2020 Reads

2020 was a hard reading year for many people. For me, though, the only thing keeping me sane was audiobooks. I devoured audiobooks this year. Many, I’ll admit, rereads of things I knew felt like magic to me, like Maggie Steifvater’s Raven Cycle, or Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I also returned to other forms of comfort, like Percy Jackson and a reread of The Hunger Games as narrated by the incredibly talented Tatiana Maslany.

2020 was also the year I finally finished The Wheel of Time. It isn’t and never will be a favorite of mine, but Brandon Sanderson ended it well, and that’s what I was hoping for. My favorite new reads of the year were the first book I finished, The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis, Darius the Great is Not Okay/Deserves Better by Adib Khorram, which both made me sob like a baby, and the hilarious, insane trip that is Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It was also the first time I read Jurassic Park and The Lost World, or any Crichton at all, to be honest.

This was a really great year for reading for me, but I’m grateful I’m a person who can listen to audiobooks, because while this is the most books I managed in a year almost ever (53), it also would have been utterly impossible without audiobooks, as the only one I managed all the way through in book-form was Maggie Stiefvater’s Call Down the Hawk, and even that took me ages.

Five Things I Loved about The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is the story of two magicians raised from childhood into a competition with each other—though at first they do not know who they are competing against, or what the rules of the competition are. All they know is that they are supposed to be extraordinary. And eventually, they discover that their competition is to take place in the mysterious Night Circus, or Le Cirque des Rêves (or the Circus of Dreams). The circus is really their canvas, and thus it becomes something more than just a normal circus. It becomes magical. Here are some of my favorite things about this book:

night-circus-cover-low-res1) The circus itself.

Everything in the Circus is black and white. And the tents described are stunning, to say the least. A garden made entirely of ice. A maze that climbs up, but that you can jump down from without harming yourself at any height. A true labyrinth. A wishing tree. And those are just a few. I love the imagination that went into these lovely things, and I wish I could see them.

2) Except that you almost can see them.

You know how some books get bogged down with description? There are some VERY thorough descriptions in this book… but you never feel as if they’re weighing on you as a reader, because the things they are describing are so beautiful or unique or fascinating. I have such a clear idea of what some of the circus looks like, because Morgenstern showed me exactly what she wanted me to see. I listened to this on audio, but the gorgeous details alone make me want to buy the physical book so I can leaf through it at my leisure.

3) The reader is invited into the circus, too.

I know this part throws some people off, but there are bits here and there throughout the book in second person (that’s using “YOU” instead of “He/She” or “I”). Some people are so unused to this that it really threw them out of the book and made them uncomfortable, but for me this made the book so much more. I let these second person bits take me away, and I really felt as if I was being enveloped in the magic of the circus, right along with the other patrons.

4) The perfect escapism here.

What I love really, is that this book is everything a circus is supposed to be. Mystical. Wonderful. A bit of something beyond everyday life. This book made me feel like a child who could believe in absolutely anything. And that it can be beautiful on top of everything else. Maybe I’m being repetitive here. But really, the book is So. Full. Of. Magic.

5) The End

I have to admit, I was expecting this ending to tear my heart out and stomp on it. And while I was a little surprised at how not traumatized I was by the ending, I did love it. Finishing this book was like a hot cup of cocoa… rich and satisfying.

And as a bonus, if you listen to the audiobook, it’s read by Jim Dale. Who happened to once play Phineas Taylor Barnum in the Broadway musical Barnum (one of my favorites!) (and you know, of Barnum & Bailey?) so he is really the absolutely perfect person to read this.

In truth, there wasn’t a lot about this book that I didn’t love. Well, except maybe that there was a touch of uncomfortable eeriness here and there—but really, that’s all part of the deal when there’s a circus involved. 😉

Highly, highly recommend this one.

What is the most magical book you’ve read?