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Each year I try and read more and I also try and read more than the year before. This year I also made a decision that I would read every unread book in my house before reading anything else.
So here is what I read in 2020:
The Prison Doctor – Dr Amanda Brown
I always find books about the behind the scenes life of different professions really interesting. I couldn’t wait to read The Prison Doctor and as my eldest brother spent many years in prison I was quite interested to see things from another perspective.
This book was really graphic in places but so honest and heartfelt. Dr Amanda Brown really wants to help people and make change and you can feel that coming through all the way through the book. It was a great read.
The Year of Less – Cait Flanders
This year I made a conscious decision to spend less. I wanted to buy less and to use more of what we had. I read The Year of Less to try and inspire me to stick to my plan – and it did just that. The book is more about Cait’s life and how she got to the point of wanting to spend, have and use less rather than being a how to book but I found it so inspiring and well worth reading if you’re sick of being in a cycle of consumerism, adverts and shopping.
The Children’s Block – Otto B Kraus
Last year I read the Tattooist of Auschwitz and I felt like it opened my eyes to so much about the war that I had no awareness of. I feel so lucky that I have no first hand experience of the war but I also have so much gratitude to those that lived and died through it that I feel a duty to learn more. With that in mind I read The Children’s Block and I knew before I even picked it up that it would be hard to read.
This book put me off reading any other war based books for a while. I finished it feeling quite sad and numb. It’s just so hard knowing that children had to experience such things. But, it also showed me that even at the darkest times people do all they can to help children. It’s worth reading if you want to learn more about the holocaust.
The Lives We Touch – Eva Woods
I bought this book because I loved Eva Woods’ previous book, How To Be Happy. The Lives We Touch felt like such a great book to come after that previous title. It had some similarities but it’s very own independent story. I liked all the characters in the book and enjoyed finding out more about them, how their stories entwined and how they knew the main character.
From the start of the book I thought the ending was going to be completely different so I was left guessing right until the very end which is always appreciated. I felt like I took away quite a lot from this book and a few life lessons too. Life really is about the lives we touch rather than possessions, status or money.
Luckiest Girl Alive – Jessica Knoll
This book felt much longer than ones I usually read and so I seemed to be reading it forever – but it was well worth persevering with. It jumps from the present day to various times in the past, filling in gaps in the main character’s story each time.
It’s a book striving for a happy ending but as you work your way through the book more and more bad stuff happens that makes you think that maybe that happy ending isn’t always easy to achieve. I could really relate to the main character at times and although you know something bad happened the full scale of what that was will shock you when you get there. A great but graphic and pretty sad book – with the glimmer of a happy ending.
The New Girl – Ingrid Alexandra
I found The New Girl to be a really odd book. There was obviously more to the main character than you initially realised and her story came out as the book carried on. In the end there was a big twist that felt quite sudden but not entirely unexpected but also a bit of a cop out.
The ending lacked any real depth for me. The book took so much time to introduce you to characters, explain relationships and build up layers of personality for it all just to end really quickly. This could have been a really good insight into mental health and a specific mental health condition but I felt it missed the mark.
If You Could Go Anywhere – Paige Toon
This is the first book I’ve read in ages that I had nothing bad to say about. It transported me both to the Australian desert and the streets of Rome, teaching me about different cultures whilst working through the layers of the central characters. It’s a story of loss, of love and of friendships that I really enjoyed.
Hard Pushed: A Midwife’s Story – Leah Hazard
I bought this book as I loved the This is Going to Hurt Junior Doctor book and so thought a similar book about a midwife would be quite interesting but I did expect it to be quite rose tinted. However, it wasn’t like that at all. It was honest, brutally so in places, and talked about all the bad points are tough times in midwifery as well as the really lovely, positive ones. A really great book that I’d definitely recommend.
Katie Fforde – Thyme Out
I used to read Katie Fforde books a lot but for some reason I stopped. I picked up Thyme Out during lockdown for about £2 and was looking forward to reading something easygoing. This book was fine, I liked some of the characters and got to know a few really well but the story was quite predictable.
I Know Who You Are – Alice Feeney
This was the first Alice Feeney book I read and I cannot wait to get another. I ploughed through the book, constantly wanting to find out what happened next. The book alternates between the present day and the past but it’s easy to follow and helps you to really get to know the main character and her backstory.
I was gripped until the end and the surprise twists kept me guessing. The first book in ages where my guesses haven’t been right and I’ve been so shocked when the story has finally unfolded. A must read.
Trust Me I’m a (Junior) Doctor – Max Pemberton
I have now read so many behind the scenes style books about life in hospitals, as doctors and midwives. I was excited by this book, looking forward to a warts and all story about life on the front line of our medical system. But, something was missing with this book. It felt like quite a slog to read, didn’t really go anywhere and was quite middle ground when it came to being either shocking or funny. It just didn’t quite hit the mark.
Shame On You – Amy Heydenrych
I hardly ever read the blurb of a book before I buy it or start reading it. I go on recommendations mostly. So when I started reading Shame On You I had no idea what it was about. A few pages in and I felt quite unsettled. The book was about a food blogger and so much of the lifestyle I was familiar with – and the way the author spoke about online influencers resonated with me, and not always in a good way. I could tell that the book had been inspired by quite a well known blogger story.
I got really invested in the story and really liked how it switched between characters perspectives and timeframes. It was easy to follow and a gripping story but I didn’t like it. The ending didn’t sit right with me and I’d hoped for a more morally sound finish after the trauma told throughout the book.
One of Us is Lying – Karen M McManus
I haven’t been as gripped by a book as this one in ages. From the first introduction of each of the characters I wanted to know more about them and it swiftly turned into a whodunnit style story with an ending I really wasn’t expecting. A really great read.
One of Us is Next – Karen M McManus
The sequel to One of Us is Lying didn’t disappoint. I ploughed through this book so quickly, wanting to know what happened. The whole book was full of twists and the ending was as much of a shock as the first book. Loved it!
Two Can Keep a Secret – Karen M McManus
I didn’t plough through this book as quickly as I had the previous ones. It was a brand new story with new characters and I found it a little harder to get into. But, by the end of the book I was so invested in the characters and as each twist in the book unfolded I was shocked – and felt like I was right there living it. It turned out to be a really great read.
Normal People – Sally Rooney
This book had so much hype that I wanted to love it. A million copies sold, made into a TV series – it just had to be great. But, I really didn’t rate it at all. It was basically following two teenagers and their journey into adulthood, their struggles and their huge amount of inner turmoil. It was pretty unsettling at times and I didn’t really feel like I gained anything from reading it. It lacked any sort of happiness or positivity.
Five Feet Apart – Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
I picked this book up in the supermarket as part of a 2 for £7 deal. I paid no attention to it, didn’t read the back, had no idea what it was about and hadn’t seen the movie of the same name either. But it turned out to be such an inspiring, emotive read. It’s about growing up with cystic fibrosis, the challenges faced, life expectancy and treatment. It’s so hard to read in places and I cried many times reading it. Such a great book.
The Prison Doctor: Women Inside – Dr Amanda Brown
I read Amanda Brown’s first book at the start of the year – at the top of this post – and added this one to my wishlist as soon as it was announced. I really enjoyed reading more about women’s prisons, the reasons many women end up in prison and the troubles that many female convicts go through.
This book was eye opening, harrowing in places and so emotive. It’s reinforced for me that there are some jobs I just could not do – and working in a prison is one of them.
The Beachside Guest House – Vanessa Greene
Sometimes you just need a really nice romance book with a bit of back story, a bit of intrigue and something easy to read. This was just that book. After reading quite a few deep and intense books I needed something a little more lighthearted and this one was perfect. If you want an easy to read, romance to read whilst lazing in the sun – this is for you.
Little Black Book – Otegha Uwagba
I love reading books that will help me in my world of work, inspire me or teach me something new. I don’t read books like that often, usually choosing to immerse myself in a world of fiction, but every so often I find a book to help with work that I just can’t put down.
Little Black Book is a fantastic resource for any working woman. It’s aimed primarily at freelancers but the advice can easily be taken across to use in any working role. I was nodding along throughout the book and it reinforced so many of my own working practices. This is a fantastic read for anyone, regardless of where they are in their career.
Never Greener – Ruth Jones
I would happily put money on this being the best book I’ve read this year, and maybe even one of the best books I’d read in my adult life. It’s over 500 pages and my first thoughts were that it looked like such a long book and I was dreading starting it as I felt like it would be such a drag to get through. How wrong could I be.
The book flows so easily, has characters that you really get to know and a storyline that is so easy to follow, with twists that are so full of emotion. The book felt so real, like you were right there watching the characters’ lives unfold and by the end I was so invested in them all. Such a great book, a fantastic debut and I cannot wait for Ruth’s new novel in a few months time.
So Lucky – Dawn O’Porter
I didn’t know what to make of this book at first. The characters were quite involved, seemed to all have so many issues and it felt like it jumped all over the place. But, before long I grew to love the characters, wanted to know more about them and loved seeing the story come together.
It’s a fantastic story that gives a great insight into the minds of women, the world of social media and the struggles that so many women face on a day to day basis. It’s a great of unlikely friendships, relationships and mental health struggles. I really enjoyed reading it. My first Dawn O’Porter experience was a good one!
The Rules – Tracy Darnton
This book is a Young Adult book, aimed at teenagers. But, I found it so unsettling that I’m not sure I’d like my child reading it as a teen. It was really hard hitting, about children with really troubled upbringings and awful abuse in their childhoods.
The Rules is a real psychological thriller featuring a teenage girl and her Dad as the main characters. It was well written but also hard to read – knowing that the main character has already gone through so much at the hands of her father and was still having to run away from him and try to outwit him. A good but troubled read.
Blood Orange – Harriet Tyce
I saw rave reviews of Blood Orange everywhere so couldn’t wait to read it. But, it left me feeling really uncomfortable. I couldn’t warm to the main character and the ending was so out of the blue that I just felt quite confused afterwards.
It’s a story of coercive control, psychological and emotional abuse, rape and suicide. There are so many dark and troubling themes that I found it hard to get into and enjoy. I wouldn’t read it again.
A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson
This book is one of the best books I’ve read all year. A whodunnit based around a village and a bunch of high school children. Set in the UK, everything felt really familiar and I was gripped from the start.
The outcome wasn’t the one I expected, and there were parts of the ending that didn’t quite fit for me. But I could happily glaze over that because it was such a great read. It was hard hitting in places – about murder, drugs, rape and emotional abuse – but the themes worked in the story. The characters were likeable and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to read the sequel!
The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes
This book was different to anything I’ve read in awhile. Set in 1937, in one of the poorest parts of America, it was hard to get into at first. But, I persevered and was so glad that I did.
It’s a really deep book that teaches so much about racism, sexism, inequality, the US mining industry and also family dynamics, honour and how a family name can mean so much for such a long time. It was so emotive and I cried at least half a dozen times reading it. A really great, deep, poignant book.
The Guest List – Lucy Foley
This book was so dark from the very start. With a pretty bleak setting and characters who had so many layers to them, I found myself gripped from the first few chapters.
Some of the storylines in the book seemed a little far fetched but they all came together in the end – and the ending of the book was a complete surprise to me, something that doesn’t happen often!
Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas – Adam Kay
I absolutely loved Adam Kay’s first book and had been wanting to read this since it was first published. It was just as good as the first but so incredibly short that it took the edge off. As soon as I’d got into it, it was over. Worth reading but more of a stocking filler than a real book.
As Per My Previous Email – Steve Burdett
I saw this book on a random gift website and it made me laugh. How to decipher the opening lines, closing statements and content of any email. I was really looking forward to reading it but after the initial laughs I found it quite repetitive and it lost its edge. Not as entertaining as I’d hoped.
The Home Edit Life
This book is a fantastic companion to the popular Netflix show. I ploughed through the series and now aspire to have a rainbow coloured home and life just like the ones on The Home Edit Instagram feed! If you watched the TV show then this book won’t teach you much, but it will be a fantastic resource that you can dip in and out of. I really enjoyed it.
Wow, 30 books! I actually had a few months where I couldn’t read because of some eye issues but lockdown gave me much more time to dedicated to books this year – and I spent many afternoons lounging in the garden reading over the summer whilst the children played. Books have really been a highlight of the year.
If you’re looking for more reading inspiration, check out my previous annual posts to see what I’ve read over the last few years.