I am a voracious reader. But this year more than any other in my life, I realised just how much books/reading meant to me. I needed them for comfort, solace and inspiration.
I wish I could say I have listed my favourite fiction books below, but I haven't, as I rarely read fiction (but is something I want to embrace more in 2021). At the start of lockdown my intention was to read travel memoirs and travel fiction. But as you will see below that didn't happen.
So I have only listed non-fiction books below; the books that really helped me get through this "annus horribilis"
I only recently found this book having discovered this monk's You Tube channel. His short little videos are amazing; nothing too heavy but enough to get you thinking throughout the day. Likewise, this is exactly what his book is like. Nothing heavy. It's about a conversation with a rich friend as they are stuck in Mumbai's traffic. He distils his experiences and lessons about life in a really light-hearted, thought provoking way that will help you align with the life you want to live.
Ikigai is the Japanese word for a reason to live. When I lost someone very close to me from covid, I could feel myself going slowly into the quicksand of hopelessness, and this book helped pull me out. I also listen to this regularly on Audible.
I love this writer. A former Harvard lawyer turned spiritual life coach. What more could I need during a pandemic? But in this book Tama proves that the moment your plans fall apart is precisely when your true destiny begins. With her guidance you can take hold of the blessings and hidden opportunities within uncertain transitional periods and begin to move forward.
Renowned Zen master and Buddhist monk explores the origins of fear and offers detailed practises on how to deal with its often toxic presence in our lives. It's a book to be savoured and read a little bit each day (or at least that was how it worked for me; I read a chapter before bed as a way of clearing all the debris from my mind that had gathered during the course of the day). It's not an easy read, but a worthwhile endeavour.
Sometimes when you are having a "pity party" it's great to read about those that have overcome so much worse, and this biography is one such book that kicked me back into reality. It is the story of Lauren Manning who was literally burned alive in the 9/11 attacks. But it is not a morbid read. It's a book of hope, triumph and the body's will to stay in this world.
This book reads like a fictional story but it is in fact a Neurosurgeon's memoir on how he was taught about mindfulness and compassion. He examines the science behind mindfulness and why the skills he learned now help him to think fast and stay calm in the operating theatre, He shows us what is possible when you start to change your brain and heart. I loved this book so much being a Neuroscience "nerd". But I think anyone can pick this book up and glean so much from it.
Buddhism has been a central part of Tina Turner’s life for decades. Drawing from the lessons of her own experiences–from rising out of adversity to stratospheric heights–Tina shows how the spiritual lessons of Buddhism helped her transform from sorrow, adversity, and poverty into joy, stability, and prosperity. I am loving this book SO much that I am also listening to it on Audible. It's a book that made me feel anything was possible; any obstacle could be overcome and always leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling of optimism and joy.
I first read this book back in 1996 just before getting married (I think I saw Dr Gary Chapman on Oprah), and can fully understand why it has been on the NY Best-sellers list for 8 years and has sold 11 MILLION copies.
I knew that lockdown was going to be testing for any relationship even though my Husband and I rarely argue. Altho' my Husband and I are used to being/working together all the time, I also knew this time was going to be very different. This book gave me the marriage I wanted 25 years ago before I walked down the aisle, and is still as powerful now. There are also editions for singletons and children. It really works!!
Dr McGonigal shows how movement is intertwined with some of the most basic human joys and why it is a powerful antidote to the modern epidemics of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. She illustrates her findings with stories of people who have found fulfilment and belonging through activities like running, walking, dancing, swimming and weightlifting. Her examples span the globe, from a hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania, to a dance class at Juilliard for people with Parkinson's disease, to volunteers in London combining fitness and community service, athletes pushing the limits of human endure with races in the wilderness. The result is a revolutionary narrative that goes beyond familiar arguments in favour of exercise, and highlights the human capacity for hope, cooperation, and self-transcendence, complete with guidance on how readers can harness the power of movement in their own lives and communities.
I loved this book and again listened on Audible also. I needed this during 2020 because exercise/working out is not something I automatically want to do. I am not a gym-bunny. I will always choose something else rather than working out. Even the ironing!!! But this book motivated me daily to keep moving. The stories were just so inspiring that I felt I just couldn't not give my body the daily movement it deserved, even whilst in lockdown.
So there you have it! Some of my favourite books of 2020-a year like no other. I hope it gives you some ideas for your next pick, and maybe a book you would have never otherwise considered.
Here's wishing us ALL a better 2021, and I will see you on the other side.