2020, despite all its ups and downs, has allowed me to read a lot more than I would have normally. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with some of the books I’ve read this year, so much so that they would probably make it on a list of my favourite books of all time!
So here’s a list of my favourite books this year:
One of my most favourite books I read this year that I would absolutely add to my list of favourite books ever was I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
This is a coming-of-age story set ove the year 1937. Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling it with witty and profound entries about her ruined castle home, her eccentric but poor family, her brother and sisters, and her new neighbours, the Cottons. I really found my kindred spirit in Cassandra who tends to romanticise the world in the most enchanting way, even the smallest, seemingly insignificant things. This book did everything right for me and made me feel like I wanted to be a better person. The gradual blooming and development of the characters gave this book an incredible depth to the plot that did not feel forced or fake. The story changed alongside beautiful descriptions of nature and the seasons (one of my favourite things in books). I felt like I lived in Cassandra’s head throughout the entirety of this novel and it felt like home. I know that this is a book that I will return to time and time again.
Another book I absolutely loved that I know will be added to my favourite books of all time was To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
This book is set on a holiday on the Isle of Skye with Mr and Mrs Ramsay, their children and an eclectic mix of guests. To the Lighthouse explores the tensions and complexities of family life. With themes of passing time, love, death, family and the banality of everyday life, To the Lighthouse is a challenging read. It is broken up into three parts; the first part is about life and the last part is primarily about death. It features a stream of consciousness style and interweaving narrative where there is no clear cut moments when the narrator switches – you sort of have to work out who is talking from the subject matter and voice. I loved that about it; it constantly kept me on my toes. My review will never do this book justice. All the emotions I felt reading this (including tears. Yes, I did cry!) are so hard to put into words. This, in my opinion, is some of the most incredible writing ever written and Virginia Woolf writes with such an exciting mix of imagery, solidifying the most beautiful but heart-breaking parts of human existence. Woolf has managed to put into words so many emtoions I have felt but struggled to comprehend.
My third favourite book this year was L’Étranger by Albert Camus. I read this book in French and that was such a proud moment for myself as I’d been wanting to read a longer book in French for quite a while.
This book is told through the eyes of a seemingly ordinary man, Meursault, who commits a senseless and random murder on an Algerian beach. Meursault is a man who lives entirely in the present, he doesn’t show his emtoions (in fact, he’s very devoid of them) and throughout the whole novel he comes across as entirely emotionless. The first line of the story “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday. I can’t be sure” comes across as cold, senseless, insensitive and sets the scene for everything to come. This was such a thought-provoking book and, although the book is quite a short read, it’s incredible how Albert Camus manages to pack such a punch. I found the concepts so interesting to read about; during Meursault’s trial he is constantly accused of not showing remorse for his actions and inhuman. Despite this, we know he is very human (he shares so many of his thoughts and feelings with us, the reader), he is simply detached from reality. This raised so many questions to me of what we expect to see in people, certain characteristics that we expect people to have in order to show us that they are human. Are our emotions created by ourselves and what we feel or are they simply a reflection of what we think people want to see? I could honestly write for hours and hours about this book. This book explores the theme of existentialism so if that’s not your cup of tea then maybe skip this book. If it is then you can be sure of digging deep within yourself and questioning everything at least once during this book.
A bit later in the year I read Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Orphan Anne Shirley arrives at Green Gables in Avonlea, her new home. Anne is not exactly what the Cuthbert’s expect, for one they wanted a boy… This skinny, fiery-haired, chatty girl begins to find her place in Avonlea, and mischief follows her every step along the way. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would have been absolutely obsessed with this book if I had read it as a child. I’m 25 years old now and I still loved it. Anne has such a huge imagination, as I did too as a child. She lives inside her head, inventing worlds and names for the places she passes. Anne is one of the most wonderful characters ever written purely because she makes many mistakes but underneath that all it’s clear she has a hue heart. I loved that she refers to her friends as “kindred spirits”. Reading this book allowed me to see the world through Anne’s eyes and that was a remarkable place to be. This story is beautiful and bittersweet. It’s full of beautiful quotes, one of my favourite is “”Dear old world,” she murmured, “you are very lovely and I am glad to be alive in you””. If that doesn’t beautifully describe the sentiment of this book then I don’t know what will!
Some other books that I absolutey loved in 2020 were: The Five by Hallie Rubenhold, Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Hard Times by Charles Dickens and The Pickcwick Papers by Charles Dickens. 2020 was also the year that I re-read The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit both by J.R.R. Tolkien which I enjoyed immensely.
What were your favourite books this year?
Thanks for reading!
Love, Zoë xx