Press Release Network, December 16, 2020: 2020 has been like no other year in modern history. COVID-19 has irrevocably altered the fabric of American life, from the way we socialize to the way we work. Social distancing, quarantines, and self-isolation have become the norm. And while the world learns to contend with this new, problematic paradigm, there is a silver lining. Despite unprecedented access to digital media, people have been returning —in droves— to books.
According to Mental Floss, Global English Editing did an online study of changing reading habits early this year and found some startling facts. 35% of respondents said their reading increased this year, with 14% saying that it increased substantially. Since March, online booksellers have seen more than 1.5 billion readers visit their sites. If you fall into the work from home demographic, or are simply an avid reader, here are six of 2020’s best books.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent
No 2020 reading list would complete without a mention of Isabel Wilkerson’s new book “Caste: the Origins of Our Discontent,” a beautifully-written, journalistic examination of the startling similarities between Nazi Germany’s vile treatment of the Jewish people, India’s inhumane actions toward its “Untouchables” caste, and the modern-day oppression of African Americans. Wilkerson’s work, which has made numerous “best of” lists including Time, The New York Times, and Oprah’s Book Club is both lyrical and life changing.
The Splendid and the Vile
Exceptional times call for exceptional courage. That’s the tale that “The Splendid and the Vile” weaves, chronicling Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister. Using newly-discovered source documents, Larson crafts an intimate, powerful, and moving account of Churchill at the outset of World War II, and how through the compelling power of his voice, he was able to spark hope for Western civilization in the face of annihilation.
The Glass Hotel
Emily St. John Mandel
Mandel is the kind of writer who has the uncanny ability to hold a mirror up to society, reflecting its current mood by mixing equal amounts of realism with absurdity. In the “Glass Hotel,” she mixes themes of privilege, choice, and responsibility with a story who’s finer points could almost be ripped from the pages of the national news. Her characters struggle to accept guilt and move on with their lives in surprisingly human ways.
A Promised Land
Hope and change. Obama’s 2008 campaign ushered in a new American era. Now, years later, we could use some more of that hope and a lot of that change. As if answering a collective plea from the American people, Obama answers. In his new memoir, “A Promised Land,” Obama puts his political career under the microscope, asking questions as tough as any critic could imagine. He comes through the other side of this brutal self-examination, with a grace that reminds us of his promise, hope and change.
A Year of Literary Achievement
It is hard to choose a cross section of books that truly captures the zeitgeist of 2020. In a year marked by a global pandemic, deep political divisions, and an historic push for equality and social justice, there will never be a comprehensive list that catalogs all the brilliant voices that 2020 has given us. This is a starting point; where you read from here is up to you.
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