All right, all right, all right, it’s just a tad, a mite, a bit late. One could never accuse me of being timely?
I don’t even know why I’m asking that as though it’s a question.
Without further ado:
Wordsmiths Books (and friends) Best Books (and some favorite things) from 2020.
Zach Steele, Owner/Operator/Debut Novelist
Favorite Book of 2020: Terry Pratchett, Nation
Mau is the only one left after a giant wave sweeps his island village away. But when much is taken, something is returned, and somewhere in the jungle, Daphne—a girl from the other side of the globe—is the sole survivor of a ship destroyed by the same wave. In one part Lord of the Flies, one part Adam and Eve, Pratchett has woven a timeless story that is likely to be revered as one of his greatest works.
Russ Marshalek, Marketing Director who is writing about himself in the third person and actually has put together a way longer list than anyone else:
Favorite Fiction of 2020James Collins, Beginners Greek
This is the sort of book that’s instantly a classic, both intellectually and emotionally, from the first word. Collins, a 49-year-old first novelist, writes the sort of inspiring, “love conquers all” story that parts the clouds on stormy days and reinvigorates the English language. This story, of executive-of-something (even he’s unsure what he does) Peter Russell as he fumbles through his life and loves, chasing the realization that the girl in his head and heart isn’t the girl he’s married to, unfolds with the most jaw-dropping, breath-stopping prose you’ve read in ages. Everyone in Beginner’s Greek is in love with someone else, and everyone’s someone else is, also. A massive, glorious literary update of the black-and-white film romance, Beginner’s Greek fills sloppy hearts with love of language, love of reading, love of celebration, love of love. Sheer brilliance.
(or as close as anything comes to non-fiction these days) of 2020:
Dan Kennedy, Rock On
There are myriad books written on the music industry. This is one of them. This one, however, doesn’t stink — in fact, as the title explains, it does, indeed, rock. What causes the aforementioned and proclaimed “rocking,” you ask? Former major music label marketing exec Dan Kennedy’s hilarious, self-effacing, and ALWAYS tongue-in-cheek observations on the crumbling insanity that is a 9-5 in the music biz. “Biz,” see, that’s an industry-type term. You learn those from perusing these pages. You also learn, for instance, that Fat Joe doesn’t consider crudités “food” when filming a video, that The Darkness should never be called a “joke” (to their faces, at least), and that Phil Collins, while overblown, isn’t a bad guy. All of these observations, and more, can be assimilated by you, the reader, and thusly you, too, can Rock On.
Favorite Author I Just Discovered in 2020:
John Green, author of Paper Towns, An Abundance of Katherines and Looking For Alaska
I stumbled across John Green when he was doing an event at Little Shop Of Stories, our neighbor here on the Decatur square. I didn’t actually go, either because I was working or because I really don’t ever go to book events for fun these days anymore, probably the former more than the latter, but I did get a copy of Paper Towns and fell in love. I have an appreciation for honest young adult writers, and Green gets adolescence, particularly smart, emotional male adolescence, spot-on. I can’t recommend his work highly enough to any adult wanting an engaging read, or any teenager that’s looking for writing that speaks to their experience.
Favorite Graphic Novel of 2020:Fables, by Bill Willingham and a bunch of artists who are mostly irrelevant other than cover painter James Jean, who is a master.
It took me ’til later ‘20 to begin devouring the genius that is Bill Willingham’s Fables series, and thus far, in a few month spans, I’ve consumed Fables 1-10 and Snowfall. This violent, touching and all-together awesome reconfiguring of old fairy tale mythos take a while to start up, but once it does it becomes incredibly addicting. We’ll see how the planned TV show works out this year
(Also, a side-note, if you’re interested in my favorite music of 2020, you can check that out here.)
Barbara Friend Ish, Publisher, Mercury Retrograde Press (and adopted member of the Wordsmiths family)
Favorite Book of 2020:Neal Stephenson, Anathem
There are a lot of great 2020 books to choose from, but my favorite is Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Stephenson is a consistently amazing guide to his ultra-rich worlds; in Anathem, as in so many of his other works, he takes his reader along on a journey whose excitement arises not just from adventure and conflict but also huge, complex ideas. In Anathem, ideas drive the story just as surely as characters and events do. That’s what science fiction is supposed to be, and Stephenson makes it a wonderful ride.