Whenever people ask me the (dreaded) question “so what do you like to do in your free time?” I instantly panic and forget that I’ve ever enjoyed doing anything in my entire life.
However, without the immense pressure of an interviewer who could potentially be dictating my future staring me down, I would say that I LOVE to read.
I’ve been a bookworm my entire life.
My ideal day would be laying outside somewhere beautiful and having absolutely no one interrupt me for at least the time it takes me to finish an entire book.
Books are always an amazing gift option, for bookworms like myself and others alike!
There are some books that are timeless *cough The Help cough* as well as new titles being released all the time.
Since I have read some incredible books lately, I decided to compile a list of what I think are the greatest books to gift or read next year!
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My Favorite Books to Gift or Read for 2020
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Goodreads rating: 4.47)
This book tells the story of three women in 1962 Mississippi. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.
2. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (Goodreads rating: 4.34)
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later the parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers.
3. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren (Goodreads rating: 4.23)
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away. But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
4. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (Goodreads rating: 4.67)
For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.
5. Know My Name by Chanel Miller (Goodreads rating: 4.80)
She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford’s campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral–viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.
6. Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (Goodreads rating: 4.32)
The iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but also the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.
7. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (Goodreads rating: 4.07)
When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that’s to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents’. The novel explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us.
8. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero (Goodreads rating: 3.96)
If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, this book will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it now. By the end, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.
9. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Goodreads rating: 4.14)
A brush with death births an urgency in Young Hiram Walker and a daring scheme: to escape from the only home he’s ever known. So begins an unexpected journey that takes Hiram from the corrupt grandeur of Virginia’s proud plantations to desperate guerrilla cells in the wilderness, from the coffin of the deep South to dangerously utopic movements in the North. Even as he’s enlisted in the underground war between slavers and the enslaved, Hiram’s resolve to rescue the family he left behind endures.
10. The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker (Goodreads rating: 4.44)
Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born. She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for.
11. Modern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption by Daniel Jones (Goodreads rating: 4.27)
A young woman goes through the five stages of ghosting grief. A man’s promising fourth date ends in the emergency room. A female lawyer with bipolar disorder experiences the highs and lows of dating. A widower hesitates about introducing his children to his new girlfriend. A divorce in her seventies looks back at the beauty and rubble of past relationships. Some of the stories are unconventional, while others hit close to home. Some reveal the way technology has changed dating forever; others explore the timeless struggles experienced by anyone who has ever searched for love. But all of the stories are, above everything else, honest. Together, they tell the larger story of how relationships begin, often fail, and–when we’re lucky–endure.
I promise that picking up any of these books as either a gift or to read on your own will not be a decision you regret!
Let me know in the comments below if you have read any of these books or if you get a chance to. I’d love to hear your opinions!