A book recommendation for every mood

Hey, it's finally time for my 2020 reading round-up!

One of the few good things about rarely leaving the house is that I managed to smash my reading target. I set out with a goal of reading 30 books in 2020 but extended that to 50 back in Autumn when I realised I was going to exceed that. I am currently on 60 and hoping to finish a couple more before the end of the year.

For the data-lovers amongst you, here are the stats (courtesy of Goodreads):

Hopefully you, like me, will be taking a break for the festive period. Most of us are subjected to Tier 3 or 4 restrictions now, meaning we will get very limited (if any) time with family and friends over the new couple of weeks.

I find reading has been great solace for me this year. It really is escapism at its best and the activity of reading a book is both mindful and productive, to an extent. So, I thought for this week’s newsletter I could make some reading recommendations based on the emotions you may be feeling right now.

I am terrible at summarising plots without spoilers so I have stolen the blurbs from Goodreads.

For when you feel like everything is pointless

Ah, the bottomless it of despair. Welcome, grab a pew, you might be here a while. Here are some life-affirming reads that will help you stay above water:

Honestly, any Matt Haig book would fit the bill here but The Humans is probably my favourite.

The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics, and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves.

In a small town in Sweden it appears to be an ordinary day. But look more closely, and you'll see a mysterious masked figure approaching a bank... Two hours later, chaos has descended. A bungled attempted robbery has developed into a hostage situation - and the offender is refusing to communicate their demands to the police.

Within the building, fear quickly turns to irritation for the seven strangers trapped inside. If this is to be their last day on earth, shouldn't it be a bit more dramatic?

For when you want to escape the real world

This is my time to shine ✨ Here are some top fantasy picks for when you want to be whisked away to a new land.

Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honourable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion. Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honour, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

For when you want to feel productive but without actually working

I’m not the biggest fan of non-fiction, self-help-style books but there are a few I enjoy.

Being your own boss can be great – but it can be tough, too! What do you charge? When do you say no? What about boundaries? And how do you tackle the ups and downs of working alone, such as isolation and self-doubt?

We all know the benefits of self-employment – work where you like, when you like, how you like... but how do you handle the messiness and the challenges of freelance life?! This book is your secret weapon to help you ace self-employment.

What if the real key to a richer and more fulfilling career was not to create and scale a new start-up, but rather, to be able to work for yourself, determine your own hours, and become a (highly profitable) and sustainable company of one? Suppose the better—and smarter—solution is simply to remain small? This book explains how to do just that.

For when your family is doing your head in

There’s no better way to navigate family drama than to remind yourself that it could always be worse - I think that’s why people watch soaps. I mean, why else would anyone subject themselves to that shit? Anyway, here are some great family-driven drama/literary fiction novels that will make you feel grateful for what you have:

How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment centre, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A profoundly moving novel about two neighbouring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

For when you just want to feel something

You know when you just need a good cry? I got you.

An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century that goes into some of the darkest places fiction has ever travelled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement—and a great gift for its readers.

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.


I could talk forever about books, but I shall spare you for now. Tell me about your best books of 2020 over on Twitter!

Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

16 December: Burnout might not be what you think it is

9 December: Whatever happened to ‘be kind?’

2 December: The best briefs are anything but

25 November: Welcome to the busy-ness Olympics

18 November: Too many cooks spoil the brother (and the marketing campaign)

11 November: Everything is different now, so why are you trying to live like before?

4 November: Lockdown Part II: Here's my manifesto 📜

28 October: Why business owners don't talk about depression

21 October: How to actually stick to something (and why it’s okay if you don’t)

14 October: Meet the bosses who shaped me

6 October: Running a business when you're sensitive AF

30 September - Let them eat lockdown layer cake 🍰