Melissa's Favorite Books of 2020 So Far

Many people balk when asked what their favorite anything is, but I love picking favorites.

The first question I ask when I walk out of a movie is: “What was your favorite part?” My mom, since she spends so much time around me, is the only one who always has an answer.

I have a favorite movie (Silent Hill), a favorite color (pink), and a favorite book of all time (The Book Thief). As for animals, pigeons take my number one spot. My favorite brand is Adidas. I love Taylor Swift more than any other singer. I could go on and on. The point of my emphasizing this concept is that, when asked to rank the top books I’ve read so far in 2020, I jumped at the chance.

As of June 29th, I’ve read 10,940 pages. That’s 33 books out of my goal of 65 for the year. In March, I was easily reading two per week. I was at least 15 books ahead of schedule at that point. But then COVID hit and knocked my routine on its head. Whereas I was speeding ahead of the curve before, now I’m only one book ahead of where I should be. My reading routine is very off-kilter, and sadly, pretty nonexistent. I don’t doubt that if things looked the same as they did pre-lockdown, I’d have logged double the amount of pages or more.

But this is where I am, and this is where the world is. 2020 is a year of reset. It’s the year for waking up, recognizing privilege, and fighting tooth and nail for equity; for what’s right. So, I figure, if my reading schedule has taken a toll to compensate for the space my brain is using to learn about combating racial injustice, then I shouldn’t fret too much.

To end my rambling, here is my list of FAVORITE books that I’ve read in 2020 (so far):

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

In this life-encompassing novel, Jennifer Weiner tells the story of sisters Jo and Bethie. Their lives are realistic but not tedious, page-turning but not fantastical. This story felt like a peek into what could be my very own family.

The ending of the book reminded me a lot of the time I spent with my grandma as she was passing away. Jennifer Weiner has a knack for making her characters and the situations they experience not only relatable, but very personal.

Buy it here.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

I’ve been reading Jodi Picoult since I was in high school. I started off with My Sister’s Keeper and devoured as many of her books as possible. I took a break, then came back with Small Great Things in 2019. And once I started again, I couldn’t stop.

The reason I stopped reading Jodi for a while is because her work became a little formulaic for my taste. But, I discovered, with her newer works, that she’s ditched the formula and started fresh.

The ending of Leaving Time made me weep in the best way. There’s nothing like a good catharsis from an author that you love.

Buy it here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

From 2012-2016, my love of The Hunger Games comprised who I was as a person. I had the merchandise, a blog, the movies, the books, the soundtracks. It was everything to me. So, the fact that Suzanne Collins released a prequel this year was everything that Melissa of yore needed.

At first, I was disappointed that we wouldn’t get to experience the lives of Katniss and Peeta - I was secretly hoping for a book entirely in Peeta’s POV (a la Stephenie Meyer’s Midnight Sun). So, I admittedly went into Songbirds and Snakes a little jaded.

It was almost better that I went in that way, though, because the surprise was all the more pleasant. Jumping back into that universe and reading in Suzanne Collins’ voice brought me back to a much simpler time. She crafted a world that I care about, and was even able to garner sympathy for President Snow (at least, at first…)

A lot of people didn’t like it. But for me, it was a huge win and a pleasant blast from the past.

Buy it here.

Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

This is one that I wrote a review on for TBS! Here’s a snippet from said review that sums up my feelings on the book the best:

“Hilderbrand has a way with words in general, but one of her finest talents is how she weaves the concept of family into a plot. She never shoves anything in her reader’s face; her writing is smooth in a way where her points can wait to be realized. From a distance, the menagerie of characters in Here’s To Us don’t fit together whatsoever, and the amount of people in the story can be intimidating. But in reality, after a few chapters, their personalities and backgrounds shine through so clearly that they’re impossible to mix up. With so many vivid faces to choose from, a reader will undoubtedly see themselves in one of them.”

Buy it here.

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

Before this, I had never read anything by Carolyn Parkhurst; it was simply a lucky grab off a thrift store shelf. This book was a story within a story, which was interesting where it had potential to be confusing. I loved the idea that it’s possible to fix what’s been broken, even if the picture doesn’t look the same the second time around.

Buy it here.

2020 is only half over. There’s a lot left to do, to experience, and to read. I’m determined to get back in the groove and pick up my momentum today. I think Target’s book section is calling my name…


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