In 2020…My Life in Books

Merry Christmas and tons of goodness for the new year to all who read this.

I haven’t done a round up or anything book meme-ish (or, in this case, taggish) in a while – due to time constraints and due to hoping to finish more books which I might have to acknowledge I won’t due to aforementioned time constraints. So I thought I might do this one along with shellyrae @ Book’d Out Just for Fun (as that old Singing Althea Calypso goes).

The challenge is to complete the prompts using the titles from the books you’ve read in 2020. Consider yourself tagged.

2020 was the year of Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy – not just because it was one of my faves but because, like in the book, things seen and unseen – looking at you COVID-19 – were coming at us out of the woodworks and we had to stay #cutlassready.

#cutlassready

In 2020, I wanted to be Storm (Storm Limited Series 1, 2, 3, 4) – not necessarily talking plot here but Storm is a reflective, complicated, powerful badass (who needs her own Origins feature film by the way) who Black women and girls can project themselves in to – or who can remind us of our own potential for greatness…even if we can’t harness the wind.

In 2020, I was Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo – technically, I still need to read the full book but, yeah, this fits.

In 2020, I gained Art Exposed by Chavel Thomas – I actually interviewed this artist this year but I’m choosing this book to reference all of the art created in 2020 during the pandemic that I’ve been privileged to have a front row seat to, interviewing artists for my CREATIVE SPACE series. A favourite day is still the private tour of Heather Doram’s studio overflowing with art created when, column aside, I was still struggling to write (oh, btw, I’m writing again…finally).

In 2020, I lost The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig – just no travel, no travel for the foreseeable future and that makes me sad.

In 2020, I loved The Old Guard (Book One: Opening Fire and Book Two: Force Multiplied) by Greg Rucka (words) and Leandro Fernando (art) – easily one of my top 5 (who’m I kidding top 3, maybe 2) movies of the year and my most fun movie experience to return to for a boost since and great on the representation front between its Black female director, first for a comic book action feature film (Gina Prince-Bythewood), its gay lovers (beautifully played by Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli), Black female co-lead (Kiki Layne), female lead in a comic book action film (Charlize Theron), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (existing), passing the Bechdel-Wallace and the Duvernay tests without hitting you over the head with its wokeness, just by telling a simple and complete story, not to mention an action flick with nuance re its villainy (ah, Booker) and historical scope and complexity re its character origins, in addition to some dance-like John Wick-esque choreographed fight scenes.

In 2020, I hated racism (see Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes) – I mean, I always hate racism but this teen/young adult novel captures some of the inner and outer complexities of being Black in a world of systemic and overt racism and proved the perfect book for the 2020 season of racial reckoning as propelled by the #BlackLivesMatter uprising; easily one of my favourite reads and definitely my quickest read of the year.

In 2020, I learned Creole Clay: Heritage Ceramics in the Contemporary Caribbean by Patricia J. Fay – there were things about my father’s family and his mother specifically that were new to me and I ended up revisiting family business in my newspaper column.

In 2020, I was surprised by The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemison – One of my favourite reads of the year but in the real world I was not ready for this dystopian future in which we’ve found ourselves nor the reminder that we are our own worst enemy (just wear the damn mask! …and stop voting for would-be fascists).

In 2020, I went to Small Island by Andrea Levy – because that’s where I live; on a small island in the Caribbean and this was the year to tap ah yuh yaad (also I got to see this free for a time during lockdown stage adaptation from home – still need to read the book).

In 2020, I missed out on Buzz and Bingo in the Monster Maze by Alan Durant and Sholto Walker – because this is a children’s party book with costumes I feel fine using it as a euphemism for Carnival because Carnival was cancelled in 2020 because 2020 didn’t want us to have nice things (just look at those maskless fools back in 2019).

In 2020, my family were An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – by which I mean to say as dysfunctional as ever, like every other family – bookwise though this is another one I’d recommend for any one still scratching their heads over why BLM activists put their health at risk to take to the streets seeking justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others – too many others.

In 2021, I hope August Issue 1 by Fallen Angel T.J.G with illustrations by Sonalli Andrews – chosen not for the plot but because in 2020 we want that August, that summer, feeling back all year round, mangoes in full bloom, Carnival on full blast, and that feeling of freedom and possibility, no state of emergency, no curfew, warm sun and fresh air breathed freely, hopefully we the people of the world will through responsible action be on track to getting our lives back; and with reference to the book, because it is the first graphic novel out of Antigua and independently produced, may it remind us to try new things in the new year.

I read (calling it!) 18 books this year – 4 less than last year (sigh) – and my reviews are linked; check em out. If you do the tag, post the link in the comments so I can check out your books as well.

Thanks, Shelly, by the way for ballooning my TBR to which The Lost and the Damned, Love in Lockdown (did you really gain love in lockdown, Shelly, do tell?), and Little Wonders have now been added.