Saturday, 14 December 2019

List of books that I have read in 2019: The good, the bad and the ones that will expand your mind

Flatlay of books on gold tinsel

At the start of 2019, I promised myself that I will work on reading more books. I felt like I needed to lose myself in literature, to teach myself new things and grow as an individual. The value of books can be easily lost in this digital world.

I'm sure you are like me, books give me a sense of inspiration, I benefit from escaping to various fictional worlds as it lets me forget my worries. Reading is like a pause button - it stops my hectic thoughts. 

This year, I lived like some kind of caricature, sitting in libraries and coffee shops with a book in my hand. I've done my best to dedicate time to reading. I'm definitely not the quickest of readers, I've seen people who have read hundreds of books this year, madness! I just wanted to expose myself to more literature and less social media nonsense. The grand total of books that I have read this year was only 13, but I think I have managed to read a variety of genres. 

Anyway, this post is quite unusual for my blog, but there is no denial that books and self-improvement go hand in hand. I have also read a few books related to Psychology. Everyone loves a good list post! Without further ado, let's have a look at the books that I have read this year and what I thought about them. 

List of books that I have read in 2019: The good, the bad and the ones that will expand your mind 

1.  The Man Who Walked Through Walls - Marcel Ayme 

I suppose you could call this book a French classic. Published in 1941, this selection of short stories is filled with fantasy and non-sensical humour. I don't usually gravitate towards short stories, but this selection intrigued me. I found that every story had an important message attached to it. Some of the stories made me reflect on self-perceptions, time as a construct and tyrannical systems. 

2.  Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind - Yuval Noah Harrari

If you are interested in learning about the history of humanity, this book will give you a headstart. This book goes in-depth to explain our ancestral roots and crucial periods in human development including the industrial revolution and so on. It perfectly summarises the life journey of humanity, in an easy to comprehend way. 

3. The Lying Room - Nicci French

This gripping psychological thriller is filled with deception and regret. It puts a magnifying glass over the intricacies of family life. I think this book is fantastic when it comes to character development. Although I found the ending a little bit disappointing, I still think that Lying Room is a good read. 

4. The Many Selves of Katherine North - Emma Green 

This is definitely one of the more original books on this list, I have never seen any other books on the same topic as this one. This book falls into the sci-fi genre, it's about animal tourism, basically, the future where you can shift your consciousness into animals. 

The messages of this book explore how we can have different versions of our selves. Emma Green has done a fantastic job in her animal descriptions, from foxes to octopuses, the vividness of her words, made me feel like I was watching an animal documentary. 

5. 50 Philosophy Classics - Tom Butler-Bowdon

This year I got into Philosophy. I got this book to learn about, you guessed it, the history of philosophy. What I loved about this book is that it included lesser-known philosophers and did not purely focus on Greek philosophy. 

This book explained different philosophical schools from various periods in a clear way. Each chapter of this book was dedicated to a particular philosopher and their main ideas and works. I definitely have learned a lot from this book. 

6. The Marsh King's Daughter - Karen Dionne 

This book is one of those psychological thrillers about the effects of abduction on well-being. It explores how a traumatic past shapes a person's future and the challenges related to moving on at last. I think what the book has managed to do is create realistic villains that you can actually relate to somewhat. This book taught me the importance of facing your biggest fears. 

7. The History Of Bees - Maja Lunde

I wholeheartedly adored this book. The book is split into three stories about beekeepers from the past, present, and future. It explores our relationship to bees, discusses the importance of bees to our environment and possible consequences of bee extinction. 

Although this book follows the nature track, it is not a boring read at all. Its characters are diverse and unique, the challenges that they face are touching. 

8. Sophie's World - Jostein Gaarder 

Another book by a Norwegian author. Sophie's world is an interesting one, albeit a little bit confusing at times. In short, the book is about a girl called Sophie who starts receiving letters on the history of philosophy from a mysterious sender. 

So the book is split between the day-to-day life of Sophie, contents of the letters about various philosophical ideas and Sophie's philosophical reflections. I enjoyed this book, however, I found that at times this book was a little bit simplistic and cliche, especially in the metaphors used to illustrate some of the concepts. 

9. Beyond Good and Evil - Friedrich Nietzsche 

I read this book before delving into "50 Philosophy Classics", this was the first book that I have read by Nietzsche and I found be lying if I said that it was an easy read. I found Nietzche's style of writing a little bit convoluted. 

It took me a long while to finish this book because I had to concentrate in order to understand what was being said. Nevertheless, I appreciate the stance that this book has on morality and goodness. 

“He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” 

- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.  

10. Compassionate Mind - Paul Gilbert

I have mentioned before that I have done quite a lot of research on self-compassion and body compassion for my postgraduate project. In the process, I have fallen in love with self-compassion research. Paul Gilbert is a wonderful self-compassion expert, who has written a load of papers on the applications of self-compassion. 

He describes some of his research and theories in this book Furthermore, this book acts as a guide to help you become more self-compassionate. I often find that psychological self-help books are quite basic. The tone of this book is like having a chat with the Professor. If you have trouble with self-criticism, pick up this book. 

11. The Rapture - Liz Jensen 

You know when you see a book, and the cover just intrigues you so much, you end up picking the book to read it? The Rapture was one of those books, the book version that I have read, had this pitch-black cover, not even a blurb on it. 

I wanted to solve the mystery of this book by reading it. In my opinion, this book was mediocre. Nevertheless, this book highlighted the challenges of having a physical disability, the complexity of the mental health system and religion. 

12. Oh, Dear Sylvia - Dawn French 

Another book that I have picked up on a whim, written by the comedian, Dawn French. Oh, Dear Sylvia is a somewhat comedic book, about a coma patient and the relationships between her and various people that she knew. This book made me laugh at times, however, I felt like sometimes the story relied on cheap stereotypes. 

13. 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos - Jordan Peterson 

You can either love him or hate him, but before you jump into the so-called controversial nature of Jordan Peterson, you need to read what this psychologist writes about in his book. It's definitely not a hate-inducing book. Not at all. In fact, the book is filled with advice to help you become your best self. 

Dr. Peterson touches upon psychology research and theories in an accessible way. It highlights the importance of personal responsibility, following your beliefs, body language and so on. If you need clarity and a sense of direction in your life, I recommend this book. 

“Every bit of learning is a little death. Every bit of new information challenges a previous conception, forcing it to dissolve into chaos before it can be reborn into something better. Sometimes such deaths virtually destroy us"

- Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules of Life: An Antidote to Chaos 

So here you have it, these are all the books that I have read in 2019. Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think about them? 

In 2020, I definitely want to read even more and find more amazing authors. 

Let me know in the comments about the books that you have read this year, and how they helped to expand your mind. 

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