Book List for 2020

In 2019, I read 70 books. In 2020, I read just 30 books. I had a really hard time concentrating on reading, and the time that I had previously reserved for reading (during my commute) was no longer a time that ever happened. Regardless, these are the few books I read this year. While I hope to continue to never commute in 2021, I do intend to find other moments to read.

If the libraries ever reopen, maybe I’ll send them my fancy poster.
  1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. 4 Stars. First book of 2020! I picked up this book in the hopes that it would confirm or refute my theory that I’m an introvert. I think I’m an introvert?
  2. The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell. 3 stars. It was a fun afternoon read but nothing terrific.
  3. A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea, by Masaji Ishikawa. 4 stars. One true and very depressing but well-told story.
  4. Sunny Rolls the Dice, by Jennifer L Holm. 4 stars. This is a graphic novel I bought for Samir. As he gets older, his reading materials get more interesting. This was about a girl in the 1980s playing D&D with a bunch of guys. Some of us have already been there in real life!
  5. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner. 4 stars. There is something overly dramatic about reading this while in bed with the flu that I appreciate (note that this was read in January).
  6. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez. 4 stars. I was over being sick, so this wasn’t as dramatic, but I enjoyed the reverse murder mystery of it all.
  7. The Witches: Salem 1692, by Stacy Schiff. 4 stars. This is a dense tome about the Salem Witch Trials, a period of history that has always held my interest.
  8. Journey into the Whirlwind, by Evgenia Ginzburg. 4 stars. This is a nonfiction book about a woman’s life in Stalin’s Russian prisons and labor camps. Compelling and depressing.
  9. Hex Wives, by Ben Blacker. 3 stars. A graphic novel about witches that is nowhere near as good as the new Sabrina.
  10. Gardening Basics, Time-Life Books. 4 stars. Yes, I did read this from cover-to-cover and it was very helpful.
  11. Fake Blood, by Whitney Gardner. 3 stars. My son got this graphic novel from the library. It looked interesting, but I can’t remember much, so I guess it was not all that interesting?
  12. A People’s Tragedy: A History of the Russian Revolution, by Orlando Figes. 3 stars. Honestly, I cannot really remember what prompted me to borrow this from the library last February.
  13. The Mechanical, by Ian Tregillis. 4 stars. I don’t read a lot of fantasy, but this was really great, and I’m reminded I want to read the next book in the series whenever the libraries in NYC reopen.
  14. Graveyard Shakes, by Laura Terry. 3 stars. Another book my son got out from the library.
  15. Compost, by Clare Foster. 3 stars. Can you tell I tried composting last year?
  16. The Garden Organic Book of Compost, by Pauline Pears. 4 stars. I guess I liked this one a bit more.
  17. The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understand the Cosmos, by Leonard Mlodinow. 5 stars. Super interesting book about human evolution. The last book I read on the subway.
  18. Cat Among the Pigeons, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. It had been awhile since I read a Christie. Always entertaining.
  19. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten. 2 stars. I read this for a book club, but I didn’t like it.
  20. The Plague, by Albert Camus. 4 stars. Because sometimes it’s best to lean into things? The plague in this book lasted only three months.
  21. Pax, by Sara Pennypacker. 5 stars. My husband bought this book for my son, but a lot of very disturbing things happen right at the beginning and he refused to read further. I loved it, though.
  22. Then She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell. 3 stars. I read this for a book club and enjoyed it.
  23. Piranesi, by Susanna Clark. 5 stars. I really enjoyed this book and was sad it was so short and thus over so soon.
  24. Stealing Home, by Sherryl Woods. 1 star. I read this for a book club but it is absolutely not to my taste. Every character was awful.
  25. Crooked House, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. A fun afternoon read.
  26. Tomboyland: Essays, by Melissa Faliveno. 4 stars. I usually don’t read books of essays but this was free for Pride Month and I really enjoyed it.
  27. Out of the Silence: After the Crash, by Edwardo Strauch Urioste. 4 stars. For some reason, I’ve always had a mild obsession with the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed into the Andes in 1972. This book was actually really beautiful, especially when the author spoke of having a spiritual connection to the Andes.
  28. Sapiens: A Graphic History: The Birth of Humankind, by David Vandermeulen. 5 stars. I got this for my son, but I think it’s above his head for a few more years. I want to buy the actual book as well.
  29. I Want To Be Where the Normal People Are, by Rachel Bloom. 4 stars. An autobiography. I think I’ve read very few of those.
  30. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. 3 stars. I think I missed reading this in high school, so I thought I would give it a shot. That said, I didn’t love it.

Book List for 2019 (Part 2 of 2)

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Since I didn’t enjoy any other book this year as much as Lolly Willowes, here is another great version of the cover!

I started my book list for 2019 here, but it was too long to write out all at once, so this is the remainder.

31. The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. 5 stars. This is one I thought about a lot afterward and once I started looking at Gregor’s sister as the protagonist, I liked it a lot more.

32. The Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie. 4 stars. The second Poirot novel. At this point, they started bleeding into each other a bit, but still fun.

33. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. 4 stars. I wanted to read this especially after reading Kindred, but also because I think everyone should read it. While Kindred was more viscerally upsetting, this book is definitely more emotionally upsetting.

34. Murder in Mesopotamia, by Agatha Christie. 4 stars. Another Poirot novel that my library had. By this point, I fully grasped the point and use of the illustrations.

35. In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware. 3 stars. I enjoyed this and read it in a day but it was predictable. Still a fun way to spend a day.

36. Death on the Nile, by Agatha Christie. 4 stars. Yet another Poirot novel.

37. The Woman in Cabin 1o, by Ruth Ware. 4 stars. I read this right after Death on the Nile, so I was confused because this book is actually the exact same. There is no way Ware didn’t just read the Christie book and say, “Hmmmm, I can also write that book.”

38. $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer. I liked the topic of this book and it has valuable information, but the way it was presented didn’t grab me.

39. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. 4 stars. I admit that I wanted to watch the show, but I don’t like watching a movie or show before reading a book. I really liked both and I am having trouble telling them apart because I started watching the show the same day I finished the book.

40. Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote. 5 stars. I can’t believe I never read this before! The version I had from the library also had a short story called, “A Christmas Memory.” I read this story while on a bus and was sobbing hysterically over how good it was.

41. The Murder at the Vicarage, by Agatha Christie. 3 stars. The first Miss Marple book.

42. The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware. 3 stars. Probably my least favorite Ruth Ware book but still fun.

43. Rawblood, by Catriona Ward. 5 stars. I don’t read that much horror, much less gothic horror. The end of this was just perfect. I read it very quickly, waited about an hour, and then re-read the last few chapters, just to experience it again.

44. An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore. 4 stars. This is one I read because I can’t believe I’ve not read it before. Probably should read something more current about this topic, however.

45. Ark, by Veronica Roth. 5 stars. This was in a set of novellas I got free from Amazon. Recommended!

46. The Last Conversation, by Paul Tremblay. 5 stars. Same as above but I think this was my favorite in the set.

47. Summer Frost, by Blake Crouch. 4 stars. Same collection as above.

48. Emergency Skin, by N.K. Jemisin. 5 stars. Another good one from the same collection.

49. You Have Arrived at Your Destination, by Amor Towles. 3 stars. The only one from the collection I didn’t care for.

50. The Turn of the Key, by Ruth Ware. 4 stars. The newest Ware novel is a retelling of the classic Henry James novel. I liked it!

51. In the Woods, by Tana French. 4 stars. This was recommended to me by a ton of people. It was fun!

52. Three Women, by Lisa Taddeo. 1 star. This was a book I read for a book club. I hated it. I can’t even how much I hated it. I am glad most of the reviews I’m seen around are also very negative.

52. Raising Boys, by Steve Biddulph. 1 star. Sexist and gendered. I read this because I have two boy children. The advice given in the first chapter was basically to stand back and let the male parent do it. Nothing about gender being a spectrum, or what if the parents are the same sex? bleh.

53. Ghosts, by Raina Telgemeir. 5 stars. This is a young adult graphic novel that my older son read, but it’s so good!

54. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. 4 stars. I was embarrassed that I never read any Bradbury, so I read the most well-known Bradbury novel. The latent sexism bothered me, so I couldn’t give it the full 5 stars.

55. A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf. 5 stars. Another book every woman should read!

56. The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides. 3 stars. This is another book from a book club. It was fun but predictable.

57. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. 5 stars. Really great book that also was made into a great movie!

58. Lilith’s Brood, by Octavia Butler. 4 stars. This is three books in one. If alien-human threesomes are your thing, then you should absolutely read this book.

59. The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro. 5 stars. Such a great book! I want to watch the movie, but I can’t find it for free anywhere.

60. Unspeakable Things, by Jess Lourey. 2 stars. I got this book for a free promotion and read it quickly, but there are a ton of plot holes.

61. What Should I Do with My Life?, by Po Bronson. 2 stars. This book did not help me answer the titular question at all.

62. The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future, by Ryder Carroll. 4 stars. For a book that suggests brevity, the title is pretty long. Anyway, I decided to start a bullet journal in 2020, and this book was helpful.

63. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl. 4 stars. Part 1 of this book was about the author’s experience in Nazi concentration camps, and was horrifying. Part 2 was about the therapeutic technique of logotherapy, which I’m not sure I fully understand, but I believe is mostly concerned with ascribing meaning to meaningless events to help depressed persons function in the meaningless world. But I could be wrong about this.

64. El Deafo, by Cece Bell. 4 stars. This is a graphic novel that my older son was reading, but was really enjoyable. It’s about a deaf elementary-to-middle school deaf kid.

65. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, by Richard H. Thaler. 4 stars. Yes, I really enjoy reading books about behavioral economics, even though I’m not that familiar with the topic yet.

66. The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov. 4 stars. As a default, I love any books about Satan, and bonus if another character is a large, talking cat.