20 More Books in 2020

Reading continues to serve as an anchor in these challenging, unpredictable times we call 2020. These are the latest books that I enjoyed in recent weeks. With the exception of one children’s book, each of the books I read in this season were written by women or people of color, or featured a main character that was a woman or person of color. It felt important to me in this time to be intentional about reading those who are often silenced.Good fiction that transports me out of the current moment is my favorite right now. And I also decided to read a few other works from authors from my first 25 books of 2020.

Since my goal is to read 100 books by the end of the year- I will need to step up my reading schedule during our August vacation to make it, but reading has been the perfect respite in the midst of so much stress and exhaustion so far this year. Let me know what you’ve been reading! Here is my list:

  1. The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller- I enjoyed Circe so much, I decided to explore more of Miller’s writing. This was a beautiful love story and a fast read- one of my favorite novels of 2020 so far.
  2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates- this book was a #1 New York Times best seller, winning several literature awards- and I can see why. This is an important account of the experience of a Black man growing up in the United States. This non-fiction work is formatted as a letter from the author to his teenage son, and it is poetic, painful, vivid and beautiful at once.
  3. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame- Janet Lansbury- This was such a helpful guide for me and Andrew, who listened to the unabridged audiobook version of this book over a few nights out at the firepit. The book is a collection of writings and articles the author has written to parents over her many years of consulting parents through her respectful, gentle parenting approach.
  4. Wolfpack, Abby Wambach- This book is an expanded version of Abby’s graduation speech that she gave to the 2018 graduates of Barnard. It was a very quick read but so much wisdom about how to build one another up and take on a team approach to living and building community especially among women.
  5. Fancy Nancy: Tea for Two, Jane O’Connor- Once again, a handful of children’s books make the list this time. We love Fancy Nancy in our house- all of the books have lessons or teaching moments within them. But this book has a beautiful example of taking responsibility for a mistake, and learning how to apologize to friends. My kids loved it, and we’ve seen a distinct shift in accountability and responsibility among our sweet kiddos in this season, I credit this book for part of that.
  6. The Dutch House, Ann Patchett – I listened to the audiobook format of this novel- my first Ann Patchett experience, and it was delightful. Tom Hanks reads the story- which added to the fun. A great book about grudges, forgiveness and family.
  7. The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, Haemin Sunim- This was one of the first books I have read on mindfulness- and it has helped me so much. Taking time to slow down, to sit, to observe, to notice and to grow is a crucial part of spiritual wellness and I hope to keep up some of the practices and disciplines in the months ahead.
  8. The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood- After reading Madeline Miller’s books Circe and The Song of Achilles- I was interested in reading more Greek mythology- specifically the stories surrounding Odysseus and Penelope. This is a retelling and interpretation of Penelope- and while it was an interesting story that added depth to my imagination about Penelope- I found the book to be somewhat flat and difficult to finish.
  9. Mennonite In A Little Black Dress, Ronda Janzen – This was supposed to be our May book club book- but instead, I mailed a copy to each of our members and we read the book on our own. The memoir is funny, charming, a quick read and a good reminder that sometimes our roots hold us up, no matter how far we’ve traveled or how much we think we’ve left them behind.
  10. A Visitor for Bear, Bonny Becker- I hate that this book is on our list, but… after finding evidence of mice in our pantry, setting glue traps, catching 2 and realizing the traps were inhumane and terrible, then grieving the whole experience- wouldn’t you know our kids found THIS BOOK at the bottom of the pile and had us read it over and over last month… great. Bear is nicer than us. He let’s mouse in and befriends mouse- meanwhile we are terrible. This book will stick with me for a long time. Rest in peace pantry mice, sorry we couldn’t be your friends.
  11. Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline- This novel followed two young women across several generations as they faced challenges as orphans and found new ways to build connections and relationships- it was touching and an easy read.
  12. Finding Chika, Mitch Albom- I had already read Tuesdays with Maurie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and then this memoir popped up on a daily deal through Audible. It brought me to my knees. Mitch Albom shares his experience taking care of a Haitan Orphan for two years through her cancer treatment. He reads it himself, and it is beautiful, piercing, challenging and truly broke my heart open.
  13. Normal People, Sally Rooney- This book came highly recommended, and apparently there is going to be a Netflix show produced based on the book- but I didn’t love it. It’s the story of modern star crossed lovers-and while there were some interesting parts and some helpful commentary about what genuine love looks like- I was bored by this book.
  14. How To Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay- This book was a dense, practical guide about how to respect your conversation partner and reach common ground or at least common respect and kindness even in the midst of disagreement. A helpful set of tools in this election year and in the midst of so many challenging issues and politicized topics everywhere we look in 2020.
  15. Last Stop on Market Street, Matt de la Pena- This beautiful children’s book was gifted to us a few years ago by our friends Emily, Ethan, Cora and Sofia- and recently it has become a favorite again. The story is a reminder to be appreciative, connected to our local community, and present in the circumstances of our lives. The book has beautiful illustrations that highlight diversity in race, ability, and socioeconomic differences.
  16. Why we Can’t Sleep- Ada Calhoun- This book is about the issues that Generation X women uniquely face and the sources of anxiety that keep us up at night. The author interviewed over 250 women for the book. I felt seen, understood, and a bit better after reading this book- finding solidarity through the chorus of voices acknowledging there are reasons to worry, and also reasons to hope.
  17. The Witches are Coming, Lindy West- Following up on Shrill, I read Lindy West’s most recent book- and I loved this one even more. She uses humor, pop-culture references and skilled writing to discuss the environment, the body expectations put on women, a harsh but vivid look at the state of our country, and a few promising stories to help us keep the faith that change is still possible.
  18. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng- Again, this book had high ratings, reviews, and was recommended to me- but I thought it was just OK. It is a novel set in Cleveland and I appreciated the geographic references to my area. The novel explores issues of race, adoption, wealth, and what constitutes a happy life- parts were intriguing and thought provoking, but it was a slow read for me.
  19. Disappearing Earth, Julia Phillips- This is a haunting, beautiful novel about how a community of women respond to the abduction of two little girls in their community. Deep character development, gorgeous writing, and a sobering reflection on the impact of community trauma.
  20. David Gets in Trouble, David Shannon- This is a great kid’s book that teaches the importance of taking responsibility for our actions and mistakes, and apologizing. My kids love reading it several times in a row- and we are already seeing results- more sharing, saying sorry, and reflecting on the consequences of our actions… thanks David!



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