General Thoughts,  Pop Culture

2020 in Books and Other Worldly Things

I set a goal to read 125 books for the year 2020, which was 25 fewer books than the number I finished in 2019. I went lower because I knew I’d be finishing my fourth novel in 2020. Little did I know that a pandemic would hit the world a mere two months later and that the year would be the strangest on record for me.

While I didn’t meet my reading goal, I did manage to finish 116 books, which is great.  If you’re interested in seeing my reviews of these novels and the others I’ve read in the past, you can check out my Goodreads page here. Here are my top 15 books for the year, all of which I rated at five stars for different reasons for each of these amazing works.

  1. The Stand by Stephen King.
  2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.
  3. Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds.
  4. The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Younts.
  5. We Are Not Free by Traci Chee.
  6. It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne.
  7. Bloodline by Jess Lourey.
  8. The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos.
  9. Find Layla by Meg Elison.
  10. Anything Once by Meka James.
  11. A Whisper of Smoke by Angela Hoke.
  12. White Out by Danielle Girard.
  13. Raising Boys to Be Good Men: A Parent’s Guide to Bringing up Happy Sons in a World Filled with Toxic Masculinity by Aaron Gouveia.
  14. This Won’t End Well by Camile Pagán.
  15. Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo.

Also, in 2020, COVID-19 hit the world hard. It started slowly and then grew exponentially, just as the experts predicted. On March 17, 2020, my children’s schools went virtual, and so did my employer, luckily. All I can say is that I did my best to help them with schoolwork while keeping up with my own work and sometimes my sanity.

I exercised and tried to watch what I ate, but I still managed to gain 20 pounds in 2020. I will try to lose that 20 in 2021, but so far, I am still working from home. I’m still stressed out, and I’ve struggled with depression since the pandemic started.

The kids were able to go back to school in August, wearing masks and sanitizing their hands constantly. Then things got worse in September when my family found out our elderly dog, Buddy, had cancer. He died on September 11 while I held his sweet paw and told him what a good boy he’d been.

The holidays came and went while we nursed our broken hearts, and then our 12-year-old son Drew developed kidney stones right before Christmas. Two trips to the ER were not in our plans as we prayed we wouldn’t pick up COVID while in the hospital. I had a tooth abscess starting Christmas day, so now I’m waiting for healing before I can get an implant because the tooth had already had a root canal from ten years ago that had failed. My husband Jonathan gets to have a crown on his tooth for 2021 too. I think I need to wrap our daughter Meredith in bubble wrap to protect her.

While all that was happening, I finished my fourth novel, One Shot, which I finished in August before sending it to three beta readers. Once I got their notes, I worked hard on editing for the rest of the year. Before Christmas, I ordered my hard copy proof to review, which I finished earlier this week. Every night afterward, I made the corrections.

I’m now finished with the manuscript and will publish it on my late father’s birthday on January 23. Traditionally, books are published on Tuesdays, but I’m not traditional. I write because I love it. It’s my passion, and I believe, my strength.

The 2020 Presidential Election was the ugliest I’ve ever seen, and it took longer than I’ve ever seen to certify the results. After it was over, another historic first had happened. Not only do we have a woman vice president, but she is a woman of color. I’m glad that the barrier has been overcome. I hope that someday we will have a female president.

While 2020 sucked in many ways, it also had many positives. People reached out and helped one another. I finished my novel. My husband and I got to spend extra time with our kids throughout the summer, and our whole family got to spend extra time with Buddy before he passed. We also adopted a new dog Roscoe from an animal shelter on December 30. He’s such a sweetheart, and after a rough couple of days, he and Peanut are getting along well.

Roscoe and Brandi
Roscoe and Brandi

So far, I am ashamed of some of the incidents I’ve seen take place in the United States during 2020 and early 2021. There is far too much hate in this world, but I am optimistic that things can get better. I’m going to start with myself so I can help others.

-Brandi Easterling Collins

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