The Best Things of 2020
Edition 26: December 2020
What a year for goals, am I right? Basically everything I aspired to be in 2020 is carrying over into 2021. And that’s totally fine. I’m also hoping to change a few habits, like reading meaningful things instead of doomscrolling, and being more present, and making our new house (!!!) as cozy as possible.
And, of course, the bookish goals:
✨ Finish the Read Harder Challenge — or at least make a dent in the 20+ tasks I’ve ignored in previous years and now must complete in this year. Or carry over into the future perpetually. Whatever.
✨ Focus on enjoying reading, rather than what kind of work I can make out of it.
✨ Read the dang books you already own, Holstrom.
What I read in 2020
Intimations by Zadie Smith: Have I talked about this book enough yet? It’s a small collection of essays about the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown in New York City. My pick for the best books of 2020 at Book Riot.
Let’s Never Talk About This Again by Sara Faith Alterman: A funny and weird and tender and very sad memoir about a dad with Alzheimer’s. Beautiful.
March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin (Co-writer), and Nate Powell (Artist): I did not anticipate the horrific year ahead when I devoured the March trilogy in January.
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola: This candid memoir about alcoholism taught me a lot about myself and my problematic relationship with alcohol.
The Redshirt by Corey Sobel: This is a really lovely debut focusing on the hyper-masculinity of college football from the eyes of a gay redshirt freshman on the football team. So honored to have reviewed this for Foreword Reviews.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob: A moving collection of comics about a mom learning to discuss race and sex and life with her mixed-race son, as well as reminiscing on her life as a Brown woman in New York City after 9/11.
Go with the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann: I! Love! Books! About! Periods! Especially when they’re super cute comics with badass feminists working to get their high school to provide menstrual products in all bathrooms.
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: The book that’s on everyone’s end-of-year lists. If you haven’t read it yet, get on it. It examines the life of two characters, one a rich white lady, the other her Black twenty-something babysitter.
Self Care by Leigh Stein: This book is so funny and scathing and perfect, and Leigh Stein is a treasure. If you want a snarky take on influencer culture, this is it.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert: Y’all, Talia Hibbert writes some magical romances with real, human characters. I love this series about the Brown sisters.
What I wrote in 2020
The end of the year was quiet for writing. I kept the tradition alive by rounding up the best epigraphs of the year. I investigated the best fonts for books, a topic I thoroughly enjoy. And I wrote a guide to help you clean up your digital book clutter for the new year of reading.
Some favorite pieces from 2020:
Edward Cullen is a Comedian, and Other Thoughts on Midnight Sun—Diving back into my teen angst and writing about Twilight was really fun.
11 Gripping Books about Alcoholism and Recovery—I learned so much about myself this year! Like my problematic relationship with alcohol! How fun!
Ways I’ve Organized My Rainbow Bookshelves—Quarantine means reorganizing books. I don’t make the rules.
What I loved in 2020
I’m so grateful for my home and my people and my job. And for this video of a boy—a fellow scoliosis warrior—watching The Rock tell him he’s his biggest fan. I have watched this video so many times and I cry every time.
“Your scar will always represent your strength and your power.” Oh no, I’m crying again.
See you in sunnier days, friends. Be safe.
Crooked Reads is a monthlyish newsletter from Ashley Holstrom.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Bookshop.org and will earn a commission if you click through any book links and make a purchase.