One of my goals for 2020 was to read more. A few years ago, I got back into reading for pleasure after years of reading for the sole purpose of advancing my education or career (both of which destroyed the enjoyment aspect of reading for a hot minute). And in 2019, I managed to get at least one book in per month, which made me feel like I was getting back on track. But I wanted more.
Little did I know that the emergence of a global pandemic would mean I’d have more time on my hands than ever to accomplish such a goal. And here we are. I got in a bunch of reading this year, blending fiction and nonfiction with a variety of novels, short stories, essays, and memoirs. I even read through an entire TV series’ screenplay (See my recommendations list below for that one).
Time to dive into the books I tackled this year!
These were my top picks from my 2020 reading list!
Burn It Down: Women Writing About Anger (Nonfiction) edited by Lilly Dancyger
I was angry a lot this year, and this book felt cathartic. It’s a compilation of essays written by women of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, gender expressions, and sexual orientations. And the one thing that unites them is their fury. Some of the essays are hilarious, others are righteous, and a few are heartbreaking.
Her Body and Other Parties (Fiction) by Carmen Maria Machado
This short story collection is…otherworldly. That’s probably the best way to describe it. Just a collection of eerie stories. “The Husband Stitch” was one of my favorites since it’s based on “The Girl with the Green Ribbon,” but “Especially Heinous” was wild, too. It was a reimagining of Law & Order: SVU episodes.
A Memory Called Empire (Fiction) by Arkady Martine
I’ve been burned in the past by sci-fi reads, but A Memory Called Empire was so different. It’s queer, it doesn’t overdo the world-building, and the plot keeps you moving. Here’s the gist: The main character assumes the memories of her murdered predecessor and is thrust into an unfamiliar world where she must figure out her role in the political system while also trying to uncover why her predecessor was murdered.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat (Nonfiction) by Aubrey Gordon
Are you trying to unlearn fatphobia and stop thinking about bodies from a point of shame? This is the book for you. Aubrey Gordon is out here doing the lord’s work. She does an excellent job of breaking down the cultural and social attitudes toward fat, as well as how anti-fat biases take over our conversations about health.
Winter Counts (Fiction) by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
I loved this book. An absolute page-turner of a crime thriller. Written by a citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, the story follows a vigilante on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota who tries to keep his nephew out of harm and prevent drugs from infiltrating his already struggling community, which reconnects him with his ex-girlfriend and unearthed trauma.
Other books I read in 2020 that I would totally recommend checking out!
- Fleabag: The Scriptures, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Screenplay)
- How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Jenny Odell (Nonfiction)
- I Feel Bad About My Neck (And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman), Nora Ephron (Nonfiction)
- It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America, Reniqua Allen (Nonfiction)
- Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey (Fiction)
- Obviously: Stories from My Timeline, Akilah Hughes (Nonfiction)
- The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones (Fiction)
- The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher (Nonfiction)
- Solutions and Other Problems, Allie Brosch (Nonfiction)
- Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston (Fiction)
- Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe (Fiction)
- Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino (Nonfiction)
- What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Lesley Nneka Arimah (Fiction)
- Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens (Fiction)
- Wow, No Thank You, Samantha Irby (Nonfiction)
Not My Bag
There were a few books I finished this year that weren’t bad, but that didn’t really stick with me. You know, where you’re like “I get why other people like this, but it’s not for me”? It’s that.
- The Familiar Dark, Amy Engel (Fiction)
- My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh (Fiction)
- Real Life, Brandon Taylor (Fiction)
- Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams (Fiction)
And now I’m gonna pick up the pace with my 2021 reads!