The Truth Project cover

My Favorite Reads in 2020

One of the few positive things about this year was more time to read and write. I had the opportunity to read many of the books on my shelves that I’ve been meaning to get to. I also checked out books from the local library, and I bought books that piqued my interest. Some titles are new this year, and others are older great reads.

By the way, if you’re looking for ways to support authors, you can buy their books, leave reviews online, and tell your friends about them. Word of mouth means a lot to us! To help your local bookstore, buy from the bookstore website, or see if they benefit from orders.

I limited myself to eight books in this list, so I wouldn’t overwhelm you! Since I’m an eclectic reader, I came up with winners in several categories. The comments are from my Goodreads reviews. 

Here are my favorite reads from this year:

Favorite Debut: The Truth Project by Dante Medema

This brilliant debut by Dante Medema is about Cordelia, an Alaskan teen poet whose senior genealogy project leads to a discovery that rocks her world. Her poems and texts form the majority of the book, and the creative way of portraying the story is natural and clever at the same time. I loved the main character and her family and friends, including some welcome diversity in the cast. Plus, all the feels you’d expect from a great young adult novel!

Favorite Memoir: Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics by Heather Lende

Heather Lende becomes a small town public servant when she joins the Haines, Alaska assembly. She takes us along as she weaves her personal and public life into a memoir that considers political polarization, living with nature, and being yourself, among other important life lessons. Her love of her hometown and its people shines through, even during difficult times.

Intended for adults, but teens interested in Alaskan small towns or government would also enjoy this.

Favorite Nonfiction: The Whale and the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing & Community in Alaska by Julia O’Malley

If you’re into food and cooking, or you’re an Alaskan (or both!), you need to read this! I really enjoyed O’Malley’s thoughtful writing about food in Alaska, and the interviews and recipes were fun. Plus, the photos and layout were beautiful–definitely a well-crafted book.

Favorite Classic: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Delightful characters and wry commentary on human nature! I love revisiting Jane Austen, and reading this book is like coming back to old friends.

Favorite Literary: Pause, Traveler by Erin Coughlin Holowell 

Hollowell’s poetry is unique yet universal. She speaks as a fellow human being, but more eloquently than most of us can manage. Beautiful and accessible poetry

Favorite Historical Fiction: American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt by Stephanie Marie Thornton

This brilliant novel about Theodore Roosevelt’s oldest daughter Alice is told from her point of view. I loved getting into Alice’s mind and emotions to see what made her tick. Her extensive historical research shows in Thornton’s deft world building without taking over the story. Highly recommended!

Note: Not G-rated, but tastefully done

Favorite Dark YA: The Silence of Bones by June Hur

Loved this book! Haunting YA historical mystery set in Korea that will keep you up late—well written and a fascinating story.

Favorite Light YA: Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

I loved this YA speculative novel–who can resist “queer King Arthur in space”?! Ari is the forty-somethingth King Arthur, and this time, she and her band of queer teen knights (and an awkward teen Merlin) take on an intergalactic enemy. The diverse cast of characters and the romantic, funny, hopeful writing had me hooked throughout the whole book. Highly recommended for teen readers and adults who love King Arthur and fun stories!!!

To see more of what I read, check out my Goodreads profile at

Any favorite reads you’d like to share? Please comment!

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

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