The books I read in 2020.

1- The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Jan 2020

  • This is YA book that every person regardless of age should read. You would cry a little, you would laugh a lot, you would learn something new, and then you're going to run to the library or Amazon and check out every single Sherman Alexie book.

2- Summer Sisters. February 2020

  • It's Judy Blume. Feel good all the way. The main theme is friendship. We follow two girlfriends from childhood to marriage and beyond.

3-The ride of a lifetime: Lessons learned from 15 years as CEO of the Walt Disney company. March 2020

  • Robert Iger is the type of person you want to run your company. He's the epitome of leadership. But this book reads in a way that you almost feel like you're reading the words and advice of a friend. That's right, Bob becomes your friend while reading.

In Bob's words... some of the things he said I took with me forever.

"Be decent to people. Treat everyone with fairness and empathy. This doesn’t mean that you lower your expectations or convey the message that mistakes don’t matter. It means that you create an environment where people know you’ll hear them out, that you’re emotionally consistent and fair minded, and that they’ll be given second chances for honest mistakes."
"Take responsibility when you screw up. In work, in life, you’ll be more respected and trusted by the people around you if you own up to your mistakes."
"If something doesn't feel right to you, it won't be right for you."
"When hiring, try to surround yourself with people who are good in addition to being good at what they do. Genuine decency- an instinct for fairness and openness and mutual respect- is a rarer commodity in business than it should be, and you should look for it in the people you hire and nurture it in the people who work for you."
"If you’re in the business of making something, be in the business of making something great."

4- three women by Lisa Tadeo. March 2020.

  • This book is incredibly sad. Or maybe I was sad because the world was ending in March 2020, or at least we thought it was ending. It is nonfiction, that almost reads like fiction because the stories are so complex and rich.

5-The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. March 2020

  • This book is almost mandatory reading if you're from the Caribbean islands. I had read it years ago and quarantine brought my desire to revisit the story of Oscar, this loveable, weird kid from Jersey. And then we learn about his mother, sister and abuela. This is the book I wish I could write all the time. Reading it the second time around broke my heart just the same.

6-Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle. April 2020

  • If you're a woman just read it. Glennon leaves me speechless. She's that good.

7-Conversations with friends. May 2020

  • I probably read it in three days. Sally Rooney is a master with words and story telling. This book will make you feel sexy, and go back to those years of youth again, during university, when the problems were not too many and life was simpler.

8-Limbo and other places I have lived: Short Stories by Lily Tuck. June 2020

  • Limbo is a good book, but it took a while to finish. Sometimes, with short stories, it takes me time to start a new one, especially if the characters of the previous story are good.
  • My favorite Lily Tuck book however is SISTERS. It's a skinny book that can be read in one afternoon and the story is delicious.

9-Life would be the death of me by Chelsea Handler. July 2020

  • I've read all of Chelsea's books. They're good fun, there's always laughter, but no book of hers is as fun as: My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands. It's a brilliant idea, brave, and unapologetically. This book, however, is a bit more personal. It talks about healing childhood wounds, going to a therapist, accepting our flaws as humans and the death of her beloved brother Chet in a hiking accident.  I deeply admire Chelsea, and I hope to go on vacation with her one day. If you're reading this Chels, you know what's up. Love u.
Isn't this book cover absolutely amazing?

10- Revolutionary Sunday by Wendy Guerra. August 2020

  • Wendy Guerra is a Cuban writer. I've been writing a novel that takes place in Cuba and thought that reading Cuban writers would put me in a mental space closer to the place I'm writing about, even though I go to Cuba twice a year, going on two years without going at the time of writing this, (damn pandemic). I enjoyed this book. It has moments of brilliance. Sometimes the story meanders a little bit but overall I enjoyed it.

11- Before Night Falls by Reinaldo Arenas. September 2020

  • This book became precious to me. It takes place in 1950, 60, 70, and 80's Cuba. My parents were born in the 50s. Reading Arenas' stories is like going down a time machine and connecting the dots about my parent's lives. Some of the atrocious things Arenas' went through like going to the fields to cut sugar cane my father went through as well. When Arenas' describes the itch, the heat and soffocating air in a sugar cane plantation I can picture my father's sweaty face with a machete in hand cutting the stubborn plant. When Arenas' describes the lavish homes left behind by people that had to abandon Cuba, I see my mom in one of those houses with other girls studying to be a dentist. The government used those houses as student residences, and of course they got destroyed, as no one cared. Arenas' was also gay, and the book goes into detail about his sexual life. My mother's best friend Caco–who died of aids just like Arenas' appears in my memories. I was a little girl, but I loved him, and he loved me. If it's true that people don't die until the living stop mentioning their names, Caco has a long way to go. I think about him often.
  • Before Night Falls was adapted for the big screen with Javier Bardem in the lead role. If you haven't watched it, go watch. It's a masterpiece.

12-Wild by Cheryl Strayed. October 2020

  • I watched the movie adaptation of the book in theaters and cried so much I walked out with a red, ugly face, and my boyfriend at the time asked me if I wanted to go get ice cream as if I was a five year old that needed cheering up. Reading the book was no different. Cheryl tells the story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in order to find some solace and find herself again after her mother's death. I belong to the dead mother's club. I lost mine too. Go read it. It'll make you feel things.

13-When Breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi. November 2020

  • Paul was a brilliant neurosurgeon, husband, father and avid reader. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and fought a brave battle. This book broke my heart, especially the letter he writes to his infant daughter at the end. Paul was an extraordinary human. While reading I wanted to reach out through the pages and tell him to REST, don't work so hard Paul, but in the end he did what he thought was best and what made him happy. At the time of reading this book I was dating a doctor. I felt even more love and compassion for him than I already did. The long nights, the long shifts, the battles to save his patients. Doctors work so damn hard, the monetary reward doesn't even begin to cut it, compared to a life dedicated to heal and save others.

14-South of Forgiveness: A True Story of Rape and Responsibility by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger. November 2020

  • There is no book out there like this one. Writing this book and embarking in the journey Thordis and Tom embarked is just pure courage and guts. Thordis and Tom met when they were teenagers. One night Tom raped Thordis even though they had had sex previously concensually. Many years after, they decided to meet in South Africa and talk about what happened in order to heal and forgive.
  • These are some of the quotes from the book that I wrote down because they stayed with me.
"This widespread and systematic trend to keep women from politics and power is probably part of the reason why today, women own only one percent of the world's wealth."
"The UN and various human right organizations suggest that at least one in three women is raped or beaten by a man close to her at some point in her life."
"Violence can't destroy my life or control my choices. Not then, not now, not ever."
"Dark secrets don't go so well with loving, trusting relationships."
"If life is a journey taken on foot one would like to keep baggage at a minimum."
"People only forgive when they have to."
"The biggest threat to women's safety is men who betray her trust."

15-Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic + the Domestic by Esther Perel. December 2020

  • Romantic relationships are so complicated even when you love your partner and he or she loves you back. In this book Esther Perel argues that in order to create intimacy we tell each other our lives, but sometimes too much familiarity kills the erotic. We're creatures attracted to the mysterious and sometimes the prohibited. But what happens when we know everything about our partner and there's nothing prohibited about them because they belong to us. Should we hide parts of ourselves in order to keep our partners wondering and wanting more? I don't have the answer, but this book tries to help and is a really fun and interesting read.

16-Consider this: Moments in my Writing life after which everything was different by Chuck Palahniuk. December 2020

  • Chuck Palahniuk is the writer of Fight Club. This book is part memoir, part writing advice. I couldn't put it down. I found his writing advice invaluable. Even if you're not a writer is still a must read. It has anecdotes about David Sedaris, Stephen King, and Chuck's own shenanigans. Simply loved it.
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