Thankfully 2020 is finally in the history books. I have faith that 2021 will be better. I have high hopes for Joe Biden becoming president and hopefully people will be vaccinated and we can go back to our lives. A new year also means more books to read.

Last year I only bought one book, The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy for 50 cents. But I was lucky that even during a pandemic, people sent me books. My friend Lisa, who is part of the Black Lives Movement and wanted to promote books written by people of color sent me a copy of Americanah by Chimanadana Ngozi Adichie and The Nickle Boys by Colson Whitehead. My Instagram friend Hannah sent me a copy of Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad from the Netherlands. My friend Jennifer Lemming sent me, among other books, a copy of There There by Tommy Orange. My mom over the Summer brought me her copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. My friend Ryan gave me autobiographies of Elton John (Me) and Deborah Harry ( Picture This). My friend Annine Everson gave me 2 books by Alice Mc Dermot as well as a copy of And the Mountains Echo by Khaled Hosseini. Finally, my Instagram friend Rolly sent me a copy of Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, which won the 2020 Booker Prize. I truly have the best friends.

All of these books have inspired me to read more current authors. It’s something I don’t do enough of. I think the last current book I read was Disgrace by J M Coetzee two years ago. The year before that I read My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Sometimes I go back to what I call my “comfort authors “, writers like Willa Cather, Edith Wharton, M. Somerset Maugham, and Graham Greene. I always think I won’t like books written this century but I loved White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Lonely Polygamist by Barry Udall, On Chesil Beach by Ian Mc Ewan, and A Visit to the Goon Squad by Jennifer Eagan.

This year I will tackle more modern novels. I posted a photo on both Bookstigram and Facebook of a stack of books I want to read this year.

A stack of books that Don Levy hopes to read in 2021

Here’s a small list of what I want to read this year:

1) Americanah: I just started this book and I’m already 50 pages into the novel. I’m glad I’m finally getting around to reading this book.

2) The Underground Railroad: Colson Whitehead won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction twice. That doesn’t happen often. I’m very curious to read his books.

3) A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles: So many people have sung this book’s praises. My mom even liked it and she can be picky sometimes.

4) Gilead by Marilynne Robinson: I read Robinson’s first novel, Housekeeping years ago and loved it. I also remember one time at the now-defunct Ultraviolet Cafe, I was looking at the lending library and a little old lady said I should read Gilead. I can’t argue with little old ladies, can I?

5) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami: I haven’t read any Asian literature. Shame on me. I have a feeling Murakami will win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Plus I love a book named after a Beatle’s song .

6) Case Histories by Kate Atkinson: I have a couple of her books, Life After Life, and Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I don’t know much about Case Histories but I have a feeling I will like it.

7) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: I wanted to see the movie when it came out a couple of years ago. I know she’s very popular.

8) Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: I think I saw this book posted on Bookstigram many times when first joined it. I know it has the Reese Witherspoon stamp of approval. It sounds like a book I would love.

9) There There: I heard many people rave about this book, which talks about the lives of urban Native Americans. I haven’t read anything by a Native American author, so this seems like the place to start.

10) Shuggie Bain: This book is about a gay man growing up in Glasgow taking care of his alcoholic mother. Did I tell you it won the Booker Prize?

If I have time, there are other books I’d also like to read like NW by Zadie Smith, and Saturday by Ian Mc Ewan. I might even sneak Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantle. But I always say my TBR is not written in stone. For a while, I thought of incorporating classics into my TBR list like The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence and Villet by Charlotte Bronte, but I’m not sure how to do that.

So has anyone else made a TBR? What are you planning to read this year? I wish all of you a great reading year!