The Happy Place 5 is a monthly feature for which we pick five books according to a specific theme. This is the namesake of a Discord group that I am a part of with a bunch of book loving friends who live across the world. Our topic this month is books that kept us afloat in 2020.
You can find the links to the other blogs with their picks at the end of this post.
How The Happy Place 5 Came About
2020 was such a weird year for most all of us. With the massive disruptions due to the pandemic a lot of plans were put on hold. While I found that this change of pace gave me a lot more time for introspection, I did also somewhat lose focus for the things I wanted to accomplish. That spilled into my reading life too. I found myself barely even taking books or my eReader into my hands. If not for audiobooks, I would’ve only finished 20% of what I managed last year.
What did help me through the year was that a bunch of book blogging friends set up The Happy Place on Discord. It was supposed to be a space free of C***d talk to encourage each other and talk about books, shows, food, pastimes, etc. Towards the end of last year, several of us decided that we wanted to revive our blogs and share our love for books and reading again, so here I am with my first post of 2021.
My Top 5 Books of 2020
To start off this feature, we’re meant to share our top 5 books of 2020. Usually that’s an easy and objective process for me because I rate my books according various criteria and then average out the ratings to the third decimal point. Hah.
However, by May last year, I barely even managed to enter titles into my spreadsheet and just went with my gut when giving star ratings on Goodreads. This means that I have no idea what my objective ranking of last year’s reads is. What I do know are the books that I still think about today, so here they are in no particular order:
Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson
The book that had the most impact on me and kept me afloat above all else was Hold Me Tight. My boyfriend and I had just made our relationship official towards the end of January. We had February and March to spend together in person as a couple proper before we faced our nation-wide lockdown beginning of April.
It was tough being apart for three months. On the upside, it forced us to be more creative about connecting. That’s why he suggested picking up this book. It ended up becoming a blueprint to how we approach our relationship. Reading it together has made it a lot easier for us to communicate and manage conflict. We understand and appreciate each other so much better for it, and that’s worth the book its weight in gold.
We Walked the Line by Lisa Fiedler
There’s something about inter-generational stories that makes them so enthralling. Add a circus and you’ve got magic where I’m concerned. What I loved about We Walked the Line was the juxtaposition of how Callie wants out of the circus against her grandmother Victoria’s reasons for running way with the circus. I liked the exploration of how Victoria’s past life had an impact on Callie’s present day. Overall, I really liked the writing style, the atmosphere and the audiobook narration as well.
Stop Reading the News by Rolf Dobelli
When shops opened up again at the end of June, the first book that caught my eye in a bookstore was Stop Reading the News. I’m glad I picked it up because it helped me reexamine my compulsion to check the news every day just to track the numbers of how the pandemic was spreading. That led me down a rabbit hole of so many more related articles, many of which were speculative. They didn’t change how I led my life nor did they add any value of any sort.I’ve not stopped reading the news altogether but I spend a lot less time on it. I look more towards towards periodic in-depth analytical journalism than daily bites. That way I still know what the major news topics are when people talk about them but have regained more time for myself too.
Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
Anything Schwab writes is wonderful for escapism. Doesn’t matter if she wrote a book for adults, teens or children. They are all great. Tunnel of Bones is a middle grade book, and the only book I read cover to cover within a day last year. That alone gave me a lot of satisfaction. At the same time, it was just really comforting to pick up the sequel to a book I’d previously loved too.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Vicious is an all-time favourite by now. One of those days, my boyfriend asked what kinds of books I enjoy. Naturally, Vicious came up and he got curious. Since I own two copies, I lent him one and figured I might as well re-read it. I wanted to remember the details when he was done and ready to discuss. I ended up liking it even more than before, bumping my original rating of 4.5 up to 5 stars. He’s not as quick a reader as I am though, so I’m still waiting on him to finish it. So far he’s really liking it, so I’m looking forward to his thoughts.