One of my annual goals is to read 25 books per year and despite all of the challenges of 2020, once again I have been able to hit this target.

Some books are for self-education, some purely for entertainment, but they have all made a positive contribution to maintaining a healthy attitude and expanding my mind.

So, here are my top 10 favourites from 2020:

10.  Boston Celtics: Where Have You Gone? Robert Parish, Nate Archibald, Bill Sharman, and Other Celtic Greats By Michael McClellan. As a long-time Boston Celtics fan, I really enjoyed this account of past players.  Some were stars, others much less known, but their basketball careers are outlines, followed by the impact that it has had on their lives since.  Not for everyone, but for me, an enjoyable read.

9.  Never Grow Up By Jackie Chan. As a fan of his movies, I had heard that he had a remarkable background and this entertaining autobiography certainly told that tale well. Incredibly resilient, phenomenally hard-working, generous and quite possibly nuts, I loved this open and honest account of his great adventure through life.

8. The Jungle Book By Rudyard Kipling. When it looked as though times would be tough, I found a free version of this classic to download on my kindle and it didn’t disappoint. If you haven’t read this yet, do yourself a favour.

7.  The Way of the Runner By Adharanand Finn. I took up running in 2019 and enjoy reading about those who are passionate about the sport. This account of the Japanese Ekiden runners was very entertaining and has inspired our family to consider attempting a local Ekiden in mid-2021. I had better start training. Perhaps I should read this again.

6.  The Hard Way By Konrad Marshall. Another year, another Richmond AFL premiership. Due to the circumstances of the year, this one isn’t as detailed as the previous two books from 2017 and 2019, but Konrad is a fantastic writer and the insights that he gets from some of the key movers and shakers from the Tigers are brilliant. Read it in a week and devoured every word.

5.  The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance By David Epstein. Not just a boring science book, but a fantastic explanation of many of the extraordinary achievements from sporting history. Couldn’t put this one down.

4.  The Things That Make Us: Life, Loss and Football By Nick Riewoldt. The autobiography of one of my Mum’s favourite footballers, she has been recommending this one to me for years. Nick had a great sporting career, but his off-field life is just as compelling. Great choice Mum, loved it.

3. The Sellout: A Novel By Paul Beatty.  A Pulitzer Prize winning novel from 2016, this book manages to combine complex racial themes with outrageous comedy.  Brilliant writing, extraordinary characters and a wonderful read that was perfect for this year.

2. Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion By Pete Carroll. One of the books that has influenced Richmond coach, Damien Hardwick, I just had to get my hands on this one.  Some brilliant leadership principles here and as Carroll himself says, “Winning Forever is not about the final score; it’s about competing and striving to be the best. If you are in this pursuit, then you’re already winning.”

1.  The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership By Sam Walker. Great story-telling and some wonderful examples of leadership that I learned a lot from.  Not all of the lessons were conventional, but this was undoubtedly my favourite book this year.

As I look back, a few books were very unlucky to miss out, including the biography of ex-prisoner, Marlion Pickett, who remarkably won a premiership in his first AFL game in 2019 and a couple by Andy Andrews and Max Lucado, but these top 10 are those that stood out the most.

I’m always looking for great recommendations, so what was your favourite book from 2020?