2020 in books and highlights

This year I‘ve read more than I ever have in my life (which is still largely unreflected on my sad Goodreads log). Two reasons for this: first, more time and space – to digest books and truly understand them. Second, I wanted to write better, and the calibre of what you read enhances the calibre of what you write. This is undoubtedly true.

2020 was the year I started to write prose (I had previously only written poetry). Yanagihara writes this about math but it rings true for writing as well: We talk about a beautiful summation, or a beautiful judgment: and what we mean by that, of course, is the loveliness of not only its logic but its expression. Finding this balance between logic and expression is pretty unintuitive. The only way to improve is to read the works of those who have largely figured it out :)

In this list, I included the books I enjoyed the most this year and some accompanying quotes (the books are not listed in order of enjoyment). What did you read this year?


1. Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

2. The Little Virtues + A Place to Live by Natalia Ginzburg

3. Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Make it Scream, Make it Burn by Leslie Jamison

5. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong

6. American Originality: Essays on Poetry by Louise Glück

7. Stoner by John Williams

8. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

9. Madness, Rack and Honey by Mary Ruefle

10. Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

11. What Light Can Do + The Apple Trees at Olema + Form and Meaning (poems) by Robert Hass (one of my absolute favorite poets)

12. Interior States by Meghan O'Gieblyn

13. Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Wang

14. Object Lessons by Eavan Boland

15. The White Album by Joan Didion

16. On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

17. On Beauty and Being Just by Elaine Scarry

18. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek + The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

19. Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine

20. Rilke and Andreas-Salomé: The Correspondence

21. Essays on Elsewhere by André Aciman


22. How To Take Smart Notes by Sönke Ahrens

23. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan

24. Caste by Isabelle Wilkerson

25. One Up on Wall Street by John Rothchild and Peter Lynch 

26. Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover

27. The Lessons of History by Will Durant

28. Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell

29. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

30. Travels Through the 20th Century by Gaert Mak

Published by Nicole 3 years ago on Monday the 4th of January 2021.

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