and just like that, 2020 is over. let’s take a look back at the final month of the weirdest year of our lives.
a virtual st jude memphis marathon weekend // joined the board of an awesome nonprofit // so many cookie deliveries from friends // cleaned out my mother’s pantry // christmas day meals on wheels deliveries // low key christmas // long chat with bear // cleaned and organized my room // my parents got their first covid vaccines // quick getaway out of town
she hadn’t realized how long it takes to become somebody else, or how lonely it can be living in a world not meant for you.
the vanishing half by brit bennett. this was the book of 2020. the one on every bestseller list. the one voted book of the month’s best book of 2020. one of the few on president obama’s list of recommendations. i knew as soon as i read the synopsis over the summer that it was going to be the book, but i kept putting off reading it because i knew once i read it then i would never be able to read it for the first time again. that may sound weird, but for some books half the fun is in the anticipation and the other half is in the actual reading. and i mean it when i say that even with all of that, this book still exceeded my expectations. brit bennett is such a talented writer, and every chapter drew me in and left me wanting more. this was hands down my favorite fiction read of 2020.
black women didn’t have a place in the conversation, though they’d been the steadying stick from the moment the conversation began.
stamped: racism, antiracism, and you by jason reynolds and ibram x. kendi. one of my coworkers has organized an anti-racist book club at work, and stamped was our first read. we broke it up into sections and met weekly to discuss the book but also to talk about how we have seen topics covered in the book play out in real life. the book is incredibly well-written and so accessible, and i learned so much through both the book as well as in my conversations with my coworkers. i strongly, strongly recommend you read this book.
so i’m doing it for you because that’s how people should behave; they should fill in each other’s gaps.
get a life, chloe brown by talia hibbert. i first heard of talia hibbert when she was interviewed on an episode of code switch last summer, and she made her books sound so fun that i immediately added the first book in her brown sisters trilogy to my libby queue. this story about chloe and red was both fun and serious at the same time, and i loved how naturally brown depicted an interracial, inter-abled relationship. it was a quick read and one that i’ve already recommended to friends, and i look forward to reading about the adventures of chloe’s sisters in books 2 and 3.
culturally and religiously, i live my life like a secular american, except when i’m out with friends at an indian restaurant and i feel uniquely qualified to order our meal.
nothing like i imagined by mindy kaling. this collection of 6 essays by mindy kaling were entertaining and hilarious and such fun to read that i finished them in a few hours. my favorite was definitely “kind of hindu“, in which kaling talks about her tenuous tie to the religion of her parents and ancestors; as a fellow child of indian immigrants i have had many similar conversations with myself as i’ve grappled over my faith. the other one i really enjoyed was “help is on the way“ about the baby nurse she hired after the birth of her daughter in 2017. kaling writes exactly how she speaks, which makes her writing so engaging and relatable, and this was a great way to pass a weekend. ps — these are available for free if you have a kindle unlimited subscription
once, in my father’s bookshop, i heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.
the shadow of the wind by carlos ruiz zafón. this book. i don’t even know where to begin. i’ve now read it 5 or 6 times in the last 14 years, and i swear it gets better each time. i love how the opening paragraph draws me in. i love all the layers and nuance. i love the lyricism of the writing. i love the mystery buried within a mystery. i love how slowly the story unfolds and how it grabs you by the heart. i love re-reading it every few years and then passing it along to someone new.
a long petal of the sea by isabel allende. after all the others i read in december, this one was kind of meh for me. it was well-written in places, but the story was very winding and there wasn’t enough of the parts i wanted and was too much of the parts that didn’t interest me. a friend and i were discussing it via instagram recently, and i mentioned that the final chapter was one of the most interesting for me and was what i wanted earlier in the book. it was fine, but coming off the heels of the others i read it didn’t stand up.
and with that my reading tally for 2020 was 67 books [my initial goal for the year was 35 lol].
currently reading: i finished chanel miller’s know my name last night and am about to start wendy wood’s good habits, bad habits.
the best things i watched.
i finished schitt’s creek, and to say i loved it is an understatement. it was the perfect combination of funny and cringeworthy and heartwarming and just downright weird and it was fantastic. i especially love a show that knows exactly what it is and that goes out on top. i will watch anything else dan levy makes for the rest of our lives.
the weekend after christmas i watched ma rainey’s black bottom on netflix. i didn’t know much about the story going into it other than it was an adaptation of an august wilson play and that it was chadwick boseman’s final performance. all of the acting was spectacular, but i never quite escaped feeling like i was watching a play on my screen. i would love to see this performed on stage.
katie milligan told me to watch bridgerton on netflix, so i did. set in 1813 london during “the season” aka when debutantes begin searching out their husbands, this show was fascinating and i could not stop watching. it’s a cross between gossip girl and downton abbey but with its own brand of cheekiness and pomp. and yes, i very much have a new crush on the actor who plays the duke, thank you for asking. warning: in case you are watching with others be aware there are some pretty steamy scenes, particularly at the end of episode 5 and throughout episode 6.
the best things i read on the internet.
between work, board retreat, and helping my mother, i didn’t have a lot of time for internet reads. we’ll get back into it in 2021. maybe.
lacy crawford’s story of the sexual assault she suffered at boarding school, and the lengths the school went to to cover it up. trigger warning: sexual assault; bullying.
women with phds respond to that horrible wsj op-ed*.
wishing all of you a happy 2021.
*if you’re unsure, i am referring the reprehensible op-ed the wall street journal printed in which a dumb white man claimed dr jill biden shouldn’t use the moniker “doctor” because she is not a medical doctor. don’t get me started.