My top 5 books of 2020 (even if they weren’t written in 2020)

Today I want to share my top 5 books of 2020. I’m sure, as we are all aware, that the currently raging COVID-19 pandemic, with ensuing death, illness, economic loss, job loss, and travel bans, has not been fantastic for the vast majority of the world. (Insert virtue signalling here about how I am grateful for the good things in my life. I am, but I am also feeling tired and grouchy. There’s a reason writers do their best work locked in a room alone away from other people.) So if my list seems pessimistic, that’s why. I’ll be honest–I’ve used my writing this year as a form of escapism from the long grinding tedium of reality this year. (Live alone, work from home, family’s out of state, no pets, boyfriend is stuck in Europe–I have a lot of time on my hands.) I hope, ideally, if you read some of my work it allows you the same form of escapism. Anyway, you should read these books too, because they’re good and I’m picky.

Book 1 – The Stand by Stephen King. If I have to tell you why you should read this book in 2020, I’m not sure we can be friends. If it’s a little too on the nose, fair. But I really love this book. One of his best books. Go read it.

Book 2 – The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason. Oh em gee. Literary. Atmospheric. Lyrical. Slightly depressing. Yes. This is one of those books that is stuck in my head and will stay stuck in my head. I reread it twice this year. It’s about a young Polish doctor in World War I who’s sent to be a doctor on the eastern front for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A rarely seen slice of WWI in Anglophonic literature.

Book 3 – The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason. See Book 2, but Burma and British colonialism and music instead of medicine. I liked this one a little less than The Winter Soldier, possibly because the ending is sadder. Still, very good. Go read it.

Book 4 – A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay. This is the best written love story I’ve ever read. And half of the couple in love is dead by the end of the prologue. Kay’s work runs along some very similar themes. but this is my favorite of his works, and my favorite of his worlds.

Book 5 – The Collected Poems – A Bilingual Edition by Federico Garcia Lorca. I found a copy of this, in all places, in the living room of a tiny vacation lodge on the north shore of Lake Superior in northern Minnesota in 2008, when I was there on a school trip. The copy there was in Spanish only, which luckily I still had enough Spanish in my memory to read. What an incredible collection of poetry. Reza, como yo, a San Cayetano… It’s good in English, too. If poetry isn’t your thing, I encourage you to widen your horizons.

That’s all for today. Ciao!

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