Just a brief note – I’m planning to follow this up with my review of 2020 in general, so this reading round-up might be a little shorter than usual. Rest assured, there’s going to be plenty of rambling from me in the next few days to keep you going!
It’s my last monthly round-up of the year! I’m quite proud to have stuck these out – the last time I tried doing something similar was early in 2016, and I had to stop pretty quickly because I got pregnant, and it would have let the proverbial cat somewhat out of the proverbial bag if my blog had suddenly been full of pregnancy books and stories about baby groups. I’ve been doing them now since we went into the first lockdown, back in March, and let’s face it, there’ll probably be one or two more of those before this whole pandemic delight is over.
I wasn’t expecting to read much this month – I’m working full-time now, plus of course it was Christmas. But I got in a thoroughly respectable number anyway. Disclaimer: I’m including one book in my total that I haven’t quite finished yet, because I know I’ll definitely be done with it before the month is out (if not before the day is out, the speed I’m getting through it). I’m a couple of days early with this post this month after all, so I can fit in my round-up of the year before it ends.
I think I’ve only read one actual physical book this month – I’ve been running around far too much to be hefting hardbacks around. But I’ve been using my new, beautiful iPad to great effect. My poor old Kindle Paperwhite has been on its last legs for a while now (when you’re really into a story, you don’t want to be waiting three seconds for each page to load) so I decided to treat myself last month, justifying it as a NaNoWriMo tool as well as a reading one. It’s certainly been worth its weight in gold already.
I’m not going to reveal my final total for 2020 here, I’ll save that for my full year-in-review (ooh, the suspense). But I’ve read ten new books this month, and reread two. I genuinely meant to reread more, in preparation for deciding on my ultimate favourite reads of 2020, but I realised I wanted to get some new, cosy festive books in before the season ended. So I’ve been kind of skim-rereading instead, for the most part.
So, what have I been reading?
Ten Things About Writing – Joanne Harris
It’s been a long time since I read a writing guide, but I saw some of my favourite authors raving about this on Twitter. I thought it might be a good one to have a look at. I didn’t realise it would end up being my favourite book this month. Joanne Harris wrote Chocolat, among other things, and is an active presence on Twitter discussing the ins and outs of the writing process. This book is pretty much her advice from Twitter condensed into book form, and it’s just great.
The book is set out as a series of lists, each one featuring ten writing tips along a variety of topics. It’s chatty and witty, and so easy to just dip in and out of. A lot of it is common sense, but it’s the kind of common sense you can lose after staring at your own book for so long everything starts to look fuzzy. After winning NaNoWriMo last month, I didn’t want to lose track on the book I’ve been writing, and I think Ten Things About Writing has really helped me keep it firmly in my mind and not immediately stray onto other things just because November is over.
One slightly less content-y point: I LOVED the presentation of this book. It’s got gloriously silky pages and a nice little purple bookmark ribbon. Despite the fact it is just essentially lists of tweets put into a book, it really feels like thought and love has gone into it. Also, the author has just found out she has breast cancer, so I’d like to urge you all to send good thoughts her way.
And some more…
Get A Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert
This was one of those ‘Bookstagram made me do it’ choices, and I’m so glad I listened. This is just one of those ‘nothing much happened’ love stories… and I’m a right sucker for a ‘nothing much happened’ love story. It’s all about the characters: Chloe and Red. Chloe, in particular, is fabulous – a black, plus-sized woman suffering from a chronic disability.
But although her disability drives a lot of the plot, it’s not everything there is about her. She’s a vital, passionate human with fears, wants and desires. So often in books a character with a disability is just thrown in for the sake of diversity, with nothing beneath the surface. Chloe Brown is not that token character, and her story is smart, sexy and heart-warming.
I was very excited to find out that Talia Hibbert has also written books about Chloe’s sisters, Dani and Eve, one of which is out already and the other of which comes out next year. I’ll be reading them both for sure.
The F*ck It Diet – Caroline Dooner
I wouldn’t one hundred percent call this an ‘enjoyable’ read – but it was definitely fabulously insightful and one that I think everyone should read, particularly this time of year. It’s aimed primarily at chronic yo-yo dieters but can definitely apply to anyone feeling a bit wobbly about their body image (definitely something to be aware of at a time of year when we’re bombarded by diet adverts from all directions).
This book doesn’t only delve into attitudes around food and the science around the starvation caused by binging and dieting; it aims to realign your entire psyche and make you feel better about yourself as a whole. It’s no-nonsense (and sweary) and will make you want to burn every Slimming World membership you’ve ever even thought about signing up for (I’ve had three Slimming World leaflets through the door between Christmas and now, and it’s only December 29th – they can all get in the sea).
And the rest…
How To Build A Girl – Caitlin Moran
I Am Not Your Baby Mother – Candice Brathwaite
One Family Christmas – Bella Osborne
Born A Crime – Trevor Noah
The Little Christmas Shop On Nutcracker Lane – Jaimie Admans
One More For Christmas – Sarah Morgan
This Time Next Year – Sophie Cousens
Plus a couple of rereads…
Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston
More Than A Woman – Caitlin Moran
All in all, a very productive month, don’t you think?
Now, I’m going to have to get back to thinking about what I want my top books of 2020 to be. This may have been an absolute cop-out of a year for everything else, but it’s been a fabulous year for reading and I’m already looking forward to writing my monthly round-ups in 2021!