My top 6 books, 2020

What have you been reading during 2020?

I don’t read as many books as I’d like to, but alongside reading for pleasure, I also have the responsibility to read the books of my mentees, as I work with them.

It’s a responsibility I thoroughly enjoy, but takes up a lot of time, which is my excuse for not reading more than I do.

I’m also writing my first full-length book, which also takes up time, and I don’t want to read books that will influence my own story.

Some of these books and authors may already be known to you, but hopefully, I may introduce you to a new author.

In reverse order, my top six books for 2020:

6.“The Seagull” –by Ann Cleeves

This is a DI Vera Stanhope case.  I haven’t watched this on TV, mainly due to not being a fan of Brenda Blethyn, however, I absolutely loved the book. The description doesn’t fit the latter at all which meant she didn’t leap into my mind whilst reading it!

It’s the story of a cold case, re-opened due to information from a former police officer, who is now in prison.  Vera finds that the case is a lot closer to home than she would like, and opens up all sorts of memories from her past.

Ann Cleeves keeps you interested and avidly turning the pages, despite there not being a great deal of action throughout the book. Her writing is engaging.

5. “Who am I?” – Lenny Henry

I loved this book!  I had to keep reading it and finished it very quickly. Because Lenny is so well known by us all, when you read, you can hear his voice; particularly when he is quoting his mum!

It is fascinating reading about his life as a young lad, going through puberty, on the road as a stand-up comic, away from home, and in a completely ‘white’ environment.  Separated from his own community at a time when he needed support and guidance, you can understand why his book asks the question ‘who am I, again?’

The last part of the book offers tips for young comics going into the business.

There is much in the book that resonated with me, having spent all these years with Conrad; I can see his family in the book too, there are many similarities, due to their shared West Indian background.

This is a funny, thoughtful and questioning book of how we see ourselves, and others. I can’t wait to read the next chapter of his life.

4. “My sisters Keeper” by Jodi Picoult

The subject matter of this book is a controversial subject, dealt with in a sensitive way. 

Anna hasn’t been given any choice about her life, in her thirteen years on this earth. She was born to be her sister, Kate’s bone marrow donor. She has given her far more over the years, but when she is told she has to give Kate one of her kidney’s, she makes a decision that changes the family forever.

It is an emotional book, both beautifully and thoughtfully written. 

Throughout the book, the story is told from different characters aspects; how they feel how they act, how they cope with the situation in which they find themselves.

In one of Anna’s chapters, there is the most exquisite description about how humans made their way to earth, which Jodi Picoult describes as ‘if there was a religion of Annaism’. Absolutely beautiful writing.

It is one of those books that you can read and re-read, and I feel I need to.

3. “Listener” by Lemn Sissay (poetry)

Lemn Sissay is an amazing wordsmith, and the poetry in this collection is funny, clever, inventive, touching and incredibly enjoyable. His poetry is accessible and can be read many times over.Many of the poems in this collection take on extra meaning, having read about his life in ‘My Name is Why’. You can see how the tragedy of his childhood has impacted on his writing. Yet, despite the way he was treated as a child by the authorities, he has a wonderful sense of humour and has survived to become a successful and loved poet. 

2. “The Secret Life of Bees” also by Sue Monk Kidd

This is my second book by Sue Monk Kidd.  This is her first novel, and what a book for a first novel!  

The heroine of the book is Lily, who at 14 years old has grown up believing she killed her own mother when she was four years old.  After a racial incident where her only friend, Rosaleen, a black servant is arrested, Lily takes things into her own hands, and they escape. They find haven in the home of three beekeeping sisters.

It is the most magical story, and I couldn’t put it down.

The book has been adapted for a film in 2008, which I haven’t seen, staring Dakota Fanning as Lily, with Jennifer Hudson as Rosaleen, and Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo as the three sisters.

And at the number one spot: 

  • “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

This is one of the best books I’ve read for ages!  I couldn’t put it down, and couldn’t wait to read the next chapter.

It is the story of Hetty, and Sarah.  When the book opens, Sarah is the eleven-year-old daughter of a slave owning family, living in Charleston. Hetty is the slave that her parents give to her as an eleventh birthday present.

Sarah doesn’t agree with slavery, and instead of treating Hetty in the manner expected, they begin a relationship that keeps them together throughout their lives. Sarah is also ahead of her time, in the sense of needing her own freedom as a woman.

The historical aspects of life at the time are recounted with great keenness, and Sue Monk Kidd’s story keeps you intrigued.

You must also read the end of the book, after the last chapter, because that adds to the story.

I bought two more books by her, because I loved this so much.

I have a new pile of books ready for 2021. Have a Happy New Year, and enjoy reading too.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul” – Cicero