Can you believe Christmas is just a week away? It feels like yesterday was Thanksgiving and last week was Halloween! How is Christmas sneaking up on us already?
If you’re like me, you could use a five-minute break from all the holiday hustle.
The end of the year is the time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished and how you can better yourself over the next 365 or so days, so why not take a couple minutes, take a break from the holidays, and reflect on what we’ve accomplished this year.
One goal that I set for myself at the end of 2019 was to read a book every month. Like many goals, I jumped in headfirst and finished a book in January about halfway through the month. February, I tried reading a book for a book club, but that didn’t end well. Then the pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-March and put everything on hold.
I lost all motivation to do anything, which makes sense looking back. When you hear over and over to prepare for eight weeks at home and then those eight weeks turn into 12, then 20, then suddenly you’re 10 months in, and you can expect some lack of motivation.
Although, starting my horror icon series back in April was the push I needed to get back into reading. I finished one book in a week, then another, then another, until suddenly it’s the end of December and I finished reading 43 books this year with another 10 or so I started and never finished.
Not all the books I read were my favorite, but the majority of them were great! A handful or so I plan to read again in the future.
So now, without further ado, here are my top 5 books I’ve read this year.
5. Hunger Games Trilogy
I’m about 12 years late to the game, but this year I finally got around to reading the Hunger Games trilogy. Having never seen the movies all the way through (I’d see a few clips here and there), I went into this trilogy with little to no prior knowledge. Boy was I not disappointed.
With each book, I fell more in love with the series. By the time I got to Mocking Jay, the third novel of the trilogy, I must’ve zipped through the novel and finished it in just a day or two.
Mind you, for someone with reading difficulties, finishing a book in a month is a huge accomplishment, let alone in a day or two.
Why it’s In My Top 5: There’s no good place to put the book down, only in the best way possible. The tension keeps building and building until reaching the climax, only to find yourself scrambling to put the pieces back together after everything falls apart.
The first part of the novels is a bit slow because the backstory is given, but shortly after you’re bombarded with one thing after another.
Probably my favorite part of reading this series was finding others who read the trilogy before and talking for hours about it because I just couldn’t keep things inside anymore and had to talk!
Who’d Love This Novel: Again, anyone looking for a novel filled with tension, author Suzanne Collins provides you with three novels that’ll make you hold your breath. You’ll build strong relationships with characters and watch them grow over the trilogy, so if you’re looking for lifetime relationships, this series is what you’re looking for.
Why it took me 25 years to read Jaws, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m thankful I read this famous novel. Jaws movie lovers, be warned. If you’re like me and have the Stephen Spielberg movie in your top 5 favorite movies, know going into this novel that things play out much differently in the novel.
Why it’s In My Top 5: First, sharks. I absolutely love sharks. Second, I love the extra details author Peter Benchley provides in the novel. A lot of it didn’t make the cut for the movie, but I think the extra storyline gives more context to Amity Island’s history.
In the last few chapters, I definitely found myself pulling the “just one more chapter” bit. I think I was up well after 1 o’clock in the morning reading this book. This may not seem late, but for context, I’m usually asleep by 10:30.
Who’d Love This Novel: First, again, shark lovers would love this. While the shark is technically the antagonist in the novel, one can still appreciate the details Benchley provides about sharks.
Those who love tension throughout a novel, especially family tension and family dynamics, you’re sure to find Jaws is right up your alley.
Anything for Love was one of my introductions to the “chick lit” and contemporary romance world. Up until reading this novel, I never had any interest in that genre, but desperately in need of a “happily ever after” type story during the pandemic, I gave Anything for Love a shot.
I wasn’t disappointed with what author Lola StVil presented to me. There’s plenty of characterization and character growth throughout the novel. Although, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as there’s still plenty of tension.
Why it’s In My Top 5: This novel quickly became a favorite of mine thanks to the tension throughout the novel and the constant will they/won’t they in the back of my mind. This was one of those novels that I loved when reading and then couldn’t stop thinking about them weeks, even months after finishing the novel.
Who’d Love This Novel: If you’re in need of a lighthearted novel that doesn’t skimp on tension, Anything for Love is what you’re looking for. I also love that StVil reverses the stereotypical roles in this novel. Instead of the girl being head-over-heels in love right away and the male protagonist is reluctant to the relationship it’s the other way around in this novel.
There’s a belief that in Soviet-era Russia experimented with sleep, more specifically the lack of sleep. The result was catastrophic. Now, sleep psychologist Dr. Roy Wallis is curious to see what happens when subjects are exposed to an anti-sleep gas for 21 days.
Will the experiment prove to be a failure or a success? More specifically, what does success or failure look like?
Why it’s In My Top 5: First, I love urban legends and how they can influence novels. Second, I love that author Jeremy Bates didn’t hold back at all in this terrifying novel. I also love how it’s a bit slow in the beginning. It kept me on my toes and asking, “Okay…when are things going to fall apart?”
Once they started to fall apart, I didn’t want to put the novel down. For most of the novel, my mouth was hanging open in shock and repulsion. I loved it.
Who’d Love This Novel: Horror lovers, especially those with a hidden love for urban legends, are sure to love this novel. Additionally, those who love authors who aren’t afraid to hold back when writing and will include gruesome details will be satisfied with The Sleep Experiment.
1. Beautiful Series
When I purchased Beautiful Disaster, I saw that there were two other novels in this series—Walking Disaster and A Beautiful Wedding. I told myself I’d first read Beautiful Disaster to see if I’d like the story before buying three books. Needless to say, less than halfway into the novel I purchased the other two novels.
It took me about two days to read Beautiful Disaster, only because my body would not let me stay up any longer to finish reading the novel. Thankfully, I only had to wait another few days to receive Walking Disaster and A Beautiful Wedding, but in that time I actually re-read Beautiful Disaster.
Why it’s In My Top 5: I can’t get enough of Abby and Travis. Author Jamie McGuire does a phenomenal job presenting these characters in a way that I can’t help but root for them for now and all of eternity. When I saw an unofficial, unedited extension of their life on McGuire’s website, I binged each chapter in record time.
I can’t specifically say what it was about these novels that made me read them over and over. I honestly think that the writing is just so well done that these characters feel alive to me.
Who’d Love This Novel: Want to make your new best friend? Want to feel fully immersed in the novel? The Beautiful Series is the answer to all your questions, even if you didn’t know you had those questions yet.
With having read almost 50 books this year, it was hard to narrow down just my top 5 favorite books. Here are some honorable mentions for even more book fun:
Both Labyrinth and The Princess Bride are both in my top 3 favorite movies, so it’s only fitting that I read the novelization and book that inspired these movies.
From my other choices, it’s obvious that I did a lot of “chick lit” reading this year and not a lot of horror reading. But who cares? I’m allowed to read whatever I want!
How to Find Your Next Read in 5 Minutes or Less
For a long time, I struggled with deciding what book to read next. I’m a bit of a novel elitist when I read. I have specific requirements for me to like a book. But hey, some people are picky eaters. I’m a picky reader.
My struggle ended when I stumbled upon TasteDive.
This online program lets you put in any book title, author, movie, music, or other creative work into a search bar. Then, you’ll be presented with seemingly endless recommendations. Most of the books I read this year were from TasteDrive recommendations.
Another thing you can do is sign up for BookBub. Make a free account, let them know what you like to read, and then get book recommendations sent to your email weekly. You’ll also get alerts of eBook deals in your selected genres.
Looking Back on the Novels of 2020
When I set the goal of reading 12 books in a year, I never thought that my love for reading would be reignited. I can’t wait to see all the books I read in 2021.
What were the top books you read this year?