Friend of the blog Court [modernfimily.com] published an article a few months back detailing a bunch of books she's read (it's the link above). I found this list helpful since she’s my soulmate. Okay, not really! But we both operate on the same wavelength, of that much I am sure.
Figuring out what to read next can seem as daunting as scrolling for a new show on Netflix. And since both catalogs are virtually endless it kinda spins your head in a circle as long as you let it. I try to go with book recommendations, especially if there is somebody to chat it over with once I’m done the read. That's why I've linked Court's list and created my own below. Nothing worse than turning to online critiques, it just feels so impersonal.
With that said, here’s the list of books I’ve read in 2020. Keep in mind I haven’t spent any money on these books, they were all rented through apps like Libby and Hoopla. I just plug in my library card and away I go.
- Atomic Habits - James Clear
- In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma - Michael Pollan
- The Year of Less - Cait Flanders
- Fire & Blood - George R. R. Martin
- A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms - George R. R. Martin
- The Ice Dragon - George R. R. Martin
- The Book of Swords - Gardner Dozois
- Deep Work - Cal Newport
- Digital Minimalism - Cal Newport [2nd Readthrough]
- Talking to Strangers - Malcolm Gladwell
- The Magic of Thinking Big - David Schwartz
- Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
- Raising Freakishly Well-Behaved Kids [2nd Readthrough]
- The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy
- The Millionaire Next Door - Thomas J. Stanley
- Star Trek: Vulcan’s Forge - Josepha Sherman, Susan Shwartz
- The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins [2nd Readthrough]
- Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins [2nd Readthrough]
- Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins [2nd Readthrough]
- Star Trek: Borg - Hilary Bader
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes - Suzanne Collins
- Star Trek: The Lost Years - J.M. Dillard
- Star Trek Next Generation: Ship of Line - Diane Carey
- The Millionaire Mind - Thomas J. Stanley
- Walden - David Henry Thoreau
- On the Shortness of Life - Seneca
- Star Trek: Envoy - L. A. Graf
- Star Trek: Transformations - Dave Stern
- Star Trek: Entropy Effect - Vonda N. McIntyre
- Star Trek Next Generation: Q in Law - Peter David
- Cheap - Ellen Ruppel Shell
- Star Trek: Into Darkness - Alan Dean Foster
So wow, that’s a lot of Star Trek, huh? I was a little embarrassed too. In total, I’ve read 34 books in 2020. Probably a new record for me. I’ve also listened to a tonne of podcasts but I find that books are much easier to listen to since most podcasts are amateur radio with terrible formatting and tangents and for the ones that are good they are kept short and packed with ads (which I skip anyways but still it’s annoying). Books are just substantially better put together because they have a production budget with professionals and the author is forced to revise and edit constantly by the editor to make sure the end product flows correctly.
Anyways, I’m not afraid to read a book a second time. Almost half of the books are nonfiction and self-helpy, which I think is a good amount. I find I have to take a break from reality from time to time and in 2020 when so much of the world is in hurt this was especially true. Otherwise, I turn into a self-help junkie.
My top 3 picks:
The Life-Changing Magic of Cleaning Up - Marie Kondo
- This is my #1 pick for 2020's reading list. Not only does it coincide perfectly with the reality of the year but Kondo’s words bring out the best of her and her clients. The book is through and through a Minimalism journey for both Kondo and her clients. She never even uses the word once either!
- I thought her personal anecdotes and dare I say 'religion' surrounding a tidy home was inspiring. I really loved this book and will be reading it again sometime in 2021.
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
- I won’t drag on about why I love the Hunger Games besides the fact that Collins has simply taken our world and exaggerated all the awful elements of it and turned it into a circus known as the annual Hunger Games. Ultimate rich VS poor scenario with an underdog, what’s not to love?
- I’ll also mention that the voice actress Tatiana Maslany is incredible in this audiobook. Her performance brought out so much of the suffering that Collins has written but can be easily glossed over by the action of the circus show I mentioned before. Maslany is a gifted performer and I was left wanting more.
In Defense of Food - Michael Pollan
- Pollan doesn’t pull punches when it comes to criticizing the western diet. This book is very much a part 2 of The Omnivore’s Dilemma (although I read them in reverse and there was no issue). Unlike nearly all other food nutrition and information content, Pollan does not focus on weight loss. His message is instead true journalism on what the American agriculture industry is doing to food, the good and the bad.
- Pollan is also an advocate for eating much more plants. He himself is not vegan or vegetarian and, in my opinion, he correctly and morally goes through the process of finding out why that’s not necessary. I agree with his ethical findings about how we should be eating food in the modern world, even though I am vegetarian in reality and if I’m being honest mostly vegan anyways.
I’m not afraid to put a book down if it sucks or I’ve heard it all before (I left a few notes for the FIRE content only):
- The 4-Hour Workweek - Tim Ferris
- 50% bro culture, 40% look how cool I am, 10% interesting. No thanks.
- Your Money or Your Life - Vicki Robin
- Great book for beginners who want the practical, philosophical and environmental know-how of FIRE. I already know all these things and didn’t need it repeated, so I skipped it.
- Astrophysics for People in a Hurry - Neil DeGrasse Tyson
- Dune - Frank Herbert
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Mark Manson
- The Next Millionaire Next Door - Thomas J. Stanley, Sarah Stanley Fallaw
- Read by Fallaw, this version wasn’t abridged to be interesting enough for my taste. It was very statistical and had much less of an overall story arc to it that I absolutely loved about her fathers first work. She also pretty much took credit for the coining of the term FIRE which I thought was weird. The book felt very defensive, I kept hearing “My Dad was right” over and over again. I know he’s right, that's why I'm reading the sequel, stop telling me and get on with some new information?
- Minimalist Home Secrets - Grace Burke
- I Found You - Lisa Jewell
- A Plant-Based Life - Micaela Cook Karisen
- The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman - John Perkins
Books I’ve read so far in 2021:
- The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
- Apocalypse book. It’s a good read.
- White Fragility - Robin DiAngelo
- This book was very interesting and what DiAngelo describes in her reality of the world is pretty scary. White supremacy is a social construct founded way back in the day and continues to persist today (I agree) but then all white people are inherently racist and individualism promotes racist ideals (I do NOT agree). I won’t spoil anymore because I’m going to write a review of the book in one of my upcoming antiracism articles.
- Solitude - Robert Kull
- The author is spending a year alone in the Patagonia Wilderness which is at the bottom of Chile. It’s incredibly harsh weather and he’s attempting to build a cabin. No human contact, beside outgoing emails that he’s okay. So far, it’s similar to Walden in rhetoric but much less poetic.
Thanks for reading!