GREAT READS OF 2020

Michelle Obama's Becoming proved to me that, on top of everything else I already knew about her, she is also one hell of a writer.

 

"John Wayne: A Love Song," "7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38," "On Self-Respect," "On Keeping a Notebook," and "Marrying Absurd" are five essays in Slouching towards Bethlehem that remind me why Didion is one of my literary inspirations. 

DFW does it again in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. I will likely never find someone who writes about anxiety/depression/sexual tension/the human mind/life in a more poignantly badass way than he does. Nor will I likely find someone whose footnotes and meta-dialogues are more humorous, absurd, or madly genius than his actual text. RIP, DFW.

And finally, my favorite read of 2020: Letters to a Young Poet by Rainier Rilke. This German poet's intimate letters to an aspiring writer are nothing short of life-changing. I wrote my book with his writer's voice in my mind, and he is one of the reasons I have hope that writing will help me figure out who I am and who I will one day be.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

People often ask me for book recommendations, so below I have shared a few of my favorite reads from this year.
Longstanding favorites are listed on the main page.

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TRICK MIRROR: REFLECTIONS ON SELF-DELUSION

Jia Tolentino

Perhaps the only reality TV star who has been able to eloquently analyze and critique her time on air, Tolentino electrifies with her sharp, assertive, and humorous voice in this series of nine essays.

A GREAT PROVIDER IS ONE WHO LEAVES: ONE FAMILY AND MIGRATION IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Jason DeParle

Like Evicted by Matthew Desmond, this book is written with grace, humanity, and emotional attention to detail. DeParle spent years following one immigrant family all over the world, from the Philippines to Galveston, Texas, and his dedication to their story shows.

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DAD'S MAYBE BOOK

Tim O'Brien

O'Brien embarks on his "most likely final" book in his lifetime by writing a series of letters to his children, Tad and Timmy. Unlike his best-selling books on war, loss, and grief such as The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods, and July, July, this one struck a different, but wondrously endearing, chord. I'd like to write like this to my children some day.

ON THE ROAD

Jack Kerouac

This book was one intense, reckless, wildly euphoric road trip full of romantic ideals, cheap diner meals, questionable hitchhiking, jazz, and drugs. Based on the actual travels of Kerouac and his crazy friends during the postwar Counterculture period, this 1957 fiction novel was just what I needed during quarantine.

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WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES

David Sedaris

This is the seventh book I've read by Sedaris, and the seventh reason why  he will forever be my role model for hilarious essay writing. 
Read it if you want to know what to do when a cough drop falls from your mouth into the lap of a fellow plane passenger on a plane, or if you want to know the joys of "lancing" a boil from another's backside.

FULL READING LIST OF 2020

The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman

Letters To A Young Poet, Rainier Rilke

The Defining Decade, Meg Jay

The Madness of Crowds, Douglas Murray

The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Mitch Albom

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Dad's Maybe Book, Tim O'Brien

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion

When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris

The Art of the Personal Essay, Philip Lopate

Antifragile, Nassim Taleb

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves, Jason DeParle

Trick Mirror, Jia Tolentino

Not Another Sarah Halls, Haley Newlin

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong

Slouching Towards BethlehemJoan Didion

Minor Feelings, Cathy Park Hong

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, DFW

The White Album, Joan Didion

the life-changing magic of tidying up, Marie Kondo

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

Becoming, Michelle Obama