For many of us, 2020 has been a year of at-home activities, finding new hobbies and re-exploring old ones, and accomplishing things we never had time for before. While my later half of 2020 was exciting and adventurous (safely, of course), my first half of 2020 was exactly as described above. In between learning embroidery, doing puzzles, and tackling my lists on Netflix and Crave; I read a few of the books that I had been anticipating as well as ones that had been unread and collecting dust on my shelves. Here are the books I read in 2020:
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow. This is my most recent read. Although I found this book to be a slow-starter, after I pushed about a quarter of the way through it was hard to stop turning the pages. Ronan Farrow tells of his trials and tribulations getting the groundbreaking Harvey Weinstein story to the public via the media. Beyond that, the book is eye-opening to the legitimacy of spies, intelligence organizations, and media moguls burying stories for financial gain. It’s a heavy read, but an important one, especially in our current political climate.
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. A memoir by two true crime queens. My Favorite Murder is my favourite podcast (pun intended) so I was so excited when Karen and Georgia released their first book. A fun read, this book is mostly lighthearted with a few extremely relatable, meaningful moments mixed in.
Rock Paper Sex by Kerri Cull. I might be biased because I am always incredibly proud of local authors and creatives, but this book should be read far and wide. The book is an incredible, intimate, and gentle-yet-honest look at the Sex Work Industry in St. John’s, NL. Kerri Cull does not discriminate and includes stories from street-based sex workers to high-end escorts, dancers, and clients/consumers. Although this is an NL-based book, it is relevant and applicable nation-wide. I learned so much from this novel and feel more sensitive to and knowledgeable about sex work. Myths are busted and hard truths are addressed.
No One to Tell by Janet Merlo. Another book by a badass female author. (Who is also a Newfoundlander). Janet Merlo’s incredibly brave tell-all about her experience working as a member of the RCMP is unnerving, upsetting, and important. It is a reminder that we need to keep talking about workplace sexual harassment and that we need to continue to dismantle old-boys-clubs and historically problematic organizations. Thank you, Janet, for sharing your experience.
The Lottery Winner by Mary Higgins Clark. This author introduced me to ‘adult reading’. I can remember asking my mom when I was younger for one of her ‘grown-up books’ and she passed me one by Mary Higgins Clark. I became instantly hooked to her cliffhangers and extreme suspense. Well-written suspense, I believe, mimics all the same neurotransmitters as drugs. It’s addicting. Although some of her word choice hasn’t aged well, I’m so glad I revisited this book and I can’t wait to begin to recollect and reread her books in 2021 (I recently found 3 at a thrift store!). Mary Higgins Clark passed away this year, which was another reason I reached for this book. Rest in Peace, Mary. As long as I’m reading your books will continue to be appreciated.
I’ll Be Gone In the Dark by Michelle McNamara. This book has truly redefined true crime writing in a positive way. A meticulously-researched, empathetic deep-dive into the crimes of the East Area Rapist/Original Night Stalker/Golden State Killer. Michelle McNamara also recently passed away and this book, as well as the subsequent capture of the killer, is Michelle’s legacy. If you’re a true crime fan, you’ll love this book.
Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. This was a different genre and topic for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. Nurture Shock was recommended by a social work professor I admire and it was very applicable to my field placement in child protection at the time I was reading it. The authors present scientific research in an easy-to-digest, entertaining manner. Some of the studies are truly mind-blowing. I learned a lot about child development and would recommend it to anyone who is a parent-to-be or parent of a young child and I will definitely reread this book when I become a parent one day.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This book had been on my to-read list for years. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I laughed out loud in sections and teared up in sections, which is quite rare for me when I read. The character development was phenomenal as was the use of language. I read The Help early this year before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent re-invigoration of the Black Lives Matter movement. After these events took place, there was an outcry to Netflix to have the movie taken down as it perpetuates a white saviour narrative. I think this is a fascinating and important perspective. I don’t think this necessarily takes away from the book and movie, however, I would like to respond to this perspective by reading more Black-written books in 2021. In fact, my entire reading list for this year has been white authors. It’s time for a change. Please leave me recommendations for books written by BIPOC authors!
Please let me know if you read any of these books or if you’ve read them in the past. I’d love to hear your thoughts!