Top 5 Reading Picks for 2020

So I decided, because reading is such a big part of my personal development, that I’d share some of my favorites, and a few that I think would be fitting for this whirlwind year.

  1. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

Aldous Huxley

Brave New World is a novel that I personally think everyone should read. I’ve read it three times now, and am seriously considering reading it again in 2020. It is a dystopian fiction, but it is so relevant, and thought-provoking. What started for me as a personal choice English assignment became a mind altering read, that made me fall in love with Aldous Huxley as a writer. While I found that the first 50 pages or so, were hard to get through, I ultimately couldn’t put it down. Going into a utopian society where people are made for specific roles, and everyone is conditioned to become exactly what is expected of them. One man, comes to recognize individuality and the issues with the current system. What was meant to be perfect, becomes very much the opposite. Being written in 1931, this book brings a new light to our modern world, and genuinely makes you question where we are headed. Highly recommend.

2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

“make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” 

If you enjoy biographies, and adventurous spirits, there is no better book than Into the Wild. Jon Krakauer, takes the time to get to know the subject, Christopher McCandless, like no other. Even though the tale ends in tragedy, the inspiration drawn from the life of a true idealist/adventurer/lover of life is incomparable to any other book I’ve read. This is another book I’ve read over and over again throughout my life, when I need to remember who I am, and what my dreams are, I always come back to this. We can all take something from McCandless’ life and death, a true tale of embracing what the world has to offer, and never looking back.

3. A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin

“In people like us, the craving is as strong as the craving for food or water, the yearning for touch or light or love. I was looking for something–a diversion, an occupation, an unwavering force–that would elevate me, that would lift me out of the melancholy dissection of my own interior geography that otherwise would have consumed me pitilessly, as it had my father. I wanted to fly above myself– if only for a few hours–and look down in tranquility upon my life.” 

Now, this is a book I picked up by chance on a sales rack at Barnes & Noble, it sat on my shelf for months, before I decided to give it a shot. Wow, am I glad that I did. It is a book about life, about how an analytical, mathematical mind is plagued with unanswered questions. This is one you really have to read in order to understand, anything I say about it will do it no justice. I love the different perspectives, the writing style, the focus on family but also pain and the need to understand loved ones. Seriously, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

“But at times I wondered if I had not come a long way only to find that what I really sought was something I had left behind.” 

Krakauer again. To be honest, he is just one of my favorite authors, his writing style is captivating, and this book in particular is a first hand account, which makes the book all the more interesting. Now this book made me cry, several times, so if you aren’t interested in getting emotionally encapsulated, don’t read this one. This book is overall about climbing Everest, about disaster striking, and about the drive that brings people up one of the largest mountains in the world. However, it is about so much more, and I think anyone can draw personal correlations to this book, all the while gaining a perspective completely unique. The struggle that is human kinds desire to achieve the unachievable, and how that brings people to life and death situations. Most importantly though, it’s about how you come out on the other side, what you’ve gained, and what you’ve lost. An amazing read.

5. Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts

“I am overwhelmed by the appalling strangeness and intricacy of the curiously tangled knot of life.”

Everett Ruess

I am currently reading this book, and I can say that I’ve been having a hard time getting through the second half. However, the first portion of the book was completely captivating, hence it’s place on this list. I expect you’ve noticed a theme of biographical non-fiction on this list, but I find it is a genre I hold a lot of interest in. Learning from other people, from dreamers, wanderers, vagabonds, it’s all so fascinating to me. Everett Ruess, is no doubt flawed, living through the Great Depression and taking his parents kindness for granted. However, if a bit selfish, he chose to focus on what mattered to him, focused on art, experience, and a life of adventure. In his short life, he made multiple trips across the American West, and spent every moment searching for beauty. If you like mysteries as well you may like this book, as the second half is all about the search for Everett, and his unsolved disappearance.

7 thoughts on “Top 5 Reading Picks for 2020

  1. I absolutely loved A Brave New World. I reread it at least once a year. I’m currently reading I’m Thinking of Ending Things and based off of your recommendation list you should check it out. It’s beautifully written and really makes you think. Plus there’s a movie!

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    1. I definitely will check that out! I’m glad you liked A Brave New World, I hope you’ll consider checking out a few others on the list. All vastly different, and still, really thought-provoking reads ❤

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  2. I like your picks. Brave New world and Into Thin Air are both books that have left a lasting impression. What an exercise of foolish bravery, conceit, and pride to attempt to climb that mountain. All for a one minute photo op! I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to stand there, but, there must be a special kind of selfishness or insecurity that I don’t have to make that journey (or money).
    I’d suggest a few books to you but I’m brain boggled from work lately and can’t think of many. One that I re-read last week was ‘Clockwork Angels’, a collaboration between Kevin J. Andersen and Neil Peart of the band ‘Rush’. It incorporates many of the themes and lyrics in the music Neil wrote over the decades for the band. you don’t need to know the music but if you do, it just adds layers of meaning to the story. It’s the story of a young man finding his way in his impersonal, pre-arranged and sometimes cruel world. Huh, sounds a little like the world we live in now. I think you would enjoy his journey and find that he’s a little like you. Give it a try, it’s an easy, enjoyable read.

    “What do you lack?”
    “All is for the best.”

    Yup, they’re teasers!
    Tim

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  3. Oh, I just remembered another one. ‘The Gates’ by John Connolly! it’s even better if you can listen to the audio book version read by Jonathan Cake. Now is the perfect time because the story takes place on Halloween and is snort when you laugh funny.
    Oh Oh Oh!!! And ‘Bad Monkey’ by Carl Hiaasen! The audio version is read by Arte Johnson and ihe makes the story. It’s at the Schuylerville library. Get it, listen to it, be ridiculously amused!

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