Happy New Year to everyone! I do hope all of you will find happiness, peace and comfort in this new year that, by some bizarre coincidence, is twenty twenty too. Without further ado, here are six books I loved reading last year, in no specific order, except I will leave my favourite book read last year the last (and I will come back sooner rather than later with a review).
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A classic story for kids, The Secret Garden was by far one of the most wonderful books I read last year and it made it to my favourites list in an instant. What particularly stood out for me were the long, detailed descriptions of nature that I always look for when reading. In March, when everything was in perfect bloom, birds were chirping and bees were buzzing on their way to work, I remember sitting on the porch at my parents’ house and reading. Absolutely amazed as I was, I fell into a deep nostalgia and some sort of a reverie.
The Forest of Moon and Sword by Amy Raphael
I remember how enthusiastic I was when I wrote the review for this feminist folklore fable. At the time of reading it was everything I could’ve possibly asked for: a rather unconventional novel about children, witchcraft and one of the darkest periods of history (for which I partially treated it as a historical fiction book). What I found to be even more engaging was how the author succeeded at building a magical story without using actual magic and at creating a vivid, descriptive story one cannot help but get lost in. Not only it offers everyone a well detailed insight into the 15th century as it highlights the cruelties women had to go through without violent depictions of the event, but it is quite the middle grade novel.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Did I avoid the novel for quite some time? Yes. Was I afraid of feeling miserable after reading it? Yes. Did I feel miserable after reading it? Also yes. It goes without saying that I didn’t begin by loving the novel, not even by liking it; but about fifty pages in I realised how downhearted this sorrowful depiction of reality made me feel, and, although I might come off as a weird person who loves books that provoke sorrow, I loved it. It made me feel things I didn’t knew were there, hence why it is in this top and why the review for it is one of the longest I ever wrote.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Wonderful in so many ways, the first book of the series is a combination of romance and historical fiction, but with a rather modern twist. Regardless of what a brick of a book it is, the pages went by incredibly fast, which was quite unexpected if I’m frank. Considering my fear of commitment when it comes to book series, I was quite reluctant at first. However, everything, from the characters and their developments, descriptions of the scenery, word choice, the very detailed actions and emotions and to the historical accuracy “forced” me to fall in love with the series. As of now, I’m on the 6th book and I’m still very caught up in it.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Devastating. If there is one word that would perfectly describe the novel it would be devastating. It offers a poignant look at race, gender and different issues that unfortunately got to be associated with both. After reading it I remember feeling some sort of bare but on the inside, like something has been ripped out of me and now there is a cold wind blowing. It is one of those books that forces one to be present in the novel and only in the novel, which only increased its impact on me. It definitely is one of those literary masterpieces that every person should read at least once in their lifetimes. If anything, I was so thrilled by the novel that it became, next to the greatest book I read in 2021, the topic of my dissertation. I unfortunately don’t own a physical copy of it, hence why it’s not in the photo.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Immediately as I started reading The Help I knew that it is the book of the year. Focusing on the black working class, particularly on black women as domestic workers, the novel approaches diverse themes, from systematic racism and oppression to the idea of community. The strong narrative was one of the elements that instantly hooked me, and the writing style is such that it reflects how women and men spoke back in the mid-twentieth century (considering the poor educational opportunities they had, in comparisons to their white counterparts). It is definitely not a book you want to read, but rather a book you need to read. One of these days I will upload the review, which is quite difficult to write considering how many perspectives and aspects I feel I need to pen down.