#1 and a Recap: The Heartlands Best Reads of 2020

Topping this year’s list of Best Reads is Yaa Gyasi’s sophomore novel, Transcendent Kingdom. It’s a book about race, the South, the immigrant experience, science, family, and faith. It captures a lot of the interests of this web site and it’s flat great writing. You can read the full review by clicking the link but here’s an excerpt:

Transcendent Kingdom is full of rolling insights. It moves easily in time between different periods of Gifty’s life. Gyasi has a deft hand as a quick sketch artist, bringing places and people alive with compassion and depth in remarkably concise passages. She is equally at home with the crenelated relationships between family members and lovers as she is with grand themes of race and migration. And her philosophical musings hover in the background awaiting the right moment to appear.

–review originally published by The Englewood Review of Books, republished with permission

So here’s the recap of the 10 Best Reads, with links to my reviews, along with a few other recommended readings from the year:

  1. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
  2. Survival is a Style by Christian Wiman
  3. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
  4. One Long River of Song by Brian Doyle
  5. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  6. A Prayer for Orion: A Son’s Addiction and a Mother’s Love by Katherine James
  7. One of Ours by Willa Cather
  8. North Toward Home by Willie Morris
  9. The Yellow House by Sarah Broom
  10. Nothing Happened & Then It Did by Jake Silverstein

Other recommended reads:

When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with Gospel According to Paul by Beverly Gaventa — A brief book that upends stodgy orthodoxy with a fresh, apocalyptic reading of Paul.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson — A readable, convicting survey of the invisible system that supports racial attitudes in the United States.

Dopesick by Beth Macy — Roanoke-based journalist uncovers the horrific toll of opioid addiction in her backyard along with the companies and government agencies that enable it.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner — If this were 1929 this might make the Top Ten. Difficult but affecting. Glad I persevered on my third try.

Lists from previous years can be found here:

Best Reads of 2019

Best Reads of 2018

Best Reads of 2017


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