Top 5 Friday – Books of 2020

I’ve had such an amazing year in terms of books, I seem to have read so many brilliant ones which hasn’t happened for a while! So, it’s going to be tough to just pick my five favourite reads of the year. In order to make it slightly easier for myself I’ve decided to just focus on those books that were published in 2020. Although, that’s still going to be a challenge!

These aren’t in any particular order as I loved all of them and couldn’t choose between them to even have a singular favourite out of the five! 

Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

This novel combines two of my biggest loves: Japan and cats, however this novel went way beyond what I was expecting. Whilst the novel sounds like it is a collection of short stories of different people in Tokyo, they are actually all related to each other in some way some with just subtle nods and others more detailed. Each story too is told in a different way, not only does Bradley wonderfully craft a brilliant cast of characters, but each segment is written in a different genre, from mystery fiction, to haikus, to manga this book has it all! Although the novel is written this way, it doesn’t feel disjointed in the slightest, in fact it makes it feel even more cohesive as it gives each character a unique voice and really emphasises how many different types of people there are in Tokyo (or any city, for that matter). It also emphasises how talented Bradley is as a writer.


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

This is easily one of the most unique novels that I have ever read. I was drawn to this novel by the beautiful hardback and the mysterious description. It’s impossible to capture the brilliance of this novel in just a few words, especially as going into this novel completely blind really makes the experience even more magical and more impactful. I loved the protagonist and the way he views, and catalogues, the world that he is in. After finishing the novel I just wanted to re-read it immediately and experience it all over again as I was in denial that it was over. Once I had finished Piranesi I just had to sit quietly for a while afterwards just absorbing what I had just read and, almost mourning the fact that I won’t get to experience the novel for the first time again. This narrative and story is one of the most unique I have ever read, I can’t think of another novel like it and I doubt I’ll find another one like it for years, if ever. 


These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

This is one of the strongest debut novels I have read in a long time and has me very excited, not just for the rest of this series but for any work Gong releases in the future. As an English Literature graduate, I love Shakespeare so I’m always intrigued by adaptations of his works and this was, without a doubt, one of the most refreshing takes on Romeo and Juliet since Baz Lurnham’s. This take on Romeo and Juliet is set in 1920s Shanghai, home to the blood feud of two rival gangs, with a slight fantastical element too, is just such a unique way to transform a classic work of literature. Don’t be fooled, however, just because you may have read and studied Romeo and Juliet there are still many surprises and twists that you won’t see coming. 


The Burning God by R.F. Kuang

This novel was very bittersweet for me, as I’m sure it was for everyone else. Not only was the novel a great ending to the series but it also means that the series has ended. Going into this book you know that you won’t get a ‘happily ever after’ ending, no matter how much you may want and wish for it. If you haven’t read any of these books, you need to do so in 2021 as they will have a huge impact on you. What I often worry about with the last book in a series is whether everything in the previous instalments were relevant to the ending or completely disregarded. However, that certainly wasn’t the case with The Burning God – Kuang continued to build upon the character development but there were also many callbacks to the first book too. This novel was a wonderful end to a wonderful series and I can’t wait to see what Kuang does next.


Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

I received this book as book mail from Bloomsbury, which was a complete surprise to me, and I adored this book. Alam is a very talented writer, who expertly managed to make even a list of items bought whilst shopping make me feel uneasy. I could have happily read another few hundred pages as the novel quickly sunk it’s claws into me, and still hasn’t completely let go even now. Which is even more impressive when barely any of the characters were even likeable, but that was all part of the books appeal-these characters are flawed, average, people not heroes or anyone special which had a much bigger impact when it comes to the suffocating and unsettling tone of the novel. I feel that this is another book that will continue to reveal different things to you on each read.

It was very difficult to narrow my favourites list of the year down to five books, and I still keep changing my mind on which books I want to feature! Hence why I’m posting this list now before I change my mind again…! I may have to do a part two focusing on books that I read in 2020 but wasn’t necessarily published in 2020… Let me know if you’d be interested in reading that!

What were your favourite books of the year? Did you read a lot of great books this year or did you have a slightly disappointing book year?

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The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

Publisher: Atlantic Books
Publication Date:
04/06/2020
Length: 291 pages
Genre:
Short Stories | Literary Fiction | Contemporary Fiction

CW: n/a

Blackwells.co.uk

In Tokyo—, one of the world’s largest megacities, —a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. With each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways. But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers—, from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer. In a series of spellbinding, interlocking narratives—, with styles ranging from manga to footnotes—, Nick Bradley has hewn a novel of interplay and estrangement; of survival and self-destruction; of the desire to belong and the need to escape. Formally inventive and slyly political, The Cat and The City is a lithe thrill-ride through the less-glimpsed streets of Tokyo.

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Monthly Wrap Up – July 2020

It’s the end of the month and it’s also nearly the end of my first week back to book blogging; this wrap up might be slightly odd this month as it is the first one. Even in this short space of time the welcome back I’ve from people in the community has been lovely and it has me very excited to continue! It actually makes me regret taking such a long break away from the book blogging sphere, but I’m pleased to be back.

Books read this month

Physical copies of books read this month!

This month I read a total of 9 books (7 physical books and 2 ebooks):

Reviews written this month

So, as I have just been back a week I have only managed to write and post two proper book reviews which are for Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and Hope Island by Tim Major. However, I have plenty more on the way so watch this space!

My favourite books this month

I really enjoyed pretty much everything I read this month, however there are three books in particular that stand out as my favourites…

Circe by Madeline Miller
I’m not totally familiar with the story of Circe in Greek mythology despite reading a lot of it when I was younger, however, I really liked Miller’s take on the character. I loved seeing how Miller weaved her into so many other famous Greek tales. I want to write a full review on this book soon as a couple of lines does not do this justice at all.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Unlike the other two on this list, this is one that I have managed to review this week! The way Lee seamlessly writes through four generations of a Korean family is incredible. Not only does she gets the pacing spot on to where literal decades in the book fly by, but she also has a great understanding of the people that she is writing about and brings them to life.

The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
This is actually a novel that I read this morning and it blew me away. A full review will be up in the coming days but the tl;dr is that I urge you to pick this up and read it as it is wonderful. It has even made me very nostalgic for my trips to Japan as it truly captures the spirit of Tokyo.

How did you get on this month? Did you read more or less than you expected/wanted? Did we read any of the same books? I’d love to know!