Mid-Year Round Up: My Top 5 Reads Of 2020 (So Far!)

Friday, July 03, 2020

Hello lovelies! I hope you're all doing well. 

Can someone please explain to me how it's July already?! 2020 has been a crazy, unstable rollercoaster so far and I just hope there's something positive on the horizon. Did anyone else have numerous things planned and think this would be the best year of their life? Yeah, me too. 

Since we've been in lockdown, I managed to read quite a lot of books (35 to be exact). Lately, I've been in a bit of a mental health induced reading rut so haven't been picking up a book as much as I'd like to but I'm slowly getting back on track. I thought I'd do a mid-year round up of my top 5 reads of the year to inspire those of you who are not reading much at the moment. 

It was quite difficult to narrow down the books I loved the most but in the end I decided to judge them on how much the books have stuck with me and the writing. I hope you will be tempted to read any one of these books!

1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

I'd describe 'The Dutch House' as a family portrait of two siblings who can't get over their past. This book is number one on my top reads of 2020 so far because I just can't stop thinking about it. It's honestly as if I'm hypnotised by it and I read it at the beginning of January so it's been some time! This is my first Ann Patchett novel and WOW. I wouldn't go as far as calling it a masterpiece, but it's definitely a work of fine art. Patchett really brings 'The Dutch House' (a grand mansion which is the centerpiece of the story) to life and who would've thought something so lifeless could affect the lives of multiple people. I'm actually finding it hard to describe this novel, I think unless you read it, you won't understand why I'm so mesmerised by it.

2. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

'On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous' is Ocean Vuong's debut novel; it's in the form of a long letter from a son to a mother. We learn of the narrator's life as well as his family history, which transforms us back many years to where it began in Vietnam. The book explores various subjects such as poverty, race and sexuality in a very raw way and presents us with a realistic potrayal of life.

If this book doesn't make you fall in love with Ocean Vuong's writing then I don't know what will. Ocean Vuong is also a poet and I find that reflected in this novel as the prose was just beautiful. I have to admit, what drew me to the novel was its title, it just seemed a bit different and I'm so glad I decided to read it. I honestly don't know what else to say so all I'll say is that you HAVE to read this book. 

3. Winter by Ali Smith

'Winter' is the second novel from Ali Smith's seasonal quarter, and more political than the first. Smith's use of metaphors and literary techniques paints a beautiful canvas and composes a thought-provoking piece. Winter is my favourite season so it's only fitting that it's also my favourite Ali Smith novel. I've read quite a few of Smith's novels and they're all written fantastically but 'Winter' just stands out. 

I will say though that Smith's writing is not for everyone, it's very thought-provoking and some metaphors and things she writes about, may just go over your head. Her novels have deeper meanings and it's as if they are meant to be analysed. Okay, now it just seems like I'm trying to put you off of reading it! I'd honestly recommend 'Winter' because it's politically current, mentally stimulating and Smith incorporates art into her writing. What more would you want from a novel?

4. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

'My Dark Vanessa' is a disturbing and emotional account of a 15 year old girl's affair with her teacher. It would be weird to say I enjoyed this book but it has definitely stuck with me. The writing was great and the story just flowed so I managed to read it in a day because I just couldn't put it down. It's definitely a disturbing novel but I think it's a must read. Like I mentioned in the short review of this book on my book Instagram (@libraryofsylvia), it may seem frustrating to the reader that Vanessa doesn't see what's going on but what can you expect from a 15 year old who just wants to be loved? I think this book and a situation like this really brings awareness as to how complicated a case like that can be. I'd only recommend this book if you're in the right head space though because it does deal with a disturbing topic.

5. Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman

'Noughts & Crosses' follows the story of Sephy and Calum who are trying to have a friendship, and later on a relationship, in a society which is full of prejudice and inequality, which puts them in danger. 

First of all, please forgive me for reading 'Noughts & Crosses' so late in my life, I can't believe I hadn't read such an important book as a teenager. I absolutely loved this novel and felt emotionally invested in the story. This is one of a few books in my life which made me cry; if you've read it and know the ending, you'll know what I'm talking about. For a YA novel, I definitely found this book to be quite grown up as it touched upon some heavy subjects; the book managed to capture the reality of racism and a divided society very well. Once I tackle some of my current TBR pile, I'll definitely read the next books in the series. If you want to read my comparison of the book and TV show then click here.

Have you read any of these books? I'd love to know your opinion on them!

If you enjoyed this post then why don't you follow my reading adventures at @libraryofsylvia on Instagram?


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