Books I Love: Five Books That Changed My Life in 2020

Consider this list of amazing books my favourite books of the year, but also note that there are many more books I read and loved this year that aren't on this list. I've been a bit slack at keeping up with the books I've read and loved on Goodreads, but some of them are there. I'd love to go back to writing book reviews one day on this blog, but for now let's just stick to the very best of the best books of my 2020.

When I say that these books changed my life I'm not over-exaggerating. They are all works of art and works of power, and I have already recommended them many times to many people, and today I am recommending them to you. Here we go!

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Five Books That Changed My Life in 2020

The below books were not released in 2020, because I am not that up to date in any shape or form. The good news is that they are and will be as relevant now as when they were published, but it's also true that a few of them will have new updated versions coming out next year so you may want to be aware of that.

You can buy all these books via the links below or on my shopping lists, namely this one for those of you in North America, and this one if you're in UK or Europe, where I've also added a handful of the other books I have enjoyed this year. Outside of these regions, I'm not sure how shipping works, but I think there could still be international shipping options depending on which particular indie shop you are buying from via the site. I choose to link to Bookshop (and other online bookstores other than the one that starts with an A) so that I can support indie booksellers as much as possible.

The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor - This is absolutely the number one book that changed my life in 2020. Reading this book, especially the first few chapters, felt like learning to breathe again, or maybe just seeing things a little clearer, because it really did bring so much clarity and several light bulb moments as Sonya Renee Taylor's words and specifically, her introduction to the concept of body terrorism made me re-think so many of my own viewpoints and experiences.

This book gave me a methodology and a vocabulary to finally see the whole world - and its many, many destructive forces - as it is, and how we dismantle it both in ourselves and then the people and systems we connect with.

Buy it now on Book Depository / Wordery or Bookshop UK or Bookshop USA.

Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Currey - Like many of us, 2020 was not a year where I felt at my creative and productive best, and following the immediate effects of the pandemic on my travel blog's income in March, it took me many months (of having both my children at home with me all day every day) to find a rhythm that felt anything like creative or productive, and yet, when I read this over the summer, finishing it just as my eldest was going back to school full-time, I felt real hope and real motivation to move my writing and my creativity to the top of my To Do List again, and I fully credit this book with giving me the fuel to do so. 

Highlighting the many ways many different accomplished female artists and writers have "got their work done" sometimes alongside, sometimes in spite of, and sometimes blissfully ignorant to any of the many obstacles working women encounter - domestic chores, husbands/partners, children, societal expectations - this book made me see just how varied our paths not only are but really should be. How we work, and how we create, is unique because we are unique. This book (and my week of fun) was really the catalyst for me getting Lover Mother Other published this year, so yes, I am incredibly grateful for this book.

I also appreciate how it was a follow-up to the original Daily Rituals book the author published a few years previously which I liked immensely, but as he pointed out in this book, it was very skewed with mainly white males featured, most of which were those who could only do their work with the support (willing or otherwise!) of women.

Buy it now on Book Depository / Wordery or Bookshop UK or Bookshop USA.

The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit - Once upon a time when we could do wild things like sit in a cafe for hours on end, surrounded by strangers, sometimes knocking knees with one or two, sipping lattes and browsing a stack of books that were sitting on a shelf nearby, I took a break from my laptop and picked up this book because the cover was pretty. It was in my favourite cafe in Amsterdam and it took me a long time to return to my work again. That was a few years ago now but I couldn't stop thinking about this book, so I treated myself to a copy last Christmas.

Consider it both a bible of different flavours and their many magical combinations but also very essential inspiration for preparing and researching meal times. And let's be honest, I think we all struggled to summon energy and enthusiasm for this in 2020, so yes, this book changed, or rather, saved my life and possibly my children's lives this year!

Buy it now on Book Depository / Wordery or Bookshop UK or Bookshop USA (where it's also available in Spanish!)

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo  - I read this book, or at least the majority of it, when my second son was born, so just under two years ago. While that period of time wasn't as blurry as the post-partum period that followed my first baby's arrival, I clearly was more exhausted than I remember as 1) I found myself buying this book as a hardcover a year later totally forgetting I had already read it on my Kindle, and 2) it wasn't until I was at least a quarter of my way in that I remembered, and then later, at about 3/4 in I realised I hadn't actually finished it.

However, I have NO regrets at all that I now own this book in hardcover and that I have read it 1.6ish times. I am almost certain I will read it again and not before long. The reason this book changed my life is because it confirmed so many things I've been learning about and researching regarding racism and anti-racism work that I committed to in 2020, but also it brought to life much more about our bias, about our misunderstanding of race and history and love. And it did so in a truly vibrant and original way, which also spoke to the writer in me. This book gave me as a human guidance to dig deeper and commit again and again to anti-racism learning, as a reader, it gave me the gift of many beautiful interwoven stories, and as a writer, it gave me permission to write stories, however I want, when I want.

Buy it now on Book Depository / Wordery or Bookshop UK or Bookshop USA.

Black and British by David Olsuwoga - This book was life-changing for many of the same reasons I touch on above. I read Natives by Akala a few years ago and while this touched on many of the same events and eras in British history - I am now reluctant to say Black British history when it really is ALL our collective British history - this book goes much, much deeper. I also found it more atmospheric, more profound and more emotive thanks to the author historian David Olsuwoga's writing style and to his inclusion of personal experiences.

While you may think this book is really just for British people, I would say this is wrong. Britain's history of colonialism and empirical rule (and the subsequent hangovers this has caused) are by nature worldwide and far-reaching. Please consider this book if you're in a mindset where you want the many missing pieces of the puzzle back so you can feel more informed about not only one nation's history but about how intrinsical it was and is to our current world order.

Buy it now on Book Depository / Wordery or Bookshop UK or Bookshop USA.

Aaaand because it did indeed change my life this year, I'm going to add in my own just published book Lover  Mother Other. You can read more about what the book is about here, and you can buy your own signed copy here, or get an ebook copy here. It's also available as a paperback or ebook on Amazon. And don't forget I also have some very gift-suitable Lover Mother Other merchandise including mugs, tote bags, T-shirts and art prints! Read more about why I did merchandise for my book, and how I chose sustainable production and products as much as possible.

And if you'd like to save or share this reading list, here are some images you can pin:

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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