Volume 1: The Infophile's Must-Read Books of 2020

Edit on 2/5/21: I have removed Amazon links and all links are now Bookshop affiliate links.

Hi friends! This is the penultimate 2020 issue of Enthusiastic Encouragement and Dubious Advice because yes, you’ll be getting one next Friday (the 25th) and that is where we’ll talk about 2021 goals (and giving ourselves permission to not have any). But for this issue, I wanted to share some of the books I read this year that I consider must-reads. The Amazon links I use are affiliate links but I would really rather you buy them from an independent bookstore, either through Bookshop (also linked) or directly. If you’re interested in hearing me talk about some of these books on an episode of the All the Books! Podcast, I’ll link those specific episodes as well. I’m not going to say too much about the books, just know that I’ve read 111 books so far this year and these are the ones that I feel very strongly should be read.

In no particular order:

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo (Buy it)

I’m a bit bummed that this came out in December when often new releases don’t get as much air play because it is SO GOOD. Cowboys? She goes there. Football? SHE GOES THERE.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall (Buy it | All the Books!)

Poverty is a feminist issue. Racism is a feminist issue. Gun violence is a feminist issue. If you are a feminist, you need to read this book. If your feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s bullshit.

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong (Buy it | All the Books!)

This book blew my mind in ten thousand different ways. Holy shit. Every time I read a chapter I felt like I had an intellectual hangover.

Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by Vivek Murthy (Buy it | All the Books!)

Not gonna lie, this book was really, really hard to read, not in small part because of the pandemic. It is such an important book. Content warning for suicide.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (Buy It)

This book was so, so beautiful. It was fun and adventurous and magical and harrowing and all that but also, it was just stunningly gorgeous and I fell in love with it. I’m going to marry this book.

Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig (Buy It | All the Books!)

I could list a hundred reasons why you need to read this book. I learned so much more about ableism. She talks about how charity and kindness (yes, kindness) is complicated. She talks about how our ideas about things that “all women” experience are also very flawed.

Barely Functional Adult: It'll All Make Sense Eventually by Meichi Ng (Buy It | All the Books!)

I laughed out loud multiple times. I also maybe almost cried once. I definitely felt called out repeatedly. It’s a combo of comics and prose. Highly recommended for fans of Allie Brosh (Hyperbole and a Half).

What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon (Buy It | All the Books!)

I’m almost hesitant to pick a favorite off this list but if there is one book you read on this list, make it this one. If you are a human with a body and old enough to be reading this newsletter, then you need to read this book. The only reason you should not read this book is if you have read it already and want to read something else. Also? The citations make me swoon. 

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (Buy It)

This is the sequel to Dread Nation and yes you need to read that first but zombies? Ass-kicking women? I adored this book and I would follow these characters to the ends of the earth.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Buy It)

Some of the best fiction I have ever read in my life. IN. MY. LIFE.

small mint green ceramic planter that says "sometimes I wet my plants." It has two air plants with bright red tips in it. There is also a tiny bright green statue of Michelangelo's David.
small mint green ceramic planter that says "sometimes I wet my plants." It has two air plants with bright red tips in it. There is also a tiny bright green statue of Michelangelo's David.

I have a bunch of mandatory time off starting on the 23rd so of course, I’m making a long to-do list and hope to read 9 more books by the end of the year. I think I can do it if I shove some graphic novels in there. My wife’s birthday was this week so we got a Honeybaked Ham and baked some sweet potatoes and put brown sugar and cinnamon and marshmallows all over them. It rained this past week and the rain makes me so, so happy and I’ve been feeling weirdly optimistic the past few days. I hope that you’ve all been able to find some joy, no matter how small.

That’s it for this week! If you enjoy this newsletter, please subscribe, share it with a friend, and/or give me a tip!

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