Books & Authors

2020 Reads and Listens!

This year made history for the world, so it had its own moments. But like any other year, as we approach December, #bookstagrammers start their reflection on their reads, listens and goals. Some set their goals in numbers of books they want to tackle that year. Some set their goal to add a new genre to their reads that they had never tried before. Some organized ones actually make a list of exactly what they are going to read and when. Few read for book clubs, many on their own and some run a blog! Another breed like me also likes to include re-reading pre-loved fiction. Irrespective of what we readers set our goals of, one thing in common in all of us is the love of reading and reading. This post, which I am doing after a long time is for my booksection tab for an overview of my literary adventures this year.

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I started my year with some self-enhancing books and around first quarter of the year, went back fiction. Some of the books from this year are: “My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She’s Sorry“, “Britt Marie Was Here”, “Educated”, “Goldfinch”, “Where Crawdads Sing”, “Snobs” and “Belgravia”. I broke the cycle initially and did not re-read a classic but then picked up Anna Karenina. I also re-read “Educated”, “My Grandmother…” and “The Chamber” by John Grisham. The last brought the pleasure of summer afternoon reading time in my more lazy and free days. I read it almost two decades ago and finished the audio version in November. Other than Grisham and Tolstoy, all the books that I read were contemporary – a very drastic change this year.

If your reads consist of Fredrik Backman’s titles, they are sure to make an impression that lasts long after reading. The quality of Backman’s writing is one of its kinds, so moving, satiric and amazingly simple. He brings it to heart by making his protagonists “different”. His books will need a blogpost of their own, which I will publish soon as I edit. Here are mini reviews of some of the others:

The Educated

Educated was the book that I loved from start to beginning, made my husband and kids read it. It proved itself worthy of every atom of hype it had created among reading community. When I did my post on quarantine reading, quite a few people pointed out that I should have included Educated in the list. I had not read the book then so was not sure but I would in a blink add this beautifully done masterpiece to any great reading list. The book made me a huge fan of Tara Westover. I finished the book and then we listened to it as a family during our cross-country trip to Colorado this year. I cannot say enough of this beautiful tale of a strong person! I would highly recommend this book to teenagers and above. It is a memoir, a true meaningful experience that one must read in their life. The read made me curious about Tara Westover and her life. Do look this lady up for her amazing talks. The title was recommended by Obamas, Bill Gates, Oprah and many other famous book influencers.

The Goldfinch:

Goldfinch made to top of my list right next to The Educated. The book is a controversial literary piece, not because of the content but because of the way people like or dislike it. I picked the book thinking I am reading another contemporary fiction that everyone else is reading, and raving about, but the book confused me, refused to move forward with my attitude. I quit it for a week, and started again with the mindset I would have to read a classic, where the added word count enhances the book, rather than otherwise. I would find it hard to give this leverage to another contemporary work but this was such a great a tale of bildungsroman, a plot so akin to Dicken’s – a cultured benefactor, an orphan with a proclivity for art, antiques, some kind nice people, some bad ones, the hardships and overall an experience encompassing death, grief, drugs, betrayal and above all friendship! The sincere friendship at a level deeper than many can find. A friendship where you really pick up where you leave without hesitation. In little research that I did about the readership of this book, it appears people who read and still include classics especially Dickens, in their regular reading lists, or have taken pleasure in his work in the past, enjoyed this title. It was mostly not appreciated much by those who prefer contemporary novels.

Where The Crawdads Sing

Where “Goldfinch” satiated my desire to read a classic piece of literature, “Where The Crawdads Sing” concluded my year for contemporary genre. The book is about an ignored and cast away orphan who grows up in marsh. The book and its setting reminded me of Jodie Foster’s movie Nell which is also filmed in North Carolina and the protagonist is a “wild child”. Delia Owens’ portrait of the marsh, the birds, and wild, her description of the elements of water and sky is remarkable. I am not a naturalist, but she covered just the right amount on the subject to keep the reader entertained – anymore would be boring for me at least. References to literature and poetry were also well-plugged in and gave the novel a lovely poetic touch, again she kept the balance quite well. The storyline wavered frequently from awesome to not so awesome, but overall engaging. The court drama in the last quarter or so of the book was not Ms. Owen’s forte, lagging behind much in the league in persuasive argumentative details found in the works of Grisham, Patterson or Turrow’s, but then it might not be a fair comparison since she is not a legal thriller writer. The court coverage instead of strengthening, actually weakened the plot and her characterization skills. The cast contradicted their own nature and their own self on many occasions henceforth. While the book covered amazing aspects and shortcomings of human nature and its vices, along with issues of discrimination, poverty, mental illness, I failed to understand the overall purpose of the characters. And to have this sense hanging behind the reading scene that it was somewhat, loosely after a real-life incident in another part of the world, but did not depict it truly, kind of was a turn off. The twist in the end was amazing and definitely won the book momentarily but a reflection on it brought it down a bit – that is where I found some contradictions. Overall, it is a good book to listen (or read) but could not match the excitement I gathered from #bookstagrammers with which it has been recommended with.

After I finished “Where The Crawdads Sing”, it pretty much summed up my contemporary fiction for this year!! I was quite done and craved for a book from another time and era. I spent almost an hour surfing titles and wanted to end my year with a very beautiful book! The restless browsing and fear of something not so nice to read led me to the familiar turf of classic genre and I found myself adding Anna Karenina to my Audible library! If all fail, classics work for me and oh the sweetest voice and beautifully articulated version by Maggie Gyllenhaal just made my day(s). She did not change her accent to accommodate the stern Russian but it’s an auditory treat as the names bearing a consonant-overload, rolled over her tongue. She spoke the classy French phrases with an immense ease, a refined, well-articulated accent. Anna Karenina and many other famous titles are included in the prime membership. This is a book that ended my 2020!

I hope you had a great reading year!! Let’s know what you read this year and will be reading next!!

About Author

Hi and welcome to my blog!

My name is Riffat and I am the writer behind this blog. Through this blog I share many things I am enthusiastic about – my curated items from old era, passion for tea and tea parties, design and décor, DIY projects. I specifically like to create themed and seasonal parties incorporating vintage treasures. I am married to an awesome guy who has {a good case of} wanderlust and is a grand but healthy foodie. Occasionally I will be journaling and sharing his experiences in travel, recipes and restaurant reviews. On my blog you will also get to meet our 3 amazing boys – the oldest is neuro-diverse and his being on the spectrum has given a different and incredible meaning to our family! I would be a very different person without him. Besides enjoying my family and this blog, I am a full-time speech and language pathologist.

We recently moved to Dallas from Arizona. Back there, I ran a vintage china rental and sales business. I had the pleasure of working with some amazing vendors in the event industry and got featured on many international and national blogs. I started blogging specific to my collection but recently switched to life style blogging to touch more aspects of life.

Originally from Pakistan, I am a multicultural and multilingual person and enjoy diversity to its fullest. I welcome new things and ways and learn from them but believe in restoring and preserving as well. I love people who inspire each other, are successful holistically, spread positive vibes and make a difference in this world for themselves and individuals around them. Overall, I strive to be a very well-balanced person and this blog plays some part in achieving that!

I absolutely love to team up with creative minds! Feel free to contact me for style consultation, photo shoots, vintage & antique articles, tea parties and hand-made items. I also do product reviews and feature items on my blog. I have a small shop on etsy featuring my collection and hand-made items.

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