Top Sixteen Books of 2020
This was a good reading year in spite of the pandemic, and I especially leaned in to reading older material. That being said, I had the chance to read many 2020 publications, and so I list my top sixteen here.
- Naomi Novik, A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1) (https://amzn.to/3n9Engg)
Like this was seriously my favorite. I’ve been telling everyone I can about it. Better than Harry Potter because it is so much worse. It’s non-stop.
- Maria Dahvana Headley, Beowulf: A New Translation (https://amzn.to/340iYhL)
I always read the new Beowulf translation, bro. This one has a lot going for it, though even as the translator recognizes, it’s hard to get this translation thing right.
- Johanna Fernández, The Young Lord: A Radical History (https://amzn.to/3qFGQkt)
I confess. I didn’t know this history. Now that I do, I can understand why the culture I was raised in didn’t teach it to me. But it’s worth it for so many reasons, not the least of which has to do with their Garbage Offensive and Church Offensive, and that together with the Black Panthers, they started what is essentially what we now know as the national school breakfast program.
- Pepe Larraz, Power of X/House of X (https://amzn.to/36ZFadM)
This year we read a lot of Marvel comics. This is the next stage of X-Men, and it’s neXt level. It’s kind of like, what if a comic book was a philosophy, but awesome.
- Tomaš Halík, From the Underground Church to Freedom (https://amzn.to/2VYj2u7)
I’m always a sucker for memoirs of clergy, and in this case it’s both that and a memoir of the transitions in the Czech Republic through and after the Cold War.
- Tales from the Loop RPG (https://amzn.to/39TeaPb)
Loved this television series. Love playing the game now via Zoom. And the core rulebook is just gorgeous.
- Catherine Nicholson, Reading and Not Reading the Faerie Queen: Spenser and the Making of Literary Criticism (https://amzn.to/2VX8Y4H)
Okay, I know, this one sounds obscure. And honestly who has read the Faerie Queen. And yet, that’s the point. Cause you’ve kind of at least heard of it, right?
- Marina Losetter, Noumenon Ultra (https://amzn.to/371HXTS)
She finally completes the trilogy, and this is the kind of space opera we haven’t seen since Cixin Liu’s trilogy, and Marina happens to be from right here in NWA.
- John Thatamanil, Circling the Elephant: A Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity (https://amzn.to/370Lku5)
I think of myself increasingly as a friend of multiple religious participation and belonging. Though I myself am thoroughgoingly Christian, and that’s who I am, I love that so many folks are that and also…
- Heidi Neumark, Sanctuary: Being Christian In the Wake of Trump (https://amzn.to/39TJHk1)
Want to know what church can be like these days. Heidi has written that book.
- Suzette Haden Elgin, Earthsong (Native Tongue) (https://amzn.to/3n77u3M)
The Feminist Press has re-issued this big Native Tongues trilogy, and it’s what you want to read if you like fantasy-science fiction thaat includes the development of synthetic languages.
- John Loughery, Dorothy Day: Dissenting Voice of the American Century (https://amzn.to/3qJK5Hx)
I mean, if nothing else, just read the first couple of chapters, because who Dorothy Day hung out with is lit.
- Margaret Atwood, The Testaments (https://amzn.to/3n52QTA)
How do you write a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale? Well, like this.
- Peniel Johnson, The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (https://amzn.to/3m2Styu)
I love someone has finally written what I’ve often suspected, that Malcolm X and MLK Jr. were never as different as we’ve supposed, and aimed in a similar direction over time.
- Marilynne Robinson, Jack (https://amzn.to/3m3ne6j)
The Prodigal Son. Grace. But you still need to live in the mind and heart of the prodigal for an entire novel, because you see all your struggling neighbors in a new light.
- N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became (https://amzn.to/3m3cJQz)
What if the city had a persona. And some people personified that persona? And the author was Jemisin?