Blogmas Day 4: Favorite Books I Read In 2020

I’m back with another post, and this is also day 4 of blogmas. I’m committed to being consistent!

Reading has been a long-time hobby of mine. I would read at least two books a week, but as I got older and school became more demanding, the books I was reading were pretty much textbooks (so not fun). As you know, I graduated back in May, and I now have a bit more free time to do some of the things I love, and reading is one of them.

Reading has been an escape for me, especially since this pandemic started. It was a way for me to tune out the outside world when the news got too heavy.  I thought, since I’m doing blogmas, this will be a fun way to share some of the books I read this year. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I’m lowkey a part-time bookstagrammer, lol. I usually share which book I’m reading every month. 

Here are some of the books I’ve read and plan to read. When I decided to do this post, I had this idea of telling you what I thought of each book, but I have to keep it real; some of them I don’t remember exactly what happened, so I guess it’s best I share the synopsis from the publisher so that you get a better idea of each book. If I were to give the overview of every book, we would be here until the New Year, so I’m going to share the synopsis for some of my favorite books I read this year and list the other ones, and you can check them out.

THE MOMENT OF LIFT HOW EMPOWERING WOMEN CHANGES THE WORLD by Melinda Gates 

In this candid and inspiring book, Gates traces her awakening to the link between women’s empowerment and the health of societies. She shows some of the tremendous opportunities that exist right now to “turbo-charge” change. And she provides simple and effective ways each one of us can make a difference.

For the last twenty years, Melinda Gates has been on a mission. Her goal, as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her: If you want to lift a society up, invest in women.

QUEENIE by Candice Carty-Williams 

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD by Therese Anne Fowler 

In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door – an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.

Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he’s made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn’t want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers. 

Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo 

With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.

SAINT X by Alexis Schaitkin 

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort – are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth – not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

BUTTERFLY IN FROST by Sylvia Day

I read this book in one day! I just could not put it down, as I’m writing this blog post, I just might go read it again after lol.

Once, I would never have imagined myself here. But I’m settled now. In a place I love, in a home I renovated, spending time with new friends I adore, and working a job that fulfills me. I am reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.

Then Garrett Frost moves in next door.

He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging force of nature that disrupts the careful order of my life. I recognize the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. I fear I’m too fragile for the storm raging inside him, too delicate to withstand the pain that buffets him. But he’s too determined…and too tempting.

And sometimes hope soars above even the iciest desolation.

THE BIG LEAP by Gay Hendricks 

I’ve had this book for almost two years. This Facebook book club highly recommended it I was part of. I did not get to finish it but decided to pick it up again. I could use some motivation to start 2021 right.

In The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks, the New York Times bestselling author of Five Wishes, demonstrates how to eliminate the barriers to success by overcoming false fears and beliefs. Fans of Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, and The Secret will find useful, effective tips for breaking down the walls to a better life in The Big Leap.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng

I’m yet to watch the HULU original series but this book came highly recommended by one of my friends, Jenn and the book did not disappoint l

From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood–and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

WHEN LOVE IGNITES by Rilzy Adams

Fun fact, I went to high school with the author, and I couldn’t be more proud and happy to support her. She’s always been a fantastic writer, and I knew back then her work will one day get published.

Jasmine Johnson and Alec Alvarez hate each other. Alec believes Jasmine got her job in their prestigious law firm because her father owns the firm and won’t stop reminding her about it. Jasmine needs to stay as far away from Alec as possible because she can’t practice law with a criminal conviction. And, Alec is an assault conviction waiting to happen. 

When they are paired to work together on the murder case of the year, Jasmine and Alec realize they have to find a way to work together. Yet, they get more than they bargained for when passions burn and flames ignite. 

Jasmine and Alec are about to find out that the line between love and hate is paper thin.

OTHER BOOKS ON MY READING LIST 

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller
  2. Get A Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbert
  3. You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson 
  4. Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen
  5. Go Deep by Rilzy Adams
  6. Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx 
  7. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 
  8. Homegoing by Yaa Gaysi 
  9. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 
  10. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell 
  11. Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy 
  12. Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant

I know this post was a bit longer, but if you made it to the end, comment below what books you read this year or which books are on your radar. I’m always looking for more books to read!

These are the books I read and books I want to read. I have a lot more I want to read but I’ll be pacing myself. Reading truly is fundamental. I remember my high school library skills teacher telling our class, “reading broadens your horizon.” This quote has stuck with me since then. Before I end this post, I want to give a special shout out to three of my favorite bookstagrammers on Instagram. Shout out to Lala, a teacher and book lover. She’s also recommended some very good books for me. She never misses a beat when it comes to recommending what to read next. Another shout-out is to Rose from Rosesreads a law student and lover of young adult and nonfiction and any book from the Caribbean and someone I admire.  The next person I want to shout out is Jenn over at Everything She Reads. She keeps it all the way real when it comes to reviewing books. I’m also apart of her book club, where I’ve met some amazing beautiful young women who also love to read, and I’ve been put on to some really good books! Be sure to follow all of these amazing book lovers. Did I mention they’re all from Antigua?! Show them some love, and you’ll also find more books to add to your list.

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