My goal was to read 12 books in 2020, and although I got the year off to a good start by reading two books in January, I hadn’t opened a book until the end of March. Then came along Covid-19, and suddenly I had much more time to crack on with the growing pile of books that I had brought.

After finding Beth’s Book Club on Facebook / Instagram (run by the amazing Beth Sandland who I suggest you all go and follow), my to-read list has considerably grown, after the monthly books and suggestions from others. Although I have only taken part in March’s read ‘The Flat Share’ I adore scrolling through the Facebook page and adding more books to my Amazon basket. The book club has also given me the inspiration to crack on with my goal of 12 books in 2020. Below are the five books I have read so far, with a quick and honest review…

The Boy Who Followed Her Father Into Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield

A heartwarming but painful true story of an Austrian family. Backed up with real interviews and accounts (and a bibliography and notes section), you go through every emotion that the two men go through during their time in the concentration camps they are prisoners in. Although we all now the stories of concentration camps, but this true story really does hit you. It is powerful, emotional, painful, but also a story of love and hope of a father and son. There may have been moments when I cried, but also moments of realisation that this history and story is less than 80 years ago. A story you get deep into and simply can’t put down. Similar to the Tattooist of Auschwitz, although the story is about a father and sons love, fear, struggle and on-going hope during a truly devastating moment of history.

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

A book that I begun reading in 2019, yet could never probably get into it. So I started again, and re-read the first 100 pages again, and suddenly fell for the characters in all their charm. It’s not a rom-com or a chick flick story, although it is heartwarming and charming, there are dark moments that shock you, and moments that make you smile in real life. Sunny, the American cafe owner, is delightful and a moment of real sunshine amongst the danger and violence of a war torn country. An insight into the dangers of being a woman in the middle east, but also a story of bravery.

The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

A truly brilliant, witty and charming story. A rom-com in a book, a love story but mixed with an obsessed ex, a low paid editorial job, and two amazing friends, make you fall deep into the book. Once I started I just couldn’t put it down. I’ve decided that I want to move to London, become like Tiffy (minus the weird obsessed ex) and find my own Leon (but maybe not through sharing a flat). This was also the first book I read from Beth’s Book Club and I made sure to finish before the Live Chat with the author. Now I want it to be made into a film, as I think it would have the vibes of Love Rosie.

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonino Iturbo

A truly amazing story of the Librarian of Auschwitz, a 14 year old girl who is remarkable. Harder to get into than other Auschwitz stories, but a fascinating story about the family camp as a moment of lightness amongst the death and destruction. I found myself smiling at moments, although I suddenly felt guilty, but these books brought joy to the family camp and the school (which I never knew existed). I also felt incredible heartbroken as well, at the terror and the loss of childhood. It’s a fight throughout the book, a power struggle, but a very remarkable true story.

On The Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back by Stacey Dooley

I absolute love Stacey’s documentaries, so it comes at no surprise I love this book. Some incredible and inspirational stories that make you think about how lucky you are to be a women born in the UK and not Honduras, Mexico or Iraq. The stories are of women that Stacey has met throughout her time making her fab documentaries across the world. The stories are heartbreaking, but inspiring at the same time. The stories of the women attempting to across the US border from Mexico for a better life to send money back home to their children. Or the women in Iraq fighting back. I’ve watched the majority of Stacey’s documentaries over the years, you often feel the struggle of these women, but reading it you somehow feel it even more. Yes after every story I had to stop and digest the stories, and how our lives in the UK are incredible compared to some women’s lives across the world. I did, however, finish the book within 24 hours as I became totally gripped by the stories. Straight after I went to re-watch Stacey’s documentary in Canada about the First Nation women. I learnt about the rape and the disappearance of First Nation women while studying in Canada, so re-watching the documentary with an informed set of eyes really does make you think about the treatment of women even in democracies.

What have you read recently?

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