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24 books I read in 2019

· Book Review

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.

2. The Power by Naomi Alderman

A novel that explores what might happen if women suddenly developed an unseen power that tipped the balance so men were no longer the most powerful physically.

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.

4. Floating: a Return to Waterlog by Joe Minihane

The author of this non-fiction dive into wild swimming discovers how the UK's outdoor swimming spots have changed, while also discovering how it positively impacted his anxiety. Full review here.

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.

7. Story Driven by Bernadette Jiwa

A workbook on identifying what makes you unique and how to use your story to stand out from the crowd.

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.

12. Windfall by McKenzie Funk

It's not really talked about, but some people benefit from climate change. Read this book to find out who they are.

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.

14. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

(Rebel Book Club read)

The mind-blowing true story of how a start up in the US conned some of the biggest investors and brightest minds for years in an industry that is supposedly regulated. Spent most of the time reading it exclaiming in disbelief.

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.

16. Safe by Derek Owusu

Continuing on my race reading theme, I read this after hearing Derek interviewed on the radio. An insight into the life of the black man in the UK.

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

(Rebel Book Club read)

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.

Also a big reader? I am always looking for more friends on Goodreads! You can find my profile here.

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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