Posts In: Books

What I read in 2020

December 17, 2020

As much as a record for myself as a sharing for others, I wanted to create this list of books read this year. No reviews, no synopsis just a list that you might use as inspiration, or you might just choose to skim by :)

Read any of these yourself? Let me know!

I say no reviews, but I did add an asterisk to the ones I particularly enjoyed, and a double asterisk to the ones I loved…

  • Afternoons With The Blinds Drawn | Brett Anderson *
  • Mindfulness And Surfing | Sam Bleakley
  • The Dalai Lama’s Cat | David Michie *
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race | Reni Eddo-Lodge ** (also see here)
  • Autumn | Ali Smith
  • A Fine Balance | Rohinton Mistry *
  • The Goldfinch | Donna Tartt
  • Love Warrior | Glennon Doyle ** (also see here)
  • Girl, Woman, Other | Bernadine Evaristo
  • Not Forgetting The Whale | John Ironmonger *
  • The Rosie Result | Graeme Simsion
  • Snuff | Terry Pratchett
  • North | Scott Jurek
  • Adults | Emma Jane Unsworth
  • The Other Half of Augusta Hope | Joanna Geln
  • Bird By Bird | Ann Lamott
  • Home | Salman Rushdie
  • Calm | Tim Parks
  • Well Read Black Girl | Glory Edim *
  • The Gifts Of Imperfection | Brené Brown *
  • Black, White & Jewish | Rebecca Walker *
  • Wild Power | Alexandra Pope
  • A Journey Around My Room | Xavier de Maistre
  • A Little Life | Hanya Yanagihara
  • Being Mortal | Atul Gawande *
  • The Salt Path | Raynor Winn
  • Outline | Rachel Cusk
  • Such A Fun Age | Kiley Reid *
  • Queenie | Candice Carty-Williams
  • Healing Back Pain | John Sarno
  • More Myself | Alicia Keys *
  • American Dirt | Jeanne Cummins **
  • City of Djinns | William Darymple
  • Braised Pork | An Yu
  • Wolfpack | Abby Wambach
  • To Shake The Sleeping Self | Jedediah Jenkins *
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies | John Boyne
  • The Glass Hotel | Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Godmother | Hannelore Cayre
  • Do Open | David Hieatt
  • The God Child | Nana Oforiatta Ayim
  • Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions | Gloria Steinem
  • Do Story | Bobette Buster
  • Dreams From My Father | Barack Obama *
  • Untamed | Glennon Doyle
  • Little Eyes | Samanta Schweblin, Megan McDowell
  • Over The Top | Jonathan Van Ness
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God | Zora Neale Hurston
  • When Things Fall Apart | Pema Chödrön **
  • The Book of Dharma | Simon Haas **
  • All At Sea | Decca Aitkenhead *
  • Dear Edward | Ann Napolitano
  • It’s OK That You’re Not OK | Megan Devine
  • On Connection | Kae Tempest

I know. It’s a strong statement, a book changing your life. And yet there is something about the written word that has the power to transform. I can hand on heart tell you that I was different after reading these books. I had new perspective, new insight, new understanding. And each of them rendered me changed forever.

These three books are ones I’d recommend to you in a heartbeat – and perhaps I already have. Get them, read them, share them, honour them. ABSORB them.

Much love to you all, Lis x

Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Women Who Run With The Wolves

“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving. Yet separation from the wildish nature causes a woman’s personality to become meager, thin, ghosty, spectral. When women’s lives are in stasis, or filled with ennui, it is always time for the wildish woman to emerge; it is time for the creating function of the psyche to flood the delta”.

I revisit this book all the time and with every opening of its pages some new insight sinks in. It walked me home after a long period out in the cold, and is now a lifeline back to myself whenever I get lost. My heart is set alight with its stories, and in reading it I rediscover over and again an ageless knowledge that, once found, is clearly only ever a thing I’d temporarily lost my way to.

It’s no overstatement to say that this book was the spark that re-lit my creative fire and that led me back to wildish-ness.

“What comprises the Wild Woman? She is the female soul.”

“[Who is the Wild Woman?] La Que Sabe, The One Who Knows.”

Do you have a gnawing sense of life deserving to be something more? Wild Woman. An itching feel of having had enough of being put in your place? Wild Woman. The beginnings of a fire in your belly, calling you towards a different truth? Wild Woman.

Pinkola Estés tells us that “the Wild Woman belongs to you. She belongs to all women”. Read this book for the beginnings of your journey towards finding her.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

“I won’t ever stop myself from speaking about race. Every voice raised against racism chips away at its power. We can’t afford to stay silent. This book is an attempt to speak.”

If you asked me what I identify as, the bottom line would be that I am and always have been human first. Get to know me a little more and you’d see very clearly that any judgement of another human as inferior because of who they are raises an anger in me that is so deeply visceral I struggle to put it into words.

And yet.

Until I read this book I had no idea of the various privileges I was carrying around in my life, and I was also pretty uneducated about the nature of systemic racism in this country.

Since reading this book however I have been both learning and unlearning. And I’ve been able to have educated and influential conversations about race with people I’d never have been able to before. This book hasn’t just changed my life but has filtered its knowledge out into the lives of those around me.

It’s a book that should be on the national curriculum. A book that EVERY white person should have to read. It will be argued that without taking up your voice in this war on racism, you are complicit… this book will give you that voice.

Put simply, it is your civic responsibility as a white person to read this book.

Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle

“You can be shattered and you can put yourself back together piece by piece until one day you wake up and realize that you have put yourself back together completely differently. This sort of change – the change that happened to me while living and writing this story […] it’s revolutionary. […] no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore.”

This book. I read it earlier this year as an ebook, pretty much in one sitting (which, given I’d only started it as I went to bed, took me well into the night). I remember Jaime looking over at me and asking what on earth it was that had so absorbed my attention – I told him it was something important, and that the next day I was going to have to buy the hard copy in order to read it all over again.

That hard copy now has so many turned over pages I can’t count and it’s lived with me ever since. I’ve recommended it and I’ve gifted it. It is essential reading for anyone who’s ever lost themselves. For anyone who feels alone.

“We’ve never brought to each other the heavy things we were meant to help each other carry. We thought that was safer. We thought that this way our real selves wouldn’t get hurt. […] it becomes clear that we are all hurting anyway.”

Of course I see myself in this book – not in all of the details necessarily but definitely in the journey. And I have learnt new things still about myself in reading it.

It has given me courage where I didn’t yet quite have enough. Clarity where my eyes were still a little clouded. The freedom to be vulnerable in ways I hadn’t quite yet dared. It is asking me to look at and confront the fear in my life and overcome.

If you’ve ever felt the world is telling you you’re not quite good enough, this one is for you.


Sign me up to receive news!

I confirm I'd like to receive emails about news and events!