Top reads of 2020

THIS IS GOING TO HURT – ADAM KAY

“The difference is obviously the whole ‘life and death’ thing, which is what separates this job from all others, and makes it so unfathomable to people on the outside.”

Why I loved this book:

I found this an incredibly eye opening read. Having worked within talking therapies and now as a trainee psychological wellbeing practitioner, I did have some knowledge of the workings of the national health service, but this was a truly new perspective from the diaries of Adam Kay, a Junior Doctor.

I completely devoured this book from start to finish. It has stayed with me long after I read the final page. It is achingly sad, heart breaking and incredibly humbling. Fortunately, it has a brilliant comical tone which is much needed when things get heavy. This book is of huge societal importance in the current COVID world, and I would urge anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes of the NHS to give this a go. Ultimately it provides us with a raw and humanised view of the doctors and key workers who are on the frontline.

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE – BESSEL A VAN DER KOLK

“It takes enormous trust and courage to allow yourself to remember.”

Why I loved this book:

This book is one I will keep by me for a long time, especially throughout my training and as I venture down the road of becoming a therapist. This book, is in my opinion a ‘must read’ for any one who is interested in studying, practicing or just learning about the complexities of trauma and it’s far reaching claws.

From the moment I started this book, I was fully engrossed. Bessel A Van Der Kolk was an incredible pioneer and I am incredibly grateful that he entered the field of psychology. This book has academic qualities, it is factual and provides a great overview of the neurology of trauma whilst ensuring that it is accessible and understandable. There are several ‘lightbulb’ moments and ultimately I feel it has changed the way I approach becoming a therapist and interpret a lot of mental health disorders.

THE RULES OF LIFE RICHARD TEMPLAR

“Try to see the past as a room separate from the one you live in now. You can go in there, but you don’t live there anymore.”

Why I loved this book:

I found this book to be a great reminder of the basic principles of wellbeing and happiness. It is easy to read, easy to follow and not too heavy. It is good old fashioned common sense, wrapped up with easily accessible tips.

It is divided into the following parts:

(1) Rules for You,

(2) Partnership Rules,

(3) Family and Friends Rules,

(4) Social Rules,

(5) World Rules.

It can be a great handbook of how to live, how to treat others and how to be a better member of society, something which 2020 has allowed us the chance to reflect on. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a gentle, simple reminder of what is truly important in life.

REASONS TO STAY ALIVE – MATT HAIG

“To other people, it sometimes seems like nothing at all. You are walking around with your head on fire and no one can see the flames.”

Why I loved this book:

Having experienced anxiety and like the majority of us, depression at times during my life, this book makes you feel that your experiences are not so unique and that you are not alone.

I found this a difficult read at times, as can be the case when something resonates with you. This book contains a personal account of moments which you can deeply relate to or it can help those who have not suffered from anxiety or depression to catch somewhat of a glimpse into the most difficult of times for some us, the frustrations and the daily challenges. It is brutally honest, it made me cry and laugh within the same page. It is a heavy read, but it is a worthy one!

THE WISDOM OF INSECURITY, A MESSAGE FOR THE AGE OF ANXIETY – ALAN WATTS

“There is no other reality than present reality. It is in the present and only in the present that you live. There is no other reality than present reality.”

Why I loved this book:

This is a book I pick back up time and time again. I have dipped into it continuously throughout the year when I need to do some soul searching (which lets be honest has been for most of 2020!) Alan Watts can be somewhat of a controversial figure, however for me personally, this book has introduced me to eastern philosophy in a simple way.

I find it somewhat unbelievable this book was written in 1951, it was incredibly ahead of its time and it’s teachings still resonate in 2020. It can feel a little embedded in mysticism at times, however the key take out point for me is that the present is all we have, the past and future are mental memories that we evoke in the present. It doesn’t feel like Watts is trying to sell you something or steer you in a certain direction, which is part of it’s charm.

NO MORE PLASTIC – MARTIN DOREY

“The thing to remember is that everything you do affects the world in some way.”

Why I loved this book:

The environment is something that is of concern to all of us. I for one, have found myself becoming increasingly anxious around this topic. We started off 2020 with record breaking wildfires in Australia (before we all became aware of COVID) and for most of us – this was a huge wake up call. I must admit I am guilty of avoiding the issue of climate change sometimes, not because I don’t care – because I sometimes feel completely overwhelmed and hopeless.

This year I have tried to challenge these feelings of hopelessness by trying to make small lifestyle changes. Mainly by reducing the amount of plastic that I buy. This book is full practical and simple tips on how you can reduce your plastic consumption.

It is not difficult, it is not overwhelming and it is not demanding. It doesn’t try to ‘scare’ you into reducing your plastic use, it educates you. If you are going to make 2021 your year of your plastic-reducing/zero waste journey, then I would recommend this book.

Please do let me know if you have any recommendations for 2021!

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