Book Reviews

Books I Read in 2020

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As we all know, 2020 was a roller coaster of a year and definitely not one we want to repeat. In the last year I lost my job after only 7 months of employment, ultimately due to my position not being of necessity. I stayed unemployed until recently and I had to move states to even get a nibble of anything. I moved from Texas back home to Minnesota in early November because my mental health was in the gutter. I’ve felt a huge sense of loneliness in the last couple of years even though I was living with my fiancé. I realized how much I disliked Houston and missed the Twin Cities. I needed a break from everything around me and a change in my life so I decided to move home and so far it’s been the best choice I could have made. 

2020 also brought I large change in my interests. My best friend got me back into watching anime – something I haven’t heavily done since high school – and I sort of hyperfixated on watching as many shows as possible. Streaming services became a huge part of my life and my interest in reading declined. That’s not to say I won’t ever read again; I have two books just waiting to be cracked open and I’m really going to force myself back into reading during 2021. However, before my shift in entertainment interests changed I did read a few interesting novels. 

Out of the 5 novels I read this year, my favorite had to be Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chboksy. It was creepy, suspenseful, and entirely unexpected. It’s the absolutely terrifying tale of Christopher and his quest to save his town from the devil. Christopher disappears into the Mission Street Woods for six days after moving to town, much like David Olson who vanished into the same woods 50 years ago but was never seen again. Christopher is instructed to build a tree house by Christmas day by the “nice man” that Christopher meets in the woods, and that tree house becomes the portal between the real world and the imaginary world. Every time Christopher returns from the imaginary world, he becomes more knowledgeable to the people around him, but it also makes him sick and believes he is being hunted by “the hissing lady.” The towns people start to feel the same sickness, minus the hissing lady, but with an added violent streak. By Christmas the town is completely against each other. The end of the novel reveals that the tree house actually serves as a way for the imaginary world, which is Hell, to come into the real world. The nice man is the devil. The hissing lady, who was seen as evil, is actually Eve and in the end, with Christopher’s help and strength, is able to deliver Eve back to Heaven and be forgiven by God. 

Imaginary Friends was extremely different from Chbosky’s other novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is one of my favorite books of all time. It was thoroughly enjoyable though and kept me awake most nights. The other books I read this year were all very different from each other and mostly enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of When We Were Vikings but I think it was ultimately due to the writing style. It’s written in the first person point of view from a main character who suffers from FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome). I commend the author for writing in that way but for me it was difficult to comprehend at times. 

I’m hoping that 2021 won’t be as much of a hell as 2020 and that I can put an even amount of time into my interests. I also have to make sure to keep focusing on myself and my mental health but I believe I’ve already accomplished the hard part by accepting I needed to get out of the living situation I was in. I also hope that everyone out there prospers in the new year and may it be better than the hell we just endured. 

 

Full 2020 Book List

  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris
  • Truth Be Told – Kathleen Barber
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
  • Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky
  • When We Were Vikings – Andrew David MacDonald

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