Nǐ hǎo, I'm Julia.

Books Read in 2020

Here's a quick rundown of all the books I read in 2020. Books I particularly enjoyed and would recommend are in bold. Total books read: 57. Non-fiction: 21. Fiction 36.

  • The Cockroach by Ian McEwan
    Found it somewhat boring to be honest. Got through to the end as it is a short book which I was thankful for.

  • Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
    Written from the point of view of a character with Tourette's Syndrome, this was a book with an original voice. If judged for the story itself, I'd say that it is less intriguing, but perhaps serves to distract less from the main character himself. Still, this was a page turner of a book, and I enjoyed the book's head-nod to the classic detective novel.

  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
    The story itself is unbelievable, which then of course makes for quite an intriguing read (how the hell could this have happened?!). I did however, feel that the super juicy bit started when the journalist started writing from a first person POV, but that was pretty much at the end of the book.

  • The Martian by Andy Weir
    Such a compelling read that I finished it in two sittings - and this is despite me already having watched the movie and knowing the ending. Hits the sweet spot for me with all the first principals explanations around the physics, math, biology and astronomy that Mark Watney has to think through in order to survive Mars.

  • Milkman by Anna Burns
    Really unique style of narrative which was unlike anything I've ever come across before. It wasn't an easy read but I'm glad I managed to stick it through, The subject matter is not something I know a lot about, and it helped introduce new ideas to me.

  • The Fellowship of the Ring (abridged audiobook) by Brian Sibley
    Just couldn’t get into it. May have to resign myself to the fact that I might never read LotR!

  • This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
    Read this on a whim. Turned out to be a surprise winner, with genuine laugh out loud moments. Good fun, with a poignant ending.

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
    Hooked me in from the start and took me on an emotional rollercoaster all the way through to the end. Extremely high quality of writing.

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    Re-reading more than 20 years later. Definitely connected better with the story this time round, probably due to the fact that I was at a crossroads when I read it again. Simple, straightforward self-help messages.

  • Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman
    A super short read. As with all of Pullman's books, this was a good piece of writing.

  • Jade City by Fonda Lee
    Imagine a mix of the Godfather and Game of Thrones, set against an Asian backdrop, with kung fu and magic. What’s not to love? It’s also an epic multigenerational story with a cast of amazing, complex characters. A real winner of a book that fills a gap within the fantasy genre.

  • Jade War by Fonda Lee
    Could not put this book down! I want to be a Green Bone the same way I wanted to be a Hogwarts student whilst reading Harry Potter.

  • The Man Who Didn't Call by Rosie Walsh
    I have conflicting thoughts on this book. On the one hand, I couldn’t put it down, but on the other hand, I found the two central characters somewhat ridiculous in their behaviour and reactions.

  • Recursion by Blake Crouch
    Loved the first half of the book, but started getting a bit fed up towards the end as the story became all kinds of crazy. Still, 5/5 for entertainment value!

  • We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer
    This is a book about climate change. But rather than just spewing scientific facts and the latest reports, this book almost seems to be more of a conversation that goes on in the author's head.

  • Radical Acceptance: Awakening the Love that Heals Fear and Shame by Tara Brach
    I started this just as I was heading into a 10 day vipassana retreat which helped ease me into the right frame of mind. It's also made me more aware of my thoughts and feelings and not letting them control me as much.

  • Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland
    Entertaining in parts, with lots of anecdotes and casual references to scientific studies. It was an interesting topic for sure, but I found it hard to extract the information I wanted in an organised way.

  • How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics by Michael Pollan
    My opinion on drugs and psychedelics has definitely changed over the past year, not just from this book, but just through having a more open mind about the subject and realising that so much of it is context and intention dependent.

  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
    Amazing! Really enjoyed getting stuck into this beast of a book.

  • My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
    Supremely readable, well worth the hype!

  • The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
    I found the pace a bit too slow for my liking, only persevering because I had been warned that it does take a while to get into but the story is ultimately a good one.

  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
    Wasn't sure what to expect but this was a breath of fresh air. Loved the premise of this world, loved how realistic the characters felt to me and loved how the plot started innocently enough then wove together to form the complete story at the end. Really great writing.

  • Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
    Thought-provoking, relevant book for the times we find ourselves in right now.

  • Knife Edge by Malorie Blackman
    I should have stopped at Book 1 as I didn't really enjoy this one as much.

  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
    A simple tale of an ordinary man's quest to discover enlightenment. Knowledge can be transferred, but not wisdom, so it is through his experiences and life journey that he comes to the realisations he seeks.

  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
    I read this because I felt like I had to, as I've always been curious as to what happens at the end of book #1. I'd say that this book was ok - a nice-to-read, but not particularly amazing considering the hype it received.

  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
    As with all of Harari's other books, I thought this was another interesting and informative read. The title is a little misleading, with some chapters not showcasing lessons per se, but more just Harari's narrative on how he sees certain aspects of the world. Still, a good read nonetheless.

  • The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
    Loved it! Couldn’t put it down every time I read it resulting in some very late nights and a lack of sleep.

  • Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
    Turned into a bit of a slog to try to finish this. This is strange as I did enjoy the writing and found the content interesting enough.

  • Sadie by Courtney Summers
    I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for something a little different to read, with a strong female lead, and quite possibly a different perspective on the toughness of life.

  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
    This was a nice page turner which was difficult to put down. A fun holiday read.

  • The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
    Bryson manages to take us on a tour of the human body with the right balance of science, humour and interesting facts that makes it easy to digest but still highly informative.

  • The Overstory by Richard Powers
    Started off really well and I found myself getting really engrossed in the individual short stories of the first part. It all got a bit too slow for me at some point though, so decided to cut my losses and move on.

  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
    This was a great commentary on human nature, mental health and opening up to the world, as really, more likely than not, we're all suffering from different versions of the same thing.

  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
    An important book that I'd recommend most people read. It was good for me to read about issues from a different perspective to mine, and to what tends to be the default in the media I consume.

  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
    Completed about 50% but couldn't bring myself to finish the book. Didn't love the protagonist and got annoyed with his attitude.

  • The Way of Kings, Part 1 by Brandon Sanderson
    I really really wished I had gotten the edition which didn't split this first book of the series into two. It was a bit of a lengthy journey to get to the end of part 1, but it ended just when it started getting to the good bits.

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    There were some bits that I really loved - the start of the book, the premise and rules of this new world and Huxley's ability to forecast to quite an accurate degree, how society would evolve. What I didn't love so much was the middle of the book which I found a bit draggy.

  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
    This was really good though incredibly frustrating as a woman to read. This is a really important book for everyone to read. Without the awareness of this data gap, we cannot start to solve this problem.

  • The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr
    Very good and exactly what I was looking for. This book breaks down the science of fictional story writing in an easy to understand way, with ample research behind it.

  • The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
    I was on the fence about this book for the first 25% of it. It then got really good and I found myself getting really immersed in the culture and history this book offers up, on the Armenians and their history with Turkey.

  • The Way of Kings, Part 2 by Brandon Sanderson
    So glad I stuck with it because this part 2 was so good! It was an amazing crescendo all the way up to the end when I immediately had to buy Book 2.

  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
    Is it worth a read? Yes, because it has helped me examine and check my thoughts more. Do I think this is a good, well written book that makes its points in the best way possible? No.

  • Words of Radiance, Part 1 by Brandon Sanderson
    So good, really enjoying this series. On to the part 2!

  • Words of Radiance, Part 2 by Brandon Sanderson
    The ending was so good! Really glad I could just jump straight into book #3 though, because the suspense would've killed me.

  • Leadership Strategy and Tactics: Field Manual by Jocko Willink
    There were some real gems of advice in here, but probably wouldn't recommend listening to it cover to cover like I did.

  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    So good - more non-fiction books should be like this. Short, easy read, and straight to the point.

  • Spoon-Fed: Why Almost Everything We’ve Been Told About Food is Wrong by Tim Spector

  • Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt
    This is the best book I've read so far around the topic of bias and race. A highly informative book, that I finished listening to feeling more aware of my own bias and unrecognised behaviour.

  • I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame by Brené Brown
    Wanted to love this as much as I love Brene Brown, but found it a bit slow going and repetitive.

  • Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
    Sorry to say but this was a slog to get through. It was super slow and I wasn't all that interested in what was going on through most of the book. Rather disappointed with this as it was quite a lot of effort to go through (1000+ pages!).

  • Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder
    An amazing thriller, until you remember it's a true story and feel sickened by how this could actually happen and still does happen around the world.

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    It’s smart, and I’m glad I read it, but I didn’t fully enjoy it as much as I thought it would.

  • Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming by Paul Hawken
    Definitely informative, but difficult to read cover to cover after I read the most impactful solutions. Will be one that I dip into from time to time.

  • The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton I don’t understand the hype surrounding this book. It was the only reason I pushed to complete it, as I felt I must have been missing something. Got to the end and felt a little cheated at having spent a lot of hours on this book but being disappointed with how it ended.

  • Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer
    Very Clifton Chronicles-esque. A bit formulaic but a fun read nonetheless.

  • Pines by Blake Crouch
    Got a weird sense of having already read the book whilst I was reading the book. Still a good read though.

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