Best Books Read in 2020.

A few might even change your life.

image by Annie Spratt from Unsplash.com

It’s all here on this list.

Fiction.

Non-fiction.

Suspense.

Culture and society.

Romance and friendships.

Health.

Drama.

Feminism.

Gender issues.

Race.

Equality and poverty.

Cell Phones and technology.

Entertainment and fun.

This book was excellent. Timely, as the main characters grapple with depression and opioids addiction, two prevalent issues in America right now. The writing is beautiful. The characters are compelling. It’s an inspiring, thought-provoking, great story.

Hands down, one of the best books I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it to any parent of girls or to anyone who spends time around little girls, teenage females, or young women. It will change everything you think about our culture with regards to females, in crucial ways.

There is a reason that almost all adolescent girls seem to somehow be swallowed by turmoil when they reach that age. It’s because American culture is one that is toxic to adolescent girls, in several ways.

Ultimately what happens when young women come of age is, they must contend with and are placed face-to-face with our culture’s incredibly narrow, unhealthy doctrine of what it means to be “female” in this culture. Thin, always beautiful, ultra-feminine, quiet and permissive, “popular”, sexy but not sexual, etc.

This puts immense pressure on girls to either conform and thus, become a false self in varying ways (but, so that they can “fit in” and gain approval and acceptance from men and the culture at large). Or, they can push back and refuse to go along with it, though often at great social cost (such as ridicule and becoming outcasts among certain peers) (though, these girls often escape from adolescence the most unscathed in terms of their senses of self).

I loved this one. A series of vignettes, all black women, some of them heterosexual, some of them homosexual, some monogamous, others polyamorous or in open relationships. One of them identifies not as “she” but as “they.” This is a great read, one that covers the topics of culture, race, equality, love, marriage, and relationships.

While this book is dense, it’s written by two Princeton Professors and is much like a textbook, it’s gripping, jaw-dropping, interesting, and timely. It explores the solely American phenomena of a steep uptick in deaths of despair over the last few decades, meaning, deaths by direct suicide, alcoholism, or drug overdose. All of which are stemming from a distinct sense of despair and hopelessness that grows from the constructs of American culture. From our healthcare system to our holding up a college degree as the gateway into well-paying work, we are the only developed, rich country in which mortality rates are skyrocketing. This is alarming. And it’s a superb read.

Boy, did this one surprise me. It’s a good one. A fast, fun, interesting read. It explores topics of racism, first love, the environment and climate change, as well as sexism and some creepy stuff with a not-so-great stepdad. I blew through this one. If you’re looking for an engaging, great fictional read, this is your book.

While on a similar plane to Reviving Ophelia, this one is a bit different. Both explore the topics, though, of sex, sexism, sexual objectification, and how women are treated today in our culture (hint: not great). This one was quite good and both are worth reading, though if I could only recommend one of the two (this one or Reviving Ophelia), I would go with Reviving Ophelia.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. As you’d expect from the cover and theme, it has sex, drugs, and rock and roll. There is an intriguing love triangle in the book. What I most loved about it was the imagery. The characters are fascinating. And the author explores the idea of loving more than one person at once. It’s a beautiful, fun, thought-provoking read.

My god. This book. This is probably the best one I’ve read all year. Though it’s non-fiction, it reads like fiction. Evicted follows eight families, some of them are white, some of them are black, one is a drug addict, the rest are not into drugs and just struggle with immense poverty. Along with these stories, the book laces in information about eviction and poverty throughout America. This book blew my mind. I could not put it down. It wrenched my heart out. It’s a phenomenal, incredible, timely read. It will change the way you think.

This book will alter what you think about the internet and cell phones in wild ways. Believe it or not, the internet is destroying our attention spans. The ways in which we get our information nowadays (often in short bursts, such as skimming a part of an article online or though memes and quotes on Instagram or Twitter) have caused our ability to focus on things to fracture. Our brains have literally changed and reformed to fit this new method of intaking information (neuroplasticity- the brain actually changes, depending on the activities in which it is partaking). We used to be able to focus intently on something (say, reading a novel) for an hour or two, uninterrupted. Nowadays, most people cannot do this. They find themselves reaching for their phones every few minutes.

The internet, cell phones, and the way in which we get our information nowadays are causing us major problems in terms of our attention spans and cognitive abilities. This book is also beautifully written, the prose is poetic and lovely (it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist). Check it out. You won’t regret it.

This book traces the collapse of the American community, as well as the flight from wisdom to ignorance and the spread of propaganda (look no further than the fact that most of us get our news nowadays from sources that are not news, like Twitter or Facebook). It’s a fascinating, well-researched, timely read. One worth checking out, I would argue, for every American.

This will shift everything you think about health. It’s in the top three best books on health I’ve ever read (out of, say, the twenty total books on this topic I’ve read). It covers everything, from the four main foods we consume that are, in fact, toxic, to how most Americans are deficient in a variety of vitamins (and the health implications of this). It’s very science and research laden, though if you can push yourself to read it, is well worth it.

This book astonished me. My jaw was on the floor throughout much of my time reading it. Just, wow. Incredibly informative, eye-opening, and important. Everyone should read it. There are so many aspects to our culture that either dismiss, downplay, or even outright encourage victim-blaming and rape. This book will shock you- in an important and ultimately good way. Everyone should be reading these types of books because if we all did, the culture would likely shift in healthier and better ways.

One of my favorite love stories ever. I’ve read it twice and will most certainly read it again. About a Nigerian couple who fall in love (first loves). She goes off to America to study and live, while he stays in Nigeria. Something terrible happens when she is in America, desolate, poverty-stricken, and alone. She is too ashamed to tell him about it and, instead, pulls back, ceasing all contact with him (he has no idea why), and breaking both their hearts in the process. Both of them go on to lead other lives, to meet and fall in love with other people. All while they never forgot one another…and then twenty years later, they meet again. Read this book. It’s the best.

A textbook and study by the American Psychological Association, this one is eye-opening, timely, and compelling. Despite it being a textbook, I was gripped and read it in like a week. It’s all about the ways in which our culture teaches women to make themselves into sex objects, and the emotional and mental costs of this (there are many, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, sexual issues, disordered eating, and more).

While I’m only about halfway through, this one is emotionally moving, informative, and empathy-inducing. Opportunities in America for our youth today are rapidly dwindling. This book explores why in-depth. The reasons are many, though it relates to the collapse of the working class, race has something to do with it (though sometimes, not as much as we might think), and lack of education has much to do with it.

This book explores timely and important life themes that apply to most people. Dysfunctional family (and dealing with the emotional pain and sense of loss this entails), marriage, sexism, the growing issue of inequality in America, the housing and wage crisis, student loans, female friendship (and what makes someone a real friend), motherhood. All of that is in this book. It’s also just a fun read. I love this author, J. Courtney Sullivan. She writes engaging and interesting characters. I find her books easy to read, entertaining, and relatable. I especially loved Commencement and Maine. This one is turning out to be just as good (I am about 60 percent through it).

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

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