PHEW! Well that was a year for the history books wasn’t it? If you haven’t already seen ‘Death to 2020’ on Netflix, I strongly recommend you do so, it’ll make you laugh so hard at all this years craziness, but make you remember entirely the craziness you’ve been surviving through this year, which has been a lot! You’re a tough cookie reader!
I like to do a best and worst reads, but given the amount of negativity we’ve had in 2020 I’ve decided to create a completely positive post, so I’m sharing with you my Top 10 Favourite reads of this year and also my favourite tea moment. It’s been my best year for reading yet, even better than the 6 week reading relay at the local library aged 8 when I read like 10 goosebumps books! I hit a total of 31 this year, 16 of which was during lockdown which was quite an achievement, but 3 months furlough was like semi-retirement so I managed to get a lot of reading in in the sunshine!
I’ve also been a member of rare birds book club since May who have been sending me a new book each month and it’s always been one I’ve never heard of – so my list is pretty varied. This was a hard one to whittle down, but I’ve selected my favourites and a blend of genres for you to enjoy. I hope you find some inspiration for your 2021 reading lists. So grab a cuppa and here we go.
2020 Top 10 Favourite Reads
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
A Greek Mythology retelling told from the perspectives of multiple women. Lovers of Circe will adore this book and it complements it in many ways. There are many characters to follow but it’s easy enough to follow once you begin to remember characters names! I enjoyed that the voices were female, which is not often the case in mythology.
Circe by Madeline Miller
I felt like the only person ever who had not read this retelling! My friend kindly lent me her copy and I could not put it down. At first I felt that there were too many characters and too much mythology for me to understand everything, but this quickly calmed down and it was easy enough to read and follow. I thoroughly loved it.
The Shelf by Helly Acton
I received The Shelf as an ARC and what a lucky woman I am for doing so! The story follows a host of characters who are dramatically dumped by their other halves onto a show or ‘the shelf’ to try to retrain them into being attractive women again. UCK. Think Big Brother style male chauvinism. This story and it’s female characters are absolutely hilarious. It’s a big two fingers up at the expectations placed on women. I loved it! The book is out in hardback and paperback in the next couple of weeks! Helly is also the loveliest author and I look forward to more of her work.
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve never read an Elizabeth Gilbert Novel but I have of course seen Eat Pray Love. From the same author comes this coming of age story set in old New York. Think theatre, sex, alcohol, jazz and old glamour. The story spreads over different times and is very well written. It’s like an old school sex and the city. I loved it.
The Choice by Edith Eger
My only non‑fiction favourite of this year and one you aren’t going to find a full review on my site of as I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. However if you only read one Holocaust memoir in your life, make sure it’s this one. The memoir tells Edith’s life as a child, cruelly separated from her family as they are taken away to be enslaved and murdered by the Nazi’s. We follow Edith’s life to adulthood including near death experiences, escapes and a new life abroad. The second half of the book is Edith’s new life as a psychologist. Absolutely incredible book that had me in tears and was rather life changing, making me think of my future. I loved it so much that I bought my Nanna a copy for her Birthday ‑ she is a similar age to the author and lived through these times. She also couldn’t put it down.
This one felt very important as a book of hope when we were amidst the harshest lockdown and I feel I read it at the right time in my life. It vastly helped my mental health to keep positive and keep going. Highly recommend!
The Pact We Made by Layla Alammar
This was a rare birds book club pick that I would never have come across otherwise. Set in the Middle East from the perspective of a young woman, the pact we made explores female oppression, culture and expectations. The main character feels the need to rebel and be who she truly is. But to do so, she would have to leave everything and everyone she loves. What should she do? I really cared for the character and the outcome. A really important read about the struggles of women around the world.
The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary
My Happy warm and fuzzy feel good read of this year. Two strangers share a bed due to London’s crazy rent prices and their working patterns. One works days, the other nights, so they’ll never meet..right?
Think post it note conversations, angry jealous girlfriends and shit exes, this one has drama and laughs galore. A great lockdown feel good read.
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
Another World War II read but this time it’s fiction. The Paris Architect is the story of an architect who builds hide outs for Jews trying to escape the Nazis. Beyond clever, moving, powerful and emotional. You think architect you think cold hard stone buildings. This story is anything but ‑ it had me in floods. The author is actually an architect too so the level of detail in the descriptions is phenomenal. You can picture everything. Thanks very much to Nick for recommending this one to me and lending me his copy!
Vox by Christina Dalcher
A dystopian novel where all females, (little girls and grown women) are limited to 100 words a day. If they exceed this, accidentally or otherwise, they will receive an electric shock. The story follows a female Dr Scientist and her mission to overthrow the religious ultra conservative government. Will she succeed or will she end with the same fate as the other rebels? It’s a mission to same women across the country. Scarily realistic, you can really imagine this one happening.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This one was a sad tale about a girl that goes missing from a seemingly perfect family. But the truth is anything but. I was expecting a happier novel but what I found was sad yet beautiful. It’s delves into the mystery confusion and sadness that surrounds the death of a child. Murder? Suicide? The guilt of each individual involved dictates their opinion. A really good page turner about family dynamics, belonging, loneliness and secrets.
I hope that this has given you a couple of new books to add to your TBR or reminded you of ones you enjoyed.
I’d like to share my favourite tea moment of this year as I sign off, which was the Tea school from Teapigs. I honestly had so much fun with Andy and Leonie learning all about tea (the tasting was my absolute favourite bit of course)! It was some much needed light relief in what had been a pretty heavy lockdown. I thoroughly recommend joining their virtual tea school if they run them again in future. If not, their website blog and instagram has some great tips and things to discover.
Well you lovely lot, thats my last post of 2020! I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU for anybody that has subscribed, liked, commented, shared or regularly checks in. Whatever your level of engagement you have kept me doing something I love throughout this tough year and I appreciate you being a regular reader. My blog has had a crazy increase in readers this year from every corner of the world which makes me a very happy blogger! I really hope my content helps you to find new things you love. Thank you for being a part of it.
I look forward to sharing my new reviews with you in 2021, which will be a complete mixed bag, I already have 3 to share with you and I’d really like your feedback on my reviews so please do so in the comments. You’re also welcome to comment or message if you have a book you’d like to see me review and I’d love to hear more about my readers so please introduce yourself!
Until then, I send you love, hope and healing and let’s look forward with positivity. There are vaccines, there is a light at the end of the long tunnel. We’ve got this.
Until the next Chapter,
Goodreads: PAPYRUS AND PEPPERMINT (search)