During 2020 I enjoyed sinking into the pages of far off stories and self-help books to reassess, learn and explore everything it is to be human. I found comfort, suspense, hope and all the drama I could hope for within the pages of these books.
Here are a handful of books that exceeded my expectations and made a lasting impression.
I’ve never read anything like Queenie. I absolutely adored it. Queenie is a twenty-five-year-old Black woman living in south London, straddling Jamaican and British culture whilst slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white, middle-class peers, and beg to write about Black Lives Matter. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie finds herself seeking comfort in all the wrong places. A must read.
I heard Shahroo talk on Deliciously Ella’s podcast last January and was struck by her revolutionary method to treat yourself with kindness in order change your habits permanently.
After years of yo-yo dieting, Shahroo lost 8 stone, gained confidence and two book deals from utilising her method, tried and tested on addiction patients. Shahroo subverts traditional strict regimes to leave you feeling empowered, positive and ready to embrace change through a series of mind maps and practical exercises.
This book that sparked a national conversation. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race is the essential handbook for everyone to understand race relations in the UK today. It’s an enlightening and powerful read. I think this will be a book I re-read throughout my life and I’d really recommend that everyone do the same.
This book is exceptional. I cried several times throughout it the book as Chidera dismantles and reframes the goals of finding and fixing a man. She will equip you with tangible and applicable solutions for every part of your dating life, helping you recognise that men hold as much power in our romantic lives as we grant them. It’s a book about self-love that will remind you that Men are NEVER the prize, you are.
This is the perfect handbook for going freelance. Fiona addresses every question from how to write an invoice, submit a tax return, sort expenses and utilise social media to find new clients. I read this book twice in 2020, the second time taking detailed notes as I’d just gone freelance.
It’s an honest depiction of the reality of freelance life and a reflection of why young women especially are choosing this option over the 9-5. It will help you prepare for the leap into freelance life and what to expect when you get there! I’ll probably read it a few more hundred times this year too!
I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert and a friend of mine recommended that I read this book about creativity, which informed how she wrote her books. Here, Elizabeth shares some stories from her own life and other writers, as well as how to embrace curiosity, creativity when it strikes and what holds you back from finishing creative projects.
Whether you want to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration and the magic that creativity can bring to your life.
The premise of this novel is excellent. Six university friends are reunited after 25 years. The host Ali has the life she’s always wanted and is married to her college boyfriend. As the guests arrive, everything is flowing freely including the alcohol and speech. You begin to suspect not everything is as it seems.
Later and (TW of rape and sexual assault here) Karen (her best friend) staggers in from the garden, bleeding and bruised stating she’s been assaulted by Ali’s husband, Mike. Everything about this set up begins to shatter, who these people were, who they are now and what they’ve done in between.
I haven’t read many books where sexual assault, trust and the concept of truth is explored so well. It’s a really powerful story.
Alison has a husband and daughter at home and she’s just been given her first murder case to defend, she’s doing well in her life, but she drinks too much. She’s sleeping with a colleague and she’s blacking out from alcohol more and more. Then she receives anonymous messages telling her that they know her secrets.
I don’t want to give too much away, but this thriller is phenomenal.
The Multi-Hyphen Method was the first book I’ve read where it’s not only said it’s OK to have multiple passions, but encouraged it. As a multi-hyphenate or an adult that can’t pick just one thing to love, I found this so reassuring and empowering. I wrote more about my own love of having more than one passion here.
Emma Gannon, teaches that whatever you’re passionate about can all be channelled into your own entrepreneurial spirit to live more fulfilled and financially healthy lives. You aren’t spreading yourself too thin, you’re creating more options for yourself in the modern world.
This book is inspirational to help you break out of that fixed mindset and explore the possibilities of what you can offer the world.
Everyone knows about The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse but it took me a long time to get round to read it. My Mum had read it in one sitting (she rarely does that now) so after dinner I sat down and devoured it in less than an hour. I also cried my little heart out.
It’s a wonderful book with beautiful illustrations and messages of hope and loss which will resonate with everyone. Don’t forget your tissues!
I love all of Shari’s novels, but this book really stuck with me. It follows the same format as her other novels such as The Couple Next Door; it’s a domestic thriller where a woman goes missing and is found dead in the boot of her car, after the car has been pulled out of a lake. As one secret unravels so do many others and it turns out that nobody knows their neighbours as well as they thought.
No one writes thrillers quite like Shari, you’ll be completely shocked up until the very last paragraph.
What were the most memorable books for you in 2020?