10 Books You Must Read In 2020

by VaiVai Editor • 11 Jan 2020

If your New Year's resolution is to read more books, but you are not sure where to begin, here are 10 great books to get you started

Recollections of My Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit

Release Date: March 10th from Viking

Why You’ll Love It: Writer, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit’s highly anticipated memoir reveals how she found her “voice in a society that prefers women to be silent.”

Publisher’s Description: In Recollections of My Nonexistence, Rebecca Solnit describes her formation as a writer and as a feminist in 1980s San Francisco. Solnit recounts how she came to recognize the epidemic of violence against women around her, the street harassment that unsettled her, the trauma that changed her and the authority figures who routinely disdained and disbelieved girls and women, including her. She explores the forces that liberated her as a person and as a writer—books themselves, the gay men around her who offered other visions of what gender, family and joy could be, and her eventual arrival in the spacious landscapes and overlooked conflicts of the American West. These influences taught her how to write in the way she has ever since and gave her a voice that has resonated with and empowered many others.

Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

Release Date: January 14th from MCD

Why You’ll Love It: Anna Wiener’s must-read memoir delivers a powerful story about finding herself against the backdrop of Silicon Valley’s shifting tech landscape.

Publisher’s Description: In her mid-twenties, Anna Wiener left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble, arriving amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building. Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power.

Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker

Release Date: January 21st from Riverhead Books

Why You’ll Love It: Matt Parker’s international bestseller highlights examples of mathematical errors that resulted in real-world consequences, offering an entertaining read for anyone curious about math’s role in life beyond the classroom.

Publisher’s Description: Math is easy to ignore until a misplaced decimal point upends the stock market, a unit conversion error causes a plane to crash or someone divides by zero and stalls a battleship in the middle of the ocean. Exploring and explaining a litany of glitches, near misses and mathematical mishaps involving the internet, big data, elections, street signs, lotteries, the Roman Empire and an Olympic team, Matt Parker uncovers the bizarre ways math trips us up—and what this reveals about its essential place in our world. Getting it wrong has never been more fun.

A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home edited by Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary

Release Date: February 11th from Catapult

Why You’ll Love It: This collection of essays from both new and established writers is necessary reading in 2020, examining through myriad lenses what it means to “belong.”

Publisher’s Description: Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in A Map Is Only One Story highlight the human side of immigration policies and polarized rhetoric. Victoria Blanco relates how those with family in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez experience life on the border. Nina Li Coomes recalls the heroines of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and what they taught her about her bicultural identity. Nur Nasreen Ibrahim details her grandfather’s crossing of the India-Pakistan border 60 years after Partition. Krystal A. Sital writes of how undocumented status in the United States can impact love and relationships. Porochista Khakpour describes the challenges in writing (and rewriting) Iranian America. Through the power of personal narratives, A Map Is Only One Story offers a new definition of home in the 21st century.

Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami

Release Date: April 28th from Pantheon

Why You’ll Love It: After the release of her luminous novel last year, Laila Lalami is back with a timely nonfiction book about conditional citizens—”the people whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.”

Publisher’s Description: What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize Finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth—such as national origin, race or gender—that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still cast their shadows today. Throughout the book, she poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained, keeping the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.

Fairest by Meredith Talusan

Release Date: May 26th from Viking

Why You’ll Love It: Meredith Talusan’s striking memoir details her coming-of-age journey from the Philippines as a young boy with albinism to the United States as an adult undergoing a gender transition, tackling topics like love and identity with empathy.

Publisher’s Description: Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved. Talusan’s evocative reflections will shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.

Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era By Jerry Mitchell

Release Date: February | Simon & Schuster | $28

With a title that could not be apter, Race Against Time is an expansion of Jerry Mitchell's work as an investigative reporter. It reads like a fictional thriller but is an all-too-true account of horrifying past crimes and those who perpetrated them.

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown By Anne Glenconner

Release Date: March | Hachette | $28

Royal obsessives and casual observers alike will devour this memoir by the confidante—a noble herself—of Princess Margaret. Glenconner candidly writes about the unimaginable tragedies she endured in her personal life, and of the gilded affairs, she witnessed on the periphery of royal life.

Smacked: A Story of White-Collar Ambition, Addiction, and Tragedy By Eilene Zimmerman

Release Date: February | Random House | $36

Journalist Eilene Zimmerman's up-close-and-personal look at the cost of addiction is among the timeliest and most relevant books of the new year. Smacked is an unvarnished and wrenching exploration of opioid abuse in a wealthy, white-collar world that resonates across classes and cultures.

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz By Erik Larson

Release Date: February | Crown | $32

The bestselling author of The Devil in the White City travels back in time to London during the Blitz in this much-anticipated epic.





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