In 2019, I managed to read a whopping 55 books and beat my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Reading has always been one of my greatest loves and I’m so glad that in my late twenties, I’ve been able to claw back some precious hours each day to just read. In my early twenties, much of my ‘reading’ relied on blogs but as the number of posts published dwindles, there’s never been a greater time to find comfort once more in the printed word.
This year, I’m hoping to read 70 books! I’m excited to be well on my way with the challenge, and I’m hoping it’ll make me a more diverse reader as I tend to read within the same genres and the same lengths of novels. The final book I read in 2019 was Shogun by James Clavell, a 1125-page epic that I thoroughly enjoyed. I hope to continue that sort of vibe because a lengthier tome can be so incredibly immersive! Moreover, as the world continues to be intent on spiralling into oblivion, reading does wonders for my mental health, offering an offline way to escape reality. I’ve shared a full post all about my books and reading habits, if you want to read that!
Seventy books is a LOT of books. And whilst there are over 300 books on my TBR list, I find I’m never very productive in terms of getting that number down. So, inspired by the wonderful Evie, I’m pledging to read 12 specific books this year. I’ve also joined the Blogger’s Bookshelf Book Club; the team have a prompted book club rather than a titled one, and each month you select a book to match the theme. With these two help-me-alongs, I should be able to scratch 24 books from my list, should there be no crossovers!
Without further ado, these are the 12 books I pledge to read in 2020…
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I can’t believe I’ve reached the grand age of 28 having not read the classic that is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Of course this novel has rapidly gained traction recently with a film adaptation — that I’m yet to watch! — and so it feels like perfect timing to add to my list of books to read. Little Women tells the story of the March sisters, four young women determined to live life on their own terms. Published in 1868, it’s supposedly a semi-autobiographical novel and I’ve wanted to read this for absolutely ages, moreover, I’m pleased it’s truly stood the test of time.
Tai-Pan by James Clavell
After finally getting round to reading and completing Shogun, I knew I wanted to read the sequel fairly sharpish. It felt like a monumental accomplishment to finish the first, and I’m keen to capitalise on the momentum and read this soon! Tai-Pan begins after the British victory of the first Opium War and colonisation of Hong Kong. (Whilst it’s touted a sequel, I believe the character cast is entirely different; it’s more of a chronological sequel.) I’m super excited to dig into this story and learn a little more about the United Kingdom/Hong Kong relations. Plus, Clavell’s writing style is so cleverly immersive that I’m just thrilled to be able to read another of his books!
The Insecure Girl’s Handbook by Olivia Purvis
My girl Liv has only gone and written a bloody book!! And it’s out next month! I can’t wait to get my hands on my preorder copy; The Insecure Girl’s Handbook is a manual for the everyday girl who goes through wobbles. Despite how ‘put-together’ lots of you say I am, I certainly go through multiple wobbles a week, and with the political, societal and environmental crises in 2020 already, I think this handbook is going to be a real keeper.
The Confession by Jessie Burton
Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist made such a deep impression on me that I’ve been desperate to gobble up her other books! I asked Santa for The Confession for Christmas and he — ahem, Harvey’s sister — happily obliged. The Confession follows the story of Elise Morceau. She meets Connie, a successful writer whose works are being turned into a Hollywood film. What she learns next sets of a series of events that’ll change her life forever. I personally really adore these ‘discovery’ novels, and I can’t wait to cosy up for a weekend and plough through this.
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
I happened across Such A Fun Age on Coco’s Tea Party and was immediately intrigued. Touted an exciting and exhilarating read, it’s author Kiley Reid’s debut novel which makes me all the more happy to support it. The novel deals with issues of race and privilege and I absolutely can’t wait to see how these topics are played out.
The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim
Although YA doesn’t appeal to me as much as it once did, the cover and title of The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling sucked me in. It covers the story of Anna Chiu, and deals with themes of culture, mental health and family relationships. It’s got great reviews on Goodreads and I genuinely can’t wait to get stuck in!
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’m unbelievably excited to read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie this year. After reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi last year, I realised I absolutely loved discovering more about Africa’s culture and history and developed a thirst to read more in the sub-genre. Americanah recounts the fictional tale of Ifemelu and Obinze who fall in love in Nigeria and head for America and England respectively.
Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang
Like many first-generation British-Chinese and Chinese-Americans, Eddie Huang’s Fresh Off The Boat was a welcome dose of representation and humour for us all. I noticed I shelved Double Cup Love a few months ago and still haven’t got round to reading it, and what better time than now as I hone in on my writing niche?
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Jean Kwok’s books have been polarisingly enjoyable for me over the years. Mambo in Chinatown was so-so and yet Girl in Translation is easily one of my favourite books. I meant to read her newest release Searching for Sylvie Lee last year but I’m awful at picking books up as they’re released. I’m definitely more of a mood reader. I can’t wait to get started with this.
Howard’s End by E.M. Forster
E.M. Forster was born and raised in my hometown, and for that reason I’ve always wanted to read Howard’s End. In fact, I had no idea of its acclaim until somewhat recently. His portrait, along with this book title, is proudly displayed in the town centre and the house the book is based on, his childhood home, sits in my hometown too. The house and road is on the same road by beloved Granny is buried, and so Howard’s End feels like an important novel for me to read.
Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
I’m reading a Claire Fuller novel at the moment and I’m enjoying her writing style — emotive, punchy, wrought with emotion and tenacity — that I want to try another of her books soon. Bitter Orange tells the story of Frances Jellico and Cara and Peter. They’re keen to know Frances at first, but as the hot summer rolls on, the stories don’t match up. Frances finds herself entangled in the lives of the hedonistic couple.
The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Overstory has intrigued me for a few years now as it’s essentially a work all about trees. Goodreads describes it as a ‘sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of the natural world’. Whilst climate crisis is all around us, I think will be another timely novel to read in 2020.
Which books are you pledging to read in 2020? Join me on Goodreads to see everything I read and rate this year!