My Top Five Books From 2020 (so far)

17 Apr 2020

What with a lot of us needing more ways to keep ourselves entertained over the weekends these days, I’ve had a few friends and family members ask me for book recommendations recently. Whilst I feel like I’ve read a lot this year, these are the five books I keep dishing out as my top picks.  These are books that I literally couldn’t put down, books that genuinely made me cry or laugh out loud, books that will stay with me. In need of reading material? Read on…

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins 

Holy moly, I still haven’t caught my breath after reading this book. The very definition of impossible to put down. If you want something that literally races along, then this is your guy. I was hooked from the very first line. A breathtaking story of a mother and young son’s attempt to cross the US-Mexico border after their entire family is slaughtered by a cartel. 

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

My top recommendation if you’re looking for something feel-good in these times of crisis. There’s a reason this book has had a lot of fuss; it’s a bloody delightful story. I picked this up at Kings Cross WH Smith for a bargain when I realised I only had a few pages left of my current book and a train journey ahead of me (remember when we got trains?). I loved it so much that I’d finished it less than 24 hours later. 

Tiffy and Leon have never met but they share a flat, and a bed, in London. Leon works nights and occupies the one-bed flat whilst Tiffy is working 9-5 and then she occupies it the rest of the time. They begin communicating through leftover food and post-it notes and what follows is a story that will seriously warm the soul. Whilst it does tackle themes of a coercive and abusive relationship, it does so sensitively and brings more depth to the story without taking away from the loveliness. This is the best romantic comedy novel I’ve come across in a while and I really hope it’s turned into a film. 

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey 

This is an interesting one to make it onto this list because for the first 2-3 chapters, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to keep reading. This was partly because it immediately felt very sad and I wasn’t sure I was up for something heavy, and partly because it’s a bit of a slower burner. By the time I’d finished it though, I was really moved and I’ve pondered the story a lot since – which is always the sign of a good book. 

Whilst it is never explicitly said, this appears to be a story told from the perspective of someone who has dementia which I found such an interesting concept. Maud is an unreliable narrator; things are repeated, the reader begins to piece together clues before Maud suddenly forgets them and only the reader gets some kind of resolution to the seventy year old mystery Maud is trying to solve. I found it a desperately sad book, full of unique details and a narrative unlike anything I’ve read before.   

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell 

Warning: you’ll need a stiff drink after this one. I raced through it and would highly recommend, but it was not a comfortable read. 

Vanessa was 15 the first time she had sex with her English teacher, exactly 30 years older than her. Now she is 32 and he has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student. Vanessa is forced to reconsider her past and contemplate whether her great ‘love’ story was actually rape. A fascinating look at the complexities of grooming, abuse of power, rape and gaslighting. 

Hard to read, hard to put down. 

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano 

Honestly? I think this book has made its way onto my all-time favourites list, and you need to be pretty special to make it onto there. 

One morning a plane takes off from New York, and crashes on route to Los Angeles. 191 people are killed. 12-year-old Edward is the sole survivor. The story alternates between the day of the crash and the stories of the passengers, and Edward learning to navigate his life in the aftermath of tragedy over the following years. 

Questioning what it means to truly live, everything about this story was poignant and beautiful; I would urge you to add it to your reading list. 

Happy reading folks x