Despite all the hard times throughout this past year, one thing that I'm grateful for in 2020 is that it helped fuel my love for reading. While in lockdown and starting to finish up schoolwork for the semester, I was in desperate need of a new hobby. I am the kind of person who hates being lazy and needs something to do all the time, so watching TV for 24 hours a day was just not an option. I had been reading books periodically throughout the last year, but not at the rate that I have been now.
One day in April my mom saw that there was an Amazon deal for a bunch of FREE Colleen Hoover books and suggested that I take a look and consider buying one. At the time, I didn't know much about her writing (and boy was I missing out all these years), but I figured hey, they were free, so I might as well get one. Soon enough, I was pacing around my living room, flipping through the pages because I wanted to know what would happen. I couldn't remember the last time I genuinely couldn't put a book down, but it was such a good feeling. I loved how it was such a relaxing activity yet it also worked my brain at the same time. So from then on, a new passion project was born.
Then, my grandparents surprised me with an early birthday present, a Kindle Paperwhite, and my life truly has not been the same since. I thought I was one of those people who loved the "feeling" of holding a book, but I'm telling you that nothing compares to the feeling of holding that Kindle. Eventually, I was basically reading a book a day and I continued that pattern all quarantine long. Reading has become a part of my daily routine--it is something I look forward to doing every single day. I began joining a bunch of virtual book clubs as well as starting them with my family and friends. My GoodReads account has truly become my favorite social media platform and I have been posting reviews on almost every book I've read this year to a highlight on my health/lifestyle/wellness Instagram @laurynslifestyle. I even joined a virtual book club called Bad Bitch Book Club, which has not only expanded my eyes to so many amazing books, but has also introduced me to some pretty amazing people as well! It is such a welcoming community and I am so glad that I have found it in this past year.
Reading has truly been one of the highlights of this past year, so I thought it would be the perfect way to end the year by sharing some of my favorite books I read in 2020. I would say that I can be a pretty tough critic at times, but these five-star reads were books I could genuinely not put down and would HIGHLY recommend to anyone. I will be linking the synopsis to each book in the title for you to access it easily and a brief description as to why I liked the book so much. Happy reading!
The "Slammed" series is Colleen Hoover's debut series and yet it still managed to be one of my favorites of hers. It was suggested to me to read all of her books in order to see how she grows as a writer, which is crazy because I can't even imagine it getting any better than this. This was seriously the most adorable love story and it truly melted my heart. And as a writer myself, I loved the poetry element in there. My favorite in the series happens to be the second book "Point of Retreat" but I seriously loved them all.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
"American Royals" was probably the first book that I read this year where I was like, "wow, I think this may be one of the best books I've ever read." It started out a little slow for me in the beginning, but soon enough I was completely attached to the characters and the relationships that develop in the story. The premise of imagining what the United States would be like as a monarchy is already so interesting to think about and once you add characters that are hard not to love (or hard to love for that matter), you seriously can't get enough. I also enjoyed how the book constantly changed POVs each chapter, making it super easy to relate to each and every once of them. This book ended on such a cliffhanger that I could not wait to read the sequel that I also really enjoyed. My friends and family know I've been recommending this one at every turn I can and I will die on that hill.
I have always been a huge fan of the Obama family, but I think the obsession definitely was fueled after reading this book. I loved getting a better glimpse into Michelle's life, from her childhood all the way to her time in the White House. It brought such a new perspective. Her hardwork to get her to where she is today is truly remarkable and the love and devotion she has for her family is something that I admire. I am looking forward to reading Barack's book sometime in the future!
If you need a book that will make you sob the entire way through, "Night Road" is the one for you. I read this one for a family book club and we all agreed it was one of the best books we've ever read and we all could not put it down. Kristin Hannah has become one of my all time favorite authors. She has such an amazing way of creating these lifelike characters that allow you to become so attached to them. Being a twin and someone who went through the college process not too long ago, this book definitely hit home for me. I have nothing but good things to say about this one.
Genre: Romantic Thriller
I know that I'm including Colleen Hoover twice on this list, but "Verity" was one of the books on this list that I was able to finish in like four hours straight because I just had to find out what would happen. I never thought I would be the type to like a thriller (I cannot watch a scary movie for the life of me), but there is something different about reading it in a book. Specifically, I loved how this book was like a book within a book and how it leaves you on your toes the entire time you're reading. You also leave the book wondering what actually happened and what didn't which is a feeling I've never had before. If you want a book that will get you hooked into reading, this is definitely the one for you.
I'm not going to lie that I had very little knowledge on the transgender community before reading this book. Amanda Jette Knox shares honestly about her pretty tumultuous childhood/adolescence and bravely comes forward on how she helps to save her child and her marriage when after they both come out as transgender nearly a year apart. This book definitely covers some heavy subject material, but she is a beautiful, raw storyteller and it is clear how much she advocates on behalf of her family and the trans community. I learned so much by reading this book and feel that many people would benefit from reading it as well.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Truthfully, I was super affected by this entire story and it really helped put a lot of things into perspective for me. There are a lot of heavy discussions in this book centered around race and privilege, but it is truly so pertinent to everything that has happened in the last year. Coupled with an amazing plot line and a protagonist that you can't help but fall in love with makes for a truly perfect story that I would recommend to everyone. And because it's YA, it was extremely easy to consume. I also watched the movie (which is almost identical to the book) and I loved it just as much. I honestly think this should be required reading for everyone. Definitely run to get this one.
Calling all Bachelor fans...this is the book for you! As a Bachelor and reality TV show fan myself, I absolutely ate this one up and loved the way that it was written. Although the franchise has seemingly made some improvements in terms of the diversity in their casting, having all body types being represented is something they still do not do a good job on so perhaps ABC should be taking notes from this one. Even though Bea is a fictional character, she was so easy to love and I almost felt like she could exist in real life. From the very beginning, I was so invested in her happiness and advocate for the plus-size community. What I also loved about this book is that you genuinely didn't know what was going to happen until the very end, which in my opinion is the best kind of book.
"Educated" has been on my TBR for a while now, and I'm so glad that I finally read it to finish off the new year. I have no doubt that this book will change my life and my entire world view, and truthfully I'm not sure if I've ever felt that way about a book before so that's when you know it's a good one. Tara's story to get educated and discover her own identity is truly remarkable, inspiring, and crazy to wrap your head around. It's unfathomable to think that there are people out there right now who grew up like her and share in those same beliefs. I honestly think everyone could benefit from reading this book and I have no doubt I will be thinking about this one for a long time.
Genre: Historical Fiction
I've been a big fan of TJR's, but it was after reading this one that I have truly converted myself into a stan. I recently signed up for NetGalley (an opportunity to receive advanced copies of books from publishers in exchange for honest reviews), so I was not expecting to be able to get a book of this popularity but I am so glad that I did. This book was so freaking good! She truly does an amazing job of creating such authentic characters and relationships between them. There is honestly nothing better than a story about love, family, and some messed-up celebrities. I also love how this book took place essentially over a single day yet also how it alternated to the past as well. Run, don't walk to get this one when it comes out in May 2021!