Well, here we are on the edge of a new year. There’s not time to add another book before the year runs out, but I can look back and see which were my favorites in the past twelve months. In all, I read 23 fiction books, 26 non-fiction or biographies, 7 young adult fiction books, 4 kids’ fiction book, and one picture book in 2020.
The best reads of this year for me were all non-fiction or biographies. This surprised me, as I had been a huge fiction fan for decades. Maybe there just wasn’t that great a selection of new fiction this year. Maybe I’ve just heard too many re-used plots. Whatever the case, non-fiction definitely won this year! This is my “best of 2020” list:
1 – “The Library Book” – by Susan Orlean
In April of 1986, the fire that destroyed the Los Angeles Public Library was the worst library fire in US history, yet it was overshadowed by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster three days before.
2 – “Arctic Homestead” – by Norma Cobb and Charles W. Sasser
In 1973, Norma, her husband, and all their kids set out to claim free land in Alaska. The book details all the joys and disasters of trying to live in the Arctic Circle.
3 – God In The ICU – by Dave Walker M.D.
The book was written by an anesthesiologist who worked in South Africa back in the 1950s, when hospitals were just beginning to have designated Intensive Care Units. Back then, the anesthesiologists oversaw the patients’ care in the hospital after surgery. Dr. Walker recalls many individual cases, and how he prayed over his patients, asking God to spare their lives. In 2009, he retired from hospital work.
4 – Permanent Record – by Edward Snowden
This book is a good blend of biography of Mr. Snowden’s early life, and an account of technology violating the privacy of our lives.
5 – Terrible Typhoid Mary – by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Mary Malone was an asymptomatic carrier of the terrible typhoid fever illness, yet she refused to acknowledge that she was making people sick. What was society to do with a person like that?
6 – Educated – by Tara Westover
Tara was born into a dysfunctional family that kept all their children uneducated and under the thumb of a tyrannical father. It reminded me a lot of the memoir “The Glass Castle”.
7 – Caught By The Sea – by Gary Paulsen
Mr. Paulsen humorously tells of his attempts to learn how to sail in the ocean without the benefit of having any previous training.
So there you have it – my favorite non-fiction books of the year! Every one of them is a winner.