Bookshelves featuring The Book Thief

Prepare yourselves to see plenty more bookish content on this blog in 2020! I used to read *a ton* of books as a child and a teenager, and have fallen off the wagon a little over the past few years, I guess largely since I moved out and had to start working blah, blah, blah. But this Autumn, I managed to get myself back into the habit of reading on a regular basis, and even in just a few months of this year I have read so many wonderful books that I have loved and want to recommend to you!

I love to track my reading – I use both The StoryGraph and Goodreads, as well as my own personal reading spreadsheet – because I am nothing if not excessive. I particularly enjoy these beautiful graphs and stats that The StoryGraph gives me to see an overview of my reading habits!

So, what are my favourite books of 2020? 

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (5 stars)

Young Adult Historical Fiction

The Book Thief follows the story of Liesl, a young girl adopted in Nazi Germany – but it is narrated by death. The story explores Liesl’s experience of the war, from her family hiding a Jew in their home, to her father being sent off to war, to the bombing across Germany. This is such a beautifully and cleverly written book which reflects upon the power of words & so many different aspects of death itself. I cried.

Read my full review on The StoryGraph here.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri (5 stars)

Adult Historical Fiction

This book is a fictional retelling of real stories that Christy heard during her time volunteering with a refugee charity in Athens. We follow the story of Nuri and Afra as they flee from war in Syria and make their way to the UK, looking at both their journey and their experience of seeking asylum in England. This book is honestly beautiful whilst sharing such brutal experiences, really shining a light on the plight of refugees and exploring the topic of trauma and how people deal with and heal from trauma.

Read my full review on The StoryGraph here.

The World at my Feet – Catherine Isaac (5 stars)

Adult Contemporary Romance

This book doesn’t actually release until March 2021, so a big thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster UK for enabling me to read this early. I loved this book so would definitely recommend you add this to your wishlist now! This story is a really interesting combination of light contemporary romance, following an Instagram gardener; with much deeper topics including mental health, trauma, adoption, and the awful conditions of the orphanages in Romania in the 80’s and 90’s.

Read my full review on The StoryGraph here.

The Penguin Lessons – Tom Michell (5 stars)

Non-Fiction Memoir

Are we surprised that I loved a book all about a penguin? No. I still can’t get over the fact that this book is a true story – this really happened! We meet a man travelling in Uruguay who finds a penguin washed ashore following an oil spill – the penguin has survived but is covered in oil. The man takes the penguin home, cleans him up and looks after him, but when he takes him back to the beach to release him back into the world – the penguin refuses to leave him. So, the penguin ends up joining him as he travels back to Argentina where he teaches at a boarding school. This is a super fun, light-hearted and heart-warming story about friendship and adventure – and penguins!

Two by Two – Nicholas Sparks (5 stars)

Adult Contemporary Romance

Whilst this book is described as romance, which is kind of what I was expecting from Nicholas Sparks, I would say the romance is definitely just one small element of this story. Instead, Two by Two focuses upon the relationship between a man and his daughter, as his relationship with his wife breaks down. We also explore his relationships with his parents and sister too, making this much more family-focused which I loved. Again, I cried.

Read my full review on The StoryGraph here.

Born Survivors – Wendy Holden (5 stars)

Historical Non-Fiction

This is an incredibly harrowing real-life story of three women who arrived at Auschwitz in 1944, newly pregnant. All three carried their babies and gave birth, all whilst facing concentration camps, slave labour, and the deadly journey to Mauthausen Concentration Camp. These stories have really stayed with me in the months since I read the book – it’s a story of determination and defiance and the will to survive the un-survivable. I cried a lot.

Read my full review on The StoryGraph here.

Digging for Diamonds – Cathy Madavan (4 stars)

Christian Non-Fiction

I did read a few Christian books this year, and enjoyed them (they largely don’t make my favourites of the year, because I find non-fiction has to be so so good to make it to 5 stars because I just generally find them less enjoyable to read). This book uses the different attributes of a diamond and uses them to explore topics around our identity and our purpose. It’s really nicely done, and so easy to read. It also has reflection questions at the end of each chapter for you to use.

Read my full review on Instagram here.

Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo (4 stars)

Young Adult Contemporary (Poetry)

This was the first book written in verse that I think I’ve ever read. It took me a little while to get used to it, but it made the audiobook so beautiful to listen to. This story follows two sisters who do not know about each other until their father is killed in a plane crash and these two families are revealed.

Read my full review on The StoryGraph here.

The Very Best Bible Stories – Tim Thornborough

Children’s Bible Stories

I think these books definitely deserve a mention in this blog post because they are just such lovely books, perfect for the children in your life but also beautiful to read yourself – particularly as the series isn’t limited to the “normal” children’s Bible stories. As well as Noah, Daniel, David etc. there are also books covering the stories of Deborah and Moses – plus there is a book all about the story of Esther coming out in August 2021!

Check out the series on The Good Book Company here.

*Disclaimer: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links. If you shop using these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you very much for supporting our little penguin ministry!*

What are your favourite books of 2020?

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