This morning I’m at a primitive campsite in one of Florida’s state parks. Firewood crackles and hisses in front of me in its ordinary and mesmerizing way. I’m pleased with my fire-making skills.

Last night I had managed smoking wood but no flames. Nick watched, unimpressed, as I blew into the kindling, trying to get it going until it finally went, poof, erupting in flames.

“Wow, mom!” He said, “You’re amazing.”

That’s right.

Here are my top three unusual book picks from 2020.

1. The Power Of The Other, I love everything that Henry Cloud writes. This is one of those books that confirms what you always knew intuitively about relationships but never quite put into words. It’s about how we make each other not just better, but exponentially better. Any flavor of relationships, mentors, friends, bosses, etc., can serve as a vehicle to help you be the best version of yourself.

2. Slaughterhouse Five. Maybe you read it in high school. I did not. Even if I had, it deserved another read. This book is a cross between high-brow literary and zany science fiction. Against the backdrop of the Dresden bombing campaign, it’s at once hilarious and devastating on the beauty of the triviality of being human.

3. The Last Lecture. If you ever wanted to know what someone might say at the end of life, read this. When Randy Pausch learned his cancer treatment had failed, he set about creating a final lecture for the students and faculty of Carnegie Mellon. This is the book adaptation of his lecture, which is both funny and heartbreaking. Randy Pausch died some nine months after his lecture.

Bonus! I wrote about Big Friendship here on my reading list, and since I read it this year, I wanted to include it on my list.

Post in the comments anything cool you read in 2020. I’d love to know.

Categories: Book Picks


Hi there. I'm a writer and reserve military officer with a day job. I write fiction, professional essays on military topics, and wax philosophical about books and movies. I live in Florida with my husband, two kids, and two cats.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: