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(Some Of) WYPR's Favorite Books Of 2020

2020 has been a year for the record books. And thankfully, it's also been a year filled with good books as many of us have turned to turning pages as a means of escape during this difficult year.

If you're looking for a new read to lead you into 2021, WYPR's staff have you covered with 21 great titles. Why not 20 books for 2020? Trust us, we tried. There were just too many good ones to choose from!

Check out our book reviews, author interviews and recommendations below. 

The List

The Angel and the Assasin: The Tiny Brain Cell that Changed the Course of Medicineby Donna Jackson Nakazawa

A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of Americaby Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig

The Cold Millionsby Jess Walter

Deacon King Kong by James McBride 

Exit Thru the Afro by Jalynn Harris

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American Cityby Erica L. Green and Wes Moore

Homeland Elegiesby Ayad Akhtar 

I Got A Monster: The Rise and Fall of America's Most Corrupt Police Squadby Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg 

Leave the World Behindby Rumaan Alam

The Lost Shtetlby Max Gross

Memorialby Bryan Washington 

Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elderby John Waters 

My Vanishing Countryby Bakari Sellers 

Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul 

The Post Mistressby Sarah Blake 

The System: Who Rigged It, How We Fix Itby Robert Reich

The Unexpected Spyby Tracy Walder

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers Won the Vote and Insisted on Equality for Allby Martha S. Jones

What You Need to Know About Voting and Why by Kim Wehle 

White Ivyby Susie Yang

White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianityby Robert P. Jones 

We asked some of our staff what books they read and loved this year.

Credit Mark Gunnery
Mark Gunnery

Mark Gunnery, WYPR producer

Book pick: Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany 

Why: This catastrophic year was a perfect time to reread Samuel R. Delany's 1975 experimental science fiction novel Dhalgren, about a city where an unnamed crisis has upended life and where squatters, social outcasts, and the unlucky few who couldn't flee have to create new ways of being together in order to survive.

Hear more: Listen to Mark's interview with Samuel R. Delany here

Credit Lisa Morgan
Lisa Morgan

Lisa Morgan, co-host of The Weekly Readerand producer ofYour Maryland

Book pick: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart 

Why: A brilliant coming-of-age love story about an alcoholic dreamer on the dole and her fiercely loyal, queer son in late 80’s Glasgow. And winner of The Booker Prize. I loved it.

Hear more: Listen to Lisa and The Weekly Reader's Marion Winik discuss Shuggie Bain here

Credit Carolyn Jewell

Carolyn Jewell, WYPR director of membership, and her daughter Camilla

Book pick: Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle 

Why: The reason why Camilla likes this book so much is she loves the anticipation of the animal sounds. She gets very excited and then quickly tries to turn the next page.

Credit Jamyla Krempel
John Lee

Bonus content: Cute pictures of polar bears

John Lee, WYPR's Baltimore County reporter

Book pick: Washingtonby Ron Chernow 

Why: Chernow is the same guy who brought you Alexander Hamilton which led to a little show on Broadway. I love Chernow's biographies. He moves the story right along. I have wanted to read a biography on Washington for a long time and learned a lot about his life. For instance, I did not know he came very close to dying during his first term which would have been devastating for our country. He was our indispensable man. But Chernow also effectively lays out Washington's complicated conflict over being a slave owner. 

Isabelle Diffendall, intern in WYPR's membership department

Book pick: I Will Save Youby Matt De La Peña.

Why: I like to read horror, mysteries, biographies, fiction, suspense, and thrillers. This year for school I read I Will Save You and enjoyed it.




Jamyla Krempel is WYPR's digital content director and the executive producer of Wavelength: Baltimore's Public Radio Journey. She collaborates with reporters, program and podcast hosts to create content for WYPR’s online platforms.
Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is a contributing producer for Midday.
Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.
Maureen Harvie is Senior Supervising Producer for On the Record. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and joined WYPR in 2014 as an intern for the newsroom. Whether coordinating live election night coverage, capturing the sounds of a roller derby scrimmage, interviewing veterans, or booking local authors, she is always on the lookout for the next story.
Melissa Gerr is a Senior Producer for On the Record. She started in public media at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn., where she is from, and then worked as a field producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. She made the jump to audio-lover in Baltimore as a digital media editor at Mid-Atlantic Media and Laureate Education, Inc. and as a field producer for "Out of the Blocks." Her beat is typically the off-beat with an emphasis on science, culture and things that make you say, 'Wait, what?'
Lisa Morgan covered the local arts community as co-creator and host of WYPR’s award-winning program The Signal from 2004 to 2015. She has created and produced many programs for WYPR, including news stories, features, commentaries, and audio documentaries. She taught audio production at Goucher College and has done voice-over work for a variety of clients. The Weekly Reader is her latest project.
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