The Best Things of 2020

Edition 26: December 2020

Hi, friends.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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:

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.

A post shared by therock (@therock)

“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.

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