What a year 2020 has been! This is the first year in my entire life where I’ve pretty much picked up reading as a full-time hobby. I’ve always been an avid reader but this is the first year I’ve read this many books (just hit 40 and I’m still going strong – lockdown definitely helped…).
I know 2020 isn’t quite up yet and hopefully I will squeeze in a handful more books between now and then. If any of them beat this list then I will update it!
With that in mind, here are my top 5 books of 2020:
5. The Diary of Anne Frank
Obviously I’ve heard a great deal about this book, but I cannot believe I only just read it this year.
Anne Frank is a true inspiration to us all. Something so simple about the book is how she starts each entry with “My Dearest Kitty” or “My darling Kitty” (her imaginary friend.) She was such a character and there are some truly Laugh Out Loud moments (and so many lows) that make you want to hug her and comfort her and tell her how amazing she is.
Throughout the book she talks about how much she wants to inspire the world and become a famous writer or journalist after the war. Well, with 30 million copies sold worldwide in more than 65 languages, she has achieved just that!
Anne Frank has become the most famous young author of all time, and gave a rare glimpse into the day-to-day life of a Jewish person in hiding during WWII. Anne was an extremely intelligent and insightful young woman – and is definitely someone who I would invite to my dream dinner party!
4. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
Earlier, this year, I helped to organise my friend’s virtual baby shower, and as a Thank You gift, she sent me a bundle of books in the post. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gesture and I was truly touched by her generosity.
Within the bundle was Where the Crawdads Sing, an absolute gem of a book that tells the story of Kya Clark, a young girl described by locals as ‘The Marsh Girl.’
At a young age her battered and bruised mother leaves her abusive father (and consequently, Kya), and from the offset it is clear that Kya lives an isolated and reclusive life where she is forced to fend for herself. There are so many poignant moments where your heart bleeds for Kya, but there are also so many beautiful moments where we learn about the importance of courage, resilience and determination. The initial chapters of the book also have so many exquisite descriptions of nature, which I really enjoyed.
This is honestly an outstanding read and has a shocking ending that I couldn’t stop thinking about for weeks after finishing it. I am so grateful to my friend for sending this book to me (thank you, Jess!)
3. The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle
With so much going on in the world right now, it can be easy to get caught up in the never-ending stream of thoughts going on in our heads (especially mine!)
Don’t get me wrong: just because I’ve read this book (and bookmarked about a gazzilion pages) doesn’t mean I’m suddenly the most Zen person in the village (quite the opposite actually; more like the nuttiest person in the village!) BUT what I did take from this book is that no matter how cloudy our thoughts get, the blue sky is always there. We are not our thoughts, and the storms always pass.
If we can just centre ourselves in the present moment, even just for twenty seconds, that’s something very powerful indeed. As Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, Silence: “One nerve impulse, one action potential, needs only a millisecond. Giving yourself twenty seconds is giving yourself twenty thousand milliseconds to stop the runaway train of thought.”
I’ve read a lot of books on mindfulness but The Power of Now, which I purchased on Kindle, is one book I plan on buying in physical format so I can have it on hand and just flip open a random page for some quick inspiration (Hi George! It’s Christmas soon!)
2. The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah
I have to admit when my sister first pitched this to me as a ‘must-read book about the Second World War’ I wasn’t exactly jumping with enthusiasm about reading it, but boy was she right in recommending it. It took me a single weekend to get through this book (and at 450 pages, it’s a long book!)
This is an incredible story about two sisters in France and their battle to survive during the Second World War.
There’s so much depth to this story and it is so shocking and truly horrifying what went on in France (and across the globe) during WWII, and I had no idea about most of it. This is such an inspiring and gripping read and reminds you what true hardship really means, and how much people endured during the war. It also reminds you about the power of resilience, love and freedom.
The Nightingale stays with you long after you’ve finished it. It is such an eye-opener and so beautifully written; I cannot recommend this book enough.
1. Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins
This list would not be complete without this exceptional book and if there is one book you need to read at some point in your life, it’s Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins.
It begins with his (terrible) childhood, then goes on to describe the ups and downs he went through throughout his life.
Goggins is someone who simply never gives up and perseveres where most of us would give up or quit or think negatively, very early on. On the contrary, he just keeps pushing himself beyond his mental and physical limits. He thinks so differently to most people and is massively inspiring to us all.
His theory is that we only use 40% of our brains and I totally agree. We just cop out so quickly or convince ourselves that we can’t be bothered or it’s too difficult or we’re not capable etc., when in actual fact, anything is possible. It’s all about mind over matter and shutting up that voice in your head that’s constantly trying to convince you otherwise.
Goggins is an incredible human (superhuman?) who is solid as a rock, both mentally and physically. He has been described as the toughest man alive and if I could just steal 1% of his thought-process, I’d be a really happy human (superhuman?)
So there you have it, my top 5 reads. What books have you read this year that have inspired you? Leave a comment below!