If one of your 2020 goals is to have less ‘screen-time,’ an ideal way to accomplish that is to increase your book time. I have found it is just as easy to get invested in a good book as it is to get invested in a riveting Netflix show. These are 20 books your year won’t be complete without. Go for it and turn the page. — E. DiSalvo
“Seven Days of Us”-Francesca Hornak A British family is confined to their home for seven days of quarantine after their daughter returns from caring for dangerously ill people abroad. The family faces sickness, secrets and heartbreak to ultimately discover that family has more than one definition.
““We are All Made of Stars”-Rowan Coleman
Stella, a hospice nurse, spends her days caring for dying patients. It’s always been her job to comfort her patients, but when her own life begins to deteriorate, she is forced to balance her own struggles and a life-changing secret one of her patients tells her on her deathbed.
“Wintergirls”-Laurie Halse Anderson
Two girls descend into a deadly competition to lose weight. Painful, breathtaking and raw, Laurie Halse Anderson brings the reality of having an eating disorder to life.
“The Girl on the Train”-Paula Hawkins
A woman rides the train every day, and every day she watches what seems to be a perfect couple in love. One day something looks wrong and her pursuit to understand takes readers on a wild train ride of mystery, murder and love.
“A Thousand Splendid Suns”-Khaled Hosseini
The story of two girls living in Afghanistan becomes intertwined under painful circumstances. When war intersects with personal life, family, friendship and hope are the only things that keep the main characters alive.
“Great Expectations”-Charles Dickens
Pip, an orphan living with his older sister and his husband, hits the jackpot when he receives an anonymous fortune and heads off to London to become a gentleman. As he becomes used to wealth and comfortable living, he begins to forget about kindness and generosity — a timeless reminder that life is larger than your bank account.
“The Lord of the Flies”-William GoldingRefreshingly relevant in an era of power struggles in government, the story of a group of boys stranded on a desert island is a reminder of the dangers of unchecked power. As one boy takes control of business on the island, the boys quickly learn that they are the only creatures on the island worth fearing.
“To Kill a Mockingbird”-Harper Lee
You might have read it in high school, but read it again. Harper Lee’s lessons about race, family and doing the right thing are just as relevant now as they were in 10th grade. The story of two kids, Jem and Scout, are under the guidance of their father, a moral compass and lawyer fighting for a black man accused of rape in the deep south.
“The Great Gatsby”-F. Scott Fitzgerald
If you’ve seen the movie, you still have to read the book. “The Great Gatsby” is more than Leonardo DiCaprio — it’s a masterpiece of words. Fall in love with Daisy and Gatsby as they fall in love with each other and cry as they fall apart.
“Jane Eyre”-Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre was a feminist before feminism was cool. Jane believed that women could feel the same things that men feel and sought to break the mold of what was expected of women in the 19th century. Her love for the ornery Mr. Rochester has set the precedent for literary love stories for generations.
“Salt to the Sea”-Ruta Sepetys
The lives of four very different characters collide in the midst of World War II. A 15-year-old pregnant Polish girl, a Prussian apprentice, a Hitler enthusiast and a Lithuanian refugee tell the story of the war from all angles. This novel will remind you that war is more than soldiers and battle — it affects everyday people too.
“The Help”-Kathryn Stockett
Three black women work in white households in the south in the 1960s. Skeeter, a daughter of a white family, is an aspiring writer. She decides to tell the story of the unfair treatment of black maids. That story becomes, “The Help,” which was later adapted into a movie.
“The Book Thief”-Markus Zusak
“Death” narrates the story of a young girl obsessed with books in the midst of Nazi Germany. When her adoptive father takes a Jewish man into their home, she is thrust into the politics of the war and the power of words as weapons and healers.
“The Bluest Eye”-Toni Morrison
In the years following the Great Depression, this novel explores one woman’s journey to feel beautiful as a black woman. Pecola is constantly regarded as “ugly” and finds herself longing for blue eyes, like the white women who are regarded as attractive. Her father impregnates her, and Pecola slowly descends into insanity. The tragedy of Pecola serves as a motif for the societal constructs that made black women feel inferior.
“The Color Purple”-Alice Walker
Celie is a 14-year-old black woman growing up in the South in the early 1900s with her abusive father. She goes on to marry an abusive man. Alice Walker paints a colorful picture of what it was like to be a black woman during this time and inspires readers with Celie’s perseverance and resilience.
“The Man Who Sold America”-Joy Reid
MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid documents the rise of Donald Trump through countless interviews, thoughtful analysis and unwavering honesty. This book is perfect for readers who are baffled by Trump’s presidency and want to start 2020 with some perspective on the political climate.
“Team of Vipers”-Cliff Sims
A former Trump communications aide tells the story of his 500 days working in the White House for the president. Cliff Sims explains how Trump’s cabinet is divided between the traditional Republican establishment and the Tea Party extremists and how this clash affects policy.
“The Mueller Report”-Robert Mueller and The Washington Post Writers Group
While Special Robert Mueller’s report isn’t ultimately what led to the historic impeachment of President Trump, his lengthy and insightful investigation is available for consumption in comic book form as well as a 400-page manifesto. The report documents Trump’s ties to Russia, a link crucial for all Americans to understand.
“Born a Crime”-Trevor Noah
Comedian Trevor Noah takes readers on a journey through South Africa, his childhood and the political events that shaped his outlook on life. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Daily Show, Noah’s experience living with apartheid and navigating race and family is criminally fascinating.
“The Truth in Our Times”-David E. McCraw
In a time when journalism is under attack by politicians and the public alike, the deputy general counsel for “The New York Times” explains what it is like to be the lawyer tasked with defending the first amendment.