I used to read a lot of books. I don't read that much anymore, despite some short-lived efforts to. I have only read two books in their entirety this year. This page will chronicle my favourite books that I've read over the years, plus the books I remember reading this year (2021).
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
A novel set during the Holocaust. Narrated by Death himself, it tells the story of Liesel Meminger during Nazi Germany, how she was left for adoption by her mother, her time with her adoptive parents, and the Jew hidden in their basement. The title refers to Liesel stealing books left for burning in her thirst for knowledge. The thing that stood out to me most about this book was the vivid portrayal of the relationships with characters, such so that you felt like you had developed a relationship with the characters yourself and know them inside out. I cried heaps after finishing this book. I highly recommend it if you're into historical fiction.
The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness
The first book in the Chaos Walking series. A young-adult science fiction book set in a distant planet that humans have settled in. There are no women on the planet, and everyone is able to hear each other's thoughts, called "Noise". The main character, Todd, finds a place where there is no Noise, and the book details his escape from the town after learning a dark secret.
You will know this book as the one that was adapted into a film starring Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley. Needless to say, I haven't watched, nor do I have any interest in watching the film. I read the book years before the film came out, and I found it engaging. I might need to reread the series again, as I did read it five years ago, and my memory of the events is fading.
Mao's Last Dancer - Li Cunxin
My favourite book genre is autobiographies. I had heard about this book and its subsequent film many years ago, but only read it last year after coming across this book at a second-hand shop. I wish I had read it sooner. The story chronicles the author's life under Mao's China, the poverty he endured as a child, his education in Mao's wife's ballet academy, and his defection to America. The second half of the book didn't really interest me as much as the first half. I really felt like I was transported to China under Mao's regime. The book exposes the realities of living under Mao's rule, and is a great tale of bravery and perseverance. I still have this book in my possession - the 2009 edition coinciding with the release of the movie. I attempted to watch the movie, but I rarely have time to even do that nowadays.
In Order to Live - Yeonmi Park
An autobiography about a North Korean's defection to South Korea. While the conditions of living under North Korea were somewhat known to me, what really shocked me was the journey from the North to the South. It took years for the author to get to South Korea, and she was subject to many horrors, including being raped and witnessing her own mother being raped. While I wouldn't say this is a favourite book of mine, it is one I think about the most. I am very fascinated by North Korea, to the point where I even listen to North Korean music. I don't know if the book quelched or increased my curiosity.
Tears of the Moon - Guo Sheng
Another autobiography about life under Mao's China. This book is set in a slightly different time period, during the Cultural Revolution. The author's family were well off, and when the Cultural Revolution took hold, they had all of their possessions and dignity stripped. While this book is also still in my possession, I find it hard to read again. The descriptions of abuse and torture, and the turmoil of the author's own life are very vivid. It is extremely hard to comprehend the hardships that she went through. Mao's regime needs to be taught more in schools around the world - we do not talk nearly enough about the darker parts of human history around the world.
After the Fire - Will Hill
Not exactly sure when I read this - probably when I was about 14-15. I enjoyed it very much. It details a survivor of a cult revealing her experiences to her therapist and FBI agent. I remember thinking that the FBI agent, Agent Carlyle, was really nice. I may have ended up getting a crush on a fictional character. MAY.
Nevertheless, the book was very interesting. I enjoyed reading Moondream's experiences, the cult leader's methods of enslaving his members, and the tales of heartbreak and angst laced all within. I would love to read this book again one day.
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Onto the books I remember reading this year. I read this book half as an audiobook, and half as an e-book. I wanted to read some classic lit, especially ones with political connotations. For those who don't know the plot, it's about the animals on a farm overthrowing their farmer in the aim to have better working conditions. However, the animals end up in a worse state than before, under the rule of a pig called Napoleon. Again, I wouldn't say this book is a favourite, but I do think about the events in the book from time to time. We've seen it happen again and again with communism, and it seems like we never learn.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up - Marie Kondo
I read this book entirely in e-book form, probably the first book that I did so. Marie Kondo has gained popularity in the west in the past few years thanks to her Netflix show, but I think the book does a better job at explaining the techniques she uses. The book basically details why we're so bad at "tidying up", and the steps we need to take in order to maintain a perfect home. People say her technique is minimalist, but I don't think so. We discard what we don't like, and keep what we do. It helps us find ourselves and our inner peace. I have done the KonMari technique myself a few months ago, and I feel really happy with my room. My mum isn't happy that I threw out a whole bunch of stuff, though. I'm trying my best to convince her to take it up. I still need to throw a few things out, but otherwise I feel like my room is in ten times a better state than it is before. Give it a try and see how you like it!