Each year, I have increased my Goodreads challenge little by little in the hopes of increasing my reading speed and consuming more fantastic books. Last year I managed to exceed my reading goal of seventy five by nine, and that was with neglecting my reading for significant portions throughout the year. Therefore, this year is the year. I am finally going to challenge myself to read one hundred books in 2020. Here’s hoping the year brings a whole host of favourite new authors and books, and that I can broaden my horizons and gain insight into topics I am currently ignorant about. I really think 2020 has the potential to become my best reading year yet. This is my January to be read list. Please feel free to leave links to your list or let me know what your 2020 reading goal is in the comments. Here’s to an amazing reading year for everyone, happy reading!
1. Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – Released 7th January 2020
Emira is shopping in a supermarket when she is accused of kidnapping the child she is actually babysitting. When her employer catches wind of this, she sets off on a personal mission to make things right. However, an aspect of their lives that connects the two women sends them on a path of discovery, and not necessarily a good one. I chose this one to read because it sounds like it will concern the issue of racial stereotypes and institutional racism. The relationship between the two women sounds as though it will be explored in an interesting manner, raising questions surrounding intersectional feminism and employer/employee dynamics. I’ll be reading that one as soon as I receive it in the post, so a review will be posted shortly after the release date.
2. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins – Released 21st January 2020
American Dirt explores the process of illegally crossing the US/Mexico border and what would cause someone to become so desperate as to risk their lives in order to live in the US, where they will be treated so horrifically by the government. Lydia has a business and a husband and a family one day and the next, her eight year old son is all that is left. Lydia is faced with a terrifying and near impossible journey in order to protect him. This book is already receiving great reviews, and I believe it could be an important piece of literature exploring immigration and the dangers immigrants face consistently before the journey, throughout the journey and even upon arrival to a new country.
3. Pine by Francine Toon – Released 23rd January 2020
A chilling gothic horror set in the Highlands of Scotland, Pine explores small town claustrophobia, the occult and the paranormal. Lauren and her father live alone, their home village surrounded by forest. What mysteries do these trees hold between their branches? Who can Lauren trust, if anyone? A good gothic horror is what I need this winter, after my massive reading slump over the autumn causing me to miss out on the Halloween vibes. I adore Scotland, and would love to move there one day, so I feel as though this book will be the whole atmospheric, spooky, mysterious package I’ve been looking for. Furthermore, it gives off Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss vibes, which makes it even more compelling.
1. The Wicked King by Holly Black
Initially, I had no intention of reading this series, but I found myself in a reading slump this autumn and needed something quick and easy to read. The Cruel Prince fitted this description perfectly and provided some mindless entertainment, consequently helping me out of my slump. The series follows Jude and Taryn, mortal twins who are forced to live in the faerie kingdom when tragedy befalls them as children. Taryn throws herself into faerie life, but Jude struggles to feel as though she belongs, especially as she is bullied by a group of intensely cruel faeries led by the mysterious Prince Cardan. As time elapses, Jude attempts to find a way to snatch some modicum of power from the faeries, resulting in a game of war, politics and tension. Although not the best literature there is out there, the first book was exciting and held my attention, so I’m intrigued by what the second has to offer.
2. Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan
Kirsty Logan is an author I have been interested in reading for a while, and since one of my goals for 2020 is to read more short story collections, Things We Say in the Dark is the perfect choice for my January TBR. Women’s fears create inspiration for this collection, exploring isolation and claustrophobia in equal measures. Ranging from contemporary fairytales with a twist, to chilling supernatural ghost stories, Things We Say in the Dark discusses a range of topics that affect women, including domestic violence and female desire, creating a piece of feminist literature that I am hoping I will love.
3. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Thrillers are not often included in my reading, but there have been a few released in 2019 that have piqued my interest, and I’m starting my year off with this one. This one begins with a baby who has been left alone in a house alongside three people who appear to have been dead for several days. This raises the question of the identity of the person looking after the baby. Is the book supernatural or is it purely psychological? I’m intrigued to find out.
2019 Non- Fiction:
1. The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan
Having previously read Cahalan’s Brain On Fire, I was excited for this release, but was reluctant to drop £20 on it, as that is a little out of my price range for a standard edition book. However, when I saw it was being released in a different edition for much less at the beginning of 2020, I decided to pre-order and read it in January. The book is a commentary on David Rosenhan’s study into psychiatry labels in the 1970s combined with Cahalan’s own new research. Mental illness has always been and remains to this day, misunderstood. It will be intriguing to read about Cahalan’s findings to see if they can provide any insight into what we need from our mental health services.
1. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado – 2017
Continuing with my darkly provocative, feminist themed short story collections, I have chosen to read Her Body and Other Parties. Carmen Maria Machado’s new book, a memoir about her experience of being in a relationship with a violent woman is being released in January, but I thought it would be a good idea to read her fiction before reading that one, as it may allow for a deeper understanding of her as a person. This collection explores sexuality and the body with a science fiction twist, and I can’t wait to read it in the new year.
2. My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh – 2018
This is another book where my interest levels have remained strong over time, but I have waited until it was released in a more affordable format. The ideas Moshfegh has are extremely intriguing and I believe she has the potential to become one of my new favourite authors. This particular story is about a woman who appears to have everything – a first class education, an apartment paid for with her inheritance, a good job, beauty and popularity. However, she still wishes to escape the world and so induces a year long sleep for herself. Exploring themes of alienation and discontentment, My Year of Relaxation brings an original concept to the world of contemporary literature.
3. Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell – 2017
As much as I would be happy with all of my consumed literature being written by women, I thought I would balance the tables a little bit with Spellslinger. I read Kings of the Wyld in December and Nicholas Eames mentioned Sebastien de Castell as an inspiration. Out of the two series de Castell has out, I decided to start with this one, because it seems like an entertaining, but quick read and the covers here in the UK are fantastic. Spellslinger surrounds Kellen’s loss of magic and subsequent foray onto a different path involving trickery and deceit alongside the mysterious Ferius Parfax. This all sounds incredibly intriguing and I cannot wait to start (and hopefully finish) a new fantasy series this year.
4. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart – 1945
This is a fictional account of Smart’s relationship with poet George Barker. The book details her experience of falling in love with a man through his words on the page and the subsequent affair that followed. I recently read Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson and discovered that Percy Bysshe Shelley fell in love with Mary Shelley whilst married. The concept of this book reminded me of that love affair and I decided to read it in January as a result.
1. A History of the World in 21 Women by Jenni Murray – 2016
I currently work in a care home and one of my residents recommended this book to me, so my partner got it for me for Christmas and it’s gone straight onto my January TBR list. I had a quick look at some of the women mentioned in this book and am excited to learn more about them, and hopefully get some further reading recommendations. Being able to discuss books my residents recommend to me is what makes me love my job the most, so I cannot wait to read this one.
1. Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy – 1872
One of my goals for 2020 is to read more works of classic literature after reading few in 2019. Having previously read from Thomas Hardy’s bibliography, I settled on one of his novels for my January TBR list. Under the Greenwood Tree is Hardy’s second published novel, published anonymously in 1872. The book seems to be concerned with the everyday affairs of a group of church musicians and I’ve found my favourite classics tend to be character examinations written in the 1800s so I’m excited to get to this one.
Manga and Graphic Novels:
1. Orange Collection 1 by Ichigo Takano – 2016
I must admit this purchase was influenced by the influx of booktubers who have read and rated highly this manga series. Orange is about a sixteen year old girl who receives a letter from her future self telling her to look out for the new transfer student at her school. This premise sounds like it strikes a good balance between science fiction and contemporary and I love having a few manga volumes on my TBR list to break up the heavier novel reading.
2. Umbrella Academy volume 1: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way & Gabriel Bá – 2008
The concept of this graphic novel series sounds like X-Men for teenagers and given that My Chemical Romance were one of my favourite bands as a teenager, my interest is definitely piqued by it. I’m intrigued to see how Gerard Way is as a graphic novel author and if his ideas on the page are as good as his songs.
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