Almost an entire year of reading and blogging, it’s been so much fun, and I’ve read some fantastic books.
Obviously this time of year naturally lends itself to reviewing and thinking back over the past 12 months. I’ve already written about the four that really didn’t work for me – luckily so many of the others I’ve read did.
Narrowing that list down to ten has been somewhat of a challenge and I can’t pick an overall favourite…..
Educated by Tara Westover
It was the first book I read as part of my challenge and I still can’t get over it. It was fascinating.
Tara Westover documents her early life growing up in a survivalist Mormon family in Idaho and charts her battle for an education that takes her across the world.
The stories she describes, the accidents that happen and her family’s rejection of education and medical attention were jaw dropping.
The theme is something we can all relate to (though most of us don’t have quite as extreme an upbringing) we all at some point have to make decisions for ourselves as adults and sometimes that may against our parent’s beliefs and expectations.
Read my full review HERE
How to break up with fast fashion by Lauren Bravo
I have banged on about this book to anyone who’ll listen.
This book really opened my eyes to the problems around the fashion industry and changed my attitude towards shopping.
I was completely unaware of how much of an impact on the environment the fashion industry has. I wrote at the time that I was baffled by the fact that people keep telling me to fight climate change by eating less meat and not take as many flights, but no one had ever said stop spaffing money on clothes.
It helped me see that I used shopping when I was stressed, bored or feeling down. It stopped me shopping and has left me with a healthy credit card balance.
Check out my original post here
Apeirogon by Colum McCann
I loved this book. It took me straight back to 2014 and a trip to Palestine, a place I absolutely loved and somewhere I’d love to go back to.
This book could change the world, I hope it’s changed attitudes. At the heart of it are the stories of Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin. Rami is Jewish, Bassam is Muslim, their daughters have been killed in the conflict.
Rami’s daughter Smadar died in a suicide bombing on Ben Yehuda street in Jerusalem, Bassam’s daughter, Abir, died after being shot in the head with a rubber bullet by an Israeli soldier.
Both men are part of Combatants for Peace and Parents Circle; they’ve built a firm, if not unlikely friendship and travel the world sharing their daughter’s stories. They’re desperate for peace and an end to occupation.
There’s so much to say about this book and how the stories are told read my full review
Know my name by Chanel Miller
This was such a difficult read. Chanel Miller’s the woman who was sexually assaulted by Brock Turner at a frat party.
The letter she wrote at his sentencing had gone viral as she described the effects that night had had on her life.
Chanel waived her right to anonymity and released her memoir; it highlighted how broken the justice system is, how victims of sexual assault are treated horrifically in the courts.
This quote stayed with me:
“The saddest things about these cases, beyond the crimes themselves, are the degrading things the victim begins to believe about her being. My hope is to undo these beliefs”. Chanel Miller
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
It felt like adverts for this book were following me everywhere through the first half of this year.
When I finally got around to picking it up, I was hooked, I loved everything about this book.
Kya, is known as The Marsh girl. She’s been abandoned by her family, is ostracised by the town and left to fend for herself in the marsh. She’s obsessed with nature, sensitive and intelligent – she’s much more than the crazy marsh girl people think of her as.
When popular, rich, good looking, all American quarter-back Chase Andrews is found dead in suspicious circumstances all eyes turn to Kya.
It’s a great story that kept me gripped and dying to see what happened next. At one point, I was reading it with half my face hidden behind a cushion worried about what would happen to Kya.
It also made me really hungry, read my full review here
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
This is another book that will stay with me for a long time.
Nuri and Afra have a happy life in Aleppo, it’s filled with love, friendship and bees – that is until the civil war breaks out and slowly that life is destroyed.
They lose everything they love and care about and eventually are left with no choice but to leave and try make their way to the UK.
It’s a reminder of the desperation and human stories behind the Syrian civil war. There is still such a depressing discourse and lack of empathy when it comes to the desperate measures people take to try and reach safety. It is not and never will be, an easy decision to leave your home and everything you’ve ever known behind.
People forget that Syria was tourist destination before the war, it was listed by Lonely Planet as one of the best places to visit in not long before the war started. Nuri and Afra and the Beekeeper remind us of the human tragedy of the Syrian civil war and that should never be forgotten.
“In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope”
Here’s my original blog about The Beekeeper of Aleppo
The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
This is a book I want to thrust into the hands of every teenager and make them read it.
It’s not a light, fluffy read; it’s actually quite brutal. It’s the story of Amelie, she’s moved to a new town, she’s away from her friends and is feeling lonely and vulnerable.
Reece is the popular lad at her new college; he makes a big play for Amelie and she falls hard.
Over the course of the next few months, Reece berates Amelie, destroys her confidence and sense of self-worth. Amelie begins to see that actually she’s ended up in an abusive relationship. At first she doesn’t see the subtle ways in which Reece is controlling her and isolating her from her new friends.
It’s important lesson for teenagers, it’ll educate them on different forms of abuse, teach them about respecting each other and to never ignore those red flags.
Know your worth, listen to your gut, listen to your friends and always beware the man who labels other women a pyscho – it’s usually a very big give away.
Here’s my blog on The places I’ve cried in public
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
This is one of the best books I’ve read ever, never mind this year, it is stunningly beautiful.
It comes with trigger warnings; it covers some really dark subjects, but it is full of hope and light.
Nora Seed attempts to take her own life, she finds herself at the Midnight Library, a place in between life and death, with infinite lives.
With the help of an old friend, Nora is given the chance to undo all her past regrets and she gets to see what life would have been like.
In one she’s an Olympic swimmer, in another she’s in a band, in another she’s gone to Australia; the possibilities are endless.
She learns that actually the things she thought she regretted not doing were other people’s dreams. She has to learn to be herself and she learns to live, the message is beautiful.
“The only way to learn is to live” Matt Haig
Failosophy: A handbook for when things go wrong by Elizabeth Day
I love Elizabeth Day’s refreshing take on failure and I really enjoyed Failosophy a guidebook on how to deal with failure.
It looks at the seven principles of failure that Elizabeth Day’s learnt from the How to fail podcasts and observations by some of the guests she’s had on.
It’s warm, witty and comforting. It’s a reminder that everyone fails. Failure isn’t the end of the world; it all depends on how we react to things.
“Most failures can teach us something meaningful about ourselves if we chose to listen and, besides, success tastes all the sweeter if you’ve fought for it.” Elizabeth Day
Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink
It’s a love letter to books and stories, it’s a reminder of how much joy and comfort can be taken from reading.
Cathy Rentzenbrink takes us through her life in books and details how a love of reading has taken her from bookseller to writer and how books have been a constant friend during some difficult moments of her life.
It reminded me of all the books and stories that I’ve loved over the years. Books can take us all over the world and to other worlds, then can teach us lessons and help us escape. This book made me smile, it’s beautiful – though if you do read it be sure to have a notepad and pen because there are A LOT of recommendations all through.
“We are all in the gutter, but books allow us to see the stars”. Cathy Rentzenbrink.
I hope you check some of these out and would love to hear what your favourite books of 2020 have been
Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm