This post is the second of its kind and there will be at least one more. Part 1 of Favourite Books of 2020 can be found here.
1. Baptism of Fire (Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski – This is admittedly a strange choice for a favourites list and it doesn’t work as a recommendation. Surely you would have to read at least 2 books before you start this, not counting the short story collections before that. But I just loved the book! It has so much character development.. and the pace, and story perfectly complement what it sets out to do. Like any mid-series installment, it wants to take a pause, stall the reader and very books achieve that very well.
2. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward – Short review here. Men We Reaped is a memoir set in Mississippi. It follows the tragic and difficult stories of the writer’s childhood and the men she lost to drugs, suicide, accidents and the kind of bad luck that only afflicts the poor and the minorities. It is anecdotal, emotional, nostalgic… and this style of writing adds substance to a dry discourse on race that often inundates, but does not move.
3. Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje – I often choose to read the “less famous” works to get a taste of the author before reading what they’re best known for. Running in the Family is hilarious! It’s a partly fictionalised, surreal, postmodernism memoir about the writer’s family in Sri Lanka, wherein he traces both their history as well as a recent visit he paid them. It’s also a travelogue and poses as a love letter to Sri Lanka with all its quirks. Superb writing!
4. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – I wanted to read this ever since I read about this lawyer through Anthony Ray Hinton’s perspective in The Sun Does Shine. Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer and the man behind Equal Justice Initiative, which is a non-profit that provides legal representation to prisoners who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial or anyone on death row. Just Mercy was published in 2014 and it is interesting to see what the initiative has done in the years since. The book itself is heart-breaking and terrifying at once… the information just plain scary and the stories heavy with emotion.
5. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill – Sea of Rust is this fascinating double dystopia… the human civilisation has been long destroyed and taken over by AI, and now… it’s the robot civilisation that has turned on itself… Left on the planet are a few stray scavenger robots, who are on the run from what seems like inevitable assimilation with their very own big brother. Stranded in this place, called the Sea of Rust, is one old robot. This story is his search for meaning and for some remnant of the humanity in whose image all robots were created.
6. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elisabeth Russell – Detailed review here. An incredible book! This is the story of a woman who discovers that one of her old teachers has been accused in a #MeToo scandal. Soon, we learn that Vanessa had an affair with the very same teacher. In fact, she had been in love with him. The story unfolds through her fifteen year old perspective. Meanwhile, in the future, the woman comes to terms with a reality that she had buried.