
  2. I had no choice but to buy this dress in pale mint. My hands were tied. Now we need a vaccine and a competent government so that I can wear it to an event.
  3. Caved and bought an Ovira. TMI warning: Despite having incredibly easy periods for about 15 years, once I hit my late 20s, my uterus decided to stage a coup against the rest of my body every 25 days, and it has been debilitating. Like, can’t get out of bed debilitating. I’ve tried everything under the sun—lavender oil, magnesium, liver-destroying amounts of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, heat, meditation, stretching, *extremely The Script voice* prayer to a god that I don’t believe in, screaming—and nothing has worked, so I’m hoping that shooting electricity into my abdomen will do the trick.
  4. My husband bought these and these 2.5 years ago, with the intention of rehoming all of his CDs and recycling the jewel cases, but, as he has yet to complete this task, I finally took it upon myself to do my own CD collection, and I cannot oversell how much room it freed up in my office. My bookcase has never looked better.
  5. The perfect tweet doesn’t exi—
  6. I’ve been watching Better Things on Hulu because I’m extremely current and on the pulse of what’s hot. Am I cancelled because Pamela Adlon was/is (?) a close associate of Louis C.K., or am I redeemed because she voiced Bobby on King of the Hill?
  7. I don’t know how I hadn’t heard of NetGalley before a friend of mine posted about it on Instagram but it’s so cool! I, of course, have not been approved to actually read anything yet because I have zero credentials (I’ve literally written two book reviews ever), but I’m hoping that if I start writing reviews here I can accomplish two things: 1. Getting more words on the page! Writing begets writing! 2. Be able to read tons of as-yet-unpublished books fo’ free!
  8. Yoplait started selling lids for those adorable yogurt jars as a part of a capitalist conspiracy to ruin me. My husband loves bougie-ass yogurt, so my house is littered with these types of jars. They’re backordered right now, but soon they will be mine.
  9. I got this Zip Top set in a Causebox and I’m a close to the edge of risking it all and buying the complete set. It was in the Add-On Market for Fall and I totally would have gotten it but $50+ seemed like a lot…until I realized that it retails for $90.
  10. I am so thankful for all the people doing the work that I should be doing and informing me about amazing black-owned businesses to support. Check out this list of 7 BIPOC-Owned Clean Beauty Brands.
  11. I read P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy this week and really enjoyed it. You can definitely tell that it was translated from French, so if you’re really attuned to stuff like that it might be a slog, but as a totally basic Francophile, I loved it. It takes…quite a turn like 75% of the way through. I won’t spoil it because I would have never seen it coming. My one real “note” is that we must end the tyranny of women characters called Mia in novels. These authors must be stopped.
  12. Gonna have to endorse this drug-store toner. I used “Winter Wheat” to tame the brass in my highlights.
  13. I took the Enneagram Test and got a 2, because of course I did. I had previously taken random online tests and gotten almost equal scores for 4 and 2. Just like when I did Myers-Briggs, I never felt a strong identification with a particular type. This time, though, I find myself most intrigued by Type 6. I’ve never heard of anyone else who’s a 6 before, and the more I read about it, the more it totally makes sense for me (in a bad way, unfortunately). Now I really want to read this book when it comes out to learn more.

To borrow a phrase from my fave podcast, “Until next week, have fun.”

-c