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The beginning of this year, my friend Sai (@zanyanomaly) posted a challenge on Instagram to read 6 of his favourite books from 2020. Since he has been shoving these books at me forever, I decided it was high time I picked them up. It took me seven months but I am finally done with all the books!!!
Read on to know the books I read and my thoughts on them…
This was my first pick for the challenge and I chose the audiobook from Libro.fm.
Sasha Masha is the coming of age story of Alex. It was a quick, short read which starts like a typical YA contemporary. Alex is a confused teen, uncertain about his identity and sexuality. It sees him trying to navigate his contradicting feelings for Tracy, his friend and Andre, a boy he meets by chance.
Throughout the book, we see Alex’s slow metamorphosis and just as he begins the journey towards self discovery, the book ends. It leaves you at the start of a promising dawn with a lasting impact.
This rec of Sai didn’t disappoint at all and I was left thinking about this book long after I completed it.
TVD is the second book I picked up for the challenge. I picked it up four times only to dnf as I wasn’t vibing with it. Sai finally sent me his physical copy in May and that somehow got me into the mood to finish it.
Paul, a sensitive, insecure but talented artist meets Julian as freshmen in university and they are instantly drawn to each other. Their evolving relationship and the depths to which it takes them is what TVD is all about.
Micah Nemerever weaves magic with his words. He carefully herds his readers in a specific direction and with a few subtle revelations at the end, leaves everyone scrambling to reevaluate everything they have read.
This was a brilliant book I would have regretted not reading and it has taken its place in my all time favourite reads.
I would be posting a full review for this soon, so keep a look out.
I picked this book immediately after I finished These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever and I think that might have affected how I felt about it. TVD was intense and I was hoping for something similar in Swimming in the dark as well, but it failed to give me that high through no fault of its own.
Set in the 1980s, against the backdrop of communism in Poland, Swimming in the Dark explores the passionate love affair between Ludwik and Janusz. The repressive society they live in makes their relationship, something to be hidden at all times. Soon, their differing political ideologies and personal dreams begins driving a wedge between them.
This book was a bittersweet coming of age story with lots of gay yearning. It induced a melancholy, almost depressive mood and that wasn’t something I was looking for at the time. I did get invested towards the end and might have even shed a tear or two but I kept comparing it to TVD which was unfair.
I might give it a second chance in future but right now this falls firmly under the liked but didn’t love category.
True Story was the fourth book I picked up and one I went into completely blind. All I knew was that it was a thriller about rumours. I picked up the audiobook from audible thinking it would be best for a thriller, but that was a mistake. I was completely unprepared for the unusual narrative style that makes this book unique.
We get two PoVs in this story, one from Alice and one from Nick. Their story starts from high school, where a drunken story about an incident at a party quickly spirals out of control and leaves the people involved with longlasting trauma.
I found myself really intrigued by the concept of the story. The way the author uses different narrative traditions like campus novel, horror, crime noir and psychological thriller reminded me of In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. Unfortunately all this fascination and realisation happened after I finished the book. All I felt while listening, was confusion. The narration felt disjointed and I found myself disoriented. I believe this is a book that would have fared better if I was reading rather than listening.
So this is another book I would like to give a second chance to in the future. For now it’s getting placed in the liked not loved shelf.
This was my second last pick and the one I liked least.
Apartment explores obsessive friendships. We have an unnamed narrator who wants to be a writer and gets into a prestigious writing program to hone his skills. He realises his lack of skills once he’s enrolled and latches onto a fellow student who is the only one to appreciate his work. Soon he decides to share his privileges with said friend which leads to them becoming roommates. The rest of the book explores how this budding friendship turns toxic.
It was supposed to be a cerebral read but it failed to stimulate me. I found it dry, dense and the characters, pretentious and unlikeable. I simply did not care what happened to them.
Apartment by Teddy Wayne was a complete miss and the first book to land in the ‘not for me’ pile.
The last book I picked up was Summer of Everything by Julian Winters. The first book of Winters’ I tried was Running with Lions which I had dnfed. So I had very little expectations.
Surprisingly, this was a far better experience. I mean, what’s not to love about chaotic nerdy gays trying to save their favourite book store while making lists about how to ask their best friend out on a date? Nothing!!! I had a stupid goofy smile on my face the whole time I was reading it as well as some tears, towards the end.
Wes , with his anxieties, uncertainties and obsession with list making was completely relatable and my favourite!! I also loved all the side characters, the found family vibe and the banter. This is also one of the most diverse YA contemporaries I have read with multiple LGBTQ, body positive as well as racial diversity rep. The indie bookstore setting was also perfect and had me wishing for some place similar near me.
This was a witty, hilarious, adorable, quirky, emotional, heartwarming coming of age story and I loved it!!
So that concludes all the books I have read from my friend Sai’s recommendation list. It was a fun challenge to be part of and I ended up with two all time favourites and a new auto buy author. If you find this idea interesting and want to take part, follow @zanyanomaly on IG. He will be posting a new #readmyfaveschallenge soon with his 2021 favourites.
Lets catch up
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? If so what did you think of them?
Do you and your friends have similar taste in books? Or do they differ vastly? What are all the fun ways you have made your friends pick up the books you loved? Tell me in the comments below 👇🏻