Samvidha Srinath shares her personal favourite reads of 2020.
The Awful German Language by Mark Twain
This hilarious 100-page long book describes Mark Twain’s futile attempts to learn the German language while he was in Heidelberg. He fails to comprehend the rules of the language and then tries to make his own rules. In the last few pages, he delivers a speech in front of a German audience in German – and fails.
The book is very interesting, and as a speaker of the German language, it is very infuriating, too! It really made me want to write a fitting reply criticizing the English language. But then again, it was a fun read.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is an American dystopian classic written by the Canadian author Margaret Atwood. Published in 1985, Atwood had set herself the challenge that she wouldn’t write about anything that hadn’t taken place in human history. It tells the tale of the protagonist named Offred who lives as a handmaid in a Commander’s house and is forced to produce children for the government of Gilead.
Offred remembers her life with her husband and her children. “I wait. I compose myself as one composes a speech”. This is one of the most famous lines in the book and shows the oppression of women and national governance only by men. The Handmaid’s Tale is a women-centred story and is a great classic and portrays many of the injustices committed towards women.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
‘Fangirl’ is about an introvert named Cath who writes fanfiction about the fictional Simon Snow series. Her twin sister Wren is her complete opposite. The moment college starts, Wren goes out for late-night parties. For Cath, it is the worst thing ever because she spent her whole life with her twin sister and now Wren says she doesn’t want to be her roommate. Can Cath grow to come out of her introvert shell and start living her own life without depending on her sister?
‘Fangirl’ is a young adult contemporary novel with a hint of romance. The writing is light and you may find yourself finishing the book just in a matter of a few days. For some, it may be a reminder of their own days at the university; for others who are introverts, they may find the experiences Cath goes through, very relatable. This book is definitely a must-read if you want to get to know Rainbow Rowell as an author.
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
‘Everything, Everything’ is also a young adult novel written in the first-person perspective, the protagonist has an autoimmune disease called SCID, due to which she is never allowed to go outside. Her mother is the only family she has. Everything changes when a boy named Olly moves in next door. They see each other for the first time through the window and then they start texting. They quickly fall in love. The protagonist feels like she is trapped. But will she be able to break free from her bubble?
The chapters in this book are short. This book is a great pick for readers who are intimidated by thick books with complex plots and difficult registers. The plot is linear and very simple to follow. Carla’s bubbly and liberal nature is a great contrast to the protagonist’s mother who loves her daughter very much but is very stern with her. Overall, this book is a great read.
The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Welsey Chu
The first book in the ‘The Eldest Curses’ trilogy (the other two ‘The Lost Book of the White’, and ‘The Black Volume of the Dead’ ) tells the tale of Magnus Bane, the High-Warlock of Brooklyn and Alexander Lightwood, the Shadowhunter who go on a romantic vacation to Europe when things go awry. Years ago, Magnus had founded a demon-worshipping cult as a joke and completely forgotten about it. How Alec and Magnus are able to stop the cult from causing further destruction is for you to find out.
Cassandra Clare is one of my favourite authors. The writing was no way compromised which is sometimes the case when a book is co-authored. I felt that the plot could use some more work as it was a bit too simple and not as complex as in Cassandra Clare’s other books like ‘The Mortal Instruments’ or ‘The Dark Artifices’ series. It was overall a good read.
These five books were my personal favourites of the year. Which ones were yours? I hope you have a glorious and joyous New Year despite the current situation.
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