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Five great books to read in 2020

Books to read in the new year | Photo by Jessica Fugett | The Wright State Guardian

Books to read | Photo by Jessica Fugett | The Wright State Guardian

When was the last time you read a book for fun? Reading shouldn’t be just for a class, or to check off a box that says, “I read this very Important Book so now everyone will Take Me Seriously, and I am also Very Smart.”

Below is a list that will hopefully inspire you to pick up a book this year; there’s a bit of drama, a bit of comedy, and even horror thrown in!

“Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng

“Little Fires Everywhere” explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster or heartbreak.

It all starts with fire – a lot of them. From the very first chapter, we are thrown into the lives of two very different families: the Richardsons, a large, picture-perfect family that plays by the rules, and the Warrens, an eccentric mother-daughter duo. While they rent the Richardsons’ apartment in Shaker Heights, the placid, peaceful community in Cleveland, Ohio, the Warren daughter creates a unique dynamic with each of the four Richardson siblings.

Then one day, a custody battle erupts when the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese American baby. This divides the town, forcing the two families to pick opposing sides. Suspicious of her motives, Mrs. Richardson investigates Mia Warren’s mysterious past, and we are thrown into a compelling, fast-paced drama.

You also might have seen this in the “Reader’s Pick” section in Barnes and Noble, or as one of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club 2019 picks on Instagram, but I promise this book is worth the hype. However, if the book itself doesn’t interest you, you can tune into the show on Hulu when it drops this spring on March 18, starring Witherspoon, Kerry Washington and Lexi Underwood.

“Normal People” by Sally Rooney

This follows the stories of Marianne, who comes from a wealthy family, and Connell, who is the son of the woman who cleans Marianne’s family’s house. Connell and Marianna pretend not to know each other and begin a secret relationship that starts with them in their final year of high school and follows them throughout their four years at university in Dublin, Ireland. In high school, Connell is extremely popular while Marianne is not, until they go to college and it is reversed. Told in alternating perspectives, we follow these two throughout university, relationships, class and heartbreak.

This book also made a huge splash on Instagram, and it’s not only because of its gorgeous cover; this book is quiet, yet emotional, and explores relationships, friendships and politics in a very relatable and heart-felt way. “Normal People” is also being adapted for television on Hulu in Spring 2020.

“Bunny” by Mona Awad

At a prestigious New England university, Samantha Warren feels like the only normal person in her Creative Writing MFA program.

Surrounded by a group of four girls who call themselves the “Bunnies,” she finds solace in her only friend, Ava, who shares her distaste for them. However, when Samantha is invited to the Bunny’s creative workshop, cheekily called the “Smut Salon,” she falls deeper into their weird, wild world of arts and crafts.

Once she is sucked in, Samantha begins to make her own strange creations, and it begins to spiral out of control.

A mix of “Heathers,” “The Craft,” and “Mean Girls,” this simultaneously hilarious and disturbing novel about the reality of “killing your darlings” will stick with you long after you close the book.

“Bunny” is often described as not being for “everyone,” and I would certainly tread cautiously into this intense book.

This dark tale will certainly make a lasting impression on anyone who is willinging to dive deep into this twisted, fever-dream story.

“Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid

The synopsis of this book is so familiar, it looks like it was ripped straight from the headline of a newspaper. When Emira, a young, black woman, is accused of kidnapping the white child she’s babysitting at a grocery store by a security guard, she is furious and humiliated.

The fact that a bystander records the entire altercation makes it even worse for her as she makes him promise to never leak the video.

When Emira’s employer, Alix, a blogger and self-proclaimed #BossBabe, hears about what happened, Alix is determined to make it right. Even if that means putting her nose where it doesn’t belong.

What follows is a very timely and startling series of events that gives us a look into race, relationships, privilege and the reality of growing up a millennial in America.

A compelling, fast-paced book, “Such a Fun Age” is an amazing debut from an author that I can’t wait to read more from in the future. This insanely smart book just barely squeaked in on the last day of 2019 and still managed to make waves.

It’s also the first pick of 2020 for Witherspoon’s book club Hello Sunshine (who knew we shared such good taste in books?).

“The Traveling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa. Translated by Philip Gabriel

A tale about a feisty cat Nana, and his loving owner Saturo.

When Saturo is unexpectedly unable to care for Nana anymore, they go on a road trip in Japan to find Nana a new home. At each stop, we discover more about Saturo’s past, his family and relationships with his friends.

Along the way, we meet Yoshimine, a cynical farmer who thinks cats should be strays; Sugi and Chikako, who run a pet-friendly bed and breakfast; and Kosuke, a heart-broken man whose cat-loving wife left.

All of these stories converge into a heart-warming story about compassion.

This short novel packs an emotional punch.

Told in alternating points of view – one of them being Nana himself – we discover more about Saturo and his affection for Nana. If you’re a cat lover – or an animal lover in general – there is no doubt that you will fall for this small, hard-hitting book about friendship and love.

Hopefully, this list inspired you to put down your phone and pick up a book! Make the ’20s your decade of igniting a love of reading.