2020 was a dud of year, to be honest. However, one comfort that helped get me through the year was the escapism of reading. Now, my reading numbers aren’t at the levels they once were. However, numbers aren’t everything and, one benefit that comes from reading less is that you’re much more likely to choose books you know you’re going to love. Therefore, this list spotlights the five books that made my year a little bit more tolerable, even if they made me cry.
1. Beartown by Fredrik Backman: The book that kick-started the year, Beartown proved to be harrowing, emotional, and hopeful. It’s a book that explores the best and worst of humanity while giving a voice to silence. While ice hockey is central to the community of Beartown, we come to understand the destructive nature of sports culture, exploiting athletic merit to turn a blind eye to heinous acts. However, within the sadness, there is also strength. The strength of family, friendship, and making your voice heard. It’s bold, heartbreaking, and beautiful.
2. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: When it comes to romance, The Kiss Quotient hs everything you could desire. This book had received rave reviews from readers, and now I understand why. This book was such a joy to read, and as we get to know Stella and Michael, you find yourself drawn to their genuine affection for one another and endeared by their desire to grow for the sake of their individual goals. The Kiss Quotient truly swept this reader off her feet.
3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: I enjoy putting myself through emotional turmoil. This book is an absolute treasure of a tale. It’s the kind of story that quietly moves you placing the spotlight on the overlooked love story within the Trojan War. It’s in witnessing quiet moments of intimacy from the perspective of a tender-hearted mortal that loved a hero that was burdened by his fate. Patroclus and Achilles have one of the most breathtaking relationships you will ever encounter. Just be prepared to cry a whole lot.
4. Jade City by Fonda Lee: The most thrilling fantasy you will ever read. Jade City has an abundance of intricate familial, magical, and political dynamics that makes this a must-read. It’s gritty, introspective, and shocking. No character is safe. The nice guys don’t always win, and those heroes stand firmly on the line of morally ambiguous. The intricacy of this fantasy world is masterful.
5. Haikyuu vol. 8 by Haruichi Furudate: 2020 was the year this girl ventured into the world of manga. Haikyuu is an anime series that hooked me with its endearing characters, friendship, and volleyball. Volume 8, in particular, was a standout because it was the culmination of the Karasuno teams first foray into the prefectural tournaments. It saw a battle between a natural prodigy and veteran grafter reach a dramatic conclusion, leaving the team at a crossroads towards the next step of their development. Mental endurance was at the heart of this volume and showed just how invested one could get in a game of volleyball.