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Biography Book Reviews

Books of 2020

I read a lot this year. 130 books to be exact. Many of them were amazing. Most were informative and educational. They’ve set me off on many new paths as a reader–arguably more new paths than any other time in my adult life. Could the pandemic be to thank for this surge? Perhaps. I also think there’s been some major shifts in my life recently that have inspired me to go further and understand more about the many perspectives that surround us. And audio books. The Libby app has never been so approachable and wide-reaching. Being able to read while commuting and hiking has been a marvelous gift.

In any case, here is the list. The top section are my “five star” books (as per Goodreads) and after that are the rest.

The Fives

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo
Incendiary Art: Poems by Patricia Smith
To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight by Terrance Hayes
Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000 by Lucille Clifton
Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
The New Testament by Jericho Brown
Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey
Anodyne by Khadijah Queen
Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems by Robin Coste Lewis
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Black Movie by Danez Smith
The Tradition by Jericho Brown
Felon: Poems by Reginald Dwayne Betts
Magical Negro by Morgan Parker
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
The Malevolent Volume by Justin Phillip Reed
Bunk: The True Story of Hoaxes, Hucksters, Humbug, Plagiarists, Forgeries, and Phonies by Kevin Young
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
Rough Song by Blanca Varela
More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys
Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Anxiety of Words: Contemporary Poetry by Korean Women by Ch’oe Sung-Ja
The Unreality of Memory: And Other Essays by Elisa Gabbert
There There by Tommy Orange
The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
Riven: Poems by Catherine Owen
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
Not Me, Exactly by Dennis Held
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
A Skeleton Plays Violin: Book Three of Our Trakl by Georg Trakl
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers by Jeff Sharlet
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
All the Useless Things are Mine by Thomas Walton
Clouds/Ridges by John Taylor
White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Elvis Machine by Kim Vodicka
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
Night, Fish and Charlie Parker by Phan Nhien Hao
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil
Alisoun Sings by Caroline Bergvall
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad
Drift by Caroline Bergvall
Meddle English: New and Selected Texts by Caroline Bergvall
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Story by Jennifer Firestone
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
Ten by Jennifer Firestone
The Clockwork Professor by Maggie Lee
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Paper Bells by Phan Nhien Hao
Selected Poems by Robinson Jeffers
A Future of Ice: Poems and Stories of a Japanese Buddhist by Kenji Miyazawa
A Slow Boiling Beach by Rauan Klassnik
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Black Case Volume I and II: Return From Exile by Joseph Jarman

The Fours

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark
American Sublime: Poems by Elizabeth Alexander
How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes
Hip Logic by Terrance Hayes
We Want Our Bodies Back: Poems by Jessica Care Moore
Plot by Claudia Rankine
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
Wind in a Box by Terrance Hayes
Buck Studies by Douglas Kearney
Black Genealogy: Poems by Kiki Petrosino
Thrall by Natasha Trethewey
The Venus Hottentot: Poems by Elizabeth Alexander
Tender Delirium by Tania De Rozario
Some Girls Walk Into The Country They Are From by Sawako Nakayasu
Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell
A Better Place Is Hard to Find by Aaron Fagan
Hysteria by Kim Yideum
How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
Days When I Hide My Corpse in a Cardboard Box: Selected Poems of Natalia Chan by Natalia Chan
Pixel Flesh by Augstin Fernandez Mallo
Educated by Tara Westover
Floating, Brilliant, Gone by Franny Choi
You Failed Us: Students of Color Talk Seattle Schools by Azure Savage
Soft Science by Franny Choi
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
A Grave is Given Supper by Mike Soto
Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoe Quinn
Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn by Cathy N. Davidson
We Had No Rules by Corinne Manning
The Little #MeToo Book for Men by Mark Greene
Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
The Mobius Strip Club of Grief by Bianca Stone
Unfree Speech: The Threat to Global Democracy and Why We Must Act, Now by Joshua Wong
Scenes of Life at the Capital by Philip Whalen
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jesmyn Ward
Between States of Matter by Sherry Rind
Odes by Sharon Olds
Stag’s Leap: Poems by Sharon Olds
The Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection by Edgar Allan Poe
Obtuse Diary by Amelia Rosselli
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
The World Is All That Does Befall Us by Thomas Walton
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media by Heid E. Erdrich
Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

The Threes and Twos

The Aesthetics of Equilibrium by Alfredo De Palchi
Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time by Ben Ehrenreich
Sheltering: Eleven North Oregon Coast poets practice the craft of poetry during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic by Emily Ransdell
Tool of War (Ship Breaker, #3) by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Drowned Cities (Ship Breaker, #2) by Paolo Bacigalupi
Directions for Use by Ana Ana Ristović
The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith
Yesterday I Was the Moon by Noor Unnahar
Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1) by Paolo Bacigalupi
VICTORY by Guillaume Apollinaire
In Salem by Catherine Corman
The Late Child And Other Animals by Marguerite Van Cook
Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib

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