I’m sharing the 47 books I read to escape reality, be entertained, and get educated in 2020.
At the beginning of 2020 (before the pandemic), I set a goal to read 34 books throughout the year. At the time it felt like an ambitious goal. I was reading, on average, one or two books a month in 2019. I have hundreds of books on my reading list, so I thought increasing my reading goal would help me work my way through that list.
Less than three months later, the gym where I work closed because of COVID-19. Because the gym is located in a hospital, I was re-assigned to a new job screening patients and visitors for COVID symptoms at the hospital’s entrance.
Before the pandemic, I was teaching about 32-35 hours a week. I could only work 20 hours a week screening, which meant I was at home more than usual. When I worked during the day, I was busy screening. But because screening had to be done 24/7, I ended up working some evening shifts that were slower.
The combination of being home more, being able to read during my evening screening shifts and needing a distraction from the stress of the pandemic, meant that I was reading much more than usual.
As you’ll see, I typically go for non-fiction – biographies, celebrity memoirs, personal/spiritual development, and sociological books.
When I read fiction, I like suspense with female main characters (like Ruth Ware and Laura Lippman), feminist novels, or super light rom coms.
I’m typically reading one physical book and listening to one audio book. I love listening to audio books when I’m cleaning the house, doing dishes, or walking the dog.
Here are the books that I read in 2020:
- American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin
- Inside Out by Demi Moore
- The Trial of Lizzie Borden: A True Story by Cara Robertson
- Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Grey by EL James
- On Being Human: A Memoir on Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard by Jennifer Pastiloff
- To Love and Let Go: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Gratitude by Rachel Brathen
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
- Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back From Living a Better Life by Gabrielle Bernstein
- Stories That Stick: How Storytelling can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business by Kindra Hall
- We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
- Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth More than Anything You Can Buy in a Store by Cait Flanders
- Open Book by Jessica Simpson
- Know My Name by Chanel Miller
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Super Attractor by Gabrielle Bernstein
- Do Less: A Revolutionary Approach to Time and Energy Management for Ambitious Women by Kate Northrup
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
- My Life in France by Julia Child
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
- Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan
- The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates
- I Feel Bad About My Neck (and other thoughts on being a woman) by Nora Ephron
- Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead by Tara Mohr
- Over The Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love by Jonathen Van Ness
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
- Woman Code: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become A Power Source by Alisa Vitti
- Untame Yourself: Reconnect to the Lost Art, Power and Freedom of Being a Woman by Elizabeth Dialto
- We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders by Linda Sarsour
- Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women by Renee Engeln
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad
- The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
- Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
- The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor
- Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain
- Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman
- You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
- Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
- One by One by Ruth Ware
- Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliation, and Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier by Victoria James
- Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
My favorite fiction book that I read was Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn and my favorite non-fiction book was Becoming by Michelle Obama.
My goal for 2021 is to read 40 books. I’ve only read five books so far, which means I’m already behind. I’ve been working 40+ hours a week. I’m teaching Pilates reformer and yoga at the gym about 12 hours a week and I’m COVID screening about 28 hours a week. I only screen during day shifts, which stay busy and don’t allow much time for reading. And, to be honest, I’ve been watching a lot of TV. I’m pretty burned out from the pandemic and working in the hospital, and TV has been an easier way to decompress.
But I’m still going to try to reach my goal. Looking over my list from last year, I plan to be more intentional about the authors I choose to read. I noticed that the majority of the books I read last year were written by white authors. Here are some lists I’m using for recommendations – 50 Must-Read Contemporary Memoirs by Writers of Color, Ibram X. Kendi’s Anti-Racist Reading List, and 44 of the Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime.
I’m also continuing to read more anti-diet books. You can see my anti-diet book recommendations and reading list here.
What was your favorite book that you read in the past year?
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