2020 was the year I actually started appreciating books and the escapism that they offer (this I found was very needed in the midst of a Global Pandemic). Considering I’m quite new to reading I’m still trying to find the genres and the styles of writing that I enjoy. Below I’m going to quickly (or not, the blog post got quite long) cover off all the books I read in 2020, sorry if I don’t do them justice in these reviews!
Daughter – Jane Shemilt – I randomly picked this book up off a bookshelf at home and decided to read it, I found it unpredictably predictable. The story of two doctors whos 15 year old daughter suddenly goes missing one night. Throughout their children’s lives they have frequently been preoccupied with work and their relationships with each other and their children take a hit. There is a nationwide search for their daughter, worst case scenarios are discussed, but what actually happened that night?
An American Marriage – Tayari Jones – The story of a newly wed couple in America, Celeste and Roy, when their life comes crumbling down and Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His wife knows that. While he’s in prison Celeste struggles to keep the love she once had for Roy alive. Roy ends up being let out of prison early, but outside has moved on including Celeste’s, can he still a part of it?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steig Larsson – a psychological crime thriller, following a journalist and a computer hacker to resolve the mystery of a woman who has been missing for over 40 years. So cleverly written and lots of sleepy town secrets revealed throughout, I really enjoyed this. I’d never read anything quite like it.
Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid – During a family crisis, a mother calls her African American babysitter to come and look after her child. Emira does exactly that and as a result ends up being accused of kid-napping the child. The child of the mother tries to resolve the issues faced by Emira as a result, but in the process leads Emira to feel even more alienated and out of place than ever.
Queenie – Candice Carty-Williams – Queenies life is spiralling out of control, she’s struggling to keep her job, friendships and relationships all in check. I found this book familiar yet distant, as it’s set in South London but a perspective that my white privilege has meant I am not familiar with. The book touches on themes of mental health, self love and everyday racism that black people face.
Women Don’t Owe You Pretty – Florence Given – A book by female activist Florence Given, it touches on themes of intersectional feminism, self love, dating, self healing and the male gaze…the list goes on. While I do think the book was good, I think it needs to be read with a critical attitude and not everything can be taken at face value.
Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens – The story of a young girl, Kya, who has been abandoned by her family as well as being disowned and frowned upon by the local village, so she lives out in a marsh. A young man called Chase, who Kya is an a acquaintance of, is found dead and an investigation starts and she’s a prime suspect. I found this book hard to get into. Lots of heavy descriptions and it was a bit ‘wishy-washy’ to start, but by the end, I couldn’t put it down.
Three Women – Lisa Taddeo – A story of 3 very different woman, Lina, Maggie and Sloane, that are followed over the course of 8 years, reporting on their relationships and feeling of desire.
Educated – Tara Westover – by FAR my favourite book of the year. This book is a Memoir of Tara Westover. She is born into a Mormon family who believe in the end of days. Tara has never been registered for a birth certificate. Her parents don’t believe in education, the government or healthcare and therefore, according to Government records Tara doesn’t even exist. As Tara gets older she discovers the importance of education, much to her parents disgust and time reveals the sacrifices she will have to make to pursue it.
How to Fail – Elizabeth Day – This book talks about different chapters in Days life, how she’s failed and how those failures have shaped her into who she is today. She also talks about the failures of other people that she has previously had on her podcast ‘How to Fail’. While I love the concept of this book, growing from failure, I thought it was hard to read. Very long chapters and they all followed the exact same format: point, evidence, explain.
Atomic Habits – James Clear – If you’re in to personal development you have got to read this book. It lays out actionable ways you can build good habits for a more productive life. Make small changes every day and it will amount to something huge, I think this book has probably changed my lfe.
Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo – It’s always hard when you read a book that everyone has raved about but you don’t build a connection with it. That is how I felt with this book. Girl, Woman, Other follows 12 intertwining stories of black women in London and reveals the similar yet different adversity they have faced throughout their lives.
American Dirt – Jeanine Cummins – A fiction book of a mother and her young son fleeing Mexico for the United States to escape the drug cartel after her journalist husband publishes a tell all story of the new jefe of the drug cartel. The story follows their journey to el norte and all the hardships they have to face on their way.
I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes – The longest book I’ve ever read and WOW. The way the different story lines interweave with one another, it’s incredible. The Saracen is trying to produce a biological weapon to wipe out the whole human race, time is running out but a chief investigator is hired to stop the Saracen in his tracks before the biological weapon starts to be administered.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri – I found this book hard to get into and really difficult to build a relationship with the characters, especially after having read I am Pilgrim. The story is of a beekeeper escaping war in Aleppo, Syria. He and his wife embark on a journey Britain and have to overcome a many physical and mental obstacles on their way.
Shoe Dog – Phil Knight – a behind the scenes view into the story of the Founder of Nike. The good, the bad and the ugly of founding of one of, if not the most, iconic brands in the world. The hard graft and near misses Phil Knight faced is admirable. My main takeaway from this book was always hire people smarter than you.
I didn’t realise I’d read quite so many until I put them all in this list… Feeling pretty proud about that, especially as some of them were pretty hefty books (I am Pilgrim and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)!
What were your favourite books of 2020? Are there any you would recommend I read based on the above?
Thanks for reading, Chloe x