2020 Reading List

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.

I normally try to do these in January, but better late than never? I hit fourteen books this past year and trended more toward fiction that I normally would. I was able to complete Robert Caro's Lyndon Johnson series, Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and threw in a mix of Philip Dick and John Steinbeck for good measure.

Four of my favorite books that I read this year.
A selection of some of my favorite books that I read this year.
The books I completed this past year were:
  1. Springfield Confidential by Mike Reiss
  2. Means of Ascent by Robert A. Caro
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  4. Master of the Senate by Robert A. Caro
  5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  6. The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff
  7. The Passage of Power by Robert A. Caro
  8. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
  9. The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick
  10. The Gunslinger by Stephen King
  11. The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King
  12. The Waste Lands by Stephen King
  13. The Wizard and the Glass by Stephen King
  14. Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld
My reviews for those books are as follows:

Springfield Confidential (4/5)

I've always been a huge Simpsons fan, and this is considered one of the better behind the scenes looks at the history of the show and how it gets made. It was a quick read and I really enjoyed learning more about some of the early personalities that helped craft the characters and the early framing of Springfield.


Means of Ascent (5/5)

I'm an unabashed fan of Caro's style of writing, the depth of his research, and his ability to form compelling narratives. This first book in the Johnson series traced Lyndon's origins in the Texas hill country and I loved every page.

All Quiet on the Western Front (4/5)

I hadn't read this since high school and I'm not sure what put it on my radar, but I finished it over the course of a few days on Caltrain in the early part of the year before everything shut down. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Master of the Senate (5/5)

The second in Caro's Johnson series, this book traced Lyndon's path from a Texas school teacher to Congress and then the Senate where he became majority leader. It was fascinating to read about how the institutions had changed over time and how a lot of that change in part was due to the way Johnson consolidated and utilized power.

East of Eden (5/5)

I hadn't read any Steinbeck in ages and had never read East of Eden, but I enjoy the book immensely. I mostly skew toward non-fiction, so it was great to immerse myself in the rich California imagery Steinbeck is so good at painting.

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 (5/5)

This book had been on my radar for a while and I also really enjoyed it. It was a collection of sound bytes from interviews from hundreds of people who witnesses and lived 9/11 firsthand. Just incredibly well put together and I had a hard time putting it down once I picked it up.

The Passage of Power (5/5)

The third book in the Johnson series, this tracks Johnson as he first runs for President before accepting Kennedy's offer to join his ticket as the Vice President. It walks through the Kennedy years as Johnson becomes increasingly irrelevant and drops off following Kennedy's assassination as Lyndon assumes the presidency himself.

A Scanner Darkly (4/5)

I hadn't seen this film in years and ended up watching it on TV one night and figured it'd be a good excuse to read the book. I'd read a few of Dick's short stories previously, but this was probably my favorite novel of his.

The Minority Report (3/5)

I figured I'd continue with Dick and jumped into Minority Report right after reading A Scanner Darkly. I didn't enjoy it as much, and the book is definitely showing its age with the concepts and content, but it was still a fun and quick read and was well written.

The Gunslinger (5/5)

I'd had Stephen King's Dark Tower series on my list for years and decided this would be as a good a time as any to tackle them one by one. The Gunslinger drew me right in and I had trouble putting it down. I loved the setting, the character development, the language, it was all just really well done and set the stage perfectly for some of King's later novels in the series.

The Drawing of the Three (4/5)

The second book in King's Dark Tower series follows the main character Roland as he adds members to his team that will join him on his journey. Almost as well written as the first and just as engrossing.

The Waste Lands (4/5)

The third book in King's Dark Tower series follows Roland and his companions as they travel to a dead city and then onward into a dead world in pursuit of their goal. The books really hit their stride here as the characters become more built out, and I burned through this one over the course of a few weeks.

The Wizard and the Glass (3/5)

The fourth book in King's Dark Tower series was probably my least favorite, but still entertaining well authored. The narrative was a bit slower than I would have liked, but I found it to be a fun read regardless.

Is This Anything? (5/5)

I listened to Seinfeld's narration on the audiobook version and I really loved it. A complete collection of his best standup organized by year and by theme. It was only a few hours long but I laughed constantly.

A photo of my Harley and I taken by my friend Katie.