Hey everyone! Enough has been said about how 2020 was so I’ll spare you the obvious. Reading-wise, I had a pretty good year. My reading list for college was amazing this year and some of those books turned out to be my best read. I had the opportunity of reviewing many amazing books by debut/indie authors. Perhaps the achievement I’m most proud of and grateful for is kick-starting my career as an editor.
Here are my top 10 reads of 2020.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
If anyone asked me to recommend them just one book from India, I would choose A Fine Balance. I read this just a few weeks ago and it is one of the best books I have ever read. This 600+ page book encompasses so much of what the population of our country has been through and continues to go through. Set in the time of the Emergency and Indira Gandhi, it follows the life of a woman living under the thumb of the patriarchy and her struggles to live a life independent from her controlling brother. It also follows multiple descendants from a family who came from the lower varna of the caste system. The book shows their life not only in this system but how they survived in acute poverty and constant misfortunes. Another character is one who is more ‘privileged’ than the others, yet he isn’t any less complex.
This is a difficult book to get through. Not only is it long and detailed, it will make you extremely sad and hopeless many times because any Indian reading this book knows how realistic it is. This book has had a huge impact on me. I see the blessings in my own life with more gratitude but I also see more clearly the reality, struggle, and cruelty of this world.
There is no person I wouldn’t recommend this book to (except those struggling with their mental health and younger readers).
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Color Purple is another heart-wrenching read. It is written in the form of letters (epistolary format) from a young black girl called Celie to God. Celie is abused by her step-father and then mistreated by her husband as well. The book follows her life as many characters enter the novel. The book does have a more positive element later on and even gives us glimpses of Africa and a part of its culture. The book wonderfully stands as an important work of feminism, homosexuality, and one representing black women.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Namesake follows two generations of Indian immigrants in America. Aashima and Ashok and then their son Gogol. The book is an interesting read and describes in depth the identity crisis that many second-generation immigrants go through and how they’re always hanging in the middle of two or more cultures.
Rebati by Fakir Mohan Senapati
Rebati by Fakir Mohan Senapati is a short story that was originally written in Odia. The story addresses the caste and class system in India, the treatment of the girl child, and the denial of education to her. The writing style of the story deserves special mention as well as the character of the cruel grandmother who’s words that ended the story still echo in my mind.
Andha Yug by Dharamvir Bharati, translated by Alok Bhalla
Andha Yug is a play that takes place on the last day of the war between the pandavas and kauravas in the Mahabharata. The book basically describes the futility of war, how neither side actually won and there was only destruction caused. The English translation is very simple to read, yet the prose is beautiful and very deep. The tale of the Mahabharata is one that many of us have read about many times, so the way that dialogues in this play are written is what makes it special.
The Outlands series by Rebecca Crunden
The Outlands series is a post-apocalyptic dystopian series. I flew through the five books and fell in love with the characters. I have not been so hooked to a book series in years. The author has a wonderful ability to make us root for each and every character, all of whom are complex and flawed. The character development was amazing. The world that the books were set in is a scary one and each moment in the books kept me on edge. This series was a very satisfactory one for me and I would love to re-read it sometime in the future. Read my review of the first book A Touch of Death.
South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel
Murakami is no-doubt one of the most hyped authors in the online book community. A gift from a dear friend, this is the first and so far the only book I’ve read by him. The story of this book wasn’t as enjoyable to me as was the experience of reading it. The writing style was unlike anything I’ve ever read and I honestly cannot put into words what was so beautiful about it. This book is about love and longing. It’s about going through your entire life with the impression of one person in your heart, always. It’s about peace and tranquility despite unfulfilled desires. It’s also about feeling an emptiness inside you despite having everything you could ask for.
I’m looking forward to experiencing Murakami’s writing style through more of his books soon.
Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
When it was announced that Stephenie Meyer will be releasing this book in August, I finally had something to look forward to in this dreary year. I had the most fun reading this book in 2020. Read my thoughts in detail on Midnight Sun here.
The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
I didn’t stop buying things or saving all my income after reading this book, but I did become more intentional, more financially aware, and really understood the need for intentional spending. You can read more of my thoughts on this book in this post – 3 Self-Improvement Books I Loved.
You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero
This book gave me the confidence I needed to believe that I can also be rich someday and that wanting to be wealthy doesn’t have to go against your values or the industry that you’re in. The author herself was a freelance writer so I was able to connect to this book more than other financial books.
You can also check out the Top 10 Books I Read in 2019