This list some of the best 2020 nonfiction books was originally published in our nonfiction newsletter, True Story. Sign up for it here to get nonfiction news, reviews, deals, and more!
It’s been a ridic year, but a TON of amazing books came out this year. Before we start looking to the 2021 releases, let’s look at some A+ nonfiction from 2020.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
It’s not a secret that mainstream feminist issues were decided by white, middle-to-upper-class women. Kendall argues that “food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care” are all feminist issues, and should be included in the narrative.
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of An American Family by Robert Kolker
This is on a lot of “best of” lists this year. The Galvin family had 12 children born between 1945 and 1965. Six were diagnosed as schizophrenic, and the Galvins became one of the first families to be studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. TW: abuse
Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
Friendship book! Sow and Friedman are the hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend and have been friends for more than ten years. In their Book of Friendship, they highlight the importance of “society’s most underappreciated relationship.” Roxane Gay said “This is the kind of book that makes you want to reach out to your best, biggest friends to say thank you.”
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong
You know how nonfiction by poets can just hit differently? “As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these ‘minor feelings’ occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality — when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity.” If you missed this one this year, add it to your 2021 list.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
My wife LOVES this book. “Four years ago, Glennon Doyle, author, activist and humanitarian, wife and mother of three — was speaking at a conference when a woman entered the room. Glennon looked at her and fell instantly in love.” This is her journey to build a life of her own, “one based on her individual desire, intuition, and imagination.” This feels like a good start-of-the-year sort of read.
A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
This is part of Beacon Press’s ReVisioning American History series, written by two excellent historians. In fewer than 300 pages, they share the stories of enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and “women who lived outside the law.”
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
Let’s get the first point out of the way right away: Merlin Sheldrake is an amazing name. He covers yeast, he covers mushrooms, he covers “fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet.” It’s so neat!! We can’t see them, but they’re there! Love to round out a roundup with a fungi read.