Last January I set a goal to read 50 books this year. As a mere mortal, I had no inkling that the world as we knew it would halt, my office would become the $15-mid-March-OfferUp- procured desk jammed next to my bed, or that I’d leave my job. All setting up for BIG READING ENERGY IN 2020.
As a better reader than accountant, it took me longer than it should have to export my Goodreads and cross-reference against my bookshelf to compile the list below of the 60 books I read this year. Quick highlights (below) and longer ponderings (below below) can be skipped if you want to get right to the list.
My three favorite books this year were:
Some Ramblings on Reading:
Thank you for entertaining my childhood aspirations to be a book editor which was really a guise to be able to read all the time and talk about books. And look at us now! The year is 2020 (for briefly longer, good riddance), there are no parties to make excuses not to go to, so we can just… read.
I personally had a mini-Renaissance, returning to my book-kid roots and reading more fiction and memoirs than I have since grade school. In years past, I’ve admittedly over-indexed on self-help and business books, so this is a great re-righting of the ship. Makes sense that in a year when we weren’t able to live out our own stories that we would escape into those of others, both real and pretend. When it comes to escapism versus reality, maybe it is a matter of “both, and” (more here on this from NPR).
This is also the year that I discovered my real love language is actually just sending books to, and receiving books from, people that I love or have crushes on. The caveat here is that it must be a book that I will like and it must be from a person that I like. This was a delightful way to receive Little Weirds, Zero to One, and a book of short stories; and to gift 9 copies of Untamed in mid-March.
On a tangential note, many of the memoirs I read this year discussed therapy at length (Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Group). To my surprise and dismay, reading about therapists doesn’t actually have the same benefits as going to therapy itself. As such, I took the advice that Lori Gottlieb’s title suggests and started talking to someone.
The author I’m most grateful to have discovered this year is Melissa Febos. I’m eagerly anticipating her next book, Girlhood, out in March. Coming across Melissa Febos in The Sewanee Review is potentially the best thing to happen to my 2020. I also learned that many of the authors I deeply admire are all friends and were published in The Sewanee Review in the early days of their careers (Melissa Febos, Stephanie Danler, Lisa Taddeo, Garth Greenwell, & more). A bit like running into your college professors at a bar and realizing they’re all best pals!
A book that has stuck with me through the years in concept, (though the characters have largely escaped me), is The Little Paris Bookshop. If I remember correctly, the protagonist was a bookseller who would “prescribe” specific books to cure his customers of the specific emotional hardship that was taxing them. That being said, one of my greatest joys is recommending books. No, I’m not claiming to be a book doctor. Though if you tell me what you are looking for and I’d be delighted to share a title or two that might do the trick.
As Emma Straub says: Books. Are. Magic!!!
Without any further ado, I present to you, 60 books in 2020!
Please buy local if you choose to buy!
From you, my dear readers, I would love to know:
P.S. Want to caveat that there were three weeks when I was in between jobs and all I did was read. If you are my new employer and you are reading this, I promise I’m doing the job I am being paid to do!!!