What I Read in October

Bad weather and a new lockdown meant October was another great reading month. There’s nothing better than curling up with a book when you have nothing else to do and the wind is howling outside. Here’s what was on my reading list this month:

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The Women’s Prize for Fiction winners, ranked (24-11)

There are so many book awards out there, and they all have different characters. By this, I mean that there are some whose winners I generally find aren’t to my personal taste (the Booker), there are some whose winners are a real mixed bag (the Pulitzer), and there are some whose winners I, with only a few exceptions, absolutely love (the Women’s Prize). The Women’s Prize was formerly known as the Orange Prize, the Bailey’s Prize and, as the current name would suggest, it is awarded to a woman (for the best original full-length novel published in English in the UK).

I’ve read all of the 24 Women’s Prize winners and at least 20 other shortlisted titles, and there’s only one I can pick out as being a book I really didn’t enjoy (hint: it only made the Women’s Prize shortlist, but it did win the Booker a few years ago). Most of the winners I’ve liked, really liked, or absolutely loved, but there were some I loved more than others. In anticipation for the 25th award being announced next week, I’ve ranked all the winners and split it up into two posts. Catch my top 10 on the day of the prize announcement next Wednesday, and here are my choices for 24 to 11 (but even these books on the “bottom” half of the list are still well worth a read!).

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The Best Debuts I’ve read This Year

Every author has to start somewhere, but while some writers take a few books to find their stride, others manage to create incredible works straight out the gate. Or, perhaps, these authors haven’t even hit their peaks yet, and these debuts are that good but there’s something even more amazing to come. I can’t wait to find out. Here are five of the best debut novels I’ve read so far this year. 

Note: These are not all 2020 debuts, just my favourite first novels I’ve read so far in 2020.

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What I read in quarantine

At the start of the pandemic I couldn’t read at all. I sat listlessly on the couch, unable to do anything but scroll endlessly through twitter. I was afraid to see what horrible news would come out next, more afraid to miss any of it. As time went on, I ventured back into the world of books, at first slowly and then voraciously. The world of fiction let me retreat, while the world of nonfiction offered some semblance of control through education. Now, as I finally get the chance to reemerge into the world after two weeks of self-quarantine (after returning from Southeast Asia to the United States), three months of self-isolation (like hell I was racing out to crowded bars or beaches), and another two weeks of self-quarantine (after moving to Ireland—right, that also happened recently), and in that time I’ve read 29 books. Here are my favourites of the books that got me through it.

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Old Friends

Yesterday I did something that, according to Goodreads, I haven’t done in at least four years. I re-read a book.

On Friday night, I finished the last of the books I had downloaded to my Kindle via Libby via my local library (The Year of Less by Cait Flanders) and so while I wait for my next hold to come in (will it be The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel or More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth? I can’t wait to find out), I turned to my bookshelf.

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What I read in August

In August I did something I rarely do these days: I read a book I didn’t like. Between Goodreads, friends’ recommendations, and just having a very good sense of what I enjoy, I rarely start a book I’m not pretty certain I’m going to like. Which is good, because I hate to DNF (short for “Did Not Finish”) a book. I did finish this one, but I wish I hadn’t taken the time. Still, it was a great month for reading, with some quiet days and extra free time and a couple of long commutes and travel times meaning I read eight (!) books in August. And the others ranged from good to an absolutely incredible new favourite. Here they are:

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