I can imagine what you´re thinking upon reading that title – Choice of Magic has gone avantgarde and this month´s topic makes no sense. Well there´s little I can say to defend myself. January started off with two murder stories – Robert Galbraith´s Troubled Blood and Richard Osman´s Thursday Murder Club. I loooooved both of them, as I love pretty much any good crime novel, and I would have continued with the theme, if only I had had more crime novels around the house. But I did not, so I went for a book on marriage. My boyfriend should be concerned, I know. Marriageology is a book I read a couple of years back and reread now because I just love the author´s sense of humour so much, and the content of the book will never seize to be useful. As I am writing this I realise how it´s going to sound, but next I went for the heartbreaking classic Sense and Sensibility. I reread Austen every couple of years and this one I read in 2016 for the last time, but since my memory is just awful, it was wonderful to reread it now. And finally, I ended the month with some poetry (so far keeping to my resolution of reading more poetry and classics this year) and I read a beautiful bilingual edition of Pessoa´s TaBaCaRia. Here´s what I thought of them all.
Looking back at 2020 is quite a chore in itself – a year filled with unknown, ambiguity and anxiety, in which the expectations were as low as just surviving it. When the pandemic hit, I, like many others, set some goals for myself and remarkably enough, I actually met them – every single one of them, indeed. I divided them in a couple of categories: emotional goals (closely related to my family and friends), intellectual ones (related to my career, the blog and my self development), financial ones (related to my savings and debts) and physical ones (related to my eating and working out habits). My reading goal falls in the intellectual realm and is a thing that I have been setting for myself every year for the last couple of years, if not decade. This year I aimed to read 40 books – a goal I achieved a couple of days before 2020 ended, but what made this year special is the fact that all year long I stuck to monthly themes and every month I came to the blog with an article reviewing what I had read. This was most fun and will culminate into this article showcasing my absolute favourite books of 2020. As for next year, I plan to set a more ambitious goal as well as have some goals related to reading both classics but also contemporary writers more frequently, as well as poetry and plays. And now, let´s look back on the books I most loved during this most hated year and the reviews I wrote upon finishing them.
How fitting is it that this year´s last blog post is a book club – one of the things that brought me most joy in a most erratic 2020? This post is also the 50th post on this version of the blog (I am still missing about 100 posts that I haven´t transcribed from the last version of the blog but I will be tackling that throughout 2021.). And to wrap up this insane year, what better topic than magical universes? I read three books this month, hereby concluding my 40 book in 2020 reading challenge. I´m thinking of setting an ambitious goal of 50 books to read next year and to focus more on plays and poetry while also balancing the classics with new contemporary authors. 2021 will hopefully be yet another year of learning and growth and I cannot wait to take you along this reading journey through next year´s monthly book clubs!
Last month, as I was searching my bookshelves for books to read in October, I cheerfully realised I don´t have that many unread books hanging around anymore. This year´s system – of choosing monthly themes for my #monthlybookclub seems to have enabled me to choose books from my library that were long waiting to be picked up. And so, I am happy that soon I´ll be able to buy new books without the underlying guilt of having a huge to read shelf at home. For the month of October I ended up picking books without a particular theme, instead just ending up with a small pile of “new” books – books by contemporary writers. Here´s what I thought of them.
If you´re reading this, I bet your first question is: how did she come up with the young angst theme? Well, as always, it kind of came to me. I actually intended this month´s book club to be dedicated to Romanian authors. I started off with a classic – Romanul adolescentului miop and quickly finished it in the Frankfurt airport on my way to Romania. Once in Romania, I intended to read some more classics, but then life happened. I raided my best friend´s grandma´s library and took home no less than 29 novels that I cannot wait to read. And while there were plenty Romanian once, I actually decided to start reading Colette´s End of Chéri. Just when I thought I had broken the theme, I realised I had stumbled upon another. Both novels explored young angst – the first, of a teenager who won´t quite fit in at school, the second of a youngster that won´t find love and fit in with women his age. I loved both books and sped through them super fast, so I am a bit confused about how I didn´t get to read more books this month, but I am determined to catch up in the upcoming cold months. In the meantime, here´s what I thought about the two books I read in September.
After July´s failed book club, I was determined to get back on track with my reading challenge and nail August. I figured July´s challenge failed so miserably because the books i chose were not light enough for the beach, which I found myself often on. So this time I chose some fiction – mostly science fiction. Soon on I also discovered a common denominator in the books´ themes – wickedness, the idea of evil. Despite the heaviness such a theme brings, the readings were light enough to devour about a book a week, so August brought me back on track towards this year´s reading challenge – which stands at 40 books (I read 27 so far). Here´s what I thought of these month´s books and which kept me awake at night.
July has been the live testimony that while other people read a whole library during summer, I am an utter failure at it. I have not finished one single book which I started in July and I could kick myself for it. After months of confinement, July has finally been a super sunny month of friends´ visits and even a small getaway to Évora . Unfortunately for the monthly book club, that meant little time for books. In all fairness, I do prefer reading when it´s dark, rainy or cold outside, so my failure is somewhat justified. As such, this month´s book club will be a bit different and it won´t have neither ratings, nor proper reviews (except for Pessoa´s Forever Someone Else with I am on the last pages of and as such feel comfortable reviewing it). The theme of the book club has been Portuguese classics and here are the books I´ve wanted to read and partially started, and what I thought of them or why I chose them.
This month´s book club theme kind of unveiled to me only towards the end of the month, when I started drawing a line through the books I had read. I intended them to be books by strong women, about strong women. As I was finishing the fifth book of the month, it dawned on me though, that I had somehow chosen books about strong women and their journeys. The journeys transcend geographical borders as well as emotional phases of these women´s lives. They are journeys of self-discovery, a process that sometimes goes unnoticed by our heroines, but never seizes. A couple of the books are extraordinary, a couple are really good and one is just plain bad. There´s fiction and non- fiction, there are American writers and a Turkish one, there are white writers and a black one. I tried to keep it diverse, in an effort of educating myself. I hope you enjoy it and if you read any of these books, I would love to hear your thoughts on them in the comment section.