I read 69 books in 2020 and here are my favorite non-fiction reads.
I normally have a hard time getting through non-fiction, but 2020 was brutal. I had to quit a few good books that I just couldn’t get through.
- The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For: How a New Generation of Leaders Will Transform America by Charlotte Alter – Really fascinating look at millennial leaders in politics. A lot of helpful insights and stories that really helped me in writing Better Politics, Please.
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi – A fascinating book and a difficult read, this one made all the headlines in the aftermath of George Floyd. I’ve also seen a fair amount of criticism about it, but that’s not surprising. It’s a challenge, but I think the underlying premise—if you’re not actively fighting racism then you’re part of the problem—is sound.
- If You Lived Here You’d Be Home by Now: Why We Traded the Commuting Life for a Little House on the Prairie by Christopher Ingraham – East coasters move to rural Minnesota and love it. This is the kind of book that makes a good magazine article but should feel too bloated as a book. But I really enjoyed it, maybe because of the Minnesota focus.
- Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer – A fascinating combination of memoir and history. I started listening to it as an audiobook but got bogged down in some of the detail and had to finish a paper copy. The history of our treatment of Native Americans is always jarring, but this summary of recent problematic encounters is even more jarring. These aren’t just sins our forefathers committed generations before we were born.
- Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America by Stacey Abrams – Nothing like reading about voter suppression in the lead up to a presidential election. Especially one where the biggest story is the post-election rejection of said election based on absolutely no proof. It’d be fascinating to hear Abrams take on that, because that seems like a whole other problem from the one she tackles.
Honorable mention: The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson – Stevenson’s Nimona has always been one of my favorite graphic novels, and after watching and loving her Netflix reboot of She-Ra, I had to pick up Stevenson’s memoir. More than anything, it’s about creativity and learning to accept yourself. Also has some great cartoons.
If you want to read more, check out my booklet 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading Again.
And how about previous top non-fiction lists: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.