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Question of the Week > Best & Worst Reads of 2020 Thus Far? (5/17/20)

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message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2632 comments Mod
Let us know your most favorite and least favorite reads of 2020 thus far.


message 2: by LindaJ^ (last edited May 18, 2020 07:37PM) (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments My least favorite so far is a hands down winner -- We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff by Isabel Waidner.

Harder is my favorite. There are 3 in the running --
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel,
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy, and
Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Énard

If I was forced to pick one tonight, it would be No Country for Old Men, but tomorrow it might be the story about Thomas Cromwell and on Wednesday it could easily be the story about Michelangelo in Constantinople. All three captured a sense of place and time as well having great characters. And the prose in all was magnificent.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 427 comments Here's my favorites list. Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants isn't on it only because I read it last year. It's one of my all time favorites!

The Man Who Saw Everything
Motherless Brooklyn
Travelers by Helon Habila
Interior Chinatown
The King at the Edge of the World
Tyll
Deacon King Kong


message 4: by Marc (last edited May 20, 2020 08:09PM) (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2632 comments Mod
Haven't read TToBKE but Zone made me want to read more of his work.

Worst read for me thus far this year is also an easy pick:
In Patagonia (my aunt gifted me a bunch of Chatwin's books, but this one just did nothing for me)

Fave reads this year:
- Kitaro (I was completely unfamiliar with this utterly charming Mizuki creation; plus, it introduced me to the fascinating Japanese concept of the yokai)
- The Road (McCarthy) -- (only started reading McCarthy last year, but I'm hooked)
- No One Belongs Here More Than You (the type of wonderfully odd and funny short stories you'd expect from Miranda July)


message 5: by Robert (last edited May 18, 2020 10:23PM) (new)

Robert | 426 comments Worst read of the year so far is James Herbert's The Rats

My standouts are :

Winter in Sokcho

Our Souls at Night

Moby-Dick or, the Whale

The Memory Police

Stoner


message 6: by Hugh (last edited May 19, 2020 02:26PM) (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 2625 comments Mod
Favourite:
The Mirror & the Light

Runners-up:
Apeirogon
Animalia
Abigail
Handiwork
Hamnet
The Eighth Life
The Offing

Haven't read anything terrible yet but The Collector is the one I liked least.


message 7: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 208 comments Best: The Mountain Lion by Jean Stafford.

Runner-Up: Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann.

Worst: American Dirt.


message 8: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2102 comments Mod
Lots of love for Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants, adding it to the TBR. Lark, points, I guess, for making it through American Dirt. I knew from the first glowing review on NPR that I would hate it.

My favorite fiction read this year is Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin. Favorite non-fiction is Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow, who is the hero we need.

I don't really have a bad book, but I wasn't in the mood for Terry Pratchett when I read The Last Hero, and it's definitely not one of the better DIscworld books.


message 9: by Franklinbadger (last edited May 19, 2020 01:57AM) (new)

Franklinbadger | 18 comments Nadine - Tyll and The King at the Edge of the World have been some of my favourite reads this year too, so maybe I also need to try Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants!

The Mirror & the Light is also on my "best of 2020 so far" list.

I haven't read anything that I really hated so far this year, but I'm finding Hamnet a real slog and kind of twee.


message 10: by Antonomasia (last edited May 21, 2020 11:05PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 156 comments Also no truly terrible books to report.

Best, The Odyssey as read by Ian McKellen, The Other Name by Jon Fosse, and (currently reading) Machiavelli: His Life & Times by Alexander Lee (basically a book I wished existed when I was a student, written by an academic who probably hadn't even started university at that point)


message 11: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments I have to add my favorite non-fiction, as it would have been my #1 book so far this year. Since we haven't read non-fiction in this group since the days when the numerous October selections included a non-fiction book, I did not include it in my initial post. The book is Impossible Owls: Essays by Brian Phillips. The essay about the Iditarod is flat out amazing and the rest are all good. It was recommended by my youngest friend, a 30ish young man who loves to read.


message 12: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 156 comments Lovely title.


message 13: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 604 comments Just added a lot of books to my to-read shelf! Thanks everyone!

Marc, I'm impressed with your tackling of The Road right now! (I'm hooked on McCarthy also)

Linda - I loved Impossible Owls also! And yeah, the Iditarod was my favorite too.


message 14: by Emily (new)

Emily M | 68 comments I've really enjoyed Lost Children Archive, Dark Satellites, The Limits of Enchantment and Tokyo Ueno Station this year.

I was very disappointed by The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree and ended up abandoning it.

I have Tell them of Kings... sitting in a pile, so that sounds promising!


message 15: by Vesna (new)

Vesna (ves_13) | 120 comments Mod
Lots of great reads and some amazing discoveries for me so far.

From the 21st century, right at the top are all three seasonal novels by Ali Smith (especially Autumn, but Winter and Spring are great as well), EEG by Daša Drndić, and The Cemetery in Barnes by Gabriel Josipovici.

Slightly distant runners up: Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout, Faces on the Tip of My Tongue by Emmanuelle Pagano, and Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann.

Among my very absolute favorites were also a few modern classics (Bernhard's Wittgenstein's Nephew and Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler) and older ones as well (Wharton's The Age of Innocence & a few others).

Only one disappointment (of course, it's all personal taste): Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård.

Overall, a very rewarding few months of reading this year.


message 16: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2632 comments Mod
Bretnie wrote: "Marc, I'm impressed with your tackling of The Road right now! (I'm hooked on McCarthy also)..."

I read it the first week of this year before the pandemic! I can't say the pandemic has really influenced my reading selection except that I've used it as an excuse to buy new releases (like The Mirror & the Light) and small press publications I wouldn't have otherwise bought.

McCarthy has moved to my completist list, which is getting ridiculously long!

Glad to see so many rewarding reads so far in 2020.


message 17: by Paul (last edited May 23, 2020 07:26AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 181 comments Least favourite Mirror and the Light

Favourite After Absalon by Simon Okotie
Other favourites would be Winter in Sokcho and from the International Booker, Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree and Discomfort of Evening

We are Diamond Stuff which gets a least favourite nomination above was much my favourite book of 2019, indeed would be a contender for my best book of the decade.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 67 comments My books are all lightweights compared to some of the stuff in this thread. Thank you all for your recommendations - I added a lot to my "wish list" today.

I'd say my favorite I finished so far this year has been:

The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Terror by Dan Simmons

with a nod also to

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Right now I'm reading another terrific book that I would also recommend:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The worst book I've finished by far has been Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold. Ugh.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 427 comments RJ from the LBC wrote: "The worst book I've finished by far has been Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold. Ugh..."

I've been meaning to try a Bujold for a long time, but I won't start with this one! Can you recommend a starter Bujold for me? Or was this one your starter?


message 20: by Ellie (new)

Ellie (elliearcher) | 147 comments My favorites this year were

Homegoing

A Fine Balance

Beloved

My least favorite was A Necessary Evil, not as interesting as the first in the series.


message 21: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2316 comments Paul wrote: "We are Diamond Stuff which gets a least favourite nomination above was much my favourite book of 2019, indeed would be a contender for my best book of the decade."

I put it as least favorite. I read quite a few books based on your reviews, which I enjoy, and ratings Paul, but only about 50% of the time am I as impressed as you. That, however, is a darned good batting average (baseball) so I am not inclined to change, as elsewise I would have missed such wonderful reads as The Stolen Bicycle, one of my top books of the past decade!


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 67 comments Nadine wrote: "I've been meaning to try a Bujold for a long time, but I won't start with this one! Can you recommend a starter Bujold for me? Or was this one your starter?"

Shards of Honor and Barrayar are the only two of hers that I have read, and I didn't like either. Folks seem to like The Curse of Chalion so maybe that's a better one to try.


message 23: by lark (new)

lark benobi (larkbenobi) | 208 comments Nadine wrote: "I've been meaning to try a Bujold for a long time, but I won't start with this one! Can you recommend a starter Bujold for me? Or was this one your starter?.."

Nadine, I started with The Warrior's Apprentice, and I zipped through them all one long summer, by audiobook. They're all narrated by Grover Gardner and I adored his approach to these books.

I loved these books but they are absolutely in the realm of "space opera," as I believe the genre is called.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 427 comments lark wrote: "Nadine wrote: "I've been meaning to try a Bujold for a long time, but I won't start with this one! Can you recommend a starter Bujold for me? Or was this one your starter?.."

Nadine, I started wit..."


Much to my surprise I love space opera, thanks to Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice!


message 25: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 264 comments I have enjoyed reading through this thread and adding a few must-reads.

My worst read so far this year was probably a disappointing noir classic, The Thin Man.

My best has to be a tie--I was in awe of both. Toni Morrison's The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations, and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Yes, I'm behind on the trilogy, and looking forward more than ever to catching up!


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 427 comments Kathleen wrote: "My worst read so far this year was probably a disappointing noir classic, The Thin Man. ..."

Me too. I was hoping for witty entertainment, but it felt so......thin. It was one of my rare 1 star reviews.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 245 comments I DNF'ed Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson, though I don't know it was all that bad of a book--probably depends on what appeals to you. I really had a hard time developing any interest in what was essentially a fairy tale, and after 100 pages I packed it in.

The worst novel I read this year was probably Greenmantle by John Buchan (author of The 39 Steps), which still makes the Guardian's list of 1000 books to read, but did not seem to age well to me at all.

My favorites so far this year have been Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass, The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel by Robert Alter, and The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker. I'm also in the middle of a selection of stories by Chekhov, which I think is fantastic.

Surprise hits: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt, and The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel by Amy Hempel

Books I expected to like better than I did: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, and How to Be Both by Ali Smith


message 28: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 264 comments Nadine wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "My worst read so far this year was probably a disappointing noir classic, The Thin Man. ..."

Me too. I was hoping for witty entertainment, but it felt so......thin. It was one of ..."


Thin--exactly! :-)


message 29: by Michael (new)

Michael | 9 comments favourites include:

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

La Vida Doble by Arturo Fontaine

Milkman by Anna Burns

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino


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