Our Year in Reading 2020

Naomi smiling with copies of the book Lightning Flowers by Katherine Standefer
Naomi (with long pandemic hair!) smiling with copies of Kati Standefer’s Lightning Flowers

The book lists are abbreviated this year, by which I mean they’re not annotated.

I sprained my left thumb a week ago and was going to forego this annual ritual altogether, but Dan volunteered to type these up. Thanks, Dan!

I began the year with the intention of reading through Toni Morrison, but—2020. Dan read more non-fiction than he would have liked, but was very happy to read all five novellas in Seanan McGuire’s award-winning YA Wayward Children fantasy series.

The only book we read in common this year was our friend Kati Standefer’s superb Lightning Flowers, which came out this fall and everyone should read.

A couple of notes: Japanese authors are family name first. NF means non-fiction, P means poetry, SS means short stories, and everything else is a novel. “Audio” means I listened to it.


Naomi’s books

Stephen Bodian, Meditation for Dummies (NF)

Tawada Yoko (tr. Margaret Mitsutani), The Emissary

Murata Sayaka (tr. Ginny Tapley Takemori), Convenience Store Woman

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (audio)

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Tracy K. Smith, The Body’s Question (P)

Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding

Sarah Monette, Somewhere Beneath These Waves (SS)

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life (NF)

Mona Siegel, Peace on Our Terms: The Global Battle for Women’s Rights after the First World War (NF)

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime: Tales of a South African Childhood (NF, audio)

Colson Whitehead, The Nickel Boys

Lee Ann Roripaugh, Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50 (P)

Toni Morrison, Sula

Julian Barnes, The Man in the Red Coat (NF)

Ali Wong, Dear Girls (NF) (audio)

Sharon Olds, The Dead and the Living (P)

Sheila Heti, How Should a Person Be?

Rachel Cusk, Outline

Osip Mandelstam (tr. Christian Wiman), Stolen Air: Selected Poems (P)

Tsushima Yuko, Territory of Light

Evan S. Connell, Mr. Bridge

N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

Christine Wunnicke (tr. Philip Boehm), The Fox and Dr. Shimamura

Olga Zilberbourg, Like Water and other Stories (SS)

Danez Smith, Homie (P)

Teju Cole, Open City (audio)

Sequoia Nagamatsu, Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone (SS)

Margot Farrington, The Blue Canoe of Longing (P)

Nathan Hill, The Nix

Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Lava Falls (SS)

Paul Lisicky, Unbuilt Projects (P)

Carol Shields, Happenstance

Kati Standefer, Lightning Flowers (NF)

Edith Wharton, The Stories of Edith Wharton, vol. 2 (SS)

Sarah Broom, The Yellow House (NF)

Kate Washington, Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America (NF)

Ishikawa Takuboku (tr. Sanford Goldstein & Shinoda Seishi), Romaji Diary & Sad Toys (NF & P)


Dan’s books

Gabino Iglesias, Coyote Songs

Kristen Arnett, Mostly Dead Things

Astra Taylor, Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone (NF)

Ray Bradbury, Long After Midnight (SS)

László Krasznahorkai (tr. George Szirtes), War and War

Bernardine Evaristo, Girl, Woman, Other

Sarah Gailey, Upright Women Wanted

Tobias S Buckell & Paolo Bacigalupi, The Tangled Lands

Tarjei Vesaas (tr. Michael Barnes and Torbjørn Støverud), The Birds

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Kirk Wallace Johnson, The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century (NF)

Charles King, Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century (NF)

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness

N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became

Magda Szabó (tr. Len Rix), Abigail

Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress

Matthew Baker, Why Visit America (SS)

Matthew Baker, Hybrid Creatures (SS)

Leslie Kern, Feminist City (NF)

Kevin Wilson, Nothing to See Here

Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent (NF)

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (SS)

Ted Chiang, Exhalation (SS)

Kawakami Mieko (tr. Sam Bett), Breasts and Eggs

Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone, This Is How You Lose the Time War

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Sarah Broom, The Yellow House (NF)

Katherine E. Standefer, Lightning Flowers (NF)

Yu Miri (tr. Morgan Giles), Tokyo Ueno Station

Seanan McGuire,

Every Heart a Doorway

Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Beneath the Sugar Sky

In an Absent Dream

Come Tumbling Down

Adrian Tomine, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist (graphic)

Tim Wu, The Attention Merchants



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