Year in Review

Year in Review 2020: Books

This blog is pretty much exclusively about visual content – television predominantly with a mix of movies, music videos, and other screen-based things. However today I want to talk about books!

I’d consider myself a reader. I pretty much always have a book on the go and I’d say I’d average a book every other week with my “busiest” reading season being the summer (I often read a book a day while I’m at the cottage). I stick to a few specific categories of books:

  • Non-fiction professional development (books about people who work in media or books about business etc)
  • Non-fiction books about young people (I often work with young people)
  • Contemporary Romance (Think books by Sophie Kinsella!)
  • Contemporary YA (Think books by John Green)
  • Canadian Authors/Stories (got to support local!)
  • Royal Fiction (I’ll read anything with a ‘royal’ storyline).

I will read books outside of these categories if someone recommends one to me or if I’m gifted a book, and while there are some that I love but I’ve read enough books to know that these are my ultimate favourites.

The ideal book for me would be a book about Peter Morgan creating The Crown written by a Canadian or a YA book about camp counsellors who fall in love. 🤷‍♀️ I know what I like.

I love book intenet content. From bookstagrams to booktiktok to book twitter. I secretly lurk around the internet taking note about what books people are talking about. There are two to shoutout. First – Random House’s twitter gives highly specific recommendations M-F from 3-3:30pm EST and I’d highly recommend tweeting them or lurking on that thread. Second – shoutout to my friend Cayley who started a bookstagrams this year and has recently hit 1000+ followers! She’s got great taste and is worth a follow.

I also really got into a book podcast this year called Bad on Paper. It’s co-hosted by two mid-30 somethings (Grace Atwood and Becca Freeman) who became my quarantine big sisters this year. Their life tips were great but their book recommendations were fantastic. I discovered my favourite book of the year through them.

Professionally – in ten years I’d love to say that I’m someone who has adapted a book into a TV show. That would be *the dream*. I have a list going of books that I’d want to get the rights to and in November I took a course that included ‘how to buy book rights’. I deeply admire Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. I would love to one day own a media company that produces tv shows and talks about books all day.

The point is that I love books.

So I thought I’d share my 2020 list with you and give you some recommendations and thoughts on my favourites. This year I read 49 books – 31 new ones and 18 re-reads. I also started but did not finish 16 books – for a total of 65 books.

Fiction (Ranked from worst to best)

  1. The Jetsetters by Amanda Ward – I wanted this to be better. It wasn’t great.\
  2. Head over Heels by Hannah Orenstein – this was an easy/fast read. It was fine, nothing special. I do think it could be a fun teen movie for Netflix.
  3. American Royals II- Majesty by Katharine McGee – This is a sequel and to be honest, I preferred the first book. It’s a fun concept (Americain royalty!) but the novelty wore off in book two.
  4. The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – This is the sequel to The Royal We and while it was nice to hang out with “old friends” – it wasn’t as good as the first (which is a shame because the first is one of my all-time favourites)
  5. Normal People by Sally Rooney – I wanted to love this, but I hated the two main characters. I also really struggled with the lack of quotation marks in the book. I need to watch the show because I’m hoping that the Irish accents make them more endearing.
  6. The Boys Club by Erica Katz – Loved the build-up, hated the ending.
  7. Tell Me Everything by Cambria Brockman – A liberal arts university thriller. It felt like the university I went to but with a murder twist. I was into it.
  8. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline – Solid book. Did I love it, no. Was it good, yes.
  9. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani – One of my Pathfinders told me to read this after I told her I was a Harry Potter fan. I understand why she recommended it. It’s all about fairytales set at a boarding school. Apparently, Paul Feig is adapting it for Netflix and I’m very curious to see what they do with it. IMO – it has a lot of potential as a show.
  10. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – Was professional Hil fan-fic but I was into it. Highly recommend listening to the Irish Women’s Podcast discussion about it.
  11. Dumplin by Julie Murphy – I loved this movie and the book was phenomenal. Big fan.
  12. Albatross by Terry Fallis – I always enjoy a Terry Fallis book and this one felt very *leaside*. I was into it.
  13. Royals By Rachel Hawkins – I inhaled this book. Read it so quickly. It’s just pure fun. I’m hopeful we get more in this series.
  14. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes – I loved this. It’s a small-town baseball romance. I loved it. It was a Nancy Meyers movie in book form.
  15. The Selection by Kiera Cass – I devoured this book. It is The Bachelor crossed with The Hunger Games set in a post WWIV North America with the goal to win the heart of a Prince! The only reason why it’s not higher is that it has a cliff hanger ending! I didn’t realize it was part of a series but now I have books to look forward to in 2021.
  16. Beach Read by Emily Henry – We’re into the top five! I loved this book and it made me want to move to a lakeside town and write a book. Absolutely fantastic.
  17. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – This was another top book of the year for me. It was so cute. Totally ridiculous premise but absolutely lovely.
  18. One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London – I adored this. It’s a book about a plus-size Bachelorette (in the book it’s called “Main Squeeze”). Huge fan.
  19. Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – I am obsessed with this. The Prince of England and the First Son of the USA start an illicit affair. 10/10.
  20. The Idea of You by Robin Lee – My favourite book of the year. I’m not alone. Vogue just published a piece about how this was the pandemic sleeper hit. I know it’s not for everyone – but it was perfect for me.

Picture Books

  1. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy – I deeply loved this book. It was such a fast read but a magical experience. I think everyone should own this book to have around for a quick browse every now and again. Just perfection.

Non-Fiction (Ranked from worst to best)

  1. The Career Code – Hillary Kerr – meh. I needed to read this when I picked it up but it wasn’t great.
  2. Untamed by Glennon Doyle – This book was so overhyped to me. There were parts that I really enjoyed but overall I don’t understand why it’s on everyone’s top 10 lists… it’s not a bad book – it’s just not this AMAZING book you know…
  3. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown – I wasn’t into it. Maybe because it’s 2020 and I wasn’t leading a team or in the workplace, but I really struggled to finish this book.
  4. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown – Is it bad to say the Ted Talk was better? I wanted so badly to love this book. I just couldn’t get into it in the same way that I loved her Netflix special or Ted Talk. I’m glad I read it – I just wasn’t obsessed with it.
  5. Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness – JVN is so fascinating to me and this book is great. It’s a quick read. 8/10.
  6. Decoding Boys by Cara Natterson – I worked with a group of teenage boys this winter and this book was very helpful. If you work with or have a teen boy you care about – read this book. I’d give this one a tie with the next one…
  7. How to Raise a Boy by Michael C. Reichert – Same review as Decoding Boys. It was very good and extremely helpful.
  8. Boys and Sex by Peggy Orenstein – I love Peggy’s work. This is a ‘sequel’ or ‘companion’ book to Girls and Sex which is one of my all time favourites. It’s a MUST read if you work with or care about young people. If you don’t read the book, listen to her talk about it on Dax Shepherd’s podcast. She’s amazing.
  9. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow – This is the Harvey Weinstein takedown story and it’s incredible journalism. I loved it for so many reasons but I particularly loved listening to this as an audio book because it felt like Ronan was telling me his story. 10/10.
  10. Open Book by Jessica Simpson – Honestly this was amazing. I was so surprised by this book but I loved it. I would highly recommend this book. My favourite NF of the year.

RE-READING (no order)

  1. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – I could re-read this 100 times. It’s so fun. It’s essentially Will+Kate fan-fic and I’m here for it.
  2. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books (1-5) by Ann Brashares – This is a classic summer re-read for me. I grew up with the sisterhood girls. I read the original four when I was a teenager when the characters were all teenagers. I read the 5th Sisterhood Everlasting when I was an early 20 something but rereading it this summer as the same age as the characters was fun. I want them to make the 5th into a movie with all the sisterhood girls back!
  3. Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman – A classic. It’s a star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet book. The son of the mob boss starts dating the daughter of the FBI agent trying to take down the mob boss. This is on my list of ‘books to adapt’ one day. It’s a lot of fun.
  4. To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han – I did this as an audio book to help me sleep when the world was stressful and this was the perfect easy escape. I adore this book.
  5. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – another audio book to deal with stress. It’s such a fun book that it was easy to zone out listening to this story. Big fan.
  6. Stravagnaza by Mary Hoffman – I adore City of Masks and City of Stars are two of my all time favourite books. I just adore the
  7. The complete Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – Honestly, this caused me a lot of stress to re-read because of the whole JK TURF problems but also it’s Harry Potter. HP is my ultimate cozy reread. It makes me feel good. It’s so comfortable and I needed it this year. So here’s how I rationalized it: I now believe that Hermoine Granger used a time turner to write these books for the muggles but needed a ghostwriter. Unfortunately, the memory charm she used on the random muggle is wearing off and there are ugly after-effects…) 

Did Not Finish… 

I always feel bad and slighlty guilty when I DNF a book. I really don’t like doing this, but life is too short to read bad books. Many of these books are NOT bad, they just didn’t fit into my headspace at the time. There are a few here that were DNF because I got busy and my hold at the library expired –  so there are a few I’m coming back to. However, there are others that I just don’t want to read…

  1. Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory – I’ll try again. I love Jasmine Guillory and I want to read this one.
  2. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory – Just couldn’t get into it.
  3. They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman – I ran out of time on my library hold. I’ll try again.
  4. Holding by Graham Norton – Same as the last, I ran out of time on my library hold. I really want to try again. I was into this book and I adore Graham Norton.
  5. Calm The Fuck Down by Sarah Knight – I have no interest in coming back to this. Not for me.
  6. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane – TBD. I’m not sure what I want to do with this one.
  7. Liberation by Imogen Kealey – I got 50% through it. I might come back to it but TBD.
  8. The Vacationers by Emma Straub – Not sure I’ll try agian.
  9. Fair Play by Eve Rodsky – It was too much about being a mom/wife. I wanted it to be more for professional women.
  10. The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole – I wasn’t in the right head space. I’ll try again.
  11. The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle  – I wanted to like this but couldn’t get it into it.
  12. The Personality Brokers by Merve Emre – A lot of friends raved about this but I don’t think I’ll return.
  13. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick – I’m moving on.
  14. The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott – I had too many books on hold and had to give this one up but I’ll come back to it.
  15. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett – I ran out of time on my library hold. I will try again. I was into this book.
  16. Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson – I started reading this one the day before the whole Michelle Latimer mess came out. I was hoping to read the book and then watch the series over the holidays. I 100% plan on finishing the book I just need to take a break.

1 thought on “Year in Review 2020: Books”

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