by Muna Agwa
When the world came to standstill earlier this year, I decided to escape to new worlds in between the pages of books. I had always loved reading, but as school got busier over the years, it became more of a chore than a hobby. Now that I had more time to read, I read to my heart’s content (as of now, I’ve read 37 books during the lockdowns!) Here are the top five best books I read this year.
1. Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami
Where do I begin? There’s definitely a reason this book easily secured the top spot! I remember loving the lush descriptions of things and the complicated portrayal of characters. The protagonist also remains nameless throughout the whole novel! But this book opened me up to the genre of magical realism (which is now my favorite genre). Magical realism uses storytelling similar to that of realistic fiction but incorporates subtle fantastical elements while still having a natural feel. So you wouldn’t necessarily read about unicorns and goddesses in this genre, but more so ghosts. The aim of this genre is to blur the line between what is real and not. Aside from the genre, Dance Dance Dance was a captivating novel and it will easily transport you into another world. I’m already planning to reread it!
2. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
I have a huge appreciation for authors who can tell an entire story through verse, and this book is no exception! I was instantly whisked away into the lives of Yahira and Camino, the two perspectives this novel is told from. The alternating narrators keep the story interesting and worthwhile. The plot of Clap When You Land also made me experience a whole range of emotions alongside the main characters. I felt their anger, their fear, their pride, their joy, and their love. I’m aware that a book should not be judged by its cover, but the cover art on this book is unbelievably gorgeous. I read this book very quickly, so if you’re looking for something you can finish easily, this is for you!
3. The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
It’s been said that Bill Bryson can make any topic interesting to the average person, and it’s true. I am a bit of a biology nerd, so I had no trouble sinking my teeth into this novel. But The Body is a work of nonfiction I think anybody can truly enjoy. This book systematically covers every part and inner-working of the human body while adding in fun facts and Bill’s personal experiences. He also writes humor into this book, something that doesn’t occur often in scientific nonfiction. My favorite systems he covered were definitely the nervous system, the integumentary system, and the endocrine system. This book is packed with information, so you’ll have a lot of fun facts to share at the dinner table for a while.
4. Normal People by Sally Rooney
I remember actually wishing this book was longer from how quickly I devoured it. I would wake up and read it before breakfast and stay up after dinner to read it. This book actually deserved the hype it was getting. Normal People is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read. I think I actually applauded after reading the ending. It explores much more than just a romance between main characters Marianne and Connell, for it addresses class along with depression and anxiety. It also shows the issues that can arise in romantic, platonic, and familial relationships. I appreciated seeing the characters make decisions that frustrated me because it reminded me that not every book is set in an ideal world.
5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the type of book you don’t forget easily. Even though it’s been months since I’ve read it, the plot remains fresh in my memory. As the title suggests, it chronicles the life of Evelyn Hugo and her seven marriages. There are many surprises in the plot, and it helped me tune out the world around me. There is also a mysterious aspect to this book, and you are forced to read the entire book to get answers. The luxurious Hollywood setting was a lot of fun to immerse myself in. I hope this book will do for you what it did for me!