Entertainment Magazine Volume 70, Issue 4

My Year Through Books

By Grace Gonsalves

Graphic By Jennifer Notman

  1. Home for the Holidays by Heather Vogel Frederick ⅘ stars
  2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston 5/5 stars
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 5/5 stars
  4. Love & Gelato (L&G #1) by Jenna Evans Welch 3/5 stars
  5. Second Change Summer by Morgan Matson 5/5 stars
  6. Love & Luck (L&G #2) by Jenna Evans Welch 5/5 stars
  7. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins ⅗ stars
  8. How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart ⅖ stars
  9. The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody ⅘ stars
  10. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo 5/5 stars
  11. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 5/5 stars
  12. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson ⅗ stars
  13. One of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus ⅗ stars
  14. This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher ⅖ stars
  15. American Royals by Katharine McGee ⅘ stars
  16. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton ⅘ stars
  17. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Miss P #1) by Ransom Riggs ⅘ stars
  18. Bridget Jones (BJ #1) by Helen Felding ⅗ stars
  19. Hollow City (Miss P #2) by Ransom Riggs 5/5 stars
  20. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (BJ #2)  by Helen Felding ⅘ stars
  21. Sea Change by Aimee Friedman ⅗ stars
  22. Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum 5/5 stars
  23. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen ⅘ stars
  24. Library of Souls (Miss P #3) by Ransom Riggs 5/5 stars
  25. Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham 5/5 stars
  26. Summer of Sloane by Erin L. Schneider ⅗ stars
  27. I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski 5/5 stars
  28. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham ⅘ stars
  29. Amnesty by Aravind Adiga 5/5 stars
  30. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan ⅗ stars
  31. A Map of Days (Miss P #4) by Ransom Riggs ⅗ stars
  32. Hamlet by William Shakespeare ⅘ stars
  33. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien ⅗ stars
  34. The Guest List by Lucy Foley ⅘ stars
  35. Fable by Adrienne Young ⅘ stars
  36. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 5/5 stars

The Lost World by Michael Crichton ⅘ stars

 I began the year with a reading goal of 25 books, which was supposed to be challenging. I usually read a lot in the summer months, but I barely bet my 22 book goal for 2019, so I did not expect to read 37 books this year and as it turns out, meeting that goal was not the hard part of my 2020. 

Now for a disclaimer. I shall tell the story of my year in books without referencing the titles themselves so if you like, reference the list above as you read. 

My story starts with #1, an old holiday favorite that I read in January. I was too busy to read anything else until the start of shelter-in-place, when all of a sudden being busy seemed like a forein concept. At first, I only read a couple of books for my English 3 Honors course, but then six romantic traveling books later, it was June first and cute European boys weren’t filling the void anymore. 

That’s when I discovered book #10, a truly fantastic read, the complexity of teenage life mixed with racial minority struggles and urban living. I did find it difficult to focus on a fictional character’s suffering though while I witnessed the death count of the pandemic rise steadily higher.

Honestly, book #11 was the first one of the year that I was actually excited to read. I had recently finished the television series, and I wanted to compare and contrast the two versions. If you’re going to read any of the books on my list , this is the one, but to do it right you should watch the television series on Hulu first because the two are quite different, artwork of different mediums.

Books #12, #13, and #14 were an easy break from complex stories. I enjoyed some light, terribly written mysteries that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, but dumb, fast reads might be necessary for a future boredom distraction guide.

#14 on the other hand was centered around  such a fun, different concept that I couldn’t cringe at the royalty theme. My friends know that I have never watched Disney princess movies, and so the fact that this is even on my list is a surprise. To this day, I have not let Disney spoil my  mind. I do not need princes to save me, and my parents  aren’t going to get shipwrecked, so when I tell you to check out #14, I can assure you that feminism did not die in its pages.

But I did have to balance out the prissy princess stuff with #15. This one was a bit boring, maybe super boring, but when I was paying attention to the audio book, the scientific set up was fascinating. It offered me some much needed, well-written action-adventure.

In early summer, I did something unthinkable. I went. In person. To Barnes & Noble, where I picked up #16. It was fantastic, surprising, a bit terrifying, and everything I had expected, and that goes for the trip and the book.

The rest of my summer consisted of #17 to #29. Looking back at that now, I wonder, was I okay? It seems that I needed a lot of distraction. At least the reading wasn’t screen time.

None of these summer books were quite outstanding, but one of them hit an inner chord. It was #27. I read this book two times in 2020, I have no idea when the first time was, but the second time was quite literally on the beach while I tried to suntan my anxiety away. It resembled the ultimate European backpacking trip I have dreamed of taking with my best friends after we graduate high school. This book made the loss of that dream easier. 

I read books #30 and #31 in September; #30 I listened to while I did my dog walking job, and #31 I distinctly remember reading at the Pacifica State Beach while my parents debated with their anti-vaccine friend. 

I don’t remember when my class read #32, but I think liking Shakespeare is in my genetics. Let’s just say my parents found me a total of 15 Shakespeare related books from our house when I told them we were reading it, but you don’t see any of those books on my reading list now do you.

I took a break from reading in October, a time when I began feeling a bit more social, but come November, #33 and #34 happened.

#35 was very captivating, and I have never wanted to be a poor pirate more, probably ever. The distraction level was 100%, and I loved the gruff main character Fable. 

Now for December, children must be advised not to do this at home. Drowning out thoughts with well-written books is not healthy; it adds more complex ideas instead of less. #36 is fabulous and should be read like a normal book, not a Netflix binge, and yet I listened to #36 and #37 on the couch for the entirety of December 5th.

As I write this, it is mid-December and I have started reading Lord of the Flies. I don’t think I will finish it for a while, I definitely chose a bit of a downer. 

When it comes to next year, my reading challenge for 2021 will not have a number. It’ll be “stay sane.”