Check It Out Category: Nonfiction

Winter Reading Ideas: Best Books of 2020

Best Books of 2020 Best Books of 2020

We sifted through a great many of the Best Books of 2020 opinions that have been making the rounds and put some of the more frequent fliers on this curated Best Books of 2020 list. Featured below are some of the books that our staff have heard rave reviews about as well as those consistently on those Best Of indexes!

Deacon King Kong book cover

 

Deacon King Kong by James McBride

In the aftermath of a 1969 Brooklyn church deacon’s public shooting of a local drug dealer, the community’s African-American and Latinx witnesses find unexpected support from each other when they are targeted by violent mobsters.

 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family book cover

 

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

Tells the heartrending story of a midcentury American family with 12 children, 6 of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science’s great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

 

Transcendent Kingdom book cover

 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice.

 

Blacktop Wasteland book cover

 

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Compelled by poverty to agree to a lucrative final heist that will allow him to go straight, a skilled getaway driver finds his efforts complicated by racial dynamics and the ghosts of his past.

 

The Cold Millions book cover

 

The Cold Millions by Jess Walter

Enduring a harsh existence as day laborers, orphaned brothers Gig and Rye Dolan are drawn to a feminist activist and a vaudeville singer whose experiences reflect an unjust world on the brink of upheaval.

 

 

The City We Became book cover

 

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Takes readers into the dark underbelly of New York City where a roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars.

 

 

The Only Good Indians book cover

 

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

 

Party of Two book cover

 

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Going against her better judgement, LA lawyer Olivia Monroe secretly starts dating a hotshot junior senator until their romance is made public and her life falls under intense media scrutiny, jeopardizing everything.

Winter Reading Ideas: Staff Favorites of 2020

FAVT Staff Favorites 2020 header

We would not dream of celebrating the start of a new year without first cheering the reads that proved exciting company during the last. Choose one of these 2020 staff favorites to kick off your own Winter Reading season, and let us know if you agree! Most are available in both physical and digital collections. Contact us for help with access or to request a title hand-picked just for you.

 Top Favorite!
House in the Cerulean Sea book coverLiz, Al, Denise, and Kelda recommend
The House in the Cerulean Sea
TJ Klune

Vanished Birds book coverAl recommends
Vanished Birds 
Simon Jimenez
Witch Hat Atelier book coverAbby recommends
Witch Hat Atelier series
Kamome Shirahama
Dont Go Without Me book coverJohn recommends
Don’t Go Without Me
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
From Scratch book coverJenny recommends
From Scratch
Tembi Locke
Frankly in Love book coverAndrea recommends
Frankly in Love
David Yoon
When All Is Said book coverLaura recommends
When All Is Said
Anne Griffin
Foul Is Fair book coverCathleen recommends
Foul Is Fair
Hannah Capin
Anxious People book coverDenise recommends
Anxious People
Fredrik Backman
narrated by Marin Ireland
Sellout book coverChelsea recommends
The Sellout
Paul Beatty

 

Nothing to See Here book coverNancy recommends
Nothing to See Here
Kevin Wilson
narrated by Marin Ireland
House in the Cerulean Sea book coverAndrea recommends
Stamped
Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
narrated by Jason Reynolds
Ninth House book coverLiz recommends
Ninth House
Leigh Bardugo

 

Leave the World Behind book coverKelda recommends
Leave the World Behind
Rumaan Alam
narrated by Marin Ireland
Slaughter House-Five book coverJohn recommends
Slaughterhouse-Five
Ryan North
illustrated by Albert Monteys
story by Kurt Vonnegut
Charming as a Verb book coverJenny recommends
Charming as a Verb
Ben Philippe

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month September 15 through October 15

“Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to American society and culture” – United States Census Bureau

Whether you are in the mood for quiet and thoughtful, tense and unnerving, heartfelt and sweet, or sincere and compelling, exciting reads by Hispanic American authors are yours for the taking. The contributions from writers of Hispanic descent are monumental, and one of the ways we are honoring Hispanic Heritage Month is to share suggestions that celebrate the authentic experience in great storytelling.

Check out a fresh list of rich reads for Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 or browse a sample below. For information on national events and much more, visit the Library of Congress website.

 

Mexican Gothic book cover

 

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia  

A reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated mansion.

Gothic Fiction; Horror

 

You Had Me at Hola book cover

 

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

Rendered the subject of tabloid gossip by a messy public breakup, soap star Jasmine takes a part in a new bilingual comedy at the side of a telenovela costar who would revitalize his career.

Romantic Comedy

 

A Long Petal of the Sea book cover

 

A Long Petal Of The Sea by Isabel Allende  

Sponsored by the poet Pablo Neruda to flee the violence of the Spanish Civil War, a pregnant widow and an army doctor unite in an arranged marriage, only to be swept up by the early days of World War II.

Historical Fiction

 

Once I Was You by Maria HinojosaOnce I Was You book cover

Maria Hinojosa is an award-winning journalist who has collaborated with the most respected networks and is known for bringing humanity to her reporting. In this beautifully-rendered memoir, she relates the history of US immigration policy that has brought us to where we are today, as she shares her deeply personal story. Once I Was You is an urgent call to fellow Americans to open their eyes to the immigration crisis and understand that it affects us all. 

Memoir; Global Affairs

 

Afterlife book cover

 

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

Reeling from her beloved husband’s sudden death in the wake of her retirement, an immigrant writer is further derailed by the reappearance of her unstable sister and an entreaty for help by a pregnant undocumented teen.

Domestic Fiction

 

Everything Inside: Stories book cover

 

Everything Inside: Stories by Edwidge Danticat

A single-volume collection of short stories by the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author is set in such locales as Miami, Port-au-Prince and the Caribbean and poignantly explores the forces that unite and divide.

Authentic Short Stories

 

Cantoras book cover

 

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis

Enduring the rampant violence against women and the LGBTQ community in the decades of the Uruguayan dictatorship, five women heartbreakingly unite as lovers, friends and family.

Historical Fiction

 

 

 

Summer Reading: F. Travel With True Stories, Read A Nonfiction Book

travel with true stories - read a nonfiction book, a summer reading challenge category

One of the most popular Adult Summer Reading Challenge categories has been to read a nonfiction book. You truly can “travel” with a variety of true stories! Below is just a small assortment of what participants have been reading for this summer reading challenge category.


Spirit Run: A 6,000-mile Marathon Through North America's Stolen Land book cover

 

Spirit Run by Noé Álvarez

A debut memoir by the son of working-class Mexican immigrants describes his upbringing in Washington State, membership in the Peace and Dignity Journeys movement and competition in the Native American cultural marathon from Canada to Guatemala.

 

 

Brilliant Maps for Curious Minds by Ian Wright brilliant maps for curious minds: 100 new ways to see the world book cover

An atlas of 100 infographic maps that reveal something surprising about our world–how many countries have bigger economies than California; who drives on the wrong side of the road; and where you can find lions in the wild–all offering little-known insights and analysis about our world

 

Emperor of Maladies book cover

 

 

Emperor Of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

A historical assessment of cancer addresses both the courageous battles against the complex disease and the misperceptions and hubris that have compromised modern understandings, covering such topics as ancient-world surgeries and the developments of present-day treatments.

 

 

Never Home Alone by Rob Dunn
Never Home Alone: from mibrobes to millipedes, camel crickets, and honeybees, the natural history of where we live book cover
Even when the floors are sparkling clean and the house seems silent, our domestic domain is wild beyond imagination. In Never Home Alone, biologist Rob Dunn introduces us to the nearly 200,000 species living with us in our own homes. Yet, as we obsess over sterilizing our homes and separating our spaces from nature, we are unwittingly cultivating an entirely new playground for evolution.

 

Cover of Killers of the Flower Moon

 

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Presents a true account of the early 20th-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

 

 

How We Fight for Our Lives book cover

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

The co-host of BuzzFeed’s AM to DM, award-winning poet and author of Prelude to Bruise documents his coming-of-age as a young, gay, black man in an American South at a crossroads of sex, race and power.

 

If You Tell: A true story of murder, family secrets, and the unbreakable bond of sisterhood book cover

 

If You Tell by Gregg Olsen

In the gripping true crime story, three courageous and strong sisters band together to escape their sadistic mother’s unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture and psychic terrors, which resulted in multiple murders.

Black Lives Matter: Teaching Yourself about Race

Learning About Race image“We hope…that this moment becomes the impetus for our nation to address racism and social inequities in earnest.” ~ Lonnie Bunch, Smithsonian

As we witness news reports and public demonstrations, it is natural to feel outrage, helplessness, uncertainty, and grief. Many will want to better understand, and one of the best ways to increase empathy and to inspire change is to expose ourselves to the perspectives of those who can uniquely speak to their experiences.

Click here for a list of titles that speak to issues of race and injustice. You can access most through OverDrive, our digital book service, as ebook or e-audio, or place requests for physical copies in the catalog.

If you are interested in recommendations on a specialized focus of this topic or for resources that address a specific age, appeal, or entry point, email readers@mppl.org with your question.