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Holiday Books 2020 Edition

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colored books, stacked asymmetrically, with their pages facing the camera

As the winter solstice approaches, nights grow long, and you’re stuck at home because of the pandemic, it’s a good time to curl up with a book.  New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul joins us to share her favorite books of 2020. We’ll also hear from some local authors to get their picks, and open the phone lines for listener recommendations for a great read.

Pamela Paul’s Suggestions: 

  • “A Children’s Bible” by Lydia Millet
  • “Black Women, Black Love: America’s War on African American Marriage” by Dianne M. Stewart
  • “Blacktop Wasteland” by S.A. Cosby
  • Catching the Wind: Edward Kennedy and the Liberal Hour” by Neal Gabler
  • “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride
  • “The Dead Are Rising” by Les Payne, Tamara Payne
  • “Dear Child” by Romy Hausmann
  • “Eleanor” by David Michaelis
  • “The End of October” by Lawrence Wright
  • “Felon: Poems” by Reginald Dwayne Betts
  • “Hamnet” by Maggie O’Farrell 
  • “Homeland Elegies” by Ayad Akhtar
  • “Homie: Poems” by Danez Smith
  • “How to Be Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi
  • “Jack” by Marilynne Robinson
  • “JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956” by Fredrik Logevall
  • “Just Us: An American Conversation” by Claudia Rankine
  • “Less” by Andrew Sean Greer
  • “Promised Land” by Barack Obama
  • “Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline
  • “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stewart
  • “The Trespasser” by Tana French
  • “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett
  • “White Fright: The Sexual Panic at the Heart of America’s Racist History” by Jane Dailey
  • “White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color” by Ruby Hamad

Michael Krasny’s Suggestions: 

  • “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham
  • “Begin Again” by Eddie Glaude
  • “The Best of Me” by David Sedaris
  • “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson
  • “Children of the Land” by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
  • “Dogs of the Times: From the Archives of the New York Times” by M. Ryan Murphy, Jennifer Parrucci & Jim Mones
  • “Good Blood: A Doctor, a Donor, and the Incredible Breakthrough that Saved Millions of Babies” by Julian Guthrie
  • “The Plague” by Albert Camus
  • “The Queen’s Gambit” by Walter Tevis
  • “Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton” by Bobby Seale
  • “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson
  • “Trial by Fire” by Scott James

Vanessa Hua’s Suggestions: 

  • “Fiebre Tropical” by Juli Delgado Lopera
  • “A Good Family” by A.H. Kim
  • “Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu
  • “She Votes: How U.S. Women Won Suffrage, and What Happened Next” by Bridget Quinn
  • “The Son of Good Fortune” by Lysley Tenorio
  • “Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas” by Roberto Lovato
  • “Why We Swim” by Bonnie Tsui

Tanya Foster’s Suggestions:

  • “DMZ Colony” by Don Mee Choi
  • “Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems” by Erica Hunt
  • “Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Natasha Tretheway
  • “Postcolonial Love Poem” by Natalie Diaz
  • “Shrapnel Maps” by Philip Metres
  • “Women in the Waiting Room” by Kirun Kapur

Listener Suggestions (Mentioned on Air):

  • “All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis: Collected Essays” Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine K. Wilkinson
  • “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel” by Carl Safina
  • “Children of Time” by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • “A Crack in Creation: The New Power to Control Evolution” by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg
  • “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor
  • “Code Name Hélène” by Ariel Lawho 
  • “Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You” by Jenara Nerenberg
  • “Everyone Brave is Forgiven” by Chris Cleave
  • “Failure To Appear: Resistance, Identity and Loss” by Emily L. Quint Freeman
  • “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” by David W. Blight
  • “A Geologic and Natural History Tour through Nevada and Arizona along U.S. Highway 93, with GPS Coordinates” by Joseph Tingley
  • “Hiding in Plain Sight: The Invention of Donald Trump and the Erosion of America” by Sarah Kendzior
  • “Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam
  • “Ledger: Poems” by Jane Hirshfield
  • “The Ministry for the Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • “Murder Goes to Market” by Daisy Bateman
  • “Phenomena: The Secret History of the U.S. Government’s Investigations into Extrasensory Perception and Psychokinesis” by Annie Jacobsen
  • “The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here” by Hope Jahren
  • “The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix It” by Robert Reich
    “This is Happiness” by Niall Williams
  • “Travel Stories of Wonder and Change” by Bay Area Travel Writers 
  • The Wallender Series by Henning Mankell
  • “Wolf Hall,” “Bring the Bodies Up” and “The Mirror & The Light”  by Hilary Mantel 



Pamela Paul, editor, New York Times Book Review

Tonya Foster, poet and author of "A Swarm of Bees in High Court"

Vanessa Hua, columnist, San Francisco Chronicle - author of "Deceit and Other Possibilities"


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