Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 Book List - Part Deux!

 Reading seemed to take on one of two roles in people's lives this year. 


#1. They couldn't concentrate and, therefore, couldn't finish a single book.


#2. It was the source of all life and peace and, therefore, they read every moment of the day.

I fell quite firmly into the second group!

My normal reading goal is 24 books a calendar year. At 2 books a month, that generally requires a bit of extra focus and planning to accomplish.

My 2019 Book List is HERE.

In 2020, it was music, reading and gardening that helped me survive the pandemonium of the pandemic. By July, I had already accomplished my goal of 24 books. When I knew I'd crash my goal, I created a Mid-Year Book List.

You can find my 2020 Mid-Year Book List HERE.

In the end, instead of my normal 24, I read 42 books!!!

So with no further adieu, here's the continuation of my 2020 reading adventure!

The Diary of Anne Frank

By Anne Frank

I have no idea why I didn't read this when I was younger, but I'm so glad I finally took the time to dig into it. I read a lot of WWII historical fiction, so reading Anne's words, written in real time, were horrifying and haunting. It was especially poignant to read it during a time of lockdown, when our current whole world is under siege. Very different circumstances, of course, but still some fascinating parallels. What a loss that we don't have a whole lifetime of Anne's writings. She was so gifted.

The Magna Book of Roses

By Mary Lawrence

I needed a tiny book to help reach my goal for the month, so I picked up this pretty tome. A mix of history, poetry, and general love of all things roses. 

Writing Down The Bones

By Natalie Goldberg

A classic and must read for all writers! I created a self-organized writing retreat for myself this summer, and reading this book was part of my daily routine. Short, practical chapters filled with advice and inspiration. If you're a writer, you need to read this book!

Clap When You Land

By Elizabeth Acevedo

A novel written in verse - how could that not be intriguing? After a plane crash, the worlds of two young women both fall apart and are mysteriously drawn together. Marketed as "young adult", but I really enjoyed both the story and the writing. I'm not into audiobooks, but apparently, this one is tremendously read by the author herself.

The Pull of the Stars

By Emma Donoghue

The Pull of the Stars tells the story of three days in a maternity ward during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. This is a perfect example of art-imitating-life-imitating-art. Donoghue (known for her amazing novel "Room") wrote this story long before any of us had heard of Covid-19. Props to the publishers for getting it out during this season. Very medical (be warned, oh ye of wobbly stomachs!) but incredibly written, heartbreaking, and poignant. 

What Alice Forgot

By Liane Moriarty

One of my favourite books this year! When Alice takes a tumble in spin class, she wakes up thinking she's 29 and happily engaged. The truth is: she has amnesia, she's 39, and life is very different in the "future." Story, characters, writing - I loved everything about this book! Couldn't put it down, but couldn't stop thinking about it either. My first Moriarty book. Won't be my last!

The Boy From The Woods

By  Harlan Coben

I don't think of myself as a thriller fan, though I loved The River earlier this year! The Boy From The Woods was fast-paced with great characters and a hooky storyline. It become my "just one more chapter" book, leading to several very late nights!


By Anjuli Paschall

I went through several months this year when I just couldn't concentrate on non-fiction. Stay lovingly welcomed me back to the genre. You can read my review HERE.

The Forgotten Home Child

By Genevieve Graham

Here's the power of great historical fiction: We learn about chapters of history not taught in schools, not glorified in parades, not written about by the "winners." From the mid 1800's to the mid 1900's, over 100,000 children were sent from United Kingdom to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. These children were orphaned, abandoned, or their families were too poor to care for them. The intentions were generally good, but the results often weren't. Many children were abused or bound in indentured servitude. The children who came to Canada literally helped build and farm our country, but I didn't learn about this in school, and I'm assuming you didn't either. Highly recommend as a great novel, but also as a critical piece of our nation's history.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

By Abbi Waxman

Earlier this year, I read and raved about The Garden of Small Beginnings, also by Abbi Waxman. Inspired by my ravings, my friend recommended the popular The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I loved Small Beginnings more. There's a lot to love about Nina Hill - fun characters, great writing, and lots of book love. But ultimately, I found the love story too obvious and, because I could tell how it would end, I couldn't invest in it.

Set The Stars Alight

By Amanda Dykes

One of my favourite books of the year!! You can read my review HERE.

The Blue Castle

By Lucy Maud Montgomery

I bought my first copy of The Blue Castle many, many years ago, probably on my first visit to Green Gables. I distinctly remember having it at our cabin in Ocean Pond, NL, and reading it on my top bunk. It's been long enough that, when I started reading it, I couldn't remember any of the story, which was a lovely way to rediscover it. Wonderful story, fabulous characters, and a great read for a fall afternoon.

Home Made Lovely

By Shannon Acheson

A decadent and well written decorating book! You can read my review HERE.

The Skin We're In

By Desmond Cole

A year of racism in Toronto, through the eyes of an activist and journalist. As Canadians, we like to view our country as not racist, as least, "we're not like America." Cole sets out to challenge that notion with true stories, engaging storytelling, and well researched facts. Each chapter is mini-essay, exploring different aspects of life for Canadians who are black, POC, Indigenous, or somehow marginalized because of race. I found myself feeling heartbroken, infuriated, provoked, inspired, and at times, completely uneasy. An important read and conversation for all Canadians.

Love Poems

By John Donne

I needed some more poetry on my list, so I ventured down to our local second hand bookstore. "Where's your poetry section?" "Go down the hall, past all the rooms, turn the corner, past all the other rooms, finally go in the back room, and then go into the back corner. You'll find the poetry there." I'm guessing poetry isn't the hot ticket item I thought it was! In that back section, I found piles of cheap, vintage poetry collections, including this beautiful book of John Donne love poems. Dreamy and decadent.

Nonsense Poems

By Lewis Carroll

My poetry hunt also uncovered this fun collection of nonsense poems by Lewis Carroll. Silly and imaginative, and most fun when read aloud!

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah

Another one of my favourites for 2020! A WWII historical fiction, set in Paris and rural France. Telling the story of two very different sisters who are challenged in every way by the Nazi occupation. Our characters are fictional, but inspired by real women of this era. Don't want to give any spoilers, but wow what a story, and so beautifully written!


By Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti wrote my all-time favourite Christmas carol: In The Bleak Midwinter. It was wonderful to discover this collection of selected verses and get a broader sense of her writing abilities. Her poems are spiritual, whimsical, lyrical, and romantic. Loved this little collection!

A Christmas Memory

By Truman Capote

A collection of three holiday stories by the great Truman Capote! A perfect Christmas read, filled with memory, nostalgia, and longing. Sentimental, but never sugar-coated. 

Something Worth Doing

By Jane Kirkpatrick

Historical novelization of an early American suffragist. You can read my review HERE.

Winter Solstice

By Rosamunde Pilcher

As I write this post, I'm almost finished this one! I plan to finish it by midnight on New Year's Eve. So if you've read it already, no spoilers please! It has a gentle pace that's been just perfect for the final days of a crazy year. Perfect when paired with a "restorative cup of tea." 

What a year of reading!

What did you read and love this year?

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