The one good thing about 2020 was that I finally found the time to catch up on my rising pile of books. Here are some of the books that got me through 2020.
HIS DARK MATERIALS by Philip Pullman
2020 was a hellish year. So it would be hardly surprising that the most interesting books that got me through it have been the trilogy, His Dark Materials. Every book in this trilogy was a page-turner. Lyra’s journey throughout the trilogy has been shown in such a vast, fantastic way. And it was not just the fascinating places and characters that she met along the way that made the books gripping. But it was also about the situations where she had to make decisions without complete knowledge of the possible ramifications of each decision. There were parts in Lyra’s journey throughout the trilogy where the saying, “Ignorance is bliss” was apt for her.
Also, the character growth shown throughout the trilogy was beautiful. The most villainous characters, in the beginning, ended up somewhere in the gray area. I loved the way Philip Pullman showed the dichotomy between reason and passion. The most scientific character with the curiosity to seek more knowledge had a passionate nature. And the most devoted character was shown to be someone who acts with reason while doing the best to avoid clouded emotions. These are the sort of books to read if anyone wants to experience a thousand emotions in about 1200 pages.
LUCKY MAN by Michael J. Fox
While the world was grappling with the unexpected surge of a viral disease, I read about the legend grappling with an unexpected disease as his career surged aboard the DeLorean. Reading about his journey from childhood to the day that he had to leave Spin City was just so poignant and humbling. From being broke and defeated in LA to when he became a household name to when he had to step back from it all was a rollercoaster of emotions. I have never been as hooked by a memoir before. It was so compelling, reading about him looking back on his childhood and the traits that he carried with him through the future, the emotional struggles that he faced through the years while landing different acting gigs. It truly felt like I was reading a hero’s journey. He did not defeat all the monsters. But he kept fighting through with his comrades by his side.
PRETTY GIRLS by Karin Slaughter
It had been a long time since I read a mystery thriller, and this book reminded me why. Because the truth is horror genre is thrilling, and the thriller genre is horrifying. The horror genre is generally fantasy-based but, mystery thrillers have a realistic setting making them scarier.
But despite all the nightmares I had after reading this, I would call this book a masterpiece. The way it was written from different character perspectives with letters from their father connecting the dots between chapters was beautiful. It is hard to imagine the amount of research and the kind of mindset that the author must have required to write some of the grueling scenes. But the main thing that had me hooked to the book was the way it began with a personal loss and eventually unraveled a wider net of people responsible for a lot more than that one loss. Also, the way the main character tried to separate her memories and her current insights into someone close to her was gut-wrenching to read. So, to sum it up, it was scary and sad with a punch in my stomach, to say the least.
REMEMBER ME by Mary Higgins Clark
Is there such a genre as a cozy thriller? Because this was both. It was intriguing, and the way all the characters’ lives wove in with each other made it seem like a cozy small-town mystery. From the woman suffering from Alzheimer’s to the local realtor/childhood friend to the widower to a waitress at a local bar, they were all interconnected with threads that kept weaving chapter after chapter. And, the way the author integrated elements of mental trauma and historical houses of pirates with an intriguing backstory made this book an epic page-turner. It was refreshing to read a crime thriller set in a close-knit community where a character dealing with personal trauma overcomes the killer despite being picked as an easy target. In the end, it was her wit and tenacity that caught the killer and not some amateur sleuth.
THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman
A ghostly version of The Jungle Book with a boy raised in a graveyard made this book a fun read. The fact that every chapter was like an episode of a comedic fantasy made it more fun. It showed great adventures that Nobody would take you on.
If I ever recommend a reread, it would be this book. Every chapter had a sweet theme to it. Some were about friendship when the boy met a human visiting the graveyard and a witch buried without a headstone. Some have the theme of revenge when he scares the bullying kids from school or when the villains who killed his living parents came after him and his friend. Some of the chapters had lighthearted themes like celebration through the Dance Macabray or education when he was taught to fade out or made to learn all the sounds of supernatural creatures. If you have read this before, you can crack it open on any page and go on an adventure that Nobody has seen before.