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Our Best Books of 2020

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Our Best Books of 2020

Nutreats
Our Best Books of 2020

This year Nutreats Book Club, our Book review section really took off thanks to some amazing publishers; Jonathan Ball, Pan Macmillan and Penguin Random House.

 

If you’ve caught the rainbow book background in some of our photos, it isn’t just fun décor – these are titles we have read and reviewed this year. Reading is so important to us. Books have been a constant in our home from birth. Reading was always encouraged and with the ultimate bookworm father and a mother who would take us on weekly excursions to every single library in Joburg, appreciating physical books was weaved into our DNA.

 

Books are the most wonderful form of down time. They transport you to different times and places, expand your vocabulary, teach you new ideas and expose you to different people from all walks of life. Sometimes they’re big and challenging to get through and sometimes they’re just easy escapism.

 

Throughout the year, we have aimed to cast our book net wide, reading more genres than we have before, in order to spread our love of reading as far as possible – there is always a book for everyone. Some have been groundbreakingly excellent, others have been good, others decent and a few select ones we couldn’t quite get through.

 

And that brings us to the groundbreakingly excellent, the one’s we’d recommend without being asked. If you’re looking for a fantastic read, might we suggest you pick up one of the below. These are the books that made a huge impression on us, the ones we couldn’t stop talking about and the ones still linger on in our minds.

 

Educational

 

The Life changing Manga of tidying up by Marie Kondo

It’s a fun read but at the same time incredibly helpful. It was the book that made me get the KonMari method, implement it and truly discover the life changing magic of decluttering.

Read the full review here

 

Factfulness by Hans, Ola and Anna Rosling

One of the most powerful books I have ever read, Factfulness written by Hans Rosling, sets out to teach us how to view the world and the events in it with Factfulness. By uncovering and explaining the ten instincts that lead us to develop our worldview, he teaches us how to overcome being amongst other things, overly fearful, negative and dramatic. He is an exceptionally good writer who managed to create a book based on data and facts (things that you would expect to be boring stiff reading) that was vivacious and a joy to read.

Read the full review here

 

The Trick by William Leith

The trick is a story about money and what it means and takes to be rich through the reflections of a writer who writes about rich people for a living. He is a brilliant writer who grips you from page 1. The rollercoaster journey through his mind, which is akin to the movie Inception, is well worth it when you get to the profoundly brilliant ending.

Read the full review here

 

Joy at work by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

Although the KonMari lessons are the same in all her books, Joy at Work is a fresh take. In it, Marie teams up with organizational psychologist Scott to create a book on how to create Joy at work. By each covering the areas they specialise in (physical clutter for Marie and Digital clutter for Scott) they provide a whole roadmap on how to overhaul your work life.

Read the full review here

 

Fiction

 

Akin by Emma Donoghue

I was in from the first chapter and quickly took to the main characters.  Donoghue incorporates current events and difficult topics like anti-Semitism, privilege and the penal system in a sensitive and thoughtful way that feels authentic to the story and not thrown in for effect. It’s interesting, funny, tender and just flows.

Read the full review here

 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

This was the most surprising book in that it took me a minute to figure out what I was reading. It’s written in short, fierce staccato narrative verses that are emotive and powerful. It’s easy to read but so gripping and unique. I still think about the brilliance of the writing.

Read the full review here

 

The Shelley Bay Ladies Swimming Circle by Sophie Green

It’s a thick book I tore through and adored. It’s a darling book that is heart-warming, poignant and enjoyable and surprisingly relevant for being set in the 80’s. And as someone who loves the moving meditation that is swimming, the inclusion of swimming and the healing properties of water made it that much better.

Read the full review here

 

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abie Dare

At first the broken English voice of the main character threw me off, but this quickly faded as the brilliance of this heart-breaking novel rose to the surface. It’s a captivating page turner, filled with multi layered, complex and convincingly real characters. Most importantly, the hero Adunni, despite her circumstantial lack of education, delivers powerful observations and life lessons that stick with you long after you tun the final page.

Read the full review here

 

A Good Neighbourhood by Theresa Ann Fowler

This book reminded me so much about Desperate Housewives, mainly because of the narration style but also because of the neighbourly backdrop. It has an excellent, unpredictable and captivating storyline. It tackles big issues and is filled with depth while still being an enjoyable read.

Read the full review here

 

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner

One of the best Holocaust / World War Two fictional books I have read. It is a gripping and deeply moving read that is filled with imagination.  It reads like a melody that is both beautifully hopeful and tragic.

Read more here

 

The Henna Artist By Alka Joshi

This is such a vivid book that is evocative and mesmerising. I swung between wanting to inhale it in one gulp and savour it slowly. The attention to detail is stunning, the characters endearing (I love a strong female lead) and a joy to read and learn from.

Read more here

 

Confessions of a forty something f##k up by Alexandra Potter

This book is an absolute delight that gave me Elizabeth Day, How Not to Fail vibes. It is hilariously funny, moving and feels both current and relatable. It’s also where my favourite quote “don’t worry about getting old, worry about getting dull” originates from.

Read more here

 

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

This is a spectacular novel with a storyline unlike any other I have read.  It’s deep yet simple, happy yet sad and filled with unique, complex characters that are both relatable and alien.

read more here

 

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The best thriller I read this year, it is a mind twisting, stomach churning, dark thriller that doesn’t let up until the final page.  If you like a murder mystery with some time travelling thrown in, this hits the spot with the right amount of scary and creepy that makes a thriller truly thrilling.

Read more here

 

Not to Mention by Vivian de Klerk

The plot is so incredibly unique and tackles obesity from a perspective books just don’t. I was desperately rooting for the main protagonist Katy. It’s an astonishing, tragic and downright compulsive read that is filled with word play and is utterly enjoyable.

Read more here

 

A Family Affair by Sue Nyathi

This is a soapie in a book with all the drama and romance. It’s evocative, moving and memorable read with characters who are complex and authentic. Nyathi tackles so many hard topics in a raw and unfiltered way that left me thinking about them for days after.

Read more here

 

Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown

This was probably my favourite thriller this year, which importantly was not thrilling in the scary sense. It is utterly gripping with an electric mix of thrilling suspense, engulfing mystery and erotic romance. I also loved how unpredictable the ending was.

Read more here

 

The Last Story of Mina Lee

This was a fantastic novel that tackles love, loss, parenting, immigration and poverty with Korean Cuisine providing a rich cultural backdrop.

Read more here

See Also

Non-Fiction

 

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom

He has the most magical way of storytelling that makes you want to slow down and savour each sentence. This book is tragically beautiful and powerful and filled with lessons on life, love and family.

Read the full review here.

 

Running with Sherman by Christopher McDougall

The magic of McDougall’s books is that they ignite something inside of you, usually a fierce love for running. He’s such a gifted storyteller and this is the most charming story and enjoyable heart-warming read. It’s also layered with beautiful lessons and it’s the book that put “race with a donkey” on my bucket list.  

Read the full review here

 

Know my name by Chanel Miller

One of the most powerful books I’ve read, Miller has a way of writing that puts the reader in her shoes. It’s evocative and stunning and provides an unfiltered look at what happens to sexual assault victims. She’s a brilliant writer and I’d happily read anything she writes.

Read more here

 

A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough

An important read I think we all should read. Attenborough is a gifted storyteller whose quiet wisdom comes through on each page. It’s fascinating and eye opening but leaves you hopeful not paralyzed with fear.

Read more here

 

Notable Mentions

 

The Buddhist on death row by David Sheff – read more here

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline- read more here

The Gift by Edith Eger – read more here

The Family Holiday- read more here

House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild – Read more here

After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe – Read more here

Reggie & Me by James Hendry – Read more here

Last Stop Auschwitz by Eddie de Wind – Read more here

The Little French Recipe Book by Jacky Durand -read more here

The Dead Line by Holly Watt – read more here

No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin meyer – Read more here

The Rodchenkov Affair by Dr Grigory Rodchenkov – Read More here

His & Hers by Alice Feeney – Read More here

Critical but Stable by Angela Mokholwa – Read more here

Agent Sonya – Read more here

The Shoemaker – Read more here

 

What were the best books you read this year?

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