2020 Book Review: The Good, The Weird, and The Entertaining

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This book review will keep you reading all year long!

 

At the beginning of 2020, I heard many friends and coworkers say their New Year’s resolution was to read more. Some downloaded apps to help encourage their progress, some recruited reading buddies for added accountability, and some, I suspect, backed quietly away from the dumpster fire that was 2020 without cracking open a single one. Me? I didn’t officially resolve to read more but read more, I did. With the help of the best book club ever, I managed to read at least two books a month and actually enjoyed most of them!

Here are some of the highlights:

The winner of the “You Haven’t Read [INSERT POPULAR BOOK HERE]?!” category:

Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng

Long story short: it lived up to the hype. I read it in 48 hours. Note: I don’t have Hulu, so I haven’t seen the series and can’t compare, but with a cast including Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, it has to be entertaining!

 

The winner of the “Ooof, this makes me uncomfortable…” category:

White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo

Long story short:  I needed to get uncomfortable on the topic of racial inequality in America, and this one delivered. It’s also a great pick for a book club if you’re willing to go there (and you definitely should).

 

The winner of the “Must Read at Least One WWII Historical Fiction Novel a Year” category:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris

Actually not fiction per se, but an interpretation of real-life events based on the author’s interviews and research. I have a weakness for WWII fiction, especially the Holocaust, and this one did not disappoint. And I was pleased to learn the author followed up with a sequel …

Runner Up: Cilke’s Journey, by Heather Morris

 

The winner of the “Rabbit Hole” category:

The Nazis Next Door, by Eric Lichtblau

Truth really is stranger than fiction. This went along nicely with my binge-watching of The Hunters on Amazon Prime.

 

Best Memoir:

When Life Gives You Pears, by Jeannie Gaffigan

Her husband isn’t the only funny one in the family! Jeannie Gaffigan shares her recovery from brain surgery with humor and wisdom. 

 

Best Investigational Journalism:

Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou

Another shockingly true story that is well researched and written. It was so good that I actually made it a beach read!

Runner up:  Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

The lengths the author went to investigating exactly how this seemingly random guy died in the middle of Alaska is fascinating and admirable.

 

Winner of the “Not Usually My Type of Thing” category:

Good Talk, by Mira Jacob

The author shares her coming of age and experience with race in America through a graphic novel. Even though it was perfectly fine to read on my Kindle, I’d recommend an actual book for this one.

 

Winner of the “I Can’t Believe I Read That!” category:

Midnight Sun, by Stephenie Meyer

In the fall of 2008, I was job hunting with a lot of time on my hands so a friend introduced me to the Twilight series. It was a great series to “binge-read,” so I felt compelled to finish what I started with this latest installation. Not great, but sometimes it’s best to indulge your nostalgia.

 

 

Best Audiobook:

an old book with headphones on it next to a cup of coffee on a wooden slatted table

Tie between Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey and Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Pro tip:  Anytime a memoir is read by the actual author, and the author happens to have an entertaining personality, you should choose audiobook over traditional format. 

 

 

Winner of the “I Wanted to Like It / Finish It But Just Couldn’t” category:

Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Caroline Fraser

I grew up rereading the Little House on the Prairie series annually and have actually visited the museum dedicated to her in Mansfield, MO. But, despite my love, this read was just a bit too long and too dry to see it through to the end.

Runner Up:  The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

So popular that the only version I had a chance of borrowing through the library was the large print, and the size of the book alone prevented me from ever actually cracking it open!

 

 

Whether you devour books by the day or rarely find time for the latest bestseller, I wish you happy reading in 2021!

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