Achieved my goal of reading 24 books this year, which considering how hectic it was is nothing short of a miracle. Here is a mini review of each book!
1. The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
I read this book while in Tanzania at the beginning of the year on a whale shark conservation trip. This non-fiction read unpacks what we really like about travel and gives tips on how to get more from the trips you take. The section on creating art rather than taking photographs resonated with me the most.
3. Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull
A sneak peak behind-the-scenes of Pixar from before inception right the way through to the binding with Disney, with some really great takeaways on how to manage creative teams.
5. Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton
Funny, raw, emotional. Dolly talks directly to my generation. If you remember chatting up boys on MSN messenger, you should read this book. Having said that, my 22-year-old sister recommended it to me so maybe it transcends the generations.
6. Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
As a mixed race British woman, I have been reading increasing amounts on the subject of race relations in the UK. This non-fiction account travels from Wimbledon to Ghana and addresses what happens when you feel like you have a foot in two countries, but your body doesn't fit fully in either.
8. The Kindness of Strangers by Fearghal O'Nuallain
Actually a book written by multiple authors and curated by Fearghal, this collection of short stories shares examples of when complete strangers have stepped up to help in unexpected circumstances.
9. Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benhaim
If you haven't watched Sabrina's spoken-word performance of 'Explaining My Depression to My Mother: A Conversation' then you should do that right now – in fact I'm including it below so you can. This is a book of her writing, including that emotional essay.
10. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
If you ever gather people for a purpose, you should read this book. It runs through everything from how to decide who to invite, to building anticipation, the event itself and the follow up to make every gathering meaningful and have long-lasting impact.
11. The Wall by John Lanchester
This book's setting explores what life could be like in the future when climate change and sea level rise have taken hold. The UK is one of the few places that can be completely defended from all sides by a manned wall. The story follows one man's experience of being conscripted to the team protecting the boundary.
13. The Carbon Cycle by Kate Rawles
The author undertakes an epic journey to cycle the Continental Divide while uncovering attitudes in the US towards climate change. An inspiring trip that shows how adventure can be combined with making an impact.
15. Less Than Human by David Livingstone Smith
A harrowing read that, at times, I really just wanted to put down and never pick up again. It is focused on why humans commit hideous atrocities against each other and goes into a lot of detail. If you can make it through, you are rewarded with insights into how ordinary people can behave in ways we would think of as unforgivable.
17. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
I've lost count of how many times this fantasy novel has been recommended to me and I finally read it. It's a fully-formed world with many believable parts and I enjoyed it a lot. Usual fantasy rules apply – youth loses family, discovers magical talent, go to uni to craft said talent, faces barriers in the way to his success but it's just a bit more epic than that. First book of three – be warned, the third book has not been released yet.
18. The End of the World by Martin H. Greenberg
A collection of short stories based on many variations of the apocalypse, including a story from Neil Gaiman, who is one of my favourite authors of all time.
19. Blue Mind by Wallace J Nichols
Definitely my book of the year. The author starts by saying he wondered if looking into the science behind why humans gravitate towards water in all its forms might ruin the magic for him – it didn't and it didn't run it for me either. Somehow it makes it even more special. If you are part of the vitamin sea movement, you should have this book on your 2020 reading list.
20. Client Earth by James Thornton
The planet needs heroes fighting for it on all sides. This is the story of how one man brought an American approach to environmental law to the UK and Europe, and started making laws enforceable by ordinary citizens.
21. In Praise of Difficult Women by Karen Karbo
A book full of profiles of women considered to be difficult for lots of different reasons. Do not read this book if you only want to read about likeable women who rocked the boat in acceptable ways.
22. Every Thing You Are by Kerry Anne King
Focused on three main characters – a woman who is responsible for maintaining instruments, an alcoholic former cello player and his estranged teenage daughter – this is a novel that also involves magic. I picked it up as a diversion and found the characters very modern-day believable for a fantasy.
23. Create Your Own Artist's Journal by Erin O'Toole
Complete change of pace. An illustrated guide to starting and developing your own artist's journal, which features great practical advice and lovely nature-based drawings. Think traditional, not bullet journal.
24. In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum
The true story of the fierce female war correspondent who fought to share the stories of those being persecuted in war zones and was celebrated as a journalist, while struggling with a turbulent private life.
Affiliate links: The links to the books in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. If you use one to buy a book, you don't pay any more but I receive a small proportion of the sale.
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