2020 – End Of Year Thoughts




At our end of year bookclub we dined at the Boat Shed Cafe in Nelson and acknowledged how lucky we were to be able to do so. While we recalled our bookclubs hosted by Zoom and philosophised about the state of the world, we also expressed our gratitude in having books to entertain and to distract us; and we reiterated how lucky we are to live in New Zealand where Covid-19 was far less threatening than in other nations and now is basically non-existent. To our readers around the world who are still experiencing the effects of the pandemic we offer our thoughts and aroha and hope that our mental wanderings might offer you some entertainment and distraction, just for a moment.

It was a year of emotive readings, in which, weirdly, the books did mimic the uncertainty of world events. Immigration crises, alternative realities in which humanity was at risk, and tales of lost family members and hardship abounded. The use of unnamed or faceless characters featured several times, allowing us, the reader, to imagine ourselves in the predicament of the characters, and therefore creating a much greater emotional tie to the events.

In analysing the year there were certainly some common thoughts and opinions voiced:

  • Tara’s brother and father in Educated were some of the worst characters (made worst by the fact they are real people)
  • Connell and Marianne from Normal People had the romance of the year
  • Baby’s heads being smashed in Driving To Treblinka was one of the most shocking moments of the year’s readings
  • “It’s like this, Saul Adler” was one of the most memorable one liners – The Man Who Saw Everything
  • The unique narrative structure of Lost Children Archive provided so many metaphorical revelations
  • American Dirt had the most disappointing outcome, for being too sewn up

Here are some of our other thoughts:

Best character:
Sonya: The old man – The Memory Police
Jo: Katy – Rules of Civility
Rachel: Saul Adler – The Man Who Saw Everything
BecksGirl – Lost Children Archive
Jodie: Katy – Rules of Civility

Most memorable setting:
Sonya: The ghetto – Driving to Treblinka
Jo: The house – Memory Police
Rachel: 1930s New York – Rules of Civility
BecksZebra Crossing – The Man Who Saw Everything
Jodie: The scrap yard – Educated

Best revelation (spoiler alert):
Sonya: There was only one accident – The Man Who Saw Everything
Jo & Jodie: How intense the hatred of Jews was – Driving to Treblinka
RachelThe Rules of Civility was a real document – Rules of Civility
Becks: The real life controversy around the publication of American Dirt

Runner up best book:
Sonya: Lost Children Archive
Jo: Rules of Civility
Rachel: Rules of Civility
Becks: Normal People
Jodie: Norwegian Wood

Book of the year:
Sonya: The Memory Police
Jo: Driving To Treblinka
Rachel: Lost Children Archive
Becks: Lost Children Archive
Jodie: Rules of Civility

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