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Rachel’s Reads – December 2020

As this crazy year draws to a close, I have noticed my tendency to take more time for reflection than in previous years. There are quiet moments that I have worked into my morning routine that add a sense of serenity and stillness that I appreciate. As part of my reflection, I figured what better way to wrap this year up than with the tradition of a few of my favorite books of 2020. 


  • How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang
  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
  • Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
  • The Orchard by David Hoppen
  • The New Wilderness by Diane Cook


  • The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc
  • The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne
  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong


  • In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché
  • Finna: Poems by Nate Marshall
  • The Age of Phillis by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Some of our past reader submissions have included backlisted books. I wanted to honor those submissions by creating my own list of a few favorites not published in 2020.


  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Sharks in the Rivers by Ada Limón
  • The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by Greg Grandin
  • In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado

As usual, my To-Be-Read list has increased with all of the books I didn’t have a chance to get to this year. I love to hear from our subscribers about their favorite books this year and I will continue the tradition of including your favorites in my January column. Please email me or comment online with your favorites.

Happy Holidays!


Rachel became the publisher of The Independent in March of 2017 and then married her husband Jake in May. Their goldendoodle Einstein joined the family last year. Rachel is an avid reader and loves to share book recommendations. (Don’t miss her column, Rachel’s Reads in the Magazine!) She can always be found with a book nearby, especially while traveling (another of her favorite things).


Bailey Pianalto Photography


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