2020 Reads: December

I never have as much time for reading in December, because, yano, Christmas, etc.

But here are my final reads of 2020. I'm also compiling my Top 10 for the year, which is much harder than anticipated. I've read a total of 70 books in the last 12 months, most of which I adored. So, wish me luck whittling it down to 10. It's been a weird year y'all. Praise Gaia for books!

1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

This vivid portrait of a single day in the life of a woman in 1920s London is regarded as one of Woolf's greatest masterpieces. Taking place 5 years after the end of World War I, it examines themes of repression, mental health, class, sexuality, and mortality. Woolf skillfully critiques British high society during this era. It is a modernist piece that rejects linear storytelling. It deals more in themes rather than plot, which makes it a real treat for poetry lovers. It's a lyrical psychological trip that experiments with time, perception, memory, and the inner dialogue of several characters, creating a truly unique narrative.

Tales of the Batman by Alan Brennert (1981 - 2000)

This collection brings together Brennert's entire run of DC comics. He may have penned only a handful of stories over the course of two decades, but many place him alongside Batman's greatest authors. He's best known for his writing on TV shows such as "The Twilight Zone", but he also wrote the first DC comic bearing the "Elseworlds" logo. Writing stories outside of the larger DC continuity gave him the freedom to tell some truly unique and thought-provoking tales. My personal favorite was "To Kill a Legend" in which he explores how Bruce Wayne's life would have unfolded if his parents were never murdered. Would he still become the Dark Knight? And if so, how might this have changed the Batman we all know and love? These stories are intelligent, insightful, and inventive. Well worth checking out.

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

In December of 2019, I fell in love with the blunt but loveable curmudgeon, Olive Kitteridge. This holiday season, I was even more smitten with Elizabeth Strout's superbly crafted sequel "Olive, Again". Grappling with a plethora of new challenges in the latter half of her life, Olive is as quick-witted and complicated as ever. She comes to understand that no matter how old we get, there is always more to learn about ourselves and the world around us. Strout continues to prove there is no such thing as a simple life, and in the end, Olive is left with more questions than answers. I'm certain I'll come back to Olive Kitteridge at various stages of my own life, and undoubtedly experience something new each time. Profound, hilarious, heartbreaking, and beautiful. One of my fave reads of the year/ever.

"I do not have a clue who I have been. Truthfully, I do not understand a thing." - Elizabeth Strout