Top 5 books of 2020

I thought it was time for a short fun post for the start of the year, so here are my 5 favourites books read in 2020. What did you read? What did you enjoyed? Do you have any great recommendations for my reading list for 2021? Please let me know!

I never knew that – Bill Bryson, The Body

As an adventurous traveller, I’ve read (and giggled at) all Bill Bryson’s travel books. However, he’s not just a travel writer, and I really do wish I’d had a teacher like him at school as he can make the most mundane interesting. Not that the workings of the human body are mundane.

The Body made an absolutely fascinating and informative read, with plenty of moments when I needed someone to turn to and say ‘did you know…?’ The section on the transmission of viruses (which was written long before Covid-19!) was particularly interesting.

Work inspiration – Michael Breus, PhD, The Power of When

If you look online, or in most self-help books, most recommendations are to get up an hour earlier, and/or to do your most focused work first thing in the morning. I’m a night owl, and always have been. There’s no point trying ‘reset my body clock’ by going to bed too early as I’ll just wake up shortly after midnight and not get back to sleep. Nor is there any point in trying to force my brain to focus first thing.

The Power of When was, thus, a fascinating read about the best time of day to do almost anything, dependent on whether you’re a lion, bear, wolf or dolphin. (I’m a wolf!)

A fascinating history – Helen Rappaport, Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, 1917

Maybe because I grew up when the Iron Curtain was firmly in place; maybe because I spent my teen years reading every Robert Ludlum and Len Deighton spy story I could lay my hands on, I’ve always been curious about the history of Russia. Two visits to the country haven’t reduced that fascination, so I’m always on the lookout for books about, particularly twentieth-century, Russian history.

 This book looks at the Revolution through the eyes of British and American journalists, nurses, business men and embassy staff, based on letters and diary entries. It is extensively researched and very thought-provoking. Did you know that Emmeline Pankhurst went to Russia in June 1917, in the middle of the revolution, to campaign against Russia pursuing peace with Germany?

An old favourite – Bernard Cornwell, The Flame Bearer

I started reading Cornwell when I was first introduced to sailing and found a few of his sailing stories. After all, a thriller involving boats – what’s not to like?

I then got drawn into the Warlord Chronicles (King Arthur) and the Grail Quest Series as I love ancient English myths and legends. Many years ago I picked up The Burning Land while hunting for something to read at an airport or train station. I thought I’d found a standalone Cornwell (I really should have known better), but unfortunately got hooked, so had to buy books 1 through 4, and so on to the rest of the series. Looking for something to read during lockdown I realised my to read pile contained both The Flame Bearer and War of The Wolf, so The Flame Bearer was a great weekend escape from lockdown madness. (Though can I make a quick plea to Bernard Cornwell – I’m running out of bookshelf space for this series, so please can the story truly end with War Lord!)

Twisted minds and a good body count – Val McDermid, Splinter the Silence

A friend once described my favourite escapist reading as ‘if there isn’t a good body count by page 30, you’re probably not interested’, so this was another escapism session. I love McDermid’s mix of ‘whodunnit’ and criminal psychology, and particularly enjoy any book with, the somewhat awkward, Tony Hill.

Happy reading!

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