From the global pandemic, devastating bushfires and everything else that went wrong in 2020, the year has been fairly negative. With just a few weeks to go before entering the new year, and a week till the end of the academic year, I’d like to end on a positive note.
I’ve read more this year than ever before.
Now I don’t mean that in terms of the number of books I read, but rather the experience in general. I’ve been significantly more engaged with each book and gotten a lot more out of them than in previous years.
Nevertheless, here are the books I’ve read this year.
This allegorical novella was a great start to the year and is quite a thought-provoking book that plays on the themes of power and control. It helped to highlight many of the issues prevalent in society today and a quote from the book which I believe sums it up quite nicely is:
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
This novella ticks off item 7 on the Wider Reading checklist: A banned book.
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This historical fiction novel consisted of 13 parts, each of which had many chapters. Each part went back and forth between the past and present, and each chapter within these parts, between the two protagonists until all timelines caught up and merged. This was quite different from anything I’ve read before but it was quite interesting to see how their actions in the past lead to their future circumstances. Two quotes which stuck with me were, “Don’t you want to be alive before you die?” and “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” Both quotes exemplify similar messages of making the most of your life — especially during a time of war — and almost invited me to live life to the fullest.
This novel ticks off item 21: A book with more than 500 pages.
War Storm by Victoria Aveyard
I took a break from the Red Queen series but eventually got around to reading the climactic last instalment. It was quite a long read but I definitely enjoyed it all throughout. The final scene exhibits the protagonist, Mare Barrow, overlooking the beautiful city as she sits at the top of a mountain and realises that humans are just as capable of repairing the world as they are destroying it. This message really resonated with me because of its relevance in the real world today.
This book ticks off item 16: a fantasy novel.
Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard
After finishing War Storm, I realised there was a collection of two novellas, both preceding the events of Red Queen. They provided insight into how things came to be and were quite an interesting read.
This book ticks off item 5: A book by a female author.
Of Mice and Men by Jonathan Steinbeck
This renowned novella has been one I’ve been wanting to read ever since it was recommended to me last year. Written in 1937, this book has quite a dark lesson on the nature of society through an unprecedented ending.
This book ticks off item 22: A novella.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Recommended by my sister, this novel is also quite renowned and after reading it I can definitely see why. There is undoubtedly no other book out there like this one and it has a beautiful message of following your dreams. A quote that illustrates this is, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” As with All the Light We Cannot See, I found that The Alchemist was directly speaking out and inviting me to chase my dreams.
This novel ticks off item 18: A book set in Africa.
Double Down by Jeff Kinney
In the lockdown, I discovered the 11th instalment in the Diary of the Wimpy Kid Series which I had borrowed at some school event but never actually gotten around to reading. I spend around an hour and a half reading this novel and it was quite a nostalgic experience.
This book ticks off item 17: A graphic novel, written and illustrated by the same person.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
My sister had bought this novel recently and I decided to give it a read during the lockdown. It was a challenging read at many parts where Wilde would write elaborate paragraphs on philosophical concepts as part of Lord Henry’s dialogue. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the novel and resonated with the idea of hypocrisy, two faced-ness and double lives that countless people live today.
This book ticks off item 24: A book written by or with a protagonist who identifies as LGBTQI.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
With a quick google search on books to read, I found one of George Orwell’s most renowned works. This dystopian novel was quite eerie at times as it shows a possibility of what our world could turn into or already is in certain aspects. The three slogans of the ruling government are something which really stood out to me:
“War is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.”
Although they are later explained in the novel, these statements are extremely bold and something that was glossed over initially.
This book ticks off item 9: A book based entirely on its cover.
This year has had many ups and downs and I definitely challenged myself with my reading by going outside of what I am familiar with. I read quite a few renowned classics and hope to expand on this in the future. I am currently reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and during the holidays, I plan on reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan purely out of interest. Next semester, I aim to read the Lord of the Flies by William Goulding, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and many more novels.
Overall, I was able to tick off 9 items on the Wider Reading list this year.