A 2020 Reading List


Who else loves to read? This has been a good year to slow down and do more of the things we maybe didn’t have time to do in our overly busy, pre-Covid lives, like reading.


I started my reading list partway through 2020, so I’m not sure it's complete, but that's okay. Reading has always been an especial joy for me, partly because of an insatiable thirst for learning, but also to learn about the real people who inhabited history, getting other people’s perspectives, and going on wild adventures from the safety of my living room couch.


Also, writers are readers. :)


Some of these books were audiobooks, some on Kindle. A few were repeats from Junior High School, like Dostoevsky and Kafka. I was curious to see what I thought of them now (very different take but no less enjoyable.)


So here it is, as best as I can remember, in no particular order. Some with comments, and with thanks for recommendations by friends.


The Last Days of the Incas – Kim MacQuarrie (Meticulously researched, utterly engaging, and keeps you rooting for the indigenous people, even though you know the outcome.)


Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries – Kim MacQuarrie (Kim is a master storyteller; very interesting collection of stories.)


Lost! A Collection of Search and Rescue Stories (reminiscent of my own Search and Rescue days, some of the best and most rewarding times of my life)


The Old Man and the Sea – Hemmingway (somehow I’d missed this one growing up, so I especially enjoyed it. Hemmingway is forever the master writer.)


The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead (thank you, Esther – disturbing and true story)


The Brain Audit: Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don’t) – Sean D’Souza (excellent book, as is everything by Sean. If you're interested in marketing, writing, business in general, or how the brain works, check out his website: https://www.psychotactics.com/ Lots of free and valuable info, too.)


Breakshot: My First 21 Years – James Taylor (thank you, Audible; this was an interesting freebie from someone whose music still brings me pleasure)


Dead Mountain – Donnie Eichar (true mystery fans take note! The true crime podcasts don't do it justice. A fascinating story with, I thought, a plausible explanation)


Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch – Ruth Cowen (wonderful glimpses into the mind of this amazing monarch and woman)


The Life and Times of Prince Albert – Patrick Alit (very interesting life of an intelligent, hard-working, and accomplished man in his own right)


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl – Harriet Ann Jacobs (an autobiography of an amazing woman during an era that’s hard for us to comprehend now.)


Making Bombs for Hitler – Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch (another glimpse into one of the worst times in modern history)


The Tattooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris (an always disturbing subject, but it's important not to forget. These kinds of stories also make me even more grateful for the freedoms and blessings I have enjoyed my entire life.)

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius (uber practical philosophy of the Stoic philosophy in the Roman empire way back in the 2nd century AD)


The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky (Constant Garnett translation, still my favorite Russian translator)


The Metamorphosis and Other Stories – Franz Kafka (I read Metamorphosis right after a spider bite got infected and landed me in the hospital for a few days on continual IV cocktails of antibiotics. What in the world was I thinking?)


Island of the Lost – Joan Druett (drawn from memoirs from an 1800’s shipwreck - glad I wasn't there)


The Man Who Was Thursday – G.K. Chesterton (one of my all-time favorite authors)


21 (I just counted them) Chuck Missler books and Bible commentaries (He had a passion and a gift for expositing God’s word in a unique, provocative, historically and scientifically accurate manner.)


Goodbye, Things – Fumio Sasaki (Minimalism, of course. I think many of us are tired of being held hostage to our things)


Several Sherlock Holmes stories – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I’ll never tire of re-reading these periodically)


You Are a Badass at Making Money – Jen Sincero (thank you, Lacey. Motivating read, and so much there. I also like Jen’s style and sense of humor.)


Stories That Stick – Kendra Hall (human beings love stories)


The Round House – Louise Erdrich (thank you, Kristin)


The Birchbark House – Louise Erdrich (I enjoyed Louise’s books enormously)


The Twisted Root – Anne Perry (I think I’ve only guessed the culprit once in her stories)


Death of….several in the Hamish MacBeth series – M.C. Beaton (simple, easy, clean reads and still enjoyable all these years later – even better with the Scottish accent on Audiobook!)


On Writing – Steven King (very interesting to me in several ways: his passion for writing at an early age, his education, his system (he writes literally every day), and his near-death accident. Favorite quote: “A writer reads.” That explains a lot about me.)


The Elements of Style – William Strunk, Jr. (a classic, rules from which I'm obviously ignoring in this list - hey, it's my list)


How to Write Seductive Web Copy: An Easy Guide to Picking Up More Customers – Henneke Duistermaat (Henneke is great, and I love her cartoon character creation, Henrietta.)


Blog to Win Business – How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers – Henneke Duistermaat


The Freelance Content Marketing Writer – Jennifer Goforth Gregory


Marketing Made Simple – Donald Miller (thank you again, Lacey! Marketing is simple, and the clearer, the better.)


That's it for 2020 - although there are still a few days left to keep reading! I hope this inspires you in some way to read more in 2021. And please, if you have any good book recommendations I'd love to hear them.


Email me: phyllis@phyllisamaral.com or comment below and I'll get back to you... unless I'm busy reading...




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