Merry Christmas!!! I hope you are having a wonderful time with your loved ones, even if due to circumstances known, it has to be done remotely.
Weird year as it was it is finally time to sum things up and see the back of it! When the pandemic hit Europe I fell into a complete reading block, I just could not focus my attention on anything longer than a page. But as time went on and our brains did what they do best, adapt, my reading picked up again. And without the distraction of daily commute or the need of being anywhere but home I managed to read more books this year than in any other since I started the blog! Who would have thought?
Here’s the completely subjective choice of my favorite fiction reads this year. And since it’s a weird year it is not a top 10, it is a top 11. In no particular order:
The Bastard of Istanbul – Elif Shafak – my belated discovery, not very appreciated by critics, but it swept me away. The characters are amazing and the prose even more so.
Hello Mum – Bernardine Evaristo – short and sharp, like a kick in the teeth. Not a word set wrong. Created for a specific purpose and accomplishing it with certainty.
Grimm Tales for Young and Old – Philip Pullman (Retelling),
Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm – There is something about the fairy tales, no matter how grim and cruel they are they also bring some sense of security and certain coziness. This retelling has the added advantage of Pullman’s short commentary to every story he selected, opening new ways of looking at them.
Lanny – Max Porter – the sheer weirdness of it, the sensitivity to the cacophony of our voices, and not being afraid of bringing the magical into the mundane. It’s also the perfect length, sensitive without becoming maudlin, and with this small throbbing vein of tension and dread.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman – it shouldn’t have worked, and yet it did. One of the biggest surprises of the year. Eleanor’s voice still sometimes rings in my ear.
In The Woods – Tana French – crime story like no other. I did not expect the layers of complexity on both the plot and psychological level. Wonderfully blending past and present, it’s a haunting read.
The Atlas of Red and Blues – Devi S. Laskar – disjointed but loud scream of injustice. How every single small micro-aggression erodes its victim until the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and becomes too much to bear anymore.
Lala – Jacek Dehnel – a wonderful memory of the world and people forever lost. They don’t make them like this anymore. But also a meditation on the art of losing, we can fight or we can accept, but losing is always painful. On top of all that it also felt very familiar in many aspects due to the crazy history of my own family.
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo – it made me laugh and swept me away, with so many voices that describe the city I live in from a perspective I did not experience before. Eye-opening, stealing your heart and seducing your mind.
The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy – who would have thought it would be such a good book. The first of Jack Ryan books, where he is completely inconsequential. But the tension, the personalities, the conflict, absolutely amazing thriller. With a little bit too much information on the construction of nuclear submarines.
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson – what can I say, this is how it should be done. No need for goriness, no need for guts and blood, and you still will be scared out of your mind. Even though the days are quite cheerful, there come the nights…
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska