Sunday Shelf Vol. 5

2020 Reading Roundup

Since January 2018, I have recorded every book I have completed, with a few notes of what I thought about each one. My reading journal now has three years’ worth of notes, quotes and musings around the literature I’ve consumed.

I read thirty-seven books in 2020. (In case anyone’s interested, I read thrity-three in 2018 and another thirty-three in 2019.) This year, I’m aiming for forty (and have completed 1.5 to date) but before I start getting ahead of myself, I wanted to release my list of reads for 2020.

Here are ten of my favourites, because I really couldn’t narrow it down any further!

Disclaimer – the affiliate links below will take you to bookshop.org, an online bookshop supporting independent booksellers. I will also earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows

This was a hugely comforting read for me – one that I dipped in and out of and then devoured, in the week culminating in the UK school closures in March 2020. At first I was hesitant, not sure how I would get on with the story being told purely through letters, but in the end I barely noticed. The story is charming in every way: I found myself falling in love with Guernsey and the characters easily.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, on bookshop.org

Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

This was a lovely escapist read. The town of Avonlea, where the book is set, struck me as very like Maycomb (the town in To Kill a Mockingbird) and the two books themselves felt quite similar, although this one is all the calmer for not having morality tied into every plot point.

Anne of Green Gables, on bookshop.org

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

I am in awe of just how much happened in this book. There were so many individual plot points but all of them seemed fleshed out and rich. The settings were so well-described that I felt like I was there, and the character development was exceptional. It’s a book that I wish I could always read for the first time, strange as that may sound, because I wish I could always feel so strongly about it as I did the first time.

The Kite Runner, on bookshop.org

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge

This book opened my eyes and opened my mind, making me re-consider my position of privilege as an educated white woman, and re-consider how I should be responding to acts of racial violence such as those we saw in 2020.

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, on bookshop.org

Becoming, by Michelle Obama

This was an inspirational read and it took me a shamefully long time to read it. But I was so inspired by Mrs Obama’s work ethic and determination – it made me so determined to work hard to get where I want to be, personally and professionally.

Becoming, on bookshop.org

No Ballet Shoes in Syria, by Catherine Bruton

I found this book to be very moving in the way it tackled the Syrian refugee crisis. It’s a middle-grade children’s book, one that I look forward to recommending to children that I teach in the future.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria, on bookshop.org

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy

This book is a masterpiece. It was bought for me by the mum of a child I taught last academic year, and there’s something extra magical about having had it chosen for me. It’s so pure and innocent, but equally deep and meaningful. Everyone should read this book.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, on bookshop.org

52 Time Britain Was A *******, by James Felton

As a self-certified history geek, I loved this book. It’s a riotous history book, kind of a like a sweary Horrible Histories. I couldn’t help laughing out loud as a I read some of it, shocked into laughter by some of the absolute atrocities committed by “Great” Britain. It’s a much needed reminder to all, that the Empire was a horrible idea.

52 Times Britain was a *******, on bookshop.org

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez

From history geekness to rampant feminism now – I didn’t even know that ‘data bias’ was a thing until I read this book, but it infuriated me greatly (and probably infuriated my family greatly too, as I burst into indignant conversations about it at regular intervals while reading!) So much of the world is inherently designed without women in mind, because women were never part of the design process – example: did you know that your seatbelt is not designed to save you, if you’re biologically female? If you think we don’t have a problem with gender inequality anymore, you need to read this book.

Invisible Women, on bookshop.org

One Child, by Torey Hayden

This was a really profound read. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself in for, buying this on the recommendation of a family friend. I only knew that it was a teacher’s (true) account of a ‘difficult’ child. I was so drawn into Torey Hayden’s world and her classroom because it was such a powerfully told story.

One Child, on bookshop.org


I think it’s fair to say that I have extremely varied taste in my reading choices, which can be a blessing and a curse! I wonder what it would be like to walk into a bookshop and make a beeline for a particular section, instead of doing what I do – stand, dazzled by choice at the door before drifting between shelves all over the shop. I mean, it makes my reading life more interesting, but does my bank account no good whatsoever.

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