10 Books I Loved In 2020

2020 has been a really great year of reading for me – after years of reading for educational purposes, I finally got back into the habit of reading for fun and I’ve really enjoyed it!

This year, I set a target on Goodreads to read 12 books, thinking it would take me a while to get back into the habit, but I surprised myself by finishing 42 books this year – a lot more than I thought!

As a result, I’d like to share my top 10 books for this year. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read them too!


Feel Better in 5 by Dr Rangan Chatterjee

This was the first book I read in 2020 and I’m so glad it was because it set me up well for the year ahead! Dr Chatterjee is most widely known for his podcast Feel Better Live More which I’ve been listening to for about a year now. He’s such an inspiring doctor – someone who really listens and looks at people’s health problems in a holistic manner, promoting wellbeing and mental health tips to fight illnesses. His book Feel Better in 5 is how you can change your life in only 15 minutes every day. Don’t believe it? Read it. It’s amazing!

Insomniac City by Bill Hayes

This is one of the most unique books I’ve read. Filled with snippets of diary entries and black and white photography from across New York, it was a very real account of what it was like for Bill in the final few years of his life with Oliver Sacks, who was suffering from cancer. I loved how this book was like a snapshot into lots of different people’s lives, and I really did feel consumed by the New York bubble he portrayed, feeling a little lost when I came out the other side.

View full book review here.

Outline by Rachel Cusk

Again, such a beautifully unique book. I really can’t describe Cusk’s writing style, but it completely blew me away. There is a certain honesty and exposure of human life in the work she produces that delves deeper into what it is like to think and feel in the world. It is philosophical, like a stream of consciousness, and bursting with questions and reflections. I remember reading this one in a matter of days!

View full book review here.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Before anyone asks, don’t worry, I had read this book previously! It had been a few years since I studied it for A levels so during lockdown I dug it up, re-read it and it was just as wonderful the second time! I remember sitting in the blazing sun in the garden during the summer heatwave whilst reading it and reminiscing on all the quotes I would write endless essays about. It was nice to read it just for what it is, to soak it all up for my own purposes. It’s one of those all-consuming books, and the Baz Luhrmann film is a brilliant adaptation!

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

There are so many things to say about this wonderful book! Another lockdown read for me earlier this year, this really got me thinking about what it means to truly live. Beautiful, heart-breaking and all a true story, this is one of those books I will forever be recommending to everyone I know!

View full book review here.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I started this book very much hoping it would live up to all the amazing reviews, and it certainly did! There is an internal conflict to the characters in this novel – you find yourself debating who to believe, who to root for, and who to ultimately side with, but there is no right or wrong. It’s a book full of honesty yet secrets, love yet misunderstandings. The relationship between mother and daughter is explored brilliantly, and, although hesitant at first, I ended up loving the TV adaptation of it too.

View full book review here.

The Humans by Matt Haig

This was another re-read for me this year, because it’s one of my all-time favourite books! Funny, honest and so heart-warming, this book may have a super weird premise, but it’s ultimately a reflection on what it means to be human and how important the people in our lives really are to us. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around, so can confidently recommend this one!

View full book review here.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, makes a second appearance in this blog post! That’s because I’ve been on a bit of a spree collecting and reading his other books. Although Albom has a very simple writing style, I love the philosophical concepts to his books and they really touch upon the important aspects of life – what it means to be alive, and how we find meaning in the way we relate to and help others.

View full book review here.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

And Matt Haig makes a second appearance too, but I’m not surprised about this one! I’ve reviewed 7 books of his on my blog so far, and I never seem to stop! The Midnight Library is his most recent publication and it might even be his best yet. When Nora enters the Midnight Library, she can take out any book and go back to a life she would have had if she’d made a different decision. Reflecting on regrets and the search for a meaning to life, this book is truly amazing, and the overall message is something I really relate to.

View full book review here.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

I don’t think I’ve ever had such a change of heart from the beginning to an end of a book. Eleanor is such an odd yet unique character and the more I read, the more I wanted to understand what it must be like to be her. This book was a wonderful reflection on what it means to be lonely, how important human connection is, and how to overcome past trauma – sometimes all we need is just someone to listen and stand by us, no matter what.

View full book review here.

What’s your favourite book you’ve read in 2020? (or top 3, if you can’t decide!)

Let me know in the comments below!


The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom [Book Review]

During lockdown, I read the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and was blown away by how inspiring and emotional it was. I knew straight away that I wanted to read more of Albom’s books, and so that’s how I stumbled upon The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

What I love about Mitch Albom’s writing is that, although it’s very simple, it encourages a lot of inner reflection. I find myself viewing my life through a different lens and finding meaning I didn’t realise was there. It keeps me philosophising and thinking and feeling in new ways, and that’s one of my favourite things to do.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven was no exception. Set in the afterlife of Eddie, an eighty three year old war veteran, his seemingly unimportant life is explained by five people who were in it, from loved ones to strangers, each one unravelling a deeper meaning. Every person he meets in heaven has a lesson to teach him.

I think this book, similarly to Tuesdays with Morrie, has endless amounts of potential to teach people how to find their place in the world. It touches on the very real notion that sometimes, as humans, we feel like we are just living every day the same. We become consumed by habits and mistakes and emotions, amongst the good of course, but sometimes we reflect and wonder how much impact we are really having on the world.

For me, the overarching message of this book was that everyone has an impactful life, whether they believe it or not. Within the book, Eddie is a man who feels lost in life; he believes he wasted his time working his father’s old job and could have made something better of himself, but it is only once he is in heaven that he realises he impacted the world in ways he had never even considered. The children would not be safe and happy if he had not fixed the fairground rides. His wife wouldn’t be a wife without him. His life was more than just his life. He was part of everybody’s life who he came into contact with.

The book is asking us to find those impactful moments in our own life, to dig deep and really understand where we’re making a difference. We must find our meaning before it’s too late, before we haven’t fully appreciated the mark we’ve left on the world, and the marks others have left for us.

What are the Five Lessons in The Five People You Meet in Heaven?

As previously mentioned, Eddie meets five people during his time in heaven, and I thought it would be interesting to compile all five lessons he learnt, alongside my favourite quotes from the section.

Lesson 1:

“No life is a waste,” the Blue Man said. “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.”

Everything happens for a reason. Nothing and no one is unimportant because everything filters into a meaning, even if it is incomprehensible.

Lesson 2:

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.”

Sacrifices are inevitable. They are part of life. They aren’t always about losing. Sometimes they are about gaining in a different sort of way, but they should never be about regret.

Lesson 3:

“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”

Forgiveness is important – not just for the other person, but for ourselves. Revenge does nothing but fuel the anger inside of us. Forgiveness is what lets the pain go.

Lesson 4:

“Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. Your nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.

Life has to end. Love doesn’t.”

The power of love, beyond the immediacy of physical life. It doesn’t falter with distance or death. It reignites with memories.

Lesson 5:

“The secret of heaven: that each affects the the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”

(My favourite quote of the book!)

Every life is purposeful, meaningful and impactful. We live in a world where lives coalesce – we can’t help it. We share our stories in more ways than we could ever know.

Have you read The Five People You Meet in Heaven?

Or are you inspired by any of the quotes I’ve shared?

Let me know in the comments below!


You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom [Book Review]

This book absolutely broke me, in the best way possible. I started it unsure, questioning whether its simplicity could really have much impact on me, but ended it with so much love and tears for what is such a brave and beautiful story. It is one of the greatest books of all time, I’m sure of it.

Summary

Tuesdays with Morrie, as the cover says, is a story about: an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson.

It is a non fiction memoir, where Mitch recounts his friendship with his old college professor Morrie. They lose contact in the middle of their lives, before reconnecting twenty years later, after Morrie is diagnosed with the disease ALS. Mitch visits him every Tuesday, soaking up the last moments of courage and insight Morrie has: his lessons on how to live.

Tuesdays with Morrie has such a simple premise, but the people and the dialogue behind its pages are simply beyond words. Morrie is such a likeable character – he gives people the time of day, with his whole nature, his whole attention. He is a deep-thinker, always living in a growth mindset, and he is constantly encouraging others to look at their lives from a different perspective.

What I loved about this book was that there was so much content that made me just want to stop, soak it all in, and reread. Morrie has so much useful insight into the meaning of life, and how we should go about living it, that I think there is something everyone can learn from this book, regardless of who you are.

It’s one of those books where I know Morrie will be gone soon – he is withering as time moves on – but I just couldn’t believe how positive he was in his final few moments. It really makes you think about how the way you view the world and the way you live your every day changes everything. If someone who can barely walk, eat their own food, move their own head, can see the ultimate good in the world, why can’t all of we?

I found myself nodding furiously along to all of Morrie’s convictions, a lot of his findings matching up with what I’ve learnt myself over the last year, and it was quite emotional, connecting with a book so much in this way. I wish more books were this honest, this raw, this open to dive into things we don’t often speak about.

This is one of my favourite scenes from the book:

If ageing were so valuable, why do people always say, ‘Oh, if I were young again.’ You never hear people say, ‘Oh, I wish I were sixty-five.’

He smiled. ‘You know what that reflects? Unsatisfied lives. Unfulfilled lives. Lives that haven’t found meaning. Because if you’ve found meaning in your life, you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can’t wait until you’re sixty-five.

‘How can I be envious of where you are – when I’ve been there myself?’

 

Tuesdays with Morrie will make you smile, laugh, cry, and think differently. I wanted to reread it as soon as I’d put it down and recommend it to everyone I know – that’s how I know a book deserves 5 stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5

 

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Have you read Tuesdays with Morrie?

Let me know in the comments below!

You can find me on social media here:

Instagram: @mymindspeaksaloud

Twitter: @mindspeaksaloud

Goodreads: mymindspeaksaloud