This should have been the year I read many more books than I did. Covid 19 kept us all on a tight leash with few distractions beyond reading, streaming and eating. But then there was that election. With millions of others, I ceaselessly roamed online news left, right and center trying to glean the latest political insights. I consumed Covid 19 stories like it was a magic elixir to avoidance. My 2020 attention span was fraught and fragmented.
Okay, enough excuses! I did read lots of books that were good, bad and indifferent. But I should/could have read so much more. Please share any great reads I missed. Hopefully, 2021 will be a year of more books and less death and news. And now for the list:
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I didn’t love this one but was clearly in the minority.
Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. Not my favorite Allende.
Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo. Biography of America’s first Native American Poet Laureate
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Not much to read here either.
The Vegetarian by Han King. At first compelling and then increasingly bizarre if you like that stuff.
Consider This Senora by Harriet Doerr. Not as good as her first.
*Euphoria by Lily King. One of my faves. Anthropologists’ menage a trois in the jungle.
*American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Tops my list of great reads (or listens). Despite controversy, this is a powerful immigrant tale.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. A pleasant, time passing story.
Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. Ponzi scheme, murder, mysterious graffiti. Escapism!
Such a Fun Age by Keily Reid. Not really.
Wych Elm by Tana French. My first French mystery and my last.
*Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Want more plague? This moving medieval tale fits the bill.
*The Order by Daniel Silva. What’s a year without our hero Gabriel Allon? Luckily, Silva delivered.
*Book of Salt by Monique Truong. Paris life of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein through the fictional eyes of their Vietnamese cook. Gorgeous writing!
*Squeeze Me by Carl Hiasson. Perfect for ending the Trump years. A madcap murder in the definitively crazy state of Florida.
*Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Perfect reading for this year of racial reckoning. Documenting the great Black migration from the south through detailed personal histories over decades.
Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. Not a keeper!
*Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous. Started off disliking and then became enamored of the Duchess’ backstory.
*Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf. Gorgeous, spare story of two widows.
Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. Meh.
*The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante. Another extraordinary look into the inner lives of young women on the cusp of adulthood.
*Normal People by Sally Rooney. Beautifully written arc of a complicated romance.
*Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Deserving of all accolades. Literary imagining of Shakespeare’s backstory.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum. Disturbing story of a Palestinian woman trying to find her way in America
*The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet. Glad to finish the year with this book that made many best lists. Lots to digest in a well-crafted story.
Happy end of 2020 everyone!