Achievement Unlocked: 100 Books

My Top 10 of 2020

The pandemic really upended my writing schedule in 2020, but it definitely gave me plenty of time to read. I set out to read 100 books in 2020, and I did it–by the skin of my teeth. (Shout-out to audiobooks; they got me over the hump).

My 100-book-challenge only had one rule: I had to read whatever I wanted to read. If I didn’t like something, I quit no matter how far in I was (and didn’t count it). For whatever reason, I read a lot more nonfiction than usual. I also went down several rabbit holes, reading several books on the same topic. And I reread more than ever as I searched for comfort in books during a year that felt endless.

We’re 40 days or so into 2021, and I’m finally getting around to looking at my 2020 booklist to see what stood out. Here are my top 10 books (in no particular order) from the year of the plague. (Not all of these books were published in 2020. I chose from the list I read last year).

  1. Want by Lynn Steger Strong
    A novel about the anxieties of being a woman, an academic, and a mother in a world that isn’t built for any of those things.

  2. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
    A novel that paints a tragic picture of what life is like for an undocumented worker and her son.

  3. A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
    A novel about Arab-American women trying to find space in their families and communities.

  4. Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld
    An alternative history of Hillary Rodham. Hillary without Bill is awesome.

  5. Too Much and Never Enough by Mary Trump
    A memoir by Donald Trump’s niece with just enough detail to confirm that Donald Trump is exactly the narcissist his narcissistic parents raised him to be.

  6. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker
    An incredible piece of journalism about a family suffering from schizophrenia and a mental health system that failed everyone.

  7. The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong
    A psychological thriller about a man with missing memories who must certainly can’t be trusted. The pacing and the slow reveals in this novel are perfect.

  8. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carryou
    A fascinating look into a billion-dollar Silicon Valley startup that was all smoke and mirrors.

  9. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
    A heartbreaking piece of nonfiction with proof that structural racism exists in the American “justice” system.

  10. Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
    Beautiful collection of essays about being the daughter of Korean immigrants in America. I loved the author’s voice.

Here’s to reading in 2021. May it be a better year for everyone