“2020 has been a very unexpected and turbulent year, with us stuck inside our homes for the majority of the year. It is uncertain whether we will continue to remain in our homes, or when our lives pre-pandemic will return. During this time indoors, here are 3 books from a range of genres that will keep your nose in the book and your eyes glued to the page!”

– Grace, 14, London

 

How bad are bananas

How bad are bananas? The carbon footprint of everything

by Mike Berners-Lee

As the title indicates, this book is a guide to how much impact the carbon footprint of any object can have on the environment. Berners-Lee covers a whole variety of objects and actions, from the carbon footprint of an apple to something far greater- a swimming pool, or the impact of a volcanic eruption! Written with humour and eloquence, this book informs readers of the small and large effects of greenhouse gas emissions and ignites a carbon instinct within oneself. This book is great for becoming more informed about the climate crisis and rethinks the common perception of ‘green living’.

Reviewed by Grace, 14, London

The Soul of an Octopus

by Sy Montgomery

Be warned that this book is about science, but it is nowhere near to a science textbook. In fact, it seems more like a loving biography of these amazing creatures. The author does share some fascinating pieces of information on the species, however, more interesting is the relationship between her and the octopi she meets. Her writing personifies them and emphasises their intelligence, consequently, amplifying their troubles, triumphs, and losses. She also celebrates the researchers she works with, talking of the trials they have been through, and adding a humanising element to a book about such alien animals.

Reviewed by Tabitha, 15, Leicester

The Soul of an Octopus
killing floor

Killing Floor

by Lee Child

When reading I am evenly weighted between fact and fiction. But this year has been dull, confusing and leaving me in suspense when knowing when everything will go back to normal. So I picked up “Killing Floor” by Lee Child. A book that is sits within the action packed Jack Reacher Series. Killing Floor is about the mysterious protagonist Jack Reacher who is begins at Eno’s Diner to commence his quiet day, but he was surely wrong about that. He gets framed for the brutal murder of a man he has never met, in a town he has never been in and recognised by a man who claims to have witnessed Jack at the scene of the crime. Jack finds trouble at every corner of the little town of Margrave and finds a woman that makes everything seem okay.

Killing Floor, I believe truly represents 2020 and the calming activity of reading a book. The similarity of the monotonous feeling of trouble but when faced with that special something allows you to escape from a chaotic, scary and confusing world to a world of total euphoria.

I recommend Killing Floor to anyone who wants a book that makes them anxious to turn the page, to step in the presence of the unknown. I recommend Killing Floor to anyone who cannot get enough of action. If this seems like you, then Killing Floor is for you.

Reviewed by Dylann, 17, Leicester (IG – Dylann.spsp)

“There are so many reasons to read: to improve your memory and creativity, increase your vocabulary, gain different perspectives, and give you more empathy and human understanding. But for the longest time, I actively avoided it, preferring mindless activities like watching TV. Don’t get me wrong, I probably still spend too much of my time unproductively, but this year, I tried my best to read more and enjoy reading again. Here are the top 5 books that I read in 2020.”

– Tabitha, 15, Leicester

 

Midnight Sun

by Stephenie Meyer

A book that has recently hit the shelves this year that has been long awaited by vampire fans. As a fan of the Twilight saga, I have waited for another Stephenie Meyer novel since I closed the covers of Breaking Dawn. I missed the connection to the characters and the pang of my heart as I thought I would never be immersed again in the land of twilight. In both the inability to spoil the book and the blatant fact that I haven’t yet picked up the book from my shelf, I can only reveal from the first pages it grabs, the readers, attention by seemingly being in the perspective of Edward Cullen. I would be rushing to pick this book up if not for being respectful to the true owner, who received it as a birthday present (my sister).

Reviewed by Emilia, 14, Leicester

midnight sun
pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

by Jane Austen

Many teenagers tend to read modern and new books. Even more stay away from old English books. But an alarming number of teenagers don’t even bother to read anymore! However, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a book that will shock you with how full of plot twists and content there is. Though it involves old English and may seem unused and hard to understand, you will soon become familiar with the language, and only be interested in the plot. The book revolves around the main theme of love, along with reputation, gender, class, family and integrity. It also gives readers a very vivid image of the rigid social classes and views during that time, allowing readers to notice the difference in societal perceptions then and now. Give this book a chance!

Reviewed by Grace, 14, London

Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

This pick speaks for itself, but I had to include at least one of Shakespeare’s works. I read the play for school this year but was surprised how much I liked it. Its poetry is among the most beautiful I have ever read and there are sections of it that I can’t help but read again and again.

“These violent delights have violent ends. And in their triumph die, like fire and powder, Which as they kiss consume”

This is my absolute favourite phrase of the play as I think it perfectly symbolises the merging of love and violence. Their love is quick, they are rushing into it, and just as they are at their happiest it dies destructively. Romeo and Juliet’s kiss, though seemingly harmless, is likened to fire touching gunpowder. Their meeting is the cause of their destruction. Each of them is the cause of the other’s downfall.

Reviewed by Tabitha, 15, Leicester

romeo and juliet

“The world can be chaotic, scary and confusing. 2020 has been for the world those three words; chaotic, scary and confusing. The thousands of COVID-19 cases, the continuous lockdown and the tragic divide in America. Sometimes it is great to curl up with a fluffy warm blanket hugging you, a scented candle filling the air with a sweet, chilled aroma that is ever so calming. But the highlight of this euphoric scene is a brilliant book. The expression “curling up with a good book” has never been more true than it has been in 2020. This blog will be stating my favourite book of 2020 and what books I recommend in 2021.”

– Dylann, 17, Leicester

angels and demons

Angles and Demons

by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon, a successful symbologist from Harvard discovers the resurgence of the Illuminati he travels to Rome to warn the Vatican. Robert Langdon pairs with the intriguing Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra and they both follow the ancient old-trail of ancient symbols in preventing the deadly plot against the Roman Catholic Church held by the Illuminati from coming to fruition.

Reviewed by Dylann, 17, Leicester (IG – Dylann.spsp)

To Kill and Mockingbird / The Colour Purple

by Harper Lee / Alice Walker

In the current times of the Black Live’s Matter movement, I recommend To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee and The Colour Purple by Alice Walker. Two of my favourite books, these open your eyes to the oppression of Black people in the world, specifically Southern America notorious for its racism. These bear heavy subject matters that should not be taken lightly. To Kill A Mockingbird is about Atticus Finch, an attorney, who strives to prove the innocence of a black man, whilst The Colour Purple follows 39 years of hardship in the life of Celie, a young black woman, who was abused by many of the male figures in her life. These depressing and sad books teach us to love one another and fight harder for equality for all races.

Reviewed by Emilia, 14, Leicester

to kill a mockingbird the colour purple
Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race

Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race

by Reni Eddo-Lodge

In light of the very prevalent, important and current Black Lives Matter movement, this book gives a powerful first-hand account of racism in the UK and communicates the unnoticed extreme frustration and oppression black people in the UK experience. Reni Eddo-Lodge gives her personal experiences, evoking emotions and anger within readers, and highlighting fundamental problems in the UK, such as structural racism and the negligence of not educating young people about Black history. The ignorance of this discrimination towards black people emphasises the clear racial split and sends one clear message: we must keep fighting against racism. It is unacceptable. This book is a great read for more insight into racism from a black person’s point of view.

Reviewed by Grace, 14, London

Frenchman’s Creek

by Daphne Du Maurier

This novel, by one of my favourite authors, is technically a romance, but I implore you to read this before you disregard it. I don’t usually like romance and though it is a renowned classic, I was fairly dubious before I started reading it. I had read a few reviews that were dishearteningly soppy, but I was determined to give it a try and I’m glad I did. The real story of this book is of self-discovery, adventure and defying social pressures. Before she meets the Frenchman, Dona, the main character, is a rich but very bored wife and mother, who hates her superficial life. With the Frenchman, although she loves her children dearly, she can get away from her past self and be free, treated as just one of the crew of La Mouette. An excellent read.

Reviewed by Tabitha, 15, Leicester

Frenchmans creek
One shot

One Shot

by Lee Child

One man, one gun, situated on an empty parking garage fires ever-so calmly into a crowd in a public plaza committing the murder of 5 random (as so he claims) victims with 6 shots. He leaves a perfect trail allowing the police to follow the footsteps to quickly track him down.

Reviewed by Dylann, 17, Leicester (IG – Dylann.spsp)

“In 2020, you would think that it would be the best time to pick up a good book and relax at home, but as a teenager I have been drawn to other distractions like Tik Tok and Among Us. I have tried to pick up books but in truth the allure of my phone has led my screen time to climb. Despite that, here are the books that managed to get my attention”

– Emilia, 14, Leicester

The Children of the Dust / The Lord of the Flies

by Louise Lawrence / William Goulding

Lastly two amazing books, The Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence and The Lord of the Flies by William Goulding, may be short reads yet they are filled with powerful meaning. They may not be in or relate to 2020 yet there survival nature but you on the edge of your seat. The children of the dust, which shows the effect of a nuclear war may be a read for when you are older but it shows that war is devastating and we must never result to nuclear weapons. If our teens learn this truth maybe our world could become a better, more peaceful place.

Reviewed by Emilia, 14, Leicester

children of the dust lord of the flies
the picture of dorian gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

This is one of the darker stories I have ever read but entirely worth it because of the quality of the writing alone. It has a fascinating plot with the exact opposite of a redemption arc, as the main character spirals deeper into evil and then eventually receives the karmic justice they thoroughly deserve. One of my favourite parts of the novel is the author’s philosophical ponderings presented most often by the character of Lord Henry Wotton, who is the primary corruptor of the eponymous character, yet Wilde never explicitly shows whether we are meant to sympathise with or despise him. In short, this book is an exploration of humanity’s vices: vanity, addiction, cruelty, and idolatry. It should be on everyone’s book bucket list.

Reviewed by Tabitha, 15, Leicester

Jamaica Inn

by Daphne Du Maurier

Of all my best books, this is the book that got me back into reading. It has everything you could want in an exhilarating story: constant psychological tension, a strong female lead, action and adventure, twists and turns that make your heart beat faster, moments of relief, then fear again, and of course *spoiler alert* a happy ending. My first experience with this book was listening to an audiobook, which – side note – I would highly recommend as it can sometimes be even more atmospheric than reading yourself. Overall, the intensity of this book as well as its significance to me is what put it at the top of my list.

Reviewed by Tabitha, 15, Leicester

Jamaica Inn

 

Read more from Grace, Tabitha, Dylann, Emilia