These are my most memorable reads of 2020, which have stayed with me months after finishing them.
It could be that 2020 has made me more mindful, or maybe I just had a great reading year, but seldom has it happened for the memories of so many books to recur in my mind.
This plays an essential part in choosing my top ten favourite books of the year, because the longer a book stays with me, the stronger its impact, and I often like to pause and think about what specific part of the book made it so important to me.
I made a note of every such book throughout the year, as well as why it’s so meaningful, and chose the best five to include in this list. These are not exactly my top five books of the year, but they are the most memorable, and I selected them by how often I have thought about them throughout the year.
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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo. What a star. Although unfortunately fictional, this protagonist feels so real, wise and fascinating that her words often resonate through my mind when I find myself in difficulty.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugois not only excellent in its plot, execution and originality, but the characters are so well developed that it reads like an autobiography. Taylor Jenkins Reid has my heart for how skilled she is at creating characters. I have Evelyn’s words on my walls, in my journal, on my phone, and always in my thoughts.
“Make them pay you what they’d pay a White man” and “I am under absolutely no obligation to make sense to you” are two of my favourite ones and the way I find myself turning to Evelyn for advice proves that this book deserves its place as the most memorable book I read in 2020.
Red, White & Royal Blue
I listened to the audiobook of this popular queer romance three times. Red, White and Royal blue, although second on this list, is by far my one and only comfort book of 2020.
It helped me get through some very low mental health moments and I fondly remember listening to it in otherwise ordinary circumstances. The memory of having it play through my headphones makes those times a little more remarkable. It’s funny, heart-warming, incredibly witty, with a set of protagonists to die for. There is no one aspect that made me keep thinking about this book, rather, it’s the whole book and how much it has come to mean to me this year.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is still with me, seven months after finishing it. Not because of its memorable characters, but through its atmosphere.
The peculiar, dark, dizzying feel of this book often comes back to me, completely at random, like an after-thought. I remember being highly invested in the story and adoring the language, so Turton did a great job in depicting a thriller that both intrigues and entertains. Every time I think about it, I like to call it “getting the Hardcastle chills”. What more could you ask for in a book?
If you’ve read this gruesome horror, you probably won’t need an explanation. Sharp Objectsis not exactly memorable in a good way. Even writing about it now makes me shiver.
It’s an admirably well-crafted horror. The fact that it causes physical reactions in me still (it’s been five months) proves how good it is. But thinking about some of its most terrifying moments is not something I enjoy. The body horror in this book made me so uncomfortable, that not only do I flinch when remembering it, but I can also feel the same, intense sensations I felt the first time I read them.
I did not enjoy The Faceas much as most of the books I read this year, but what stood out and still makes me think about it is the concept behind it.
Ruth Ozeki subjected herself to a time experiment, where she stared at her face for three hours and recorded her thoughts, which she then transposed in this short memoir. It’s a brave and captivating experiment, which induced all kinds of thoughts and sensations in Ozeki.
Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, I pause for a while and try to do the same, just to see at what point I start thinking about how my face came to be, about my origins, my parents and reflect on my relationship with my physical appearance. Although more thought-provoking than memorable, The Face deserves to be on this list.
Analysing what books some of my thoughts are related to has been an eye-opening exercise for me this year and has changed the way I appreciate the work that went into those books.
If 2020 has taught us anything at all, being more aware of our minds should be the one thing that stays after such a difficult year.
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