Following are my completely subjective favorite reads of 2020. Books didn’t have to be published in 2020, just read by me this year. So in no particular order, here we go…
Universal Love: Stories by Alexander Weinstein
An amazing book of short stories all centered around the theme of how near-future technologies will change and shape the ways we humans connect to each other -- from romantic, friendship, to familial. These stories hit the sweet spot between exploring big ideas while grounding them in the personal stories of the main characters.
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
This novella about a citizenship is tense and suspenseful, and chock-full of social commentary. Because Idir is such a likable main character it made the stakes so much higher because I just didn’t want any of the bad stuff that was happening to him to be happening to him. I don’t want to give away too many of the twists, but just know the plot is a lot more than what it seems in the opening chapters.
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen
This isn’t just a book about what asexuality is as a sexual orientation or what it is to the author (though it covers both) but an exploration of when we take asexuality into account how it makes us re-exam how we as a society assume how everyone feels or should feel about sex and relationships, as well as what it is the “right” or “healthy” way to engage in these.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
I read this masterpiece of a book-in-verse by Jason Reynolds in one day. When a teenage boy’s brother is killed in gang-related violence, he has to decide whether or not to continue the cycle by avenging his death. Takes place primarily during the length of an elevator ride down the apartment building. Powerful and heart-wrenching.
March: Book 1, 2, 3 by John Lewis
I finished reading this series of memoir graphic novels coincidentally just around John Lewis’ death. Framed around Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Lewis reflects back on his time and work in the Civil Rights Movement, providing insight and depth I have never gotten from the history textbooks: the inner politics of the different civil rights organizations, the philosophy of nonviolent protests, the downright brutality of protestors and civil rights workers faced. It’s a history lesson that’s 100% percent applicable to today.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Technically a reread, but the first time I read it as an adult (the real first time I read it was in high school), but it has to be included because reading this classic novel a second time blew my mind. Main character and narrator Holden Caulfield is either adored by readers for his unique perspective on the world or loathed by readers for his unique (read: pretentious) perspective on the world. Yes, Holden is pretentious (he’s a #teenager with #opinions); however, it slowly dawned on me during this read through that this story of young man’s weird little weekend romp in New York City after he flunks out of yet another school is actually chronicling his mental breakdown as he is desperately trying to connect with people while clearly not over the death of his younger brother. It is, in fact, quite heartbreaking. And I feel like this a whole giant layer of the story that is usually ignored in the pop culture discourse in favor of deciding who is the real phony. If this is a novel you read and rolled your eyes over in high school, it is worth another look.
Insights from the life of an aspiring, struggling writer; a passionate reader, and a working librarian.
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