My Favorite Books of 2020

My Favorite Books of 2020

Fiction

10. The Magician’s Land, by Lev Grossman
The third and final installment in the Magician fantasy trilogy a la Narnia, Harry Potter and “The Once and Future King.” I don’t read a lot of books from the fantasy genre, but I do like it when a plot line goes off the end of the page into something fantastical. My Review.

9. The Muse Asylum, by David Czucklewski
An interesting, plot twisty, tale about a few college friends and what happens to them after college. One of the friends gets all weird and seems to be little crazy … or is he? He seems pretty crazy. He thinks everyone’s favorite author is out to get him, so they put him inside the Muse Asylum.

8. The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac
On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again. Life I love is playing music with my friends and I can’t wait to get on the road again. This is the story of a bunch of guys without jobs, drinking, hiking and writing poetry, while seeking enlightenment. My Review.

7. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, by Matthew J. Sullivan
I knew nothing about this book until I picked it up and found out that is set in downtown Denver and based on the Tattered Cover book store in LoDo. Then I noticed that Jess Walter had a quote on the cover and I was sold. This is a really good mystery with lots of layers and character development.

6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling
This is a book about a boy named Harry set in a time and place where people still used the word, goblet. For my money, Goblet of Fire was the best book of the series so far. You get more back story, more characters, and more side adventures. My Review.

5. The Angel’s Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Angel’s Game is a prequel to “The Shadow of the Wind” — my favorite book from the last several years — set in Barcelona and again features the very special and mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There is also a love interest, a villain who just might be the devil and a creepy house that is absolutely evil. My Review.

4. Epitaph, by Mary Doria Russell
I loved the movie, Tombstone, and live in Southern Arizona, so I picked up this book. The author sorted through all of the legends and myths and has portrayed the story as close to the truth as possible. The lead up to the shootout is fascinating. The description of Tombstone during the silver boom days is illuminating.

3. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
This is an updated version of the story of Wolf Boy, the boy raised by wolves, except this time it’s about a little girl and there are no wolves involved. There are also very few crawdads in the storyline. I loved the story and the description. Another mystery in my top 10.

2. Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
This book is set in the late 1930s in New York City. The writing is great with snappy dialogue. You get lost in the story of the characters’ lives, especially the lead, Katey Kontent. You want to know what happens next. My favorite type of book. My Review.

1. Straight Man, by Richard Russo
I loved this novel. Now that I’m employed at a university, I took extra interest in “Straight Man” by Richard Russo. I thought this book was hilarious. The book is set on a small campus. An English professor, who has been put in charge of the department, picks up a goose in front of TV cameras and threatens to kill a duck a day until his department gets its funding. Awesome scene. My Review.

Non-Fiction

5. The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton
A contemplative, philosophical series of essays about why we travel and what we get out of the experience. He also looks at the art of travel through the eyes of artists throughout history like Edward Hopper, Baudelaire, Wordsworth and Van Gogh. My Review.

4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
I really found this book to be inspirational and that’s a good thing since it is a self-help book on living a more creative life. My Review.

3. Kon Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft, by Thor Heyerdahl
Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl — his frickin’ name is Thor — takes a group of non-sailors and — just to prove a point — sails a raft across the Pacific 4,300 nautical miles from Peru to Polynesia with no modern conveniences like an engine. Three months at sea. Amazing and true, before, during and after the trip. My Review.

2. The Moth Presents Occasional Magic: True Stories about Defying the Impossible, by Catherine Burns
These stories are unbelievable, but true-life stories, told by real people on stage in front of an audience at live storytelling events from The Moth, then adapted for print. I love the collection. Everyone is dealing with something and most people are more than meets the eye. My Review.

1. Grant, by Ron Chernow
General Grant, President Ulysses S. Grant, the man who saved the nation, defeated the South and the Confederacy and slavery. He lived quite a life. The book gives a fairly detailed accounting of the Civil War and his two terms as President. I especially enjoyed learning about his two-plus year world tour after his presidency. He was not perfect. But I admired his successes, felt sick about his failures and broken hearted by his death. My Review.

My Favorite Books of 2019

Fiction
1. News of the World, by Paulette Jiles
2. The Passage, by Justin Cronin
3. These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Print, 1881-1901, by Nancy E. Turner
4. All the Names They Used for God, by Anjali Sachdeva
5. Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
6. The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
7. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
8. The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
9. Ocean of Words, by Ha Jin
10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling

Non-Fiction
1. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, by Dee Brown
2. It’s Garry Shandlng’s Book, edited by Judd Apatow
3. The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle
4. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, by Anthony Bourdain
5. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, by Rachel Maddow

My Favorite Books of 2018

Fiction
1. Europe Central by William T. Vollman
2. Last Bus to Wisdom, by Ivan Doig
3. Plainsong, by Kent Haruf
4. Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories, by Ben Fountain
5. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
6. The Round House, by Louise Erdrich
7. World’s Fair, by E.L. Doctorow
8. The Cider House Rules, by John Irving
9. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloane
10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling

Non-Fiction
1. H if for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald
2. The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, by Ross King
3. The Escape Artist: Art, Thieves and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece, by Edward Dolnick
4. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101, Final Solution in Poland, by Christopher R. Browning
5. The Daily Show: An Oral History, by Chris Smith

My Favorite Books of 2017

1. Norwegian at Night, by Derek B. Miller
2. Pastoralia, by George Saunders
3. City of Thieves, by David Benioff
4. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
5. A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, by Robert Olen
6. The Magician King, by Lev Grossman
7. Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safron Foer
8. The Guernsey Library and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
9. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
10. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng

Non-Fiction
1. Sugar Salt Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss
2. Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer
3. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science Remembering Everything, by Joshua For
4. Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley
5. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, by Elvis Costello

My Favorite Books of 2016

1. Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
2. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain
3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
4. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
5. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
6. Native Son, by Richard Wright
7. The Man with the Golden Arm, by Nelson Algren
8. Euphoria, by Lily King
9. Marathon Man, by William Goldman
10. Big Fish, by Daniel Wallace

Non-Fiction
1. The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen, by Stephen R. Bown
2. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, by Jill Lepore
3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
4. Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger
5. The Sea Around Us, by Rachel Carson

My Favorite Books of 2015

1. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2. The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
3. Everyman, by Philip Roth
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
5. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, by John le Carre
6. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce
7. The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro
8. The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink
9. Close Range, by Annie Proulx
10. The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank 

Non-Fiction
1. My Autobiography, by Charles Chaplin
2. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss
3. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, by Tadeusz Borowski
4. In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist, by Pete Jordan
5. I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend, by Martin Short

My Favorite Books of 2014

1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
2. Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
3. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
4. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
5. A Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
6. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
7. Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers
8. Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder
9. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
10. Holes, by Louis Sacher

Non-Fiction
1. Jackson Pollack: An American Saga, by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith
2. The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century, by David Laskin
3. Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
4. Quiet, by Mary Cain
5. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

My Favorite Books of 2013

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
2. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
3. Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem
4. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
5. All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy
6. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
7. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
8. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
9. High Fidelity, by Nick Hornsby
10. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, by Seth Godin

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