Jan 5, 2021

5 Of My Favorite Book Club Picks

Last spring, my friend Amanda invited me to join her book club. Looking back, saying "yes" seemed like a small moment in time, but fast forward nearly nine months later and I now realize how big of an impact that decision has had on my life, in the best way possible. The goal of the group was simple: read books by women of color, celebrate their work, and see the world from their perspective. Little did we know at the time that COVID would cause chaos around the world, halt travel, and fuel a social justice movement that was long overdue. Many of the topics we were reading about in our monthly book club would carry over to what was happening in real life and facing those hard truths became unavoidable. 

I've always loved to read. My grandma taught me to read when I was very young and my family has old photos of me sitting on my grandma's couch, surrounded by piles of books. As I got older, I stopped reading for fun and only consumed trade journals and business books. Every once in a while if I was about to board a long flight, I would pick up a book to read on the plane, but only then could I justify the time spent reading. Saying yes to book club meant that I suddenly had an excuse to carve out time to read and our monthly (virtual) meet-ups held me accountable so that I would actually finish the books lingering on my nightstand. I've read more books in the past 9 months than I have in the past 9 years and I've fallen in love with reading again, which I know would make my grandma very proud. 

Here are my 5 favorite book picks from 2020 written by a wide range of authors. I hope you love them as much as I did!

Half Of A Yellow Sun - This book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is essential reading as far as I'm concerned. In fact, this book was so incredibly well-written that once I finished it, I ordered every other title by the author that I could get my hands on. The book centers around two sisters who experience the Biafran conflict, sometimes known as the Nigerian Civil War. The story is well developed and shines a light on the situation and the tragic consequences that ultimately unfolded. If you like this book, I also encourage you to check out Americanah

Vanishing Half - Brit Bennet is an incredible author and her epic storytelling abilities come to life in this beautiful book. Vanishing Half is about twin sisters who grow up in a small town and construct a plan to escape the monotony of their lives. The book explores topics of sisterhood, personal identity, and the implications of being Black in America. 

Homegoing - This book by Yaa Gyasi was my personal pick for the group and one that I find myself recommending to people again and again. It made me realize that while we talk about slavery in this country, we fail to come to terms with the origins of slavery and its generational impact. Homegoing is the story of two half-sisters who are both born in Ghana but in separate villages. One goes on to marry an Englishman and the other is sold into the Transatlantic slave trade. The story is devastating and illuminating, making you deeply appreciate how the past ultimately shapes us all. 
Photo credit: Knopf/Cody Pickens 

Born a Crime - I stumbled upon this book over the holidays and what I thought might be a fun, easy book to read when I had pockets of time quickly became a book that I couldn't put down. I read the entire thing in two days and found myself completely captivated by the story. Trevor Noah's path from South Africa to present-day at The Daily Show is remarkable. Prior to reading this book, I didn't know about apartheid, which meant I couldn't appreciate how deeply it impacted communities of color. I found myself laughing, crying, and loving Trevor Noah even more by reading this book. 

Everything Is Beautiful In Its Time - 2020 has been a year of loss for so many of us and this book couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Over the summer one of my best friends lost her father after a long battle with cancer and several months later, my husband lost his grandmother, his last living grandparent. This book truly helped heal my heart and deepen the appreciation I have for my family. Author Jenna Bush Hager lost 3 of her 4 grandparents in the span of just one year and shares personal family stories and photos, allowing readers an intimate look at what it's like to grow up in not one, but two presidential families. This book was like therapy for me and I've since purchased it for friends who are going through heartbreak. I highly recommend it!

Reading is a love that I hope to pass along to my children. Several years ago while spending time in London I took my daughter to high tea sponsored by Daunt Books at the Langham Hotel and each child got to pick out a book to read and take home. My daughter (also named London), picked out Oi Frog!, a book she now knows by heart and reads out loud with joy. What are your favorite books for kids? Leave a comment down below. Oh, and if you love Oi Frog, you might also want to check out London's new favorite, Oi Dog

Shop Local

For convenience, I've linked the above titles to Amazon, but if you can, please consider shopping locally at your neighborhood book store. Here are a few of my favorites:

Elliot Bay Books

Queen Anne Book Company

Phinney Books

Three Trees Books


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