[CONTEST IS OVER! ANSWERS ARE NOW LISTED!]
I guess because I love to abuse myself, I decided that in lieu of just typing out the titles of my favorite books that I read in 2020, I would decorate cookies in the “likeness” (used very loosely in this context) of their covers. Because you know me and kitchen stuff. We go hand in ha—no, that’s not the right saying.
WE’RE LIKE OIL AND WATER.
Yes, that’s the one.
It seemed like a great idea until I remembered that I hate baking and suddenly found myself extremely exhausted just thinking about googling “Sugar cookie recipe” so Henry, who is only sometimes good at reading my mind and thankfully this was one of the few times, asked, “Oh for God’s sake, do you want me to make the cookies??”
Yes! Yes, I do!
So he baked the cookies and then I was like NOW WHAT so then he got all the icing ready for me too. But don’t worry, all of the actual decorating was done by me, no cheating. And I am CLEARLY not getting into the cookie icing biz any time ever! What a fucking pain in the ass! But after three separate icing sessions starting on Friday, I finished the last cookie today and am now ready for whatever because after three days of Chooch popping in to criticize and ridicule my progress, I’m pretty numb.
Because some of them (all of them?) are so bad, I thought it would be fun to just share them here at first with no corresponding book title to see who can get the most correct guesses. I’ll come back later in the week and update this with the answers! Maybe there will be a prize?! Like a surprise grab bag from me to you!? Full of Bit-o-Honeys and Whoopie cushions?!!?* oh em gee it’s like 2012 Blogging Erin is back.
*(It will be better than that, I promise.)
HINT: Not all of these books were published in 2020.
- I’m Thinking of Ending Things – Iain Reid
Pro Tip: The audiobook makes the ending EVEN BETTER and also, this is is way better than the Netflix adaptation which has mostly a completely different ending. Henry & I buddy-read/listened to this together, and some of it was in a cemetery which made it even more tense and atmospheric. This one got a lot of very mixed reviews and I know some people were like “I FIGURED IT OUT RIGHT AWAY” and like, OK, good for you. It’s still an excellent fucking book and it made me have legit chills and then when I finished it, I started furiously googling for explanations and reviews. Henry and I talked about it for quite some time after finishing it!
2. My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki
I think this is the oldest book on my list. It was published in the late 90s and I just randomly came across it, I think when I was compiling my TBR for Asian Readathon? As a vegetarian, this was definitely not something that sat well with me, since we’re literally following a woman on the production team of a reality show that details the meat industry and how important meat is for the American family. The whole purpose of the show is to get Japanese people on board with consuming more meat, as the meat industry is trying to break into Japan. Our main character starts to see the hidden horrors of slaughterhouses and the industry in general, such as inhumane treatment of livestock and the grotesque and harmful side effects of added hormones. Ugh, I just found it so engaging and compelling, and I LOVED the characters.
3. Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo
This book does so much. It was a solid five star for me, so fucking smartly written, you will fall in love with every character, gasp with excitement when you start to see various connections, and honestly if you don’t lose yourself in the lives of these characters, are you even reading it?
4. The Bass Rock – Evie Wyld
I cannot even describe how wonderful this book is and also, I just did a shoddy review of it last weekend and don’t feel like rehashing it again, lol. Just go read this book please. IT IS EXQUISITE.
5. Beartown – Fredrik Backman
Henry is currently listening to the audiobook and therefore felt that he deserved to eat this cookie, and he did so with a certain smugness that I did not appreciate. Anyway, I also recently wrote about this book too so I will just say that, even though the subject matter was difficult, heavy and maddening, it still felt like a comfort read to me because it’s set in a cozy small town where everyone knows each other and you just get that warm sense of familiarity while reading it, like you know all these people too, and maybe it’s just me but I really cared about a lot of them except for Kevin who can kindly go fuck himself.
6. We Ride Upon Sticks – Quan Barry
My #1 favorite of the year was We Ride Upon Sticks. It was just so witty, fast-paced, irreverent, quirky, flush with 80s references, and the writing was TOTALLY MY STYLE.
7. The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai
I was on some very strange 1980s AIDS kick for a while and this book ripped my heart out. I promise you that my face was swollen from all the crying I did but I read it at a time where I really needed that – you know how sometimes a good fucking cry can just feel so cleansing? That’s what this book did for me. I’m getting misty just thinking about how much Yale (the character, not the university!) means to me.
This is supposed to be a “lite” version of A Little Life, which I keep putting off reading because I’m afraid it will kill me.
8. In the Dream House – Carmen Maria Machado
This is the one non-fiction that made the cut and it is a gem, an actual slice of the author’s soul, bound and presented to the undeserving us. Please read this. It’s beautiful, scary, painful, funny, creative, surprising – I promise it’s unlike any memoir you’ve ever read and it still visits me in my dreams, months later.
9. Luster – Raven Leilani
I had no idea what I was even getting into when I picked this one up but how is this a debut novel?? Raven Leilani can WRITE, yo. You will laugh, feel uncomfortable, learn some shit, feel your hatred of men increase a bit, all the while rooting for the damn girl to get her shit together and succeed. Also, this made Obama’s top 20 list of the year and it is a certain brand of glee to imagine him reading it!
I do think this is a terrible book cover though (I mean, yeah, my cookie version of it is shit, but the actual cover didn’t give me much to work with! The UK version is much better but isn’t that usually the case?).
10. The Devil All the Time – Donald Ray Pollock
Um, this book fucked me up. It’s gritty and violent but there are also some incredibly bizarre and hilarious vignettes in here too which made me think about those dumb short stories I used to write and I actually felt inspired to start writing again for like 5 seconds until I got distracted by a new Kpop video. Henry and I buddy-read this together because we wanted to watch the Netflix adaptation and I am so glad we read it first. The movie was good but, as it is in most cases, the book is superior.
11. Bunny – Mona Awad
I read this is in the beginning of 2020 and while I was reading it, I kept thinking, “YES! THIS IS WHAT I MISSED ABOUT READING!” – that feeling of “I don’t want to put this book down, OMG what is going to happen, that was a perfect description!” It was just FUN. WEIRD. BIZARRO. I want it to be a movie but also don’t want someone manhandling it and snuffing out the magic within these pages.
But I will say, it’s probably not for everyone. People seem to either love it or hate it.
12. The Ghost Notebooks – Ben Dolnick
Chooch cracks up every time he sees this and I want to smash it into his face, if I’m being Honest Mother up in here.
Anyway, I think that I actually gave this book a 4, but when I was scrolling through my Goodreads list to get my favorites, I saw this one and immediately knew I wanted to include it. It was just so good, and I can’t really explain why, but it sort of felt like I was sitting with the main character as he was telling me, personally, about the time he moved to some small town in New York with his wife to live in some old ass house-cum-museum for an obscure writer because she got a job as basically a docent I guess? Anyway, it’s a slow burn, very conversationally written, emotional, tense, funny at times.
It’s one I need to read again.
13. Nothing To See Here – Kevin Wilson
First of all, this author has the same name as this mysterious guy I met over the phone in high school so that’s something. But anyway, this book was so wonderful! Perfectly flamboyant characters with just the right amount of magical realism sprinkled on top of an endearing plot? I was all in.
Just leave your answers in a comment. I’m privatizing them for now so people can’t steal each others’ answers!
UPDATE: HERE ARE THE ANSWERS
Here are the cookies I was actually moderately proud of:
Chooch was like, “can we please start eating these cookies now” so I made him eat the one he hated the most.
Plus, my #1 book of the year, which was probably the easiest one to make!
If I wasn’t making cookies, my list would have been an even 20 and these are the ones that would have made the final cut:
- Kim Jiyoung Born 1982 – Cho Nam-Joo
- Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
- Death of Vivek Oji – Akwaeke Emezi
- Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams
- The Night Tiger – Yangsze Choo
- The Diviners – Libba Bray
- Sadie – Courtney Summers (THE AUDIOBOOK THO OMG.)
Anyway – congratulations to Janna who correctly guessed 6, woo hoo!