I am an avid reader. I have always loved getting lost in exciting book adventures or learning things about unkown worlds. There is something about reading that is magical to me, and if I have one addiction in this world, it’s reading.
Because of that, and the world that was 2020, I read 63 books this year! That is an all time record for me. I usually clock in somewhere between 12-30 per year, but this year I blew that out of the park.
Over the years, my tastes in books have changed. When I was a teenager and young adult, I LOVED chick lit, the book version of romantic comedies. Then, I merged into sci-fi, fantasy and then into historical fiction. More recently, my favorite has been non-fiction titles about history and the human mind. I still enjoy all genres, and read everything, but this year, as you can tell, most of my favorites have been non fiction.
Before I delve into my top 10/most recommended books of 2020, I just want put in a plug for the app Goodreads and say that if you’re even a casual reader, Goodreads is for you! It tracks books, allows you to see what your friends are reading, their book reviews and so much more! Get it now! Also, this blog is about my top 10 books I read this year, but I LOVED so many more! So, if you are interested in the rest of my “read” list this year. Check that out here >>>>>>https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/19435656
Ok, lets dig into this.
10. My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray
This fictional novel is based around the true events of Eliza Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s wife. There is not a whole lot documented about Eliza, but wow, she is an interesting lady that lived through SO much in American history! She was an American before America was. She was front and center during the Revolutionary War as a young adult and then saw America struggle to become a country in the post war era. In history classes, we mostly learn about our founding fathers simply creating and setting up our country, but this book really puts into perspective all the horror, struggle and down right awful politics that happened in order to make America at all. Besides having so many children, surviving many public scandals and having her husband die a dramatic and early death, Eliza lived until nearly the beginning of the Civil War and actually met Abraham Lincoln! Anyone interested in female historical characters, needs to read this book. It mixes history with novelization for a captivating outcome.
9. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
This story dives into the lives of the traveling horseback librarians of Kentucky in the 1930’s. This women-led library, traveled hundreds of miles just to deliver books to remote and sometimes illiterate people of the backwoods. It is a fictional story, but based on some true events. The story engulfs history, women power, intrigue and romance into a beautiful story that I could not put down.
8. One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten
Such a unique concept for a book and story, this non-fiction book is based on a collection of somewhat average events that happened on a single December day in 1987. The author picked a random date and began researching. It was fascinating to discover just how extraordinary any single day can be. This book discovered how in one day a family can be destroyed, a miracle can happen, a criminal can be convicted or a celebrity can be born. All based on actual events and actual people, this book shows how once day, one event, one person can affect so much in a country of millions!
7. The Five: The Lives of Jack the Ripper’s Women by Hallie Rubenhold
When I lived in England, I went on a “Jack the Ripper Tour”. We traveled around London to the known sites where Jack’s murder victims were found and learned about it. It was cool and creepy as this tour of course took place at night. This was years ago, but this book went SO much more into the lives and the living conditions of the women he killed. They were not all prostitutes, but all were merely poor women of the time, living in horrible situations. It was fascinating! The book is written in a way to make you truly feel like you know these women victims. If anything, it made me even more grateful I live in 21st century America and not 19th century London!
6. Blackout: How Black America Can Make Its Second Escape from the Democratic Party by Candace Owens
I discovered this awesome woman named Candace Owens this year. Her sense of truth, integrity, straight forwardness and ability to explain things astutely, really amazed me! She is just so intelligent! So, of course I had to get her book when it came out this year. I appreciate her logical thinking and ability to see more than what people tell her she should see. She is a great mind, and this book points out truths in the American political arena. If you are a conservative or a liberal, this book offers numerous ideas and methods that we can all adopt in order to make a better America!
5. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
I read this novel before the pandemic kicked off and I am glad I did. This book is based around a -wouldn’t you know it- a global pandemic! The book’s fictional illness killed all but a few thousand of the worldwide population and all within a few weeks, so it was pretty different from reality. What makes this book so cool is the writing. It covers several characters, from both before the pandemic and twenty years later. It goes towards a “post apocalyptic universe” where survivors do their best to keep on living and figure out what happened in the world. A definite must read for sci-fi fans!
4. Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood but Trevor Noah
Wow, talk about an unknown world partly discovered! I knew nothing about Trevor Noah nor that he was a celebrity, but this book peaked my interest as I felt like South Africa is so rarely the setting of stories. I read this book in two days as I just wanted to know more. Trevor’s childhood was so vastly different from anything I had known and the culture in South Africa blew my mind! If you want to expand your view of the world and learn about a cool country from a personal point of view, read this book!
3. Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Dimick
Another non-fiction book for you that explains so much about the secretive North Korea. Books like this helped me understand a world so different from my own. This books goes into the history, political views, secretiveness of North Korea told mainly from individuals who have lived it! I had no idea North Korea was this extreme and all the famine and hardships because of the draconian communism! Yet again, if you want to learn more about other cultures, why people do what they do and how that effects the rest of the world, you can’t not read this book!
2. Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson
Talk about history and intrigue! This books covers a relativity unknown serial killer during the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. You will think you are reading a novel, but this book is actually non fiction as it digs into historical evidence and really uncovers the mind of this late 19th century killer. You will not be able to stop turning pages! Author Erik Larson does not disappointing again ( I’ve read most of his books). This book is really amazing!
1. The Coddling of the the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff
I started this book in early 2020, before the world went crazy. I didn’t actually finish it until months later as I had to process what I was reading very slowly. It’s not a book you can gobble up quickly. This book mostly deals with the current atmosphere on American universities. It questions the concept of “safety” and how, in the need to make people feel “safe”, we are actually hurting them more. The constant coddling, and making life easier for young people, is hurting them and creating a generation of non free thinkers (since speakers of opposing view points have been banned from campuses) and the whole world is concerned with not “offending” others. This book challenges the line between physical and mental safety and whose responsibility it is. What made this book my number one book for the entire year- and my only 5 star rating- is because I could not stop thinking about it and constantly wanted to find someone to talk to about it. I wanted – and still do- want to find a young/recent college graduate and get their perspective and thoughts about this book. I want to bring back debate, and things that make others uncomfortable. This book launched my 2020 vigor in “un group think” tendencies. When I started this book, I had no idea that it would lead my view point (and disgust) into the COVID 19 Pandemic strategies and how they hurt more than they helped. If you are a person who takes pride in thinking for your self, either young or old, read this book!!!! I wish every American would!