Happy New Year all! Let’s hope for a much better 2021 and the less said about most of 2020, the better. I have no resolutions other than my reading challenge however I will follow Charlotte Brontë’s advice and see where it gets me – “I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward”. Reader, I feel you could do much worse. Back to my reading challenge. I don’t think anyone expected to read as many books as they did last year (thank you lockdowns), and I managed to get through almost double the target I had set out at the start of the year. Check out my post Reading Challenge 2020: The Results for more information on my successes from last year.
Here’s a quick look at my top 5 books from 2020 though (not a Brontë in sight! Although you can argue that one is Brontë-inspired).
- Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie was everything I thought it would be and so much more. It was my absolute favourite book of last year. Murder, mystery, scandal, a spurned lover, money, and Hercule Poirot. I wrote a spoiler free review over on my side project, The Classic Chronicle, if you want to check it out.
- A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett was so magical and enchanting that I just couldn’t put it down. Thought to be based on an unfinished novel of Charlotte Brontë called Emma it tells the story of schoolgirl Sara Crewe who leaves India to take up residence in a boarding school in London. When tragedy strikes, Sara must attempt to survive in a world so different from the one she has previously known.
- Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards. I’ve been getting more familiar with classic crime fiction over the last 12 months, and if there’s one man who is an expert, it’s Edwards. This is actually the second book in the series featuring amateur detectives Rachel Savernake and Jacob Flint, and they’re both fantastic but Mortmain is slightly better than its predecessor, Gallows Court. A murder mystery which pays homage to classic crime fiction, it’s a suspenseful, well-plotted, and excellently written modern crime gem.
- The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett is another enchanting read that I should have read long before 2020. It’s a beautiful story about a child named Eepersip who runs away from her parents’ house to live in the natural world, making friends with animals and living on berries and roots as she travels from place to place. It’s magical and poignant as she must outwit her parents and other adults, and strangely relevant to 2020 as the main character just wants to be free from the restrictions of a society in which she feels the walls are closing in on her.
- Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver. This was my first book of 2020 and I loved it. Intense, eerie, and haunting, I couldn’t get it out of my head for a long time. A spooky house, a father with secrets, a girl trying to make sense of everything, it’s gothic horror at its best.
This year I don’t expect to get through quite as many books, and in way, I don’t want to as sometimes so much reading leaves too little time for blogging. I’ve set myself a target of 20 new books for the year over on Goodreads. In all honesty, I will probably read more than 20 books but it takes some of the pressure off to aim slightly lower. Additionally, I want to make 2021 my year of re-reading and return to some old favourites and other novels that have enchanted me over the years. Below is my list of tasks to incorporate into the books I read this year as well as a list of the ones I am hoping to re-read. As expected, there are a few Brontë tasks in there too. Hopefully it will be an interesting but happier year.
- A Book Written by an Author Who Knew the Brontës
- A Piece of Brontë Juvenilia You Haven’t Read Before
- A Piece of Non-Brontë Juvenilia
- A Piece of Brontë-Inspired Fiction
- An Agatha Christie Book That Does Not Feature Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple
- A Book Published in the Year You Were Born
- A Book With a One Word Title
- A Book With a Person’s Name in the Title
- A Book With a Place in the Title
- A Book Published in 2021
- BONUS – Listen to an Audiobook
And here are my books to re-read:
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
- Villette by Charlotte Brontë
- Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
- Atonement by Ian McEwan
- Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
- The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
- The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith
- BONUS – Ubik by Philp K. Dick
Reader, whatever you read this year, enjoy.
In Loving Memory of Bob the Bichon (2007-2019)
A lover of life, the Brontës, and Haworth who knows that I’m just going to write because I can’t help it.
By Nicola F. a.k.a. The Brontë Babe.
Thanks for reading. I’d love it if you stopped by The Journal of Juvenilia Studies where you can read my essay, “Autobiography, Wish-Fulfilment, and Juvenilia. The ‘Fractured Self’ in Charlotte Brontë’s Paracosmic Counterworld”.
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