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Books of 2020: the health and wellbeing reads that got us through
December 8th 2020 / 0 comment
From recipe books to Hollywood memoirs, walking inspiration to sleep better science, and the transformational book that had singer Adele in raptures, these are our non-fiction reads of the year
If you're anything like us, you'll have made your way through your fair share of books in 2020. If the year has been good for anything, it's switching off with a book that transports you far away from real-life troubles.
From the latest cookery books to must-read memoirs, here are the literary delights we devoured this year – buy now to keep you busy in January 2021, because who knows what we'll be allowed to do...
For ‘new year new you’ vibes: Feel Great Lose Weight: Long term, simple habits for lasting and sustainable weight loss by Dr Rangan Chatterjee, £11.55
Released on December 31, this is Dr Rangan Chatterjee's first foray into weight loss books, but as Fearne Cotton points out, this is 'not a diet book', and more a whole new way of looking at what, why and how we eat, helping readers to create their own plan to build a healthier relationship with food.
Dr Rangan schools us on how to discover the cause of weight gain, how to nourish our bodies without crash diets and gruelling workouts and explains a toolbox of techniques to help you lose weight for good (if that's what you want).
For perfectionists: The Switch by Amanda Byram, £15.63
TV presenter Amanda Byram knows how to look after herself. Now aged 47, she's a Level 3 qualified personal trainer and owns a sportswear brand Body By Byram. But it's been a journey and making the 'Switch' from negative thinking and the drive for perfectionism to being kind to herself and flourishing is what this, her first book, is about. It's a warm and funny memoir full of practical tips and advice drawn from clinical evidence as well as her own experience. Looking for a life coach? She's your gal.
For fitness newbies: Joe Wicks 30 Day Kick Start Plan: 100 Delicious Recipes with Energy Boosting Workouts, £9.49
Joe Wicks made lockdown brighter for the nation and plans on revolutionising 2021 for us too with a 30-day fitness plan designed to help create new habits, keep us on track and generally feel brilliant and embody his positivity. This brand new book includes 100 recipes and ten workouts along with weekly plans to help you get into an exercise and eating routine. He's sold three million books already and we predict another mega-hit.
For reflecting on the year: Life in Pieces: Thoughts from a Year that Changed Us All by Dawn O'Porter, £6.49
Presenter Dawn O'Porter penned this during lockdown for anyone who feels they want to piece their life back together after a turbulent 2020. She writes on grief and identity, bad hair and sleep, parenting and spirituality. from a truly relatable standpoint. Prepare to giggle and weep as she eloquently puts into words how we've all been feeling this year.
For news junkies : Kamala Harris: The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, £8.49
America's next Vice President has been encouraging us to be bold and fearless ever since we first saw her on the presidential campaign trail so it's about time we learned a bit more about her. In this book Kamala write about how to tackle the greatest challenges we face, be those in our career or personal life. Prepare to feel seriously inspired.
For skincare nerds: Ingeborg Van Lotringen Great Skin - Secrets the Beauty Industry Doesn't Tell You, £9.15
Beauty director Inge's skincare bible is your one-stop-shop for advice on looking after your complexion, from how to tell if a product is worth the money, to an easy-to-digest guide to active ingredients and a breakdown of skin issues and what causes them. There's a deep drill down on ingredients, which even the most avid label-reader will take something new from. Inge's book should be your first port of call to work out what's behind the flashy product packaging is worth your pennies. Buy now
For NHS workers: Dear NHS: 100 Stories to Say Thank You, edited by Adam Kay, £8.49
This year has been the year of thanking our beloved NHS, and what better way than with a compilation of tales of people's personal experiences with the health service. Letters from Ed Sheeran, Jamie Oliver, Stephen Fry, Dawn French and Emma Watson make up this collection, curated by the best-selling author of This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay.
For eco warriors: Who Cares Wins: Reasons For Optimism in Our Changing World by Lily Cole
Model-turned-activist Lily Cole writes about the constructive ways to tackle climate change and explains why there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, despite a tendency towards negativity surrounding the state of the world. In this book Lily tackles everything from fast fashion to fast food, having spoken to people around the world who are working on solutions to tackle our biggest issues. You'll finish it feeling hopeful that we're able to make a difference.
For would-be adventurers: Wild Guide to Devon, Cornwall and South West: Hidden Places, Great Adventures and the Good Life, £14.99
This handbook is ideal for people who want to get off the beaten track, showcasing secret swimming spots, unspoiled walks and hidden gem restaurants that most tourists can't find. If 2020 has given you a taste of staycations, this is the book to make them extra special.
For skincare novices: Alice Hart-Davis The Tweakments Guide: Start with Skincare: What you really need to know about looking after your skin, £9.19
Alice Hart-Davis is an oracle when it comes to tweakments and she knows her way around skincare too. This is a no-nonsense guide for anyone curious about the skincare they're buying and is a great read for people who want to understand more about skincare science, the high-tech ingredients such as growth factors and peptides used, how they work and what makes some more effective than others.
For becoming your best self: Glennon Doyle Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living, £12.99
This bestseller was an Oprah Book Club smash and a big hit with singer Adele, who credited it with helping her discover her 'best self'. "This book will shake your brain and make your soul scream," she proclaimed on Instagram. "I am so ready for myself after reading this book! Read this book and have a highlighter on hand to make notes because you’ll want to refer back to it trust me! I never knew that I am solely responsible for my own joy, happiness and freedom!!"
Written by a US motivational speaker and self-help guru Doyle, a mother of three who later in life fell in love with and married a woman, it's part inspiration, part memoir and explores the joy and peace we can discover when we stop striving to meet the expectations of the world.
For sprucing up your meals: Nina Parker Saucy, £13
Chef Nina Parker believes a sauce makes a meal and has written an entire cookbook of unique sauces to jazz up mealtimes. Nina has cooked for the likes of Stormzy, Russell Brand and Millie Mackintosh and has more than 61,000 Instagram followers eagerly awaiting her next recipe. She struggled in lockdown like many of us she struggled to eat healthily and to find inspiration for meals each day while managing a busy workload. This is when the idea for Saucy was born. The book has recipes to jazz up the everyday things we all cook such as pasta and roast chicken. We haven't stopped making her Lockdown Chicken recipe since.
The self-help memoir: Matthew McConaughey Greenlights, £17.99
Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey calls this book a 'love letter to life' with 'raucous stories and outlaw wisdom' from his 50 years on the planet. He went back over his writings, poems and prayers while isolated in the desert, and found they came together to form an approach to life that makes the whole journey more satisfying. Knowing what to give the 'green light' to in our lives can help us live a fuller more authentic life, he says.
For frazzled parents: Letters on Motherhood by Giovanna Fletcher, £16.99
Written by the host of the Happy Mum Happy Baby podcast (and newly crowned Queen of the Castle in I'm A Celebrity) this book is a collation of letters Giovanna has written to her three young sons, Buzz, Buddy and Max, addressing everything from the guilt she feels for working to amusing anecdotes.
For feeling better from the inside: Happy Gut, Happy Mind: How to Feel Good From Within by Eve Kalanik, £25
Nutritional therapist Eve Kalanik explains how having a healthy gut is intrinsic to general wellbeing including supporting cognitive health. If you've ever wondered about the connection between gut and mind the makes the science accessible and gives compelling reasons to follow a gut-friendly diet and lifestyle. Eve loves wine and coffee so this is not about privation, but moderation. Her gut-nourishing recipes, which include pecan pie granola, monkfish nuggets and blueberry swirl cheesecake, come wine pairing suggestions.
For pub food at home: The Hand & Flowers Cookbook by Tom Kerridge, £35
If there was one thing we missed during the various lockdowns it was pub food. Luckily chef Tom Kerridge has put together this collection of delicious dishes from his Michelin star pub in Marlowe, The Hand and Flowers. Recipes include roast hog with salt-baked potatoes and apple sauce, slow-cooked duck breast, peas, duck-fat chips and gravy and chocolate and ale cake with salted caramel and muscovado ice cream.
For walk lovers: Short Walks in Beautiful Places: 100 Great British Routes, £9.78
If you know anyone who hasn't had their fill walks this year, this little handbook is the perfect inspiration for walks in 2021. It's broken into sections of the country with all walks between two and eight miles, taking in beautiful British scenery and little-known spots.
For heart-warming messages: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy, £12.99
Originally published in 2019, the hardback of this charming illustration book came out in October of this year with a new rainbow illustration to mark a particularly hard year for many of us. Charlie Mackesy's paintings are accompanied by delicate calligraphic text with messages of kindness, hope, friendship and love. Chances are you've seen the art on your scrolls through Instagram and they feel all the more special in hard copy.
For peri-menopausal mates: The New Hot: Taking on the Menopause with Attitude and Style by Meg Matthews, £12.59
Meg Matthews writes an honest, funny and informative take on the menopause, full of essential advice for people going through it, aiming to break down taboos and communicate openly about what to expect. She details 34 possible menopause symptoms, how to ask your GP for help, what to eat to support yourself and how best to exercise.
For reconnecting with cooking: Nigella Lawson Cook, Eat, Repeat, £12
In a year when we ate at home far more than ever, Nigella's latest recipe book is here to reignite our passion for being in the kitchen and focuses on embracing cooking as a series of rituals. Nigella wrote most of the book during the first lockdown and acknowledges the way cooking changed in that period, such as not being able to pop out to pick up missing ingredients or no longer cooking for lots of people. As such many of the recipes are just for two and are as homely as you might expect from Nigella including short rib stew, cheesecake and creme caramel.
For staying well right now: Immunity: The Science of Staying Well by Jenna Macciochi, £12.98
Released back in April at the height of the pandemic in the UK, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of how our immune system works to protect us. Written by immunologist Dr Jenna Macciochi it decodes what it means to be well and explore the secrets of people who never seem to get ill as well as debunking myths about immunity.
For stress-proofing your mind: How to Build a Healthy Brain by Kimberley Wilson, £11.92
Psychologist and host of the Stronger Minds podcast Kimberley Wilson calls her book 'a fitness regime for the brain' and is about how to protect our brain against depression and Alzheimer's with science-backed advice on simple changes we can make to feel better in the short term and be less likely to develop age-related illnesses in the future.
For sleep-deprived pals: Fast Asleep: How to get a really good night's rest by Dr Michael Mosley, £4.99
It's no secret that 2020 has been a year of troubled sleep for many of us so this book from Fast 800 Diet doctor Michael Mosley came at just the right time when it landed in March. Prone to insomnia himself, Michael Mosley explains what happens when we sleep, what triggers common sleep problems and why standard advice rarely works. It includes tips for everyone including sleep-shy teens and people on night shifts and includes recipes to help boost sleep.