The most wonderful time of the year is here! For me, that wonderful time is writing this post every year so that I can share some of my favorite reads from 2020! In my 2019 review, the theme was self-development and books that challenged the way we think. This year, I don’t really have a theme, so I’ve just read what I’ve wanted to and finally got around to some novels that have been on my TBR for a while now (because we know THAT’S a never-ending list).
These are the titles that I felt made the most impact and I remembered most. Send me a message or comment on this post a book (or books!) you really loved this year and at least one title you want to read in 2021! I can’t wait to get The Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adayemi and Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Where the Crawdads Sing x Delia Owens
This book… amazing piece of fiction. A true page-turner. Owens goes back and forth between two timelines – 1969, the year of the mystery murder of Chase Andrews and years prior, detailing the life of Kya, AKA “the Marsh Girl” as she is most commonly known by the town. A story incredibly weaved and the coastal marshes of North Carolina beautifully brought to life, it is a story like you will never read- one of isolation, abandonment, and perseverance, the praise for Where the Crawdads Sing is extremely well-deserved.
Limitless x Jim Kwik
As some of you know, over the last couple years I have had an obsessive interest in the science of motivation, performance, and most recently adult learning theory. I read this book in the way it was recommended to read – which was by the Pomodoro technique. For those not familiar with this technique, you basically set a timer (25 minutes) and read as much as you can within that time. After the time is up, you write down everything you remember just reading (as much as you can). Jim provided great lessons and techniques for better memorization, learning, reading, and practices that we’re not often taught in schools or in life. He suffered from a head injury which made it really difficult for him to learn his whole life but he was able to turn it around by implementing even the smallest of habits.
Outliers x Malcolm Gladwell
I started reading Gladwell’s latest book Talking to Strangers in my 2019 review and I continued the trend in 2020. Outliers tells the story of success. An “outlier,” by one definition, is “a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others in the sample.” The essence of this book is diving into different situations where “normal” rules just simply did not apply. Although non-fiction, psychology/science based, I found it really entertaining and thought-provoking – a classic Gladwell technique. Don’t miss out on this one, or his latest Talking to Strangers. The data just makes sense. When it comes to the science of achievement and the way we think about human behavior, maybe the idea of “normal” is just in our heads.
It Ends With Us x Colleen Hoover
This one hooked me from the beginning! The main character Lily is easy to connect with and you find yourself wondering what’s going to happen next at every turn. As soon as you feel comfortable with the way things are going, oh are you in for it. Lily moves to Boston on her own and eventually ends up starting her own business and is pretty successful! It IS a romance novel, but it is so much more than your average “who will she choose” drama. This story weaves together so many emotions. Also a personal reflection of the author’s experience and account of abusive relationships and how even the ones you love end up hurting you the most. I believe it is also being adapted as a film, so stay tuned for that as well!
Little Fires Everywhere x Celeste Ng
You might recognize this title as it is a new series you can find on Hulu! I did not watch the series, and I don’t think I will. The book was great enough! When reflecting on the read, I had only bookmarked one entry which I feel captured the essence of the story. To directly quote from the book, “All her life, she had learned that passion, like fire, was a dangerous thing. It so easily went out of control. Better to control that spark and pass it carefully from one person to the next… happy in captivity. Domesticated. The key she thought, was to avoid conflagration.” What do you think of this passage? There is clearly a real fire set within the book, but one of the characters here is reflecting on her expectations of what it means to live a good life and struggles to understand how anyone can live differently – anyone meaning, her tenant Mia. NG wonderfully intertwines the story of the two families in this bestselling novel.
The Greatest Salesman in the World x OG Mandino
For my readers who are looking for a short inspirational story, this one is for you! It reminded me of Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” as it’s centered on the journey of a young man who wanted to learn how to be the greatest salesman in the world. I read this in less than an hour on an airplane and finished so inspired! Essentially, there are 10 mystical “scrolls” (chapters) that Pathros gives to Hafid, the poor camel boy that ends up living a life of abundance! These are the keys in achieving great success as a not only a salesman, but for teaching discipline and general life lessons to keep in mind for ultimate success.
High Performance Habits x Brendon Burchard
This is a book that gives incredible takeaways. I couldn’t put it down. My personal copy has been tagged with those little highlight stickers so that I know which pages I should look back on when I read it again (again, Ziz!?) Yes, honestly it’s one of those books that shouldn’t just be read once. It is definitely a resource you can take advantage of anytime. It focuses on the HP6 – which are the 6 high performance habits that matter the most in reaching long-term success. Those habits involve clarity, energy, necessity, productivity, influence, and courage. These practices really put a lot in perspective for me and was a huge motivator that ended up changing my level of productivity and putting some thoughts to action. Definitely 10/10.
Essentialism x Greg Mckeown
The disciplined pursuit of less; the way of the “Essentialist.” This is for all my readers who are not following the basic rule of K.I.S.S – keep it simple, stupid. Like the cover of this book, Mckeown breaks down just how you can cancel all the noise and solely focus on the things that are, well, essential. As humans, we are constantly overloaded with information and are continuously running on autopilot because life tells us we need to keep busy, when oftentimes you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. Like it says, it’s the disciplined pursuit of less, so it is adopting better mindset, habits and techniques to doing things better. Some very basic concepts in this book, but still some great insight.
In Cold Blood x Truman Capote
You might know Capote from his other novels, such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s (still #TBR). I chose to read In Cold Blood, and if you are unaware of the content of this novel, it is a documented account of the actual 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family in a small community in Holcomb, Kansas. Often throughout the book, it was so detailed I would at times have to remind myself this is a true story, and every detail of this American crime was researched and investigated by the author himself. An incredible undertaking as an author, and the style of the novel is a literary piece of art. I never knew of the story behind the novel, and this book might not be for many, just putting that out there. It is intense and although you know what’s going to happen, it is still filled with surprise and suspense. For my true crime podcast junkies (yes, you), In Cold Blood is my rec to you.
Jurassic Park x Michael Crichton
Borrowed this book from a friend because I was looking for something different to read, and the book did not disappoint!! Arguably, the book is always better when it comes to comparing the novel to its film adaption- and this is the truth in this case. I’m sure you’ve watched the movie time after time, but really not the same as reading the story as it was first released. Worth the hype. A science-fiction novel that centers on the collapse of an amusement park due to chaos of genetic engineering…. well, you already know the story so I’ll leave you to it!
Now you owe the GZ fam a book recommendation!! Make sure to comment here, or any of my channels letting us know. Can’t wait to hear your recommendations! Be sure to click the Follow button at the right-hand side to be notified of future reviews throughout 2021.
#Bonus Alert: Just a few of other titles I’ve read: A New Breed, We Were Liars, The Woman in the Window, Between the World and Me, Unlearn, And Then There Were None.