I’m sure we can all agree: this year was pretty rough, for some more than others. The one thing that got me through months of lockdown and staying indoors was reading. Here are 12 books (among many others) that I read this year and recommend to you!
January: Me by Elton John - The year started off pretty well; I read a lot of good books, but my favourite would have to be Me, an autobiography on the life of Elton John. This book details the incredible life of Elton John, from when he first started performing to the present day. He delivers his stories about all of his past mistakes in a comedic style, bringing a lightness to more serious issues. Elton John is an extraordinary person, and I recommend learning about his life and listening to all of his music!
February: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - My ambition continued into February when I attempted to read A Tale of Two Cities. It was a fantastic story, with amazing characters and a riveting plotー if you can understand it (lol). I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves classics, and it’s a great choice for anyone looking to start reading classics. The words may be a little hard to understand, and you may need to read paragraphs over from time to time, but it is definitely worth it!
March: Boy Erased: A Memoir by Garrard Conley - It was halfway through March when things began shutting down because of Covid-19, but I was still feeling optimistic! I read a bunch of new books on more challenging subjects; one of them was Boy Erased. It’s a memoir recounting the time the author spent in a Conversion Camp and the events leading up to it. It’s a strong message on the struggle that many LGBTQ+ people face, especially in the southern states of America. It’s an emotional story, without being too graphic, and a great introduction for anyone looking to learn more about what the LGBTQ+ community goes through.
April: I Know You Know Who I Am by Peter Kispert - After about a month in lockdown I was reading more than ever. One of my favourite books I read this month was I Know You Know Who I Am. This book is a collection of short stories relating to the concepts of lying, deceit, and “performing” (putting on a false front). Each story features a new character trying to come to terms with who they are or their life situation, often lying to themselves and those around them. It’s an excellent, easy-to-read collection of creative short stories that forces you to look at yourself in a new light.
May: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - Like everyone, after a few months of staying indoors I started turning to things that gave me comfort. The Picture of Dorian Gray is one of my favourite books (I think I read it twice this year). Oscar Wilde’s writing flows from one sentence to the next and contains many dramatic declarations and monologues. The story examines how your soul can be easily degraded if you don’t face consequences for your actions.
June: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz - June is when the boredom hit me hard; it’s the month when I read the most. Out of all of those books, one of them stuck with me. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life deals with loss, grief, and personal relationships. Sáenz writes with poeticism and musicality and the book contains some of the most beautiful quotes that I have ever read. It’s a beautiful story that celebrates loss and life.
July: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta - July was when I hit my reading stride. I read a ton of books but The Black Flamingo was definitely my favourite. Written in verse, this book tells the story of a young Black man who moves away from his home for university. Being so far away from everything he knows allows him to re-examine who he is, finding new ways to express himself. This book deals with racism, homophobia, gender identity, and finding who you are. It’s an amazing story with fantastic writing!
August: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender - I love this book so much that it appeared on one of my previous articles! It tells the story of finding your identity and opening yourself up to love. Kacen Callender tells the story of a young transgender boy with eloquence and grace, drawing the reader into the story. It’s a fantastic story if you want to gain a new perspective or just experience a heartwarming story of a boy finding himself.
September: I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver - With school starting in September I was too busy to read! (AHH so sad, I know!). So I will take this opportunity to recommend another June read. I Wish You All the Best follows the story of a nonbinary teen who gets kicked out of their home after coming out to their parents. They move in with their sister, who tries her best to make her sibling comfortable and to provide them with a safe space to figure out who they are. It’s a wholesome story about love and friendship that provides a new perspective to YA books. It was one of the best books I have read all year!
October: 19 Love Songs by David Levithan - I read NO books during October, AGAIN! So here is another summer read. 19 Love Songs is a collection of stories about a group of students and the different ways they experienced love. They are told through poetry and short story forms; some stories are sad, some super happy, but all of them are incredibly well-written. David Levithan is one of my favourite authors and this book did not disappoint!
November: My Art is Killing Me and Other Poems by Amber Dawn - This book is a collection of poetry by Canadian author Amber Dawn. Using some of her life events mixed in with fantasy, Dawn writes through a unique perspective. Her take on the world is fresh, and her writing style differs from many other poets I’ve read before. It’s a great book to read if you feel like re-evaluating how you see the world.
December: You Will Love What You Have Killed by Kevin Lambert - Another Canadian author. This book takes place in the author’s hometown: Chicoutimi, Quebec. This book brings to light all the terrible events that can happen in a small town, destroying the stereotype that small towns are little havens where everyone cares for each other. Lambert writes in a disjointed style, which brings an eerie light to the story that I absolutely loved! While the content is a little graphic and not for everyone, if you love dark, gritty realistic novels, this is the book for you!