430: Top 10 Books of 2020

I’m reading a book, I’m reading a book. Don’t you ever interrupt me when I’m reading a book.

Julian Smith

I like to read stuff. Is there any rhyme or reason to what I read? Probably not. I don’t always know why I like something, but when I like it I like it. Here are the books I really enjoyed in 2020.

10. Best Evidence by David Lifton. Lifton’s in depth analysis of the JFK assassination is as compelling as it is frightening. Read my full review here.

9. Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. This book hit me like a punch in the gut. It’s sickening that the things described in this book actually occur. It’s extremely sobering to think that the they occur as an outgrowth of ideas. That a philosophy exists that actually sees keeping millions of people as political prisoners to be a positive thing. I’m grateful that, in most places, the ideas which justify these actions have not won.

8. Philoctetes by Sophocles. Move over Lost, Sophocles was writing about people marooned on deserted islands 2,500 years ago. Straightforward, hard hitting Greek Drama at its best. Feel free to check out my adaptation of this story set in the wild west.

7. A Passing Shower by Bruce Goodman. A touching, melancholic, little novel that feels safe and nostalgic, kind of like a rainy afternoon. In the shorter fiction that Mr. Goodman shares on his blog death is often a punchline; not here. Death and life are treated with a tenderness and dignity that is truly touching. This book isn’t available in bookstores, but you can access it here.

6. Ordinary People by Judith Guest. Years ago I saw the 1980 film adaptation of this novel, and really liked it, so when I saw the novel at a used bookstore I snatched it up. I was not disappointed. This book really is about ordinary people: anyone who has ever coped with loss and suffering.

5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I just finished this book yesterday, but I’m already sure I will come back to it again. As a study of technique this book is absolutely flawless. Christie’s strong characters and devotion to her outline are very impressive.

4. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Wolfe is a fantastic author. He doesn’t just write about things, he brings the reader right into the action. Bonfire of the Vanities feels less like a novel, and more like the sprawling, teaming chaos of New York City in the 1980s stuffed in between a couple of book covers. I loved it.

3. The Odyssey by Homer. The best sequel I read this year. There’s a reason that Odysseus is one of the most popular character in literary history. If you want to read book reviews you should be reading Joe’s blog. If you want more of my thoughts on this book check the buddy read that I did with her.

2. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murder and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. This is a non-fiction book, but I’m not going to tell you the premise. You’d think I was making it up. Suffice it to say that every once in a while a book comes along that totally blows your mind and makes you question everything. This is that book.

1. The Iliad by Homer. I figured that since this book has been on the bestseller list for upwards of three millenniums I should check it out. I wasn’t disappointed in the least. This Homer dude really knows how to tell a tale. You can check out my full review here.

If you find yourself in want of a good book over the next year, I highly recommend any of the titles list here. If you’re wondering what books I liked in 2019 you can find out here. If you’re wondering what books I’ll like in 2021 you’ll have to stick around for another year.


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14 thoughts on “430: Top 10 Books of 2020

  1. Nice list! The only one in here I have read is “And then there were none”. Certainly the best mystery novel I ever came across.

  2. Thank you so much for the mention. In fact I’m so tickled I shall brandish a “like” in your direction and wish you the happiest of New Years. I’ve had my first breakfast for 2021, gladly broken all resolutions, went to bed early, and have got up grumpy. Regarding the list, you put me onto Homer which I kind of enjoyed. I agree with you about Thomas Wolfe being a great writer – but the book you mention I haven’t read – yet. I used to live in Asheville NC for a time, which was Wolfe’s stamping ground.

    • I will certainly be reading more Wolfe over the next year. This was actually the first fictional book of his that I’ve read, having previously read “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” and “From Bauhaus to Our House.” I was especially impressed by the second title. It’s basically a dissertation on boxes, and I could hardly put it down. I’m glad you enjoyed Homer. Your book is entirely deserving of it’s spot on this list, so be tickled!

      Waking up grumpy and/or hungover in the New Year is the best, because there’s nowhere to go but up.

  3. Pingback: A Passing Shower by Bruce Goodman – Iseult Murphy

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