As 2020 draws to a close (good riddance!) I thought I would compile a list of my favourite books of the year.
2020 was the year that I rekindled my obsession for books and reading. As a self-identified bookworm during my younger years, with high school, social media, and university, my love for books slowly diminished.
Then came along the novel coronavirus in March 2020 and turned our whole world around. And with it, my love for reading books.
I had set myself the challenge of reading 12 books in 2020 as I had achieved 16 books in 2019. I was living in New York in January of 2020 and expected life to be chaotic and full of exploring and traveling. How wrong was I?
I managed a grand total of 78 books, the reviews for all you can read here. I also set myself up an Instagram dedicated to the books I read, which you can follow at @ocbookshelf.
I hope you have perhaps also enjoyed the below books or will add them to your wishlists for 2021, and I hope that the New Year brings you a lot of good books and time to enjoy them.
BECOMING BY MICHELLE OBAMA
I began reading this book before I left for New York in the summer of 2019 and had only managed to get halfway through before I packed my bags and left. I hate leaving a book unread, especially a book such as this.
I picked the book up again during my quarantine in April, determined to see it through. I couldn’t have chosen a more apt time to read Michelle Obama’s book as it covers a lot about racial inequality, minority groups going through education and talks about police brutality against POC – we were nearing the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
I now have a long list of books I want to read to learn more about racism, inequality and Black history and am glad that I read this book as I’ve already learnt so much.
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING BY DELIA OWENS
Oh my word, what a book. At the beginning, I wasn’t convinced and it did take me a while to get into it as the book flits between past and present quite a lot.
However, I’m so glad I stuck with it as it took me two full days to read. An excellent book that is written so perfectly. I can even imagine that this book might be made into a movie in the future.
I’m definitely getting back into my love for fiction books and somehow, the hype around best-selling books is mostly always for a good reason!
THIS IS GOING TO HURT BY ADAM KAY
If you ever want an insight to what it’s like to work for the NHS, read this book. If you don’t want an insight, also read this book. This should be mandatory reading for everyone to know just what it’s like as someone working as a doctor, nurse, or in any part of our National Health Service.
The minimum wage, the long hours, unpaid overtime, stress, abuse and negligence is appalling. I don’t have any close friends that work in the health sector so had no idea just how awful it is.
The book made me laugh out loud and I actually learnt some new things that I hadn’t picked up when watching all 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. Read this book!
WHY ARE ALL THE BLACK KIDS SITTING TOGETHER IN THE CAFETERIA? BY BEVERLY DANIEL TATUM, PHD
I won’t give this a ‘review’ as such, as I read this to educate myself on matters of race and the Black Lives Matter movement in America. I found it in a Free Little Library in Jersey City and snapped it up before anyone else.
This book was first published in 1997, but again updated in 2016. There was a paragraph that started, “If you were born in 1997, you were X years old when X happened.” Since I was born in 1997, this put everything into perspective for me.
The book is a must-read and has opened my eyes to so many wrong-doings in America, not just with the policing system but with the education system, political system and voting system.
ATOMIC HABITS BY JAMES CLEAR
This is one of the best self-help books I’ve read in a while. There are so many things to learn from this book, but it’s so brilliantly written. There are models you would see in textbooks, references to psychologists and even some mathematical formulas, but James Clear makes it so easy to understand.
Atomic Habits has made me change the way I look at my own habits and also the habits that I wish to employ in my every day life. I now know some steps to follow if I want to make those habits stick and also how to get rid of habits that don’t benefit me or my life.
A great book, and I’ve even signed up to receiving James Clear’s weekly newsletter because I want to know more.
WONDER BY R. J. PALACIO
Excuse me while I try to stop crying. This book is honestly one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever read. Kids can just be so mean. Now to watch the movie and cry all over again.
Even though this is a kids book, to me, it should be required reading for anyone of any age. It teaches us to be kind to everyone, not to stare, not to laugh, not to point and to go that extra mile to be kind to everyone we meet.
It broke my heart with every page, and it’s definitely made me think about being the kindest I can to everyone I encounter as we never know what anyone is going through or how anyone feels about themselves. Be kind, and then be kinder.
WE WERE LIARS BY E. LOCKHART
We Were Liars was a short read in just over one day. I had seen it recommended on Beth Sandland’s Bookclub Instagram so bought it to check it out for myself.
A young adult/teen book which was different for me but it was so beautifully written; almost poetic. The story ended with a great twist and was told brilliantly. I would definitely recommend reading this, but it probably won’t take you long.
THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ BY HEATHER MORRIS
Another book I couldn’t put down, I finished reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz in just one day.
It’s a relatively short story, so was easy to get through quickly, but the story is what kept me reading. A harrowing, awful insight into the concentration camps during the second world war, this book tells of a Slovak prisoner who finds love within the camp walls.
Based on a true story, I’m surprised this hasn’t been made into a movie yet. A truly great book.
SHOE DOG BY PHIL KNIGHT
I read Shoe Dog in the space of three days. It was personal, funny and a great insight to the beginnings of the Nike sports brand.
I guess it’s true when they say, ‘Do what you know,’ as Phil Knight was an avid runner, going on to sell running shoes and then building the sporting empire that is Nike.
The book was a 5/5 for me as I hadn’t the slightest clue about the brand, how it came about or that it started in Oregon. When I think of Nike, I just think of some large billion-dollar corporation. I don’t think of one guy in his parents’ house in Oregon, trying to sell shoes imported from Japan in the 70’s.
THE SILENT PATIENT BY ALEX MICHAELIDES
Oh my word, what an ending. I was trying to figure out how the characters were connected the whole way through the book but I really did not see it coming.
The Silent Patient is a gripping thriller, and may even have you shouting ‘WHAT?!’ when you realise the plot twist. And what a plot twist indeed.
Definitely a book to add to your list if you’re into thrillers/crime novels!
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