Having tested positive with Covid right before I was due to go back to work (close a special needs school when the local area is in Tier 4? Why no, don’t be silly!) now seems like the perfect time to wrap up my 2020 reading adventure and let you know what books have made my top ten of the year. I can’t possibly begin to put them in a numerical order – it was a struggle enough to wittle the 43 books I read this year down to 10, especially when it feels like a small breath-stealing demon is sitting on my chest – but here they are!
‘The Humans’ by Matt Haig
“Advice for a human.
- Dark matter is needed to hold galaxies together. Your mind is a Galaxy. More dark than light. But the light makes it worthwhile.
- Which is to say: don’t kill yourself. Even when the darkness is total. Always know that life is not still. Time is space. You are moving through that galaxy. Wait for the stars.”
The ‘Advice for a Human’ section in this book absolutely broke me. Matt Haig is such an incredible writer (another book of his will be appearing on this list!) and looking at the ridiculousness, complexities and magics of human life through the eyes of an alien was such a bizarre and yet neccessary thing to write about, one I never would have thought of myself.
‘Bone China’ by Laura Purcell
“Anger has ever been a failing of mine. When it surges, it sings in my veins like a dram of gin. Any action seems possible, reasonable. It is only afterwards, when the fire fades, that I see the dark soot-stain of what I have done.”
You can read my full review of ‘Bone China’ here – safe to say, Laura Purcell has done it again.
‘How To Fall in Love’ by Cecelia Ahern
“Where would we be without tomorrows? What we’d have instead are todays. And if that was the case, with you, I’d hope for the longest day for today. I’d fill today with you, doing everything I’ve ever loved. I’d laugh, I’d talk, I’d listen and learn, I’d love, I’d love, I’d love. I’d make every day today and spend them all with you, and I’d never worry about tomorrow, when I wouldn’t be with you. And when that dreaded tomorrow comes for us, please know that I didn’t want to leave you, or be left behind, that every single moment spent with you were the best times in my life.”
A beautiful book about love, loss, grief and finding the will to survive when everything seems hopeless, my boyfriend picked this up for me out of the Little Local Free Library that we have on our road. I sped through it and it had me in tears several times! Much like ‘The Humans’, it really teaches us to appreciate what we have and live in the present.
‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins
“Which was worse? To feel nothing, or to grieve for something you no longer remembered? Surely when you forgot, you’d forget to be sad, or what was the point? And yet that numbness would take part of your self away, it would be like having pins-and-needles in your soul … I took a deep breath.”
I read this book in one go on my flight home from Barcelona in February and it definitely took away the holiday blues – I was hooked. Another book that deals strongly with themes of love and loss, the whole concept of it is so original and fascinating that I was gripped from beginning to end. There is talk of a movie, but this is one of those novels where I’m not sure the complex magic of it would translate to the big screen – has anyone else read it, and what are your thoughts on a possible movie?
‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins
“Sometimes I picture all that reading and writing as something packed inside me. Dangerous as gunpowder. Where has it got me, in the end?”
You can read my full review of ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ here – an incredible story of slavery, love and empowerment.
‘The Disappearance’ by Katherine Webb
You can read my full review of this here. Any long-term followers of this blog will know that Katherine Webb ALWAYS makes it into my Top Ten. In this novel Webb deals with dark themes like child abuse and murder with incredible sensitivity and as always, has left me impatiently waiting for her next novel.
‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey
“But it’s not true. I forget things—I know that—but I’m not mad. Not yet. And I’m sick of being treated as if I am. I’m tired of the sympathetic smiles and the little pats people give you when you get things confused, and I’m bloody fed up with everyone deferring to Helen rather than listening to what I have to say.”
You can read my review of ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ here. This book broke my heart; I had never really thought before about what it must be like to age, particularly whilst being ravaged by a terrible disease like Alzheimer’s. I lost count of how many times I cried while reading this, and would highly recommend it.
‘How to Fail’ and ‘Failosophy’ by Elizabeth Day
“For so long, we woman have turned our anger inwards, redirecting it towards ourselves and allowing it to manifest as shame. We have told ourselves, instead, that we are sad or hormonal or stressed, but these have been placeholder emotions. And for so long we have been encouraged to do this by a misogynistic culture that realises female anger is dangerous not because it is the product of mental imbalance but because it is fuel. Female anger is power.”
I’ve cheekily included these as one book to allow me an extra space in my Top Ten – you can read my review of ‘How to Fail’ here. The first book genuinely changed my life, and it’s sequel, outlining the seven principles of failure, was devoured before I’d even eaten my Christmas dinner when I received it on Christmas Day. While I’m tucked up in bed my resolution is to start listening to the podcasts that these books are based on.
‘The Truth Pixie’ by Matt Haigh
My best friend got me this for my birthday and I can honestly say it’s one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. It’s so inspirational and heartwarming -another one where I can’t count how many times I cried!
‘Queen Camilla‘ by Sue Townsend
This was another of my boyfriend’s finds for me and absolutely loved it. I read it without realising that there was a previous book, ‘The Queen and I’, which I’m now very keen to get my hands on, but was still able to greatly enjoy it. It’s a fun, sarcastic and witty exploration of what it would be like if the royal family lived among us commoners, and it made me laugh aloud several times.
Please let me know what you think if you’ve read any of the books in my Top Ten, and share with me the books you would have included in yours!