I read six books in December (three were audiobooks), which brings my 2020 total to 114.
2020 Book Stats:
Nonfiction vs. fiction: I read zero fiction this year (last year I read one fiction book, so this isn’t abnormal for me).
Female vs. male: 69% of the books I read in 2020 were written by female authors (last year it was 71%).
Minority vs. non-minority: 33% of the books I read this year were written by minority authors (writers of color, LGBTQ, and underrepresented religious groups). Last year was only 15%, so I’m happy to see this number increase.
Audiobooks vs. ebooks/physical books: For the first time ever, I listened to more books (55%) than I read. Last year audiobooks were 38% of my reading total.
Out of 114 books, here’s the breakdown of how I rated them:
- Highly Recommended: 2 books
- Recommended: 79 books
- Okay: 31 books
- Not Recommended: 2 books (there would have been more, but I’m quick to abandon books I don’t like)
This means I’d recommend 71% of the books I read this year to others (last year it was 68%, so again, I’m very consistent).
These are my top five books of 2020:
- Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson
- Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine, Emily Bernard
- Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family, Robert Kolker
- Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains, Cassie Chambers
- The Fixed Stars: A Memoir, Molly Wizenberg
- Honorable Mention – Best Celebrity Memoir: Open Book, Jessica Simpson
The December list
I rank my books with these categories: Highly Recommended, Recommended, Okay, and Not Recommended.
1) A Promised Land, Barack Obama
Description: A deeply personal account of history in the making from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.
This is a long book (over 700 pages), which I listened to on audio. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t rank it as highly recommended (like I did with Michelle’s book) because there were parts I wasn’t as interested in — like foreign policy.
There’s a good review of the book here, which gives pros and cons (and includes names and opinions of certain people whose names you’ll recognize).
2) No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality, Michael J. Fox
Description: A moving account of resilience, hope, fear and mortality, and how these things resonate in our lives.
I listened to this on audio. It was difficult to understand his voice at times, but I liked and appreciated that he reads the entire thing. He talks about medical issues he’s had over the past few years that tested his optimism, as well as his family and career. There’s an overview of the book (including an interview with Fox) here.
Description: This book is an investigation into the human lives at the heart of the American grocery store. What does it take to run the American supermarket? How do products get to shelves? Who sets the price? And who suffers the consequences of increased convenience and efficiency? Lorr pulls back the curtain on this highly secretive industry.
Lorr is a good writer and covers a number of interesting topics: the rise and success of Trader Joe’s, his experience working behind the fish counter at Whole Foods, and the commercial trucking industry, among other things. Read more in the NY Times here.
Description: Saad teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better.
This is the third book I’ve read with my virtual book club this year. It covers some of the same topics and terms we’ve previously read about, but the format is different — this book is set up to read each section over a 28-day period and write down your reflections. (I didn’t write down my responses.)
5) Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger: A Memoir, Lisa Donovan
Description: Renowned southern pastry chef Lisa Donovan’s memoir of cooking, survival, and the incredible power in reclaiming the stories of women.
I enjoyed this, but I was confused about the title. I may have completely missed it, but I don’t recall a reference to it at all. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
6) No One Asked for This: Essays, Cazzie David
Description: From writer Cazzie David comes a series of acerbic, darkly funny essays about misanthropy, social media, anxiety, relationships, and growing up in a wildly eccentric family.
David comes off as neurotic and not all that likable, but her essays about growing up as Larry and Laurie David’s daughter are entertaining. You can read a profile of the author here and an excerpt from the book here.