Since 2020 was basically a wash for going out and doing things, I used it as an opportunity to take a crack at my 2020 reading list. I make it a habit to read before bed with a cup of hot tea, as I find it relaxes me and gets me ready to go to sleep. As such, I do a lot–and I mean a LOT–of reading. Here are some of the books I read in 2020, as well as what I thought about them as a whole.
The TL;DR Reading List Summary
Just a quick warning before you jump into this: most of these books are not what you would consider “literary.” Most of them are fantasy fiction or science fiction. Still, there are a couple on my 2020 reading list that I would recommend no matter your personal preference.
The Most Anticipated: The Fall of Shannara – Terry Brooks
Shannara is a series that I have loved for some time, and when I discovered that Terry Brooks was planning on publishing the final book in the series in November of 2020, I knew I had to check it out. I purposely waited until he published the final book so I would not have to wait for years to finish it in its entirety, so I picked them all up and binged them over the course of the month.
The Black Elfstone
This book mostly sets up the events for what will come throughout the series, and as such, I find it to be the weakest of the bunch. Still, it has its cool moments, although I think it lingers too much on characters that don’t have any real impact on the story.
The Skaar Invasion
My favorite character in this series appears at the beginning of this book, and I think it makes pretty good use of her as a whole. Brooks also goes out of his way to compare the Druid Drisker Arc to Walker Boh, which I think is a stretch at best, but that’s a rant for another time.
The Stiehl Assassin
The Stiehl is a relic that has not been seen since the time of Walker Boh. I distinctly remember it being super badass at the time I first read that series. Thus, I was pretty excited for this one, but the character who winds up using it is unremarkable at best. Still, I think this book has the most satisfying ending of the bunch, so I won’t complain too much.
The Last Druid
It was basically impossible for this book to live up to my expectations, but I admit that it does have its moments. I enjoyed the dynamic between the characters more toward the end, I think. Some of the plot points are too similar to those used in previous stories, in my personal opinion; I’m not sure if he was trying to use some of the same plot devices or resolve the stories of certain characters, but either way, I don’t think the latter was necessary.
Overall, I think it is a decent series, but not the ending that Shannara deserved. I don’t want to get into too much detail here… ya know, spoilers and all… but maybe I will write more about this in the future.
The Best(?): The Once and Future King – T.H. White
This one is a contender for my favorite book of all time. It takes a different approach to the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, focusing on the upbringing of Arthur and the struggles faced by Lancelot. It’s a fascinating story and one that I will be reading again every so often–perhaps even annually.
The Most Literary: Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
Perhaps the most literary book I read in 2020, Siddhartha is also an exceptional story in its own right. Siddhartha tells the story of a Buddhist monk as he seeks enlightenment, and what a story it is. I have been thinking a lot about what is essential to live a life of happiness, so I connected with this book on a personal level. It is a thought-provoking novel that I cannot recommend enough.
The Most Snooze-Inducing: The Great Hunt and The Dragon Reborn – Robert Jordan
These two books are the ones responsible for knocking me out cold and forcing me to go to sleep. I don’t know why, but I really struggled with The Great Hunt. The beginning is literally the main character, Rand, running around a city being paranoid for like 100 pages. Still, The Dragon Reborn made up for it and wound up being really awesome in the end. I love the world that Jordan built and its rich and varied history. I am excited to continue reading this series, but I have to order the next books first… le sigh.
The Weirdest: Hollow Kingdom – Kira Jane Buxton
I have some mixed thoughts on this one. On one hand, it is delightfully original and offers a fascinating take on the world of animals during a zombie apocalypse. On the other, I fucking hate the ending and the narrative style overstays its welcome, in my opinion. Overall, if you like this kind of stuff, you should give it a shot. It’s just not a book for me.
My Favorite Books on This Reading List
Out of all these books, I think my favorites have to be The Once and Future King and Siddhartha. They are a bit more literary than the others, and as such they were much more challenging reads. Still, I enjoyed most of these in some way; otherwise I would not be sharing them with you all. I might not recommend them all, but if you like fantasy and science fiction, there is something here for everyone.
What Was On Your Reading List in 2020?
Did I forget some? Probably–guess I’ll just have to poke around my nightstand to see what else is sitting there. What were your favorite books from 2020? Let me know in the comments.