I enjoy reading (my B.A. is in English Literature), but I don’t have a lot of time to read. I try and squeeze it in for 20-30 minutes each day and for a few hours on the weekend. Because my reading time is limited, I try and read only very good or great books. That might sound like I’m a bit of a book snob and I guess I can’t argue with that, but it really boils down to being efficient. If there are 100 books and your time is limited and 50 of them are poor, 25 of them are okay, 15 of them are pretty good and 10 of them are excellent, why would you want to read all 100 books? Anyway, here is my reading list for winter 2020:
I have never read a Louise Penny book before, but she is a favourite of my very well-read mother and has had numerous books at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list. Penny was also a broadcaster with CBC Radio before turning her hand to writing fiction. The Armand Gamache series focuses on a police chief inspector who investigates murder cases in a charming Quebecois village, the fictional Three Pines. For all of these persuasive reasons, I decided that investing my time in Louise Penny’s books was probably a good bet so I started with Kingdom of the Blind. I am so glad I added Kingdom of the Blind to my reading list for winter 2020 as it is not only a great mystery, but a book in which you’ll feel like you are becoming acquainted with new friends. Have you read any of Louise Penny’s books? Please let me know what your favourite one is in the comment section.
Washington Black is the story of a young boy (George Washington Black called “Wash”) born into slavery in Barbados in the early 19th century. Wash, who has a talent for creating detailed sketches, is taken under the wing of the white plantation owner’s brother, Titch, to become an assistant in his scientific discoveries. As a result of a death in which Washington is incriminated, Titch and Wash escape to Virginia and then end up in the Arctic, where Titch’s father is conducting research. I found this book to be a fascinating and enlightening read since it contained many historically accurate details regarding the treatment of slaves on plantations and the colonizers’ prejudicial attitudes. It is also a story of Wash’s profound courage and steadfast loyalty to Titch.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
I was excited to add The Testaments to my reading list for winter 2020 because it made such a huge splash in 2019 by winning The Booker Prize. When my sister lent me her copy of this dystopian novel, I couldn’t wait to dig into it. I noticed that many reviewers on Goodreads said they felt that The Testaments was redundant i.e. it didn’t really add to the experience of the first book in the series, The Handmaid’s Tale. Because I didn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale (nor have I watched the popular series starring Elizabeth Moss), the whole premise of The Testaments was new to me and I found the story kept me captivated. For those who are unfamiliar with the plot, the United States of America has been overthrown. The new country of Gilead is a militarized society where women are not allowed to read, write, own property, manage their finances or have control over their reproductive functions. The Testaments follows the story of handmaid Offred’s two daughters: one living in Gilead and the other living in Canada.
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
My sister lent me her copy of A Brilliant Friend, which is the first book in this series. The books center on Elena and her intellectually gifted friend Lila, growing up in the 50s in a working-class neighbourhood in Naples, Italy. In The Story of a New Name, 16-year-old Elena is able to continue her studies and experience a bit of freedom from her restricted life while Lila has been forced into an unhappy marriage. I found the descriptions of the firey and flamboyant characters in the first novel amusingly memorable and the characters’ loyalties to tradition, culture and pride are in stark contrast to the more relaxed and changing attitudes of modern North American society.
Let me know if you get a chance to read any of the above-noted books and what you thought of them. What is on your reading list for winter 2020?
You might be interested in reading, “Best Books to Give as Gifts for the Holidays 2019“.