From picture books to YA to adult fiction and some seriously thought-provoking non-fiction, Emma picks her reading highlights for the bumpy ride that was 2020.
Best Picture Book: This is a tough one, but I think I’m going to go with I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. It doesn’t talk down to the reader and the illustrations aren’t particularly childish either. When the dialogue doesn’t match the pictures, you get a real giggle, knowing that the characters are telling lies. This picture book has worked well one-on-one with toddlers as well as in class settings with primary students and special needs high school students. Plus I like just reading it to myself. There are two more hat stories by Klassen to enjoy as well: This Is Not My Hat and We Found A Hat.
The Book That Got Me Out of My Lockdown-Can’t-Read Slump: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by she-who-must-not-be-named. A familiar favourite that I tried to read every day in lockdown but couldn’t until we hit Covid alert level 2, when I could suddenly follow a narrative again!
Best Non-Fiction: a tie between Clementine Ford’s Fight Like a Girland Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race. Both gave me a deeper understanding of the issues (sexism and racism, respectively), and both got me suitably riled up to have some important conversations with people I love, but would usually avoid these topics with. Ford’s Australian voice and Eddo-Lodge’s UK perspective were both a refreshing departure from the US narratives that tend to overshadow these conversations.
Best YA: Puddin' by Julie Murphy. A sequel to Dumplin’, which was made into an awesome Netflix movie. It’s great. So great. Just read it. Friendship, growing up, inclusiveness, girl power – it’s just so great. Just awesome characters – some of whom struggle with accepting who they are, and some who live with full confidence, unafraid to broadcast their quirks.
Overall Best Book I Read This Year: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine. Really. As long as she can distract herself with work or alcohol, she’s utterly okay. I love Eleanor’s way of thinking. It’s relatable, ridiculous, hilarious, and terrifying by turns. Spoiler alert: she’s not actually fine. This book made me laugh out loud and cry heaving sobs.
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