Reading as a writer – my favourite reads of 2020 so far

There are two pieces of advice I hear repeatedly: to be a better writer you must write more, and you must read more.

As England enters its second lockdown of the year, it’s fair to say 2020 has been a strange and stressful year. For me, this has been reflected in my writing habits. I’ve posted before about how, during the first lockdown, I initially struggled to concentrate on writing. Later on during the lockdown I preferred to focus on writing short stories, rather than big novel-length commitments.

However, one thing that has been consistent throughout is my joy of reading books.

As you will see from the below selections, I’ve read a range of books this year, everything from children’s fiction to non-fiction. I think it’s important to read a diverse range of books and experience different styles of writing. It can help you to identify what works best in your own writing too.

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Lockdown Book Recommendations

Here are some of my favourites. Hopefully, they’ll give you some ideas if you’re looking for a lockdown number two read!

1. The Foundling, by Stacey Halls

Released this year (2020) The Foundling by Stacey Halls is historical fiction set in 1754, London.

“Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to collect a daughter she’s never known… but, her daughter has already been claimed, by her…”

I love Stacey Halls as a historical fiction author, as I find her books really plot driven, fast moving, and accessible. Although this is fiction, there are some many fascinating facts about this era of history woven in.

My enjoyment of reading historical fiction encouraged me to make my first attempt at writing historical fiction. My short story, Florrie Moore is Innocent, was recently shortlisted in Writers’ Forum Magazine fiction writing competition.

2. This Lovely City, by Louise Hare

Another historical fiction read, This Lovely City is set in post-war London. It tells the story of jazz musician Lawrie Matthews who arrived in London from Jamaica aboard the Empire Windrush.

“Playing in Soho’s jazz clubs by night and pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home… until one morning, while crossing a misty common, he makes a terrible discovery…”

3. The Boy at the Back of the Class, by Onjali Q. Rauf

This is a children’s book, offering a child’s perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis.

“There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy Ahmet is sitting in it.”

This is a wonderfully heart-warming story that really made me smile. I’ve been trying to read more middle-grade fiction this year (as it’s the age group my novel is aimed at), but this a great book for adults to read too.

4. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”

I am also trying to read more classics. This is honestly one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read. Du Maurier not only writes beautiful descriptions, but also writes a plot driven, gripping story here. Highly recommend!

5. The Salt Path, by Raynor Winn

Non-fiction life writing. Raynor learns her husband, Moth, has a terminal illness. In a short space of time they also lose their business and family home, making them homeless. This is the true story of her and her husband’s decision to walk the south west coastal path together. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, emotional, and inspiring. It’s also left me wanting to walk the south west coastal path too!

I’ve read a lot of great books this year – but I think these have been my favourite!

Do you have any great lockdown number two book suggestions?

2 thoughts on “Reading as a writer – my favourite reads of 2020 so far

  1. Glad you enjoyed Rebecca! I re-read several du Maurier books last year. ..I had forgotten what a wonderful teller of tales she was. Do try Frenchman’s Creek! As for lockdown reading, an unexpected delight was Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent, and I also enjoyed a recommended children’s book, Geraldine McCaughrean’s Where the World Ends. Keep up the writing and reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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