2020 Reading List

Throughout 2020, I have discovered a lot of books that I enjoyed reading and became my personal favorite. So, since the year is coming to an end, I thought it would be appropriate for me to share a list of all the books I have read as well as some of my thoughts about it, in case any of you need inspirations for your TBR list next year!

  1. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
    Honestly, it’s one of the best books I found in 2020. All the characterization and overlapping plots makes the story intriguing from page 1. Therefore, despite the fact that  I enjoyed Celeste Ng’s first book more (Everything I Never Told You), this is still something I would recommend to everyone.
  2. Make Learning Personal – Barbara Bray
    I remember reading this for a competition in early 2020. The book itself explains everything about personalized learning. From its meaning, purpose, and implementation. As a student myself, this gave me a clearer understanding of how I can be more independent of my learning process, and gave me ideas of how I can incorporate my interests and likings into the topics I’m studying. That said, the book could also be helpful for teachers who want to improve their teaching methods so that it can be suitable to each of their students.
  3. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
    This one is definitely one of the harder reads, considering that the language used is old English from around the 19th century. But the conflicts and plot line kept me going until the end. The story is set in London and Paris (1775-92), before and during the French Revolution. It follows the story of Lucie and Alexandre Manette, and its supporting characters, Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay during the event. I especially love how the book interweaves personal grudges of each character, until one way or another, it affects the French Revolution itself.
  4. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
    With no doubt, this book is one of my personal favorites. I read the first volume of the book many years ago, and decided to read both volumes in February before I watched the movie adaptation. It is about 4 sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March, and their stories from childhood to becoming adults. To some, the book can feel quite lengthy and boring since it doesn’t exactly establish a main conflict. Though personally, it’s heartwarming and packed with important life lessons, as well as certain feminist values (Jo March is my feminist icon, obviously).
  5. The Traveling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Arikawa
    Discovered this book from my school library. It tells the story of a man and his cat, travelling through Japan in order to visit his old friends and relatives. The catch, it is written from the cat’s perspective. I had some laughs (and tears) while reading the book, though it’s not exactly my favorite.
  6. Bumi Manusia and Anak Semua Bangsa – Pramoedya Ananta Toer (re-read)
    I’m pretty sure I have read these two books a couple of times before, and I decided to read it again for a school assignment. The two are about Minke, a native Javanese boy who is discovering the world around him in the middle of the Dutch colonization in Indonesia. And these two are my personal favorites, by far. It manages to explain the importance of the characters’ social-economic status during the colonization era, and it also highlights the role of mass media in starting a change in the society.
  7. Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
    Another great find in the middle of the pandemic. This book was quite unexpected and extremely different from any other books I have read. It is about Kafka, a 15 years old boy who is trying to run away from his fate. But the adventure he went through has so much more meaning. Definitely became one of my favorites.
  8. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
    When buying this book, I never thought I would love it so much, as the main genre is romance. After I read it, I realized that it’s way more than that. Elizabeth Bennet, the main character here, blatantly refuses her family needs for her to marry quickly. Rather, she focuses on her individual needs of self growth and marrying a man of her choice, not her family’s. Which is something radical, especially when the book was published in 1813. So that’s why I might do a proper review on it later!
  9. The Story Factor – Annette Simmons
    This book illustrates the power of storytelling as a method of communication that can be useful in influencing or persuading others. Despite it not being something I would read over and over again, I learned a lot about how to improve my communication skills and implement it properly on a daily basis.
  10. The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
    This one is also from my school library. The story focuses on Eddie, the main character, in his afterlife. The language style is light and easy to read, while also maintaining the philosophical message in the story.
  11. Inilah Esai – Muhidin M. Dahlan
    As the title suggests, this book gives an explanation about the meaning and purpose of the essay. As well as examples of revolutionary essays in Indonesian history.
  12. Inilah Resensi – Muhidin M. Dahlan
    Similar as the previous book, this one explains about the meaning and purpose of book reviews. The book also mentions the characteristics of the book review created by several notable figures in Indonesia.

Besides those books, there are some other I have started reading but haven’t finished yet (not a good habit, I know), and it’s worth mentioning:

  • Max Havelaar – Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker)
    I found this on my parents’ bookshelves, read 2 chapters from the book, but haven’t managed to continue again. There is nothing wrong with the story, but reading this book feels like reading a historical manuscript. So it might take a lot of commitment to finish it.
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
    I have actually read the short version of the book a year ago, and it influenced me to buy the full book. But after reading a few chapters, I find the language style to be very depressing and sad. Which is a good thing for the author, but as a reader it’s kind of emotionally draining. I will, however, try to continue reading it next year.
  • A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
    I was very excited buying this book as it has been in my wish list for so long. Yet I haven’t continued reading since I started during finals week at school, and there was little to no time for me to read it. But of course, I’m continuing it right now :D.
  • Shadow and Bones – Leigh Bardugo
    I rarely read YA contemporary books, but the good reviews I read about Shadow and Bones made me buy it several months ago. Some of the romance in the story made me stop reading (I’m not a big fan of it), but I’m committing to at least read this and the second book before the Netflix adaptation gets released next year.
  • Quiet – Susan Cain
    I initially bought this because I heard it talks about introverts and how society undervalues them. So as an introvert myself, I was interested to read it. But again, I haven’t had the chance to continue reading it yet.

Book Review: Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

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“It’s all a question of imagination. Our responsibility begins with the power to imagine. It’s just like Yeats said: In dreams begin responsibilities.”

Through this book, Haruki Murakami explores the theme of consciousness and unconsciousness. It’s very interesting, since the book follows 2 storylines simultaneously.  For every odd numbered chapter, it is about a boy named Kafka Tamura, who lives with his dad; a famous sculptor, in Tokyo. On his 15th birthday, he makes up his mind to run away from home with hope to break the Oedipus curse that his father made about him. Meaning that based on the curse, Kafka will kill his own father and sleep with his mother and sister.

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Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

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“Sometimes you need to scorch everything to the ground, and start over. After the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too. They start over. They find a way.”

– page 324

Celeste Ng’s book has once again amazed me by the way she portrays her characters and the unpredictable plot in the story. This time, it was ‘Little Fires Everywhere’. A bestselling book published in 2017 that receives a high rating on online bookstores and other social media platforms.

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Book Review: Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

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“You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Force yourself to smile. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy.”

This debut novel by Celeste Ng tells the story of an Asian-American parents; Marilyn and James Lee, and their three teenage children. There’s Nath, the oldest son who is undeniably talented, and Hannah, the youngest daughter of the family. But whatever they’re doing, it’s often put aside by their parents because of Lydia, the middle child. Though she never asked for it, Lydia’s described as the golden child of the family who’s holding up all of the expectations from her parents. From the expectation to be a successful doctor in the future, expectation to have a good social skill, up to the hinted expectation for her to always follow what Marilyn and James say. Without realizing how Lydia is mentally and emotionally exhausted because of it.

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Book Review: The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

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To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation

Last time on my blog, I wrote about my trip in the United States. And I mentioned the books I bought in the Coop Bookstore at Harvard. One of it being The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. 

In the shortest description possible, the whole story is a beautiful enactment of one’s journey to reach their dream. The story itself focuses on Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd who had a strong connection with his sheep. The only companion in his life which its simplicity taught the boy (Santiago) about important life lessons. One day, he got dreams about a treasure in the pyramid. And his devotion in reaching this dream is shown throughout the book.

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Book Review : Becoming – Michelle Obama

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For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as a forwards motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self.

– Michelle Obama

I’m sure by now, there’s not a single person who doesn’t know about Michelle Obama. The former First Lady of the United States, who played a big role in advocating public health and education. Making her an important role model to many people around the world.

So it’s not a surprise when her autobiography was released last year, people were so eager to buy it. And I was lucky enough to be able to buy it a few months ago. But because of my packed schedule this past week, I’ve just finished reading it two days ago and thought that I would like to share what I think of this book.

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Book Review: The One Who Walk Away From Omelas – Ursula K. Le Guin

The One Who Walks Away From Omelas is a short fictional story that was made by Ursula K. Le Guin back in October 1973. I first know about this short story from one of BTS’ Spring Day music video. In that music video, they put up a big ‘Omelas’ sign in one scene. Then there are ARMYs (BTS fans) who shared that BTS use ‘The One Who Walk Away From Omelas’ book for their inspiration.

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image source: https://www.quora.com

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