Top Books 2020


Story by gioweeargao

December 29, 2020

gwe's library as of 2020

To be honest, I did not read as much books as I thought I would for this year, considering the lockdown and all. I still have a bunch of books to read from the Big Bad Wolf sale but I guess in general, the books from those sale were mostly an okay read so I wasn't really excited in finishing them.

Despite that I still had a lot of great reads this year! (Mostly when I splurged my 13th month pay in Fully Booked 💸)

Home Body by Rupi Kaur

What is Home Body? It is a book of poetry with the topics of depression, anxiety that comes with productivity, celebrating womanhood and injustice.

a page from Rupi Kaur's Home Body

Lately I have been dissatisfied with the poetry books I read because I wasn't really connecting to them. Maybe I was finally in a good place right now that the contents are not for me any more. It seems that I was only buying more because of the writers instead of the actual content. Which was why I wasn't expecting anything for this book.

Reading Home Body took me back to 2019, when I was at my lowest. I know I was supposed to be hurting then but I just feel empty, I just feel nothing. It's nice to know I wasn't the only one who disconnected. Home Body would've been such a comfort then. But it also brought me delight that I am reading this now, because I see how I am not in that dark place anymore. I have survived ☀ī¸. 

Crazy how a poetry book has this power to take me places.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

What is A Series of Unfortunate Events? A series with 13 books (I'm guessing more appropriate for pre-teen kids) about the lives of the Baudelaire children (orphans). Their house burned down by the fire killing their parents with it. These kids were set to live in different places trying to escape a man going after their fortune that they can get once the eldest comes of age. 

a page from book 13 of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

a page from the 13th/last book

Now this one I always liked talking about. In high school we have a small library full of fiction books and that's when I learned I liked reading, I could be wrong but this series could be why. Unfortunately I was not able to finish it because one book (10th or 11th) was missing. So I bought the series now in 2020, more than 8 years later đŸ‘ĩđŸŧ.

When this arrived, I only wanted a copy for the library I was building for myself. Am I going to read it? I don't know too. I am aware I am not the target audience any more at 24 years old so I wasn't being hard on myself to read it.

But when I had it, well, I started at the beginning right away. I guess it's a good thing I tend to forget things because I don't remember much of it anymore. Rereading it was mostly me being satisfied that I had this in high school, guiding me and teaching me lessons. There were some that came as a shock to me, that this is where I got those things from đŸ¤¯. 

I thought it would overwhelm me as I reach the end of the books the way season 2 of most TV series (Riverdale, Suits, 13 Reasons Why) tend to do. It did not, it did though fascinate me how the Baudelaire kids ends up relating to Olaf more than they did to themselves when the story started. Their confusion and understanding on what a good person is with the cards they are dealt with. The way they ended up doing bad things for survival and acknowledging those instead of making it as an excuse that they really didn't have a choice, that's what made them different.

And now let's talk about the ending. Since the very first book, it was highlighted that there's no happy ending in this story so I wasn't really expecting anything. Didn't expect Lemony Snicket to surprise me some more on that last book, but it did. With all the bad things that happened to this children, it felt so good and refreshing that they get to be at peace in the end. It's the perfect ending executed in the way that it wasn't forced. This reminded me of the perfect ending of the book Circe

My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

What is My Dear Hamilton? It is a historical fiction written about the life of Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in the point of view of his wife Eliza.

Hamilton đŸ‘¯â€â™€ī¸ was a whole 2020 (and probably 2021 - ∞) thing, I wrote the obsession in a separate post.

a page from My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

What is The Song of Achilles? It is a retelling of the story of Achilles but unlike the Troy movie, this one portrays Patroclus as Achilles' lover. In Patroclus' point of view, we are set to witness the life of the greatest warrior ⚔ī¸ of Greek Mythology.

After reading Circe last year, I knew I will now never get enough from the author so The Song of Achilles was a no brainer.

pages from The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

It was probably the first gay story I have ever read and as a self proclaimed lgbtq+ ally 🌈, I have learned that despite wanting to support I still have some things to unlearn because I did have minor hesitations with reading this. The reviews of this book was also very alarming for me with the homophobic remarks, they are missing out on a good story ☚ī¸.  

I really enjoyed reading their love story. It was quiet and peaceful despite being in a war for 20 years. It is reliving the summarised version of what I've read in Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece and the movie I watched in high school, Troy. And the only thing that probably sucked about all of this is that my favorite line from the movie is not really accurate to what the scholars believed. (It was when Achilles was dying and he told Briseis (his war prize 🙄👎đŸŧ) that she gave him peace in his lifetime of war.)

The writing is really good! I felt really attached with the characters and I could not stop thinking about it long after I've finished reading.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What is To Kill a Mockingbird? This story is about seeing the world in the eye of a child named Scout, who does not understand racism, who does not understand adults. Together with her big brother and a friend, they had watched injustice unfold right in their neighbourhood. And they slowly lose their innocence because we live in a world where we overcomplicate things.

a page from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

After finding my love for books again, I thought maybe I wanted to try reading timeless classic books. And so far I have tried reading The Great Gatsby and Dante's Inferno which are both so hard to read 🤕, I may never get to finish those.

So it was nice that To Kill a Mockingbird was an easy read. It highlights so many things that we have accepted as normal which in truth are oppressive. It's the kids who asks silly questions. Who asks important questions. It seemed very simple but the impact this book has has been massive.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

What is The Book of Two Ways? If you read the story's summary at the back of the book, it is literally telling us that this book goes two ways after a plane crash. It is the life of Dawn written where it was split into two different outcomes from one starting point (references to The Book of Two Ways and parallel timelines), ending with a reveal that makes sense, that didn't need magic or whatever you call those. It is a lot of things but I guess what I got is, it talks about life and death asking the question: Are we satisfied with the life we lived when we are on our death bed?

a page from The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

To all of you who are new here, Jodi Picoult is my number 1 favorite author in the world 🏆. This book is nothing like all her other books and yet, you see in the details that this is her masterpiece. I know it will take me a long time before I forget about Dawn and Wyatt.

There's so many things to unpack from this 1 book:

  • egyptology
    • The Book of Two Ways
    • (too much) textbook information about heiroglyphs, tombs, history, etc
  • death and death doulas
  • physics
    • parallel timelines
  • art
  • marriage and family
  • the other life we didn't end up living 

I almost thought I got it figured out when the biggest hint was revealed,.. but I got that all wrong 😂. The ending was still unexpected after all my hard attempts. Overall it was a book meant for us to reflect on our life choices (classic Jodi Picoult 🤙đŸģ). 

a page from The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

What is On The Come Up? It is a story of a 16 year old black girl, Bri, on the come up to living her dreams. The dream her dad started to build but was shot dead by gang members before it even took flight. But what was the catch? Bri has to play a role and be someone she's not. It is set in the same neighbourhood as The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas' first novel) that took place a year after the kid was murdered by the cops. 

a page from On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

yes I bought a lot of highlighters this year 😇 #SalamatShopee

This was not as intense as The Hate U Give but still has a lot of issues tackled. It portrayed the effects the riot and the injustice has brought, even though the characters and their backgrounds are far different from the first book. There's so much more injustice and discrimination out there other than the police brutality. These folks lives are set to fail in general and it is hard to get out of the place when opportunities are not as easy to get. How do you live your dream when you're busy making sure rent is paid?

I really enjoyed reading it and I kept getting shocked at the pace in which I read it because it is a very thick book that I managed to finish within days, during Christmas season. I was also not expecting the book to be in this blog post because I thought that The Hate U Give was such a masterpiece that it would be hard to catch up to that success. Long story short I was wrong đŸ‘ģ. It was as entertaining as it was educational, I'm glad this falls under the YA genre because this is how we push the next generation to be better than our existing one.

Other awesome books I've read this year that I recommend:

Can't wait for next year!

some of my books I haven't read yet

Some of my books I haven't read yet



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