My top 3 books of 2020

Hello there, tis’ finally the time to see-and-judge-what-others-reading-i-mean-if-they-read-at-all-hahah or in other words, the new year season. After seeing others’ book list for 2020, I myself was inspired to look back at my reading journey last year. Here I have compiled the three books that I do not only love but also would recommend to everyone.

  1. The Choice by Edith Eva Eger

The Choice’ is a memoir of doctor Edith Eva Eger — a psychologist and Holocaust survivor. What is remarkable about this book is that it can connect to anyone. Thanks to Eger’s wonderful storytelling, ‘The Choice’ is more than just the concentration camps horrors, the hunger, the pain, or the depression. It is about overcoming hardships. How? Eger’s solution is short:

“Suffering is universal. But victimhood is optional.”

My main takeaway from this book is the distinction between victimization and victimhood. As Eger explained, “[victimization] comes from the outside… victimhood comes from the inside. We become victims not because of what happens to us but when we choose to hold on to our victimization.” This point is extremely valuable to me because I unconsciously blame my misery on external factors most of the time. ‘The Choice’ taught me that: to escape my misery, I need to let go of my victimhood or in other words, to stop blaming.

And here’s my last attempt to convince you to read this book: I cried (twice) when reading ‘The Choice’. And I don’t cry (that often). Thereby, ‘The Choice’ is indeed a ride of emotions. Eger does not tell us her life story, she lets us relive that moment. Reading this book, you will feel scared, depressed, happy, and maybe beyond.

2. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

If I were to describe this book in one word, it would be cute. I know ‘cute’ is a super lame word but it perfectly suits Lippincott’s novel. It is the kind of story that will put a smile on your face.

Five Feet Apart’ focused on the life of Stella and Will — two cystic fibrosis patient — and the romantic relationship between them. CF patients have to stay at least 6 feet apart from each other and that is exactly what makes the story of ‘Five Feet Apart’ distinctive from its young adult romance counterparts. Love has longed been symbolized by physical interaction such as holding hands or kisses. But have you ever wondered will a love still be love if you must be 6 ft away from your partner at all times? What will happen when two teenagers, crazy in love, but weren’t able to touch their partner? ‘Five Feet Apart’ will give you the answer.

We need that touch from the one we love, almost as much as we need air to breathe. I never understood the importance of touch, his touch . . . until I couldn’t have it. — Stella Grant, Five Feet Apart.

Another thing about Lippincott’s novel that I like is the fact that even though both main characters of ‘Five Feet Apart’ were suffering from a dangerous disorder, this book doesn’t dwell on the idea of surviving. Instead, the characters are really living their lives. They chat with friends, achieve their life goals, pull pranks, and of course, fall in love. I have never experienced a serious disorder before but I feel like these fun moments are what make the book more realistic and genuine.

3. Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami

Last but not least, I highly recommend everyone to read ‘Breast and Eggs’. Different from ‘Five Feet Apart’, I finished reading this book at the end of 2020 or 2 days before New Year’s Eve to be exact. And it is such a good read that I put it to my top books of 2020 without hesitation.

Breast and Eggs’ tells the story of Natsuko, a novelist (yes a novelist writes a novel about a novelist 🙂), and her journey exploring social preconceptions for women. To me, ‘Breasts and Eggs’ is an immediate 5-star because it tells me something I don’t know in an interesting way. Through the life of Natsuko and her conversations with the women around her, Kawakami discussed beauty standards, poor sex education, moral of artificial fertility, and more. Some of the viewpoints expressed in this book are controversial and some are eye-opening. For example, in the book Natsuko wanted a baby but she doesn’t have a partner nor interest in sex. She was looking into sperm banks. However, her only concern is: what if her child felt lost and tricked when he/she found out how they were born? Natsuko told Yuriko — a donor-conceived individual — and received a harsh respond:

“What if you have a child, and that child wishes with every bone in her body that she’d never been born?”

“It’s always about them [the parents]. They’re only thinking about themselves. They never think about the poor kid being born… Once they’ve had a baby, most parents would do anything to shelter them from any form of pain or suffering. But here it is, the only way to actually keep your child from ever knowing pain. Don’t have them in the first place.” — Yuriko, Breasts and Eggs.

I know it’s a bold and biased statement, but it prompted me to think about the real reason why people want to have kids which something I have never thought of before. And when a book make me do that, it’s a good book.

Besides what the author Kawakami tried to say in “Breasts and Eggs”, how she did it is also worth to note. You know how Japanese novels have this unique exotic vibe? This book is no exception. ‘Breasts and Eggs’ is significant because of its exquisite, ambiguous tone. The women in the book are fierce but they also appear exceptionally calm. Their voice is loud but came out quietly. Thereby, I think ‘Breast and Eggs’ is a great refreshment for your reading journey regardless of what you have been reading be it nonfiction, self-help, fantasy, romance, etc.

That is the end of my first story on Medium ever. Thank you so much for reading to this point. Let me know what is your top book of 2020!

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Jenny Kryst

College student, trying to fit writing into my life :>