2020 was a good year for me, in books. I finished 22 books and started my 23nd of the year in December, which will be the first I complete in 2021. Most of the 22 books I’ve enjoyed, only one rubbed me the wrong way. I wrote about it early 2020, here is the link. That post also is about the best books I read in 2020. I also decided to jump into a couple of series; Kathy Reichs’s ‘Bones’ series, I read the first and the latest in the series of 27 books and Mark Burnell’s thrilling Stephanie Patrick Trilogy.
The following 5 books were the best of my COVID-19 booklist.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this, considering it is the follow up to “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Perhaps the reason for this is that it didn’t have a lot of the darkness that was found in ‘Handmaid’, Don’t get me wrong, there is still darkness, but “The Testaments” fills in the blanks of the beginning of Gilead, we wanted to know how it all began. More importantly rather though, “The Testaments” has hope. I am not sure if you can or should read The Testaments without reading The Handmaids’ Tale First. There is too much given away, but you should read “The Testaments”.
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larsen
For a history buff, the year in the life of PM Sir Winston Churchill in the worst year the UK experienced in the Second World War is a must read. This book did not disappointment.
From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle
A must read from Canadians, Jesse writes about his life, and it wasn’t a good life; but he has come through and now uses his life to inspire other Metis and Indigenous youth. “From the Ashes” also is a difficult read, difficult as it paints a picture of Canadian Indigenous peoples that are at odds with the government and society. “From the Ashes” should be a book read in Canadian High Schools and for those that have trouble finding a book on Canadian Indigenous people, “From the Ashes” is a good place to start, it is not judgemental, it lets you decide how you feel. By the last page flip you might end up as I did, you will take more interest in hearing about the welfare and relationship of Canada’s Indigenous people and the government,
Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner
One of the oddest books I read in 2020. It’s about working and living in Silicon Valley. Anne Weiner takes up through her working in tech and social media tech. She’s careful not mention specific companies but rather gives them labels that identify then without calling them by name. There is ‘the social media company loves to hate’, the highly litigious Seattle based software company, the home sharing platform and car hailing app to name a few. Weiner names GitHub, the company she worked for as ‘an open-source start-up’. It is interesting to read how the those working in Silicon Valley and the numerous dot coms actually are different from people who don’t work in a dot com company. The ending is very odd, it ends as if Weiner’s laptop ran out of power and she didn’t write anymore, it was the most disappointing thing about the book, but I got over it. One last note, a certain ‘real estate developer who once played the part of a successful businessman on TV’ is mentioned as Weiner rides out on the spacebar of a laptop in the “Uncanny Valley”.
History of Canada in Ten Maps: Epic Stories of Charting a Mysterious Land by Adam Shoalts
I had previously read Shoalts’ “Beyond the Trees”. “Ten Maps” tells the story of Canada, yes, by using ten maps. The first is of a Viking map and through storytelling, historical accounts Shoalts walks us through the discovery and founding of Canada. Told in ten chapters, you won’t have to read this all-in-one sitting, but you’ll want to. “Ten Maps” is the winner of the 2018 Edna Staebler for Creative Non-Fiction. It is also my most recommended books of all the books I read last year.
I’ll give an honourable mention to Greg Iles for “Cemetery Road”, a thriller set in the south. It was fast paced and took a few fast turns to get to the truth and the final page. I could not put it down. Iles preceded “Cemetery Road” with the “Natchez Burning” Trilogy, something I’ll pick up this year as I expect another COVID year of reading.
I hope that one or more of these books will be in your hands at one point, or at least on ‘must read’ list for 2021.
Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, appreciate the time you take to consider what I have to say and suggest for you.
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