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Chapter 1 - Last Year, Part One

Happy New Year all! I recently did a radio show with Scott Richards of WEZV 105.9 here where he challenged me to list my ten favorite books of 2020. While that was a hard enough task, he also wanted me to rank them.

2020 was a tough year for me as a reader and maybe for you too. I usually read about 130 books a year or 2 - 3 books a week. I certainly didn't have the same focus last year as I normally do. I also took on facilitating two book clubs, one via Zoom. While we have been rotating discussion leaders for both book clubs, I often find that I read closer and make notes when a book is to be discussed at book club.

As I was reviewing the books I read to talk to Scott about them, I realized I read some really good books last year. Some of them were by authors I'd never read before, some by my favorites. Here is my list of books I loved and they are in no particular order.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab - This is a book I'd never have picked up on my own but it was highly recommended by both Scott and my colleague, Stacy Stetson. The story is about Adeline, a young woman living in France in the 1700's. To escape from an arranged marriage she makes a deal with the devil for immortality. As it turns out, neither of them quite gets what they imagined.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman - I have mentioned this book before and it bears repeating that it was one of my favorites in 2020. Backman has such a great way of stating the human condition that I often write down quotes from his books. This one is about a bank robbery gone amiss when the robber takes hostages from a real estate open house.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson - I have yet to read a Larson book that I haven't enjoyed. His latest is about Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minister in 1940. It was a time when Germany was sure that England would be an eventual conquest and Churchill was just as determined that it wouldn't be on his watch.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins - While American Dirt received a lot of controversy at the time of its publication, it has stayed on the best seller list for months. It is the story of a mother and her son escaping from a drug cartel in Acapulco, Mexico. It gives you a whole different perspective of the illegal immigration issue.

Tell Me a Story by Cassandra King - I read this book before I went to the Savannah Book Festival, hoping to hear King speak there. The book is about King's relationship and 24 year marriage to Pat Conroy. I'm sure this was cathartic for King to write this but, quite frankly, it was cathartic to read. If you are a Pat Conroy fan and miss him, you must read this.

Next week we'll talk about my next 5 favorites. Do you have any books from 2020 that you are recommending? Let me know.


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