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  • Writer's pictureEva

December 2020 TBR

This month - seeing as I was going no where, had no plans and had nothing to do whilst I isolate at home - I thought the best way to spend my time would be to wrap up all the books that I own that have not read (around 58 I believe?) and unwrap them at random to determine which books I would read to finish off 2020!

Pick 1

Kicking things off with The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave. I received this book for my birthday earlier in the year and it has now just been sitting on my bookshelf looking pretty for months. This book is often described as feminist fiction, so surely I'll like it!

Overview: Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, The Mercies is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilisation.

Prediction: 4 stars

Pick 2

This was another book I received for my birthday. Clearly I have not done a good job of reading the books I have been gifted this year. I was very happy to have unwrapped this book as I have only heard fantastic reviews and I want at least one non-fiction pick in every single month so It's Not About the Burqa edited by Mariam Khan is perfect.

Overview: What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it’s all about the burqa. Here’s what it’s really about. Seventeen Muslim women speak frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. Funny, warm, sometimes sad, and often angry, each of these essays is a passionate declaration, and each essay is calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia.

Prediction: 4.5 stars

Pick 3

I'm kicking myself because I saw the film first! It doesn't happen often, but up until recently, I had no idea that this was originally a book. Recently, I found myself a copy of The Martian by Andy Weir in my local charity shop and I can't wait to see if it lives up to it's spectacular reviews! Overview: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Prediction: 5 stars

Pick 4

Does this cover make you feel a bit sick? Me too. But this book is infamous in it's supposed terror. Rumour has it that when readings of Haunted by Chuck Palahnuik were performed in public, members of the audience would vomit and faint because this is an utterly terrifying anthology of horror. Overview: Haunted is a novel made up of stories: twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach-churning tales you'll ever encounter.

The stories are told by people who have all answered an ad headlined 'Artists Retreat: Abandon your life for three months'.

Prediction: 4.5 stars

Pick 5 I picked a Christmas book! How seasonally appropriate. I can just about stomach one Christmas romantic comedy per year and This Time Next Year by Sophie Couens is the talk of the town this month. I tend to enjoy my experience when reading these kinds of books, but it's never particularly memorable... Overview: When Minnie meets Quinn at a NYE party, it’s clear that they’ve got nothing in common – except for the strange fact of their being born in the same place at the same time on New Year’s Eve. A crazy coincidence, but not a reason to pursue a friendship, and definitely not an excuse for Quinn to hope for something more.

Prediction: 3.5 stars

Pick 6

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is commonly described as people's favourite in multiple categories: young adult, queer, romance. I have not read a young adult book in a long time now as I just came to realise it clearly was not the genre for me. But let's ignore all that and give it one more go!

Overview: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. As the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship - the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Prediction: 3 stars

Pick 7

This was my November selection from the Books with a Conscience subscription box. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi sounds like the perfect pick for me as it is supposed to be heart wrenchingly sad (most of the books I love seem to have this in common...) Overview: One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colourful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious.

Prediction: 5 stars

Pick 8

I found If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura in a travel inspired independent bookshop in the Japan section. I won't lie to you, I decided to unwrap it because it was short. I was having too much fun opening my 'presents' that I wanted to keep going, but didn't want to kill myself with a high page count! Overview: How do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil, our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. This is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.

Prediction: 4 stars

Pick 9

Another lighthearted book, perfect for this time of year! My lovely friend sent me The Switch by Beth O'Leary as a surprise when lockdown first began and we were all feeling very low. I enjoyed The Flatshare by this author despite chick lit not being my favourite genre, and I hear this book is just as lovely! Overview: When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen's house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She'd like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn't offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen's romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap.

Prediction: 4 stars

Pick 10

I was happy to pick out Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica as this is one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year. As soon as I heard the premise - even prior to it's release - I knew I had to get my hands on it. This festive time of the year is perhaps not the best time to read it...but I can't wait to get started. Overview: It happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat - “special meat” - is legal.

Prediction: 4.5 stars

Pick 11

I've outsmarted everyone as I knew exactly what was in this package when I unwrapped it as it's a pocket sized essay. I can finish I Hate Men by Pauline Harmange in one sitting (hopefully) and I expect it to make quite the impact. Overview: But what if mistrusting men, disliking men - and yes, maybe even hating men - is, in fact, a useful response to sexism? What if such a response offers a way out of oppression, a means of resistance? What if it even offers a path to joy, solidarity and sisterhood?

In this sparkling essay, as mischievous and provocative as it is urgent and serious, Pauline Harmange interrogates modern attitudes to feminism and makes a rallying cry for women to find a greater love for each other - and themselves.

Prediction: 4 stars

My final reads of the year! I've set myself quite a big task but am assuming that I will manage considering I won't be working as much over Christmas. There are some highly anticipated books in this pile so I'm really hoping for some fantastic reads to finish off 2020 strong!


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