Life lessons from what I read in 2020

3 min readJan 12, 2021

As the virus that must not be named continues to punctuate our daily lives in varying degrees, reading remains an accessible joy and a refreshing constant as we attempt to navigate a new normal.

“The first thing that reading teaches us is how to be alone” — Jonathan Franzen

Some say reading is a solo sport—historically considered a quiet friend, and more recently, praised as the premium iso pastime—yet, the origin of the word read (n. the act of reading) has its roots in meanings such as: “advise, counsel, persuade; discuss, deliberate; rule, guide; arrange, equip…”.

In fact, most languages use a word that stems from the notion to “gather up” as their word for “read”. Which gives me confidence reading might also have the power to bring us together (at least in spirit, if not proximity!).

So, gather round friends. This is a short “gather up” of insights from some of the books I read in 2020 (yes, I am one of those people who keeps a list!).

Photo by Vlad Hilitanu on Unsplash
  1. “Your steps and your breath are always there to help you heal yourself” (from Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh). When life get’s all “2020” remember to breathe and, if you can, take a walk (even with a mask on!) — these are just a few helpful strategies for when your brain has too many tabs open.
  2. Librarians are bad-ass. Neil Gaiman is famously quoted to have said “Rule number one: Don’t fuck with librarians”. After reading The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer I now understand why. Without giving anything away, I can share with confidence that this epic story is the peak dose of bibliotherapy for the current state of the world!
  3. When the world seems small. Think big! Right now in Australia we are not allowed to travel interstate yet alone overseas. It’s for our safety. But it’s also heartbreaking to be separated from loved ones by invisible borders. Thankfully, our imagination is always open to us (see quote below) and the challenge to get drunk on the pedestrian aspects of life is kinda fun!

“[T]he hallmark of a true…