I read 400 books in 2020. Here are my remaining favorites:
The Odyssey by Homer
I actually liked this one a bit better than The Iliad. I like the way the story plays chronologically, starting with Odysseus’s son and then filling in backstory through Odysseus relating his memories. It kept things fast paced and right in the middle of the action. Made me glad I wasn’t born a woman in Ancient Greece, though. What a sucky time to be alive.
All The Queen’s Sons by Elizabeth Kipps
A gender-bender 12 Dancing Princesses retelling! I’ve mentioned this one on my blog before but seriously–I think this one is a delight and well worth picking up for lovers of fairy tales. It is a short but charming tale of a feisty shoemaker’s daughter who is determined to solve the mystery of the prince’s worn out dancing slippers.
No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington by Condoleezza Rice
Looking for a general but through overview of the foreign policy that defined George W. Bush’s presidency? Look no farther. Pick it up on audio book if the size intimidates you. (It intimated me!) It is worth the read. I found this memoir particularly fascinating because the moments she describes defined my childhood. She describes 9/11 from the perspective of someone in government at the time. Though if I have one complaint, I wanted more of Rice’s perspective. This is not a memoir where the writer overshadows her subject. While Rice sometimes references the unique role she played as a single, black woman as Secretary of State (particularly when meeting with traditional Islamic rulers or responding to Hurricane Katrina’s race issues), she rarely does so overtly. But because of that, I found I listened closer to see how she engaged with her male colleagues or dealt with confrontation or handled being a single woman in politics. A powerful read.
The Fall by Albert Camus
I once saw a video essay that described Camus as “the angst you feel the summer before going to college when you’re stuck at home but know there must be something more out there.” He’s so angsty. And normally I am not down for angst. But this is the sort of angst that rings true to life. I don’t think it tells the whole story. My worldview certainly encompasses more. But I can’t help admiring how beautifully Camus summarizes the despair of realizing how messed up mankind is without more.
The Dancing Star by Berta Ruck
Berta Ruck never ceases to amaze me with how modern her fluffy, romantic novels read. Not modern in a scandalous sense…but rather, as this book itself begins: “Here is a story of the conflict between Love and Ambition. An old conflict? Old for men. Fairly modern, however, for women.” Career or family? Here is the whole dilemma laid out in 1923! The story follows Ripple Meredith, a gifted dancer caught between her traditional family and fiancé (Love) and her passion for dancing (Ambition.) But other themes also come into play, including sacrifice, passion, purpose, and “getting a chance.” Ripple’s mother sacrifices so her daughter can “get a chance” before settling down with the first nice young man to catch her eye. You can read it as a social commentary or just for the adorable romance, because it has both and there is a delightful romance. This might be my favorite Ruck novel yet…but then again, I think I say that about every one I read.