As we begin 2021, I thought I’d take a look back on a few of my favorite books that I read in 2020. This is a varied list, and definitely does not encompass everything that I read throughout the year. I’m generally a fiction reader, but lately I’ve been diving in to more and more nonfiction.
One nonfiction title that has stuck with me is, “The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destroy Auschwitz” by Jack Fairweather. This is the story of Witold Pilecki, a thirty-nine year old Polish Resistance Fighter during World War II. Witold volunteered to assume a fake identity and intentionally get captured and sent to the camp. While there he was to smuggle out information about the camp to his compatriots on the outside. He was also to work on a plan to execute an attack from the inside. Warning: Some parts of this book are graphic in description.
Another nonfiction that I found fascinating is “Enemy of all Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt” by Steven Johnson. Henry Avery was the Seventeenth Century’s most notorious pirate. The British Government placed enormous bounties on his head - wanting him captured dead or alive. This book focuses on one key event, an attack by Avery and his crew on an Indian treasure ship, that triggered a new model for the global economy. There are a lot of details in this book about pirates in general as well as the economic impact of the East India Company on the world as it was in the Seventeenth Century.
Moving on to fiction, “Close Up”, the third book in Amanda Quick’s Burning Cove series is another keeper. Set in the 1930s in Burning Cove, California, Vivian Braizer is an aspiring art photographer who makes ends meet by photographing crime scenes. After shooting the crime scene photographs of the latest victim of the “Dagger Killer”, Vivian notices similarities to crime scenes of previous victims, similarities that only another photographer would notice. This places Vivian at the top of the list of the murderer. Enter Nick Sundridge and his dog, Rex. Nick has been sent to protect Vivian, and together they must stop the “Dagger Killer” before he strikes again.
For something a little different, try “The Ten Thousand Doors of January” by Alix Harrow. Set in the early 1900s, January Scaller lives in an enormous mansion filled with curiosities from around the world. As the ward or Mr. Locke, January feels much like one of the artifacts - peculiar, ignored and out of place. Then she finds a book - a book that tells the tale of adventure, other worlds and love. Each page reveals the truth about the world, and about January herself.
I’m looking forward to another year of good books and hope that perhaps one or two of these will tease your interest.
Submitted by Sara Edmiston, Public Services Librarian