The pandemic had its bright moments, and for me one of the highlights of the year was more reading time. Thankfully our library, though all branches were shut for several months, kept its digital services going and seemed to be buying new e-books at a faster rate than it had Before. As an avid reader of the New York Times Book Review, I would frequently read about a new book that looked interesting, pick up my phone and put in a request for the e-book. Nowadays if a library hasn't purchased a book yet, it will still show you the blurb for the book and allow you to "recommend" it. If it's purchased, you go to the head of the line to check it out.
I know exactly what books I read last year thanks to my new habit of writing an excerpt from each book as my daily calligraphy, on the day I finish it. And I can go back and read those passages to revisit any book that I have forgotten the details of.
I read a lot of nonfiction last year, mostly about social justice, American history and politics. I particularly recommend Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen, which outlines how our political system has become so polarized and hateful in the last decades. (Hint: it wasn't accidental.)
Somehow I got the idea to read Barack Obama's first book, Dreams From My Father, written in 1995 when he hadn't achieved any public prominence. Of all the authors who grappled with the dilemma of being black in America, Obama seemed to me the most thoughtful and nuanced. If you can only read one book about race and social justice, read this one.
But my nonfiction reading wasn't all heavy and discouraging. I loved The Wave, by Susan Casey, who finds existential meaning in rogue waves, tsunamis and giant wave surfing. Unless you live in a low ranch house on a barrier island, this is wonderful escapism!