I have always loved to read. I vividly remember going to story time at my local library as a young child, completing summer reading challenges through middle school, actually enjoying reading the classics in high school English class, and escaping into books on long solo plane rides as an adult. Reading has been an escape and a challenge I have enjoyed throughout my whole life. Some years I read more than others, but I have set a Goodreads goal for 4 years in a row. It keeps me accountable and helps me prioritize reading time.
I set a goal of 35 books for 2020 at the end of last year (obviously not knowing about the pandemic that was about to hit). So, it’s now the beginning of May and I just finished book 24 of the year. Think I’ll have to change my goal to 50. I’m loving the extra reading time!
I like to share what I’m reading in hopes you find some good reads from my finds. And I love getting book recs, so please send them my way! I’ll keep updating this blog post with my short reviews (very – or you’d be here all day) and star ratings for each book as I finish them. Also a quick note, I am a bit of a tough critic in that I hardly ever give 5 stars. But I also will always give a book 2 stars unless I DNF it. So, I really enjoy all my 3 and 4 star rated books, but those 5 stars are saved for books that impact me in a big way. And as always, if you want to chat with me more about a book below, please reach out!
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (4 stars)
Emotional book to start the year with. I’m a sucker for a good dog story! The characters in this story were really well developed and I definitely shed some tears.
Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl by Jeannie Vanasco (4 stars)
This was heavy and honest. A look at sexual abuse from someone you know. It made me uncomfortable, but I was glad I read it. Probably would have given it less stars if I read it later in the year, but sharing my star reviews from right after finishing the book.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer (2 stars)
Could not get behind this at all!! It won awards and was recommended to me by a few people, but I was so bored. The main character seemed so entitled and I never felt a connection to him. I finished just because I thought it might get better, but honestly I didn’t care for it.
Know My Name by Chanel Miller (5 stars)
I could write an entire blog post on the importance of this book. Hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Chanel’s way with words is stunning, especially in the way she shares such traumatic experiences. I am so grateful Chanel chose to share her story. The power and honesty in this book. I think every single person should read it.
City of Trees by Sophie Cunningham (3 stars)
A nice collection of essays. I liked that it focused on Australia and I share her affinity for trees.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (4 stars)
I need a good fictional story every so often. I enjoy Jojo’s writing. This wasn’t my favorite of her books, but I did enjoy it. Strong female characters.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (3 stars)
I really enjoy historical fiction and this book had high praise from so many people. I found it to be a bit of a let down. It wasn’t bad, but I have read many better WWII era historical fiction novels.
The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma (2 stars)
This is an oof from me. I liked the concept, and I learned a couple good takeaways, but honestly those could have been summed up in about 10 pages. I had to force myself to finish this one. A lot of it felt scattered and unnecessarily lengthy.
All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church (4 stars)
I chose this one randomly from the library shelf and I’m glad I did. The abuse was tough to read about, but I really liked the main character. She was strong and resilient. Interesting story!
Empty Bottles Full of Stories By Robert M. Drake, R.H. Sin (2 stars)
I usually like poetry, but this fell flat for me. Nothing spectacular.
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan (4 stars)
This book was so perfect for me and my stage of life. I am going through a lot of what the author went through when moving to London without knowing anyone. It was relatable and enjoyable.
This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (4 stars)
This story is about the last death penalty death in NZ. Sad, and hard. But I liked learning more about some history over in this part of the world. Well written.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (3 stars)
An erotic, romance novel I could not put down. I liked both main characters and thought the story was enticing. Super quick, enjoyable read.
Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes (3 stars)
Cute collection of stories. I like Jojo (clearly). The Paris stories in the collection were definitely my favorite. She can do a lot in just a few pages.
Nina is Not Ok by Shappi Khorsandi (4 stars)
Another random library pick up that had me glued to it. This story is about a 17 year old alcoholic. Tough, but a little bit sarcastic and humorous. Definitely recommend!
The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman (3 stars)
An interesting story of friendship and love. Quick read and I liked the characters.
Atomic Habits by James Clear (4 stars)
I actually purchased this book because a friend told me it was ‘life changing’. I’m glad I did. So many great takeaways and i know i will refer back to it often.
Alpha Girls by Julian Guthrie (3 stars)
I was so excited about this read, but found it really hard to follow. This is the story of four different women who worked in the Silicon Valley world. I think these women are amazing, but the chapters jumped around from one perspective to the next, one year to the next, and I thought it was confusing. It made it difficult to connect with the women.
The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore (3 stars)
Quick ‘murder mystery’ type fictional story with a ton of music references. Not evolutionary, but I found it enjoyable. Loved all the music notes!
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (3 stars)
I’m a big Gillian Flynn fan. This short story was well written and made me want more. I think that was the point.
The Power by Naomi Alderman (3 stars)
Another novel that was recommended to me by many, that I found disappointing. It was good. But I didn’t get sucked in the way I expected. The first half felt a bit boring. I am glad I finished it and the story is important, but I did not fly through it.
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin (4 stars)
Read this in less than 24 hours. I really like Emily Giffin’s writing style. This book was from different character perspectives as well, but in an easy-to-follow way. Just a realistic, fictional story.
The War on Women by Sue Lloyd-Roberts (4 stars)
Wow. Such a hard read, but a great read. A look at the work of Sue Lloyd-Roberts before she died and both the terrible and incredible things she saw along the way. Tough to get through, but powerful, well-written and important.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (4 stars)
I loved Nightingale, so I was excited to read this one. It lived up to the Kristin hype. A story of love, life and struggle out in Alaska. I shed a few tears. I love her character development.
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (4 stars)
This wasn’t a page turner. If anything it took me longer to get through than most books because I felt pressure to go to sleep instead of reading (lol). But there was a lot of really useful information here. Great for me to share with my athletes as well. I always say sleep is the best recovery tool and this books proves that.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle (4 stars)
I gave Untamed 3.5 stars (rounded up on GoodReads) out of peer pressure I think. Everyone LOVED this book this year. I was hyped. I actually purchased this one instead of getting it from the library because I knew i would love it too, but i actually didn’t. I feel like i had heard most of it through Glennon’s podcast interviews before reading. Not saying there weren’t good parts, but this was a majorly overhyped book for me.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (3 stars)
I think I read this a long time ago, but it was nice to read again. A book you can revisit and feel differently about in a different year. Definitely a classic worth reading.
Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper (5 stars)
“If your rage can do anything for you, I hope it can do for you what it has done for me — help us to build the world we want to see.” My favorite quote from Brittney in this book. I loved her words. Such an important read.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (4 stars)
Rupi is good at what she does. I love her way with words and find myself re-reading her poems all the time.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (5 stars)
4.5 stars. A book everyone should read. I highlighted so many parts of this book and want to share it with everyone I know. These are the discussions we need to be having.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (4 stars)
Conflicting reviews from my friends and I on this one, but I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a quick, relatable fictional story that still addressed important real-life issues. I couldn’t put it down! Overall, I wanted a bit more from the characters, but I did enjoy reading it.
Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life by Archie Roach (4 stars)
I took awhile to read this one. Archie’s story is heartbreaking. This year I really wanted to learn more about the Indigenous People of Australia and Archie really paints the pictures of what his life here has been like. He’s an inspiration.
Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon (5 stars)
Heavy is just that — heavy. Truly a gutting story, but grateful for Kiese sharing his story. Really really important even though I found myself crying more than once while in these pages.
The Yield by Tara June Winch (3 stars)
I am a word nerd, so I was drawn to The Yield because of the dictionary style Aborignal culture was shared. You hear from three different perspectives and it’s a unique way to tell a story. I finished wanting a bit more from it, but I like her style.
The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin (3 stars)
I couldn’t put this one down, but ultimately I did not enjoy it. I like Emily’s books and I was so excited for this one. I flew through the first half, but I just really did not like how she wrote about 9/11 or any of the characters. I was missing the connection piece with this.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (5 stars)
A favorite of the year for me. The first half is kind of slow, but it is a beautifully written story of twin sisters, love and life. A timely story of trying to be who you truly are. I loved it.
Food Fix by Dr. Mark Hyman (4 stars)
Another book I think everyone should read. It reads kind of like a textbook, but it SO educational. It is upsetting. It is hard to get through. But I really appreciate Dr. Mark’s perspective and his approach to health. I always leave books like this wanting to change our entire food system — and that’s the point.
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (5 stars)
Another favorite for me. This story follows the lives of 12 very different characters who are all connected somehow. It’s a long story that makes you want to take your time with it and I enjoyed every page. It is beautifully written, tragic, joyful, entrancing. I loved.
Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (4 stars)
I was sucked in. Sometimes you just need a quick, fictional read. This story dealt with some current issues and I did like the characters. I was actually surprised by the turn it took.
The Long Call by Ann Cleeves (4 stars)
I do not typically read murder mystery or thriller style books. But I borrowed this one from Julia and ended up really enjoying it. I was hooked from the start and want to read the next one.
Something Special, Something Rare (3 stars)
This is a collection of short stories by Australian women. I loved some of them and wanted more from the author and others were a bit boring. Overall, 3 stars.
Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams (2 stars)
Maybe the worst book I read this year? Sorry, but I could not get behind this. It felt drawn out and like the author was really trying too hard. Also found quite a few typos which annoys me. Seemed like it was trying to be so ‘millennial’ by mentioning buzz words, etc.
The Impossible First by Colin O’Brady (4 stars)
This book brings you to Antarctica! What a story. I was hooked and so so impressed with Colin. Really grateful he shared his story with the world. Just wow.
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (3 stars)
I generally like Jennifer’s stories. I was craving another quick fictional read, so I went for this older one I hadn’t read about addiction. It was okay. It kind of felt like I had read the story already or seen a movie of it.
Educated by Tara Westover (3 stars)
Another 2020 disappointment for me. This book was raved about by so many people. And I do agree it is an inspiring story, but after so many other incredible stories of trauma, hardship and overcoming I read this year, this one fell short for me. I admire Tara for sharing her story, but I didn’t feel connected.
North by Scott and Jenny Jurek (4 stars)
I love a good ultra running story. I’ve been a fan of Scott Jurek for awhile and I was so happy to escape to his world for a little bit. Also really loved hearing his wife’s perspective throughout. Her feat was just as impressive as his if you ask me. Really enjoyed this. Made me want to go out and run another ultra.
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (3 stars)
Another Emily book that I read really quickly. I wanted a ‘by the pool’ fiction read for our fake honeymoon and this fit the bill. A sweet story about adoption and relationships. Nothing spectacular, but a good, quick read.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, Neil Smith (4 stars)
This took a little to get into, but I ended up crying at the end. I read this during a road trip and I was just so invested. Something about the characters and the emotions really go to me. I loved it.
Brain Wash by David and Austin Perlmutter (2 stars)
A non-fiction book about taking care of yourself.I wanted to like this, but I felt like I didn’t learn anything new. It is great information, but I wasn’t surprised by any of it. Just seemed pretty common sense. But doesn’t mean it isn’t good advice to follow.
Home Body by Rupi Kaur (4 stars)
Rupi’s newest. I really really enjoyed it. Her friendship poem had me in tears. Again, she is just so good at what she does.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams (3 stars)
I liked Queenie. The writing was enjoyable and it was a quick story to get into. I finished wishing I had a bit more from the characters, but I did like it.
Braving the Wilderness:The Quest for True Belonging by Brene Brown (3 stars)
This one was disappointing for me. I love Brene. And I probably should not have read this one of her books first. I get what she was trying to say, but it kind of seemed like an afterthought book to me. It came out in 2017 and with a 2020 lens on it, it just felt a little off to me.
Practicing the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (3 stars)
A good dose of inspiration to live in the now. This is a reminder I have been needing. A little bit preachy, but I liked what he was saying for the most part.
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (4 stars)
A book of prose telling the story of two teenage girls. I loved the style, the way feelings were described and the uniqueness. I felt like I got to know them.
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle (3 stars)
Read this one in less than 24 hours. I really wanted to know what happened and I enjoyed getting to the end, but the end left me a little let down. No spoilers, but I was just bummed to get to the end. It’s a little like reading a romantic comedy, but not in the way you’d expect.
And that’s it for the year so far — all 55 of them. I’ll keep adding to this list if I finish more the end of the year! Xx.
Thanks for all the great recommendations!
[…] I want to keep a running list of the books I read this year, too. Just a quick star rating and short review for each book. You can check out 2020’s list here. […]