20 books in 2020

I was never described as a reader, but in college audiobooks and I clicked. Since then I have been discovering the reader within me. Rachel Hollis’ Girl Wash Your Face was my introduction to self-development and I was hooked. Since then my library consists of a sprinkling of everything and a whole lot of self-improvement.

Once I had the idea of 20 books in 2020, I asked friends what books they would recommend. In addition to discovering some titles that wouldn’t have been part of my year otherwise, I also realized I was a little embarrassed to ask. I had a negative associated with being seen as an avid reader that I wasn’t aware of previously. There was a clenching “am I going to come off as ‘that person’ showing off that she reads self development books”. Logic prevailed with “while you feel fearful of a judgmental reaction, you haven’t yet given the person a chance. Let’s not live in a headspace for assuming the worst and bailing, give it a shot, you’ve got more to gain than lose.”  

After mustering up the courage to ask a few friends, I am happy to report I was not met with any looks of disgust. Even with those repeated successes that little voice still said “but maybe this person will judge you – be careful.” My next step: start a book club, for the second time. 

At the start of quarantine a good friend and I, both seeking connection in a way that was safe given all the unknowns, initiated a virtual book club. We would read The Girl with Seven Names and discuss over a zoom call a month later. Attendance included one other close friend who she was hanging out with and my Aunt who had gotten a chance to read some of the book. I kept thinking “book clubs are way better with brunch, chick-fil-a and mimosas are the backbone of book clubs.”

We weren’t then jonesing for another call the next month. In fact several months went by before I had any interest in discussing what I was reading. Then I read Glennon Doyle’s Untamed and I wanted input. I didn’t see everything from Glendon’s point of view, but I wanted to know where other people stood on it. The zoom call is set for 9/30 and I am up to 7 chicas interested - full review to come after.

The book list below was compiled from friend recommendations and an assortment of Reese Witherspoon’s and other top major club titles. I have captioned them below and plan to do more extensive reflections as I get enquiries from readers like you. Have you read any of these titles? Are there any must reads on your list you can send my way?

Born a Crime - Trevor Noah’s comedic autobiography was eye opening for me. I became very aware that I had no understanding of what life is like for anyone in South Africa let alone for a mixed child. His perspective on racism felt additionally relevant and amusing tales made it hard to put down.

Hillbilly Elegy - A memoir by J. D. Vance on his family’s values and challenges indicative of their Appalachian roots.

The Girl with 7 Names - The true story of one woman’s escape from North Korean 1997. Her experiences shed light on what life is really like under a dictatorship and being a defector.

Dear Edward - The story of a 12-year old boy navigating life after being the sole-survivor of a plane crash. Author Ann Napolitano examines what it means to grieve and heal. 

Tales of Beedle the Bard - This light read by J. K. Rowling is a collection of children’s stories that are referenced in the Harry Potter series.

Alone with the Stars - A historical fiction on Amelia Earnhart’s disappearance and the interception of her transmission. 

Tell the Wolves I am Home - Set in 1987 this fictional tale describes how 14-year old June’s family navigates the death of her uncle by AIDS and the unlikely friendship it sparks.

Let’s explore diabetes with owls - David Sedaris writes an assortment of short stories including describing  his first colonoscopy under a completely unrelated title. It is funny, curious and… inexplicably elegant in a way?

Eragon - Adventure, magic and a dragon egg. Sometimes that’s exactly the book you need.

Subtle art of not giving a f*ck - A “screw positivity” approach to self-help that cuts the crap and asks the reader to acknowledge what is an deal with it.

Dope sick - First hand accounts of America’s opioid epidemic and where OxyCotin’s introduction in 1996 is leading rural and privileged communities.

Such a Fun Age - More than ever white America is starting to acknowledge everyday social and racial biases. This fictional story reveals the implications of woke wannabes words and actions.

Untamed - Glennon Doyle speaks to the part of us that has been hushed and compressed to get through the day more easily. In this memoir she suggests we are capable of creating a more beautiful life by listening to our knowing and having the courage to trust ourselves.

The year of less - Cait Flanders’ shares all she learned from purging her belongings and taking on a year-long shopping ban. Her authenticity made her journey and growth feel within reach. The seed has now been planted for my own journey of less.

Other titles I have started this year:

  • It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

  • Just Mercy

  • American Dirt

  • Behind her Eyes

  • Audacity of Hope