There are many superlatives that could be ascribed to 2020 (“Craziest Year Ever” anyone?) “Taps’ Most Active Year of Book Reading” will not be one of them. I worked my way through 15 books last year. Mostly non-fiction, their themes centered on finding meaning, working through troubled times, and creative output. While I didn’t finish my reading challenge of 26 books (I am choosing not to count toddler classics I memorized this year like Ten Apples Up on Top, Dragons Love Tacos, One Button Benny, Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, P is for Potty, and Goodnight Construction Site), all things considered, it was not a bad year for reading. Below is the list with quick thoughts on each, as well as a link to the Taps’ Notes review if available. If you’re interested, you can find my 2019 Reading List here. Oh, and as I pull together my reading list for 2021 please click the link below and send me your favorite book!
Note: A * indicates a strong recommendation.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen*
This book won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It’s easy to see why. Set in the aftermath of the Vietnam war, the story’s narrator is a communist double agent who moves to Los Angeles with other Vietnamese refugees. An incredibly well-crafted story, it explores big questions of identity, friendship, and love while wrapped in a shroud of espionage and war. I highly recommend you pick this up!
Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang is my favorite science fiction writer. The author of Arrival (which went on to become a major motion picture), his latest collection of stories does not disappoint.
The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason
Set during World War I, this is a story of a young medical resident who enters the bowels of war, expected to treat the sick and the dying despite never previously lifted a scalpel. It was an entertaining read, but I was left wanting more from the ending than I was given.