Fuck me it’s my favourite time of year. Not because of that whole Christmas thing, though that’s fine too. This is something better than that. I GET TO TALK ABOUT MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR. *AND* IT IS WORKBOOK SEASON!
If you’ve been around these parts for any length of time, you’ll know this is an annual tradition I’ve been doing since 2012. You can find all the yearly book lists here.
As always, this is not a list of the best books published for the year – just the books I read in that year. As they say in High Fidelity, the records are organised autobiographically.
AND… for a special bonus… I’ll even throw in my favourite TV shows + courses this year too. DON’T SAY I DON’T SPOIL YOU.
You can also listen as a podcast episode below, if that’s more up your alley!
How many books I read in 2020
First up: the big question! How many books did I read this year?
Last year was a record – I read over 400 (!!!) books. And I was suuuuuper excited to make that happen.
But then we were evacuated from a bushfire, and then the rest of Australia was engulfed in a bushfire crisis, and then we fell into the new reality of Pandemic World. Not to mention that whole fucked up American election cycle.
All that trauma, anxiety and communal stress contributed to my brain shutting down. It felt like my brain was exhausted already just from taking in all that new information. And for the first time in my life, I found myself unable to read for months at a time.
Instead, all I could manage was re-reading old favourites like a comfort blanket, and waiting for it to pass (I’ll tell you which ones they were as well!)
All up, I read 130 books this year… nowhere near last year’s record, but still a glad effort!
WHAT FORMAT I CONSUMED BOOKS IN
60% of the books I read were on Kindle
35% of the books I read were paperbacks
5% were Audible audiobooks
I’m still working my way through the last piles of paperbacks I’ve had for years & needed to read. Once they were read, I gave them to friends or donated them to our local charity.
Next year I will probably move to even less paperbacks – I really do prefer reading on the Kindle Paperwhite with built in backlight. It’s easier on the eyes & hands, and now I am middle aged, THESE THINGS ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO ME.
KINDS OF BOOKS I READ
I have been subsisting on a literary diet of business, personal development, social justice, graphic memoirs and romance for years now… that stayed the same with no new additions.
RIGHTO! THAT’S ENOUGH PRE-AMBLE!
LET’S TALK BEST BOOKS!
The Way Home – Mark Boyle
I loved Mark’s previous book “The Moneyless Man” about his year living without money.
In this book, he takes the experiment further and lives completely without technology.
It’s riveting and beautiful and a little bit heartbreaking too.
Protecting the Gift – Gavin De Becker
This was an awesome read about protective parenting. It’s not a FUN read, mind you, but an important one nonetheless.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson
What happens after you’ve been “cancelled”. Jon interviews a bunch of people who’ve had it happen to them – from tweets getting them fired to having their sex tapes released. Insightful, touching and sobering.
The Million Dollar One Person Business – Elaine Pofeldt
Honestly, I just loved this one purely to read about other businesses like mine. It’s so nice to see my kind of business model getting more and more exposure!
Don’t Bother – Millie O’Neill
I bought this at my favourite bookstore hangout just as something to read over my usual chai tea and lemon coconut slice. I didn’t have high expectations, just needed something slightly amusing. This, however, had me full blown public laffing and talking about nonstop for two days. The next time I was in there, I marched up to the counter and told the owner to feature it under a spotlight because it was stupidly funny. A very elderly woman was there, heard me, and decided to buy it purely off my loud proclamation. I have no idea what she thought of it… there is a shit tonne of swearing in it, and stupidly savage sarcasm. I can only hope it was as bright a spark in her day as it was in mine. HO HO HO.
Fuck No – Sarah Knight
Another book bought at River Read just to read over chai tea and lemon coconut slice that ended up being pretty brilliant. An excellent playbook for people pleasers who can’t say no to shit. Kind of like a step-by-step boundaries guide which is warm & amusing all at once.
The Wild Silence – Raynor Winn
I was THRILLED to see Raynor had a new book out… her previous book The Salt Path was so incredible and evocative. I was slightly bummed there wasn’t more hiking in it (which The Salt Path centres around), but I’ll read anything Raynor writes. She has a rare way with words and with living.
Covid-19: Dr Michael Mosley
It felt really good to read a book about Covid when we heard so much conflicting information from so many sources. I liked how it drew on the medical research & data available at that point. It was actually a great relief to read – the virus no longer felt like this great unknown anymore.
I’ve already talked about this a fuck tonne, but just to reiterate: I am NOT a Covid-denier. I did not fall down a rabbit hole of watching Youtube “documentaries”. I didn’t accidentally become a Nazi right-winger conspiracy theorist this year.
I stand on the side of science. And data. And public health. And not being a motherfucking Nazi.
Keep Going – Austin Kleon
I loved it so much I made a poster of his creative rules.
Millionaire Booklet – Grant Cardone
It was a good, short read on money and investing. Full disclosure: I do feel a bit ick about including it here, however. Purely because I ordered more books from his website after reading this, and it arrived in a Grant Cardone branded box with the catchphrase “AIN’T NO VIRUS GONNA STOP US.” It felt like it was straying into MAGA territory. Wooooof. #stillnotsure
Shit Towns of Australia – Rick Furphy & Geoff Rissole
And now for something completely different… this one had me laffing myself stupid while Chris valiantly tried to sleep beside me. It is a travel guide to Australian towns… but instead of pointing out the highlights, it savagely reveals the lowlights. SO GREAT. Wet your tastebuds on their Facebook page and see if it strikes your funny bone!
New Kid – Jerry Craft
A great graphic memoir about an African-American kid navigating a new school. It beautifully illustrates how racism impacts BIPOC on a daily basis in a series of microaggressions. And it’s also just a beautiful memoir of being a creative kid and finding your place in the world.
As soon as I finished, I handed to my 10 year old which she immediately devoured too. You know it’s a great book when you can do that!
Oh goodness. How do I even begin to talk about this adorable comic?
It’s the (fictional) love story of two teenage boys. It’s heart-opening and utterly adorable.
I can NOT WAIT for Volume 4!
BUCKLE UP GUYZ. Because I’m going to say something which could be COMPLETELY CONTROVERSIAL.
So: this graphic novel is HANDS DOWN the BEST WAY I’ve ever consumed Anne of Green Gables.
Better than the original book. Better than the TV series.
I know, I know. It’s hard to beat those.
But holy fuck. This graphic novel. It is… B E A U T I F U L.
The images are wildly stunning, and it is evocative AF.
It was a romantic whirlwind to read this book, and I feel like I disappeared into another place as I read it.
Plus… having more formats of Anne with an E is not a bad thing for this world!
The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui
This was one of Bill Gates’ best reads from a year or two ago, so I bought it for my husband as a gift then.
Seeing as it’s a graphic memoir though (aka my favouritest book genre of ALL TIME), I read it before he did. HO HO HO.
It’s the beautifully rendered true story of a refugee family. It felt startling to experience the Vietnam War through this book. I can’t recommend it enough.
Also: if you think Bill Gates is a lizard paedophile hellbent on microchipping the world with vaccines, you’re in the wrong place babes. Nazi conspiracy theories aren’t my jam. My ancestors died fighting against the Nazi regime, so I’m not going to dishonour their memory by watching a few Youtube “documentaries” during quarantine and accidentally falling down an alt-right wing conspiracy hole.
Go To Sleep – I Miss You – Lucy Knisley
I love every book written by Lucy Knisley, ever. But this one was stunningly good. The perfect gift for new mamas.
I fell down a Debbie Tung rabbit hole this year (the only kind of 2020 rabbit hole I’ll fall down!) and fell madly in love. All her books are glorious and wonderful. Highly recommended for sensitives, ASDs, introverts & book nerds.
The Life Changing Manga Of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
I haven’t read the original book… but a GRAPHIC NOVEL VERSION? GIMME GIMME GIMME.
I hereby suggest all books should have a graphic novel version for those of us who read even better with pictures!
How to Appear Normal At Social Events – Lord Birthday
Another present I bought for Chris and promptly consumed, chortling loudly as I did so.
So very very silly and very very wonderful.
Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression – Teresa Wong
Me too, boo. Me too.
I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf – Grant Snider
A graphic novel about BOOKS you say? How very META.
And RIGHT UP MY ALLEY!
Mama Tried – Emily Flake
Another glorious graphic novel for mamas. I love that our stories are being told like this.
The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mum – Katherine Arnoldi
As it says on the box: it’s the amazing true story of a teen single mum. Ha!
I appreciated how much more empathy it gave me for teen parents who don’t have any support, and the sheer grit & courage they need to get through life.
Making Comics – Lynda Barry
I loved the wonky wild drawings in this book. Like taking a class on creativity with the most irreverent teacher you can dream up. Delicious!
I read both of these back to back in one weekend, so they are kind of superimposed together in my mind.
A horrifying and grim analysis of the prison industrial complex in the US, and how racist it is.
After reading this, Wild Bushman Dad called, and I spent a good amount of time ranting about this.
That’s on HIM for choosing a big ole leftie hippie as a daughter.
I will say though: I couldn’t be more proud of my Dad for NOT being a Trumphead.
In his own eloquent words:
“That Trump… he’s a fucken insane bastard, he is! He’s off his fucken head!”
Gender – A Graphic Guide – Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele
I ADORED their first book: Queer: A Graphic History, so was thrilled to read this one. Like taking a university course on gender but with… you know… PICTURES! HOORAY!
Also thrilled to hear they have A Graphic Guide to Sexuality coming out soon too! EVEN MORE HOORAYS!
Beyond the Gender Binary – Alok Vaid-Menon
I love these little Pocket Change Collective books. Concise and thoughtful essays on important topics. And I squuuued with excitement that Chella Man has one coming out soon too!
Good Talk – Mira Jacob
Oh holy shit this was great. A graphic memoir of conversations about race. Highly highly recommend.
Heavy – Kiese Laymon
Mate, this bloke is an intensely good writer. I’d find myself kind of holding my breath as I read his words. On race, weight, family & all the hard things in life.
Gaysia – Benjamin Law
A hilarious, touching and sobering journey through LGBTQIA+ communities in Asia. Am immediately going to read all his books now!
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns – Archie Bongiovanni & Tristan Jimerson
Short graphic introduction to they/them pronouns. Perfect if you know someone who is using they/them pronouns, or if you’d like to understand non-binary pronouns.
Get A Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert (and allll her books)
And by ALL OF HER BOOKS, I MEAN ALL OF HER BOOKS. I read every last one of them this year… I think 8? Maybe more?
My very favourite part is how intersectional these romance books are. People of colour! People with disabilities! Neurotypical brains in love! It’s.just.delicious.
Plus, they are hot as fuck.
Love Lettering – Kate Clayborn
Another chick I totally read out this year. I started with Love Lettering, and read through her Chance of a Lifetime trilogy too.
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird – Josie Silver
This was a bit more heart-wrenching than I usually go for… but this was too beautiful to resist.
Party of Two – Jasmine Guillory
Jasmine’s books are ALWAYS scrumptious. Have read all of them AND pre-ordered her next one.
Kerry is another new literary love affair for me this year. Holy shit these books were CUTE.
The Cactus – Sarah Haywood
If you’re into Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, this one has similar energy.
Love In Row 27 – Eithne Shortall
It’s the first romance book I read in 2020, and it was suhweeeeet.
When I went through my “Can’t Read Any New Books Because I Have Pandemic Brain”, these are the authors I re-read:
Favourite Online Courses
While we are at it, here’s my favourite online courses I did for the year!
- Katie Chappell’s Bullet Journal Gang
- Ericka Hart Gender 101
- Ericka Hart Racism & Social Justice 101
- Flourishing in Stressful Times with Tara Brach
- Rachel Cargle – Unpacking White Feminism
- Annie Liebovitz – Photography Masterclass
- Louise O’Reilly – Introduction to Culturally Inclusive Language
Favourite TV shows of the Year
There wasn’t any movies I adored this year, but TV shows? BIG TIME.
And I’m still a massive fan of my own books:
I made the Goal Getter workbooks for me, so why wouldn’t I be? And I still use them every single year to plan my big goals & dreams for the year, and make them happen. I usually start mine on Boxing Day, and my fingers are ITCHING to get started!
(Remember, if you want the 2021 Goal Getter planners, they are only available until January 15!)
I wrote my first erotic romance novella this year. I think I’ve read it about a dozen times since then. I can’t get enough! Honestly, I make shit that I’m going to love for me. Anybody else who loves them is just a bonus!
It’s been a big, beautiful year of reading… and I can’t wait for next year!
May these words nourish & inspire you.
Big bookworm love,