• Charles Arrowsmith

Books of 2020


Everything I read last year, including a few unfinished at the end of the year. Reviews linked; highlights marked with an asterisk; those I'm still plodding through marked with a dagger. Realistically, of those unfinished, have probably parked War and Peace for now, but the others stand a good chance of getting finished. (Vol. 1 of the Charles Moore/Thatcher bio took me three years of putting down and picking up to finish; I think Vol. 2 will at least be done within a year of starting.) Unsettled middle part of the year, with lots started and not finished—obvious reasons. A Knausgaard and a Didion jag at the end of the year around reviews to be published early in 2021. Hope to read more Hilary Mantel, Elmore Leonard, James Baldwin, Jill Lepore.


  1. American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now Phillip Lopate (ed.) (started January 1)†

  2. The Nerd [working title; manuscript] Patrick Gleeson (started January 9)

  3. Against Interpretation Susan Sontag (started January 12)*

  4. Black is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine Emily Bernard (started January 20)

  5. These Truths: A History of the United States Jill Lepore (started January 23)*

  6. Are Snakes Necessary? Brian De Palma and Susan Lehman (started February 13)

  7. The Big Sleep Raymond Chandler (started February 17)*

  8. White Tears Hari Kunzru (started February 22)

  9. Brian De Palma Interviews (started February 23)

  10. Get Shorty Elmore Leonard (started March 4)*

  11. Her Body & Other Parties Carmen Maria Machado (started March 9)†

  12. War and Peace Leo Tolstoy (started March 18)†

  13. My Sister, the Serial Killer Oyinkan Braithwaite (started April 7)

  14. Who Is Michael Ovitz? Michael Ovitz (started April 10)

  15. Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel (started April 14)*

  16. Endland Tim Etchells (started April 19)

  17. Out of My Head: On the Trail of Consciousness Tim Parks (started May 13)

  18. Antkind Charlie Kaufman (started May 20)†

  19. Two Serious Ladies Jane Bowles (started May 25)

  20. Pandemic! Covid-19 Shakes the World Slavoj Žižek (started June 6)

  21. Commonwealth Ann Patchett (started June 7)

  22. Feel Free: Essays Zadie Smith (started June 15)

  23. Apropos of Nothing Woody Allen (started June 27?)

  24. Moby-Dick Herman Melville (started June 28?)†*

  25. Brazil: A Biography Lilia M. Schwarcz & Heloisa M. Starling (started July 12)†

  26. May at 10 Anthony Seldon with Raymond Newell (started July 23)

  27. Lost Property: Memoirs and Confessions of a Bad Boy Ben Sonnenberg (started August 8)

  28. Margaret Thatcher, The Authorized Biography: Volume 2—Everything She Wants Charles Moore (started August 20)†

  29. Life and Times of Michael K J.M. Coetzee (started August 29?)

  30. 150 Glimpses of the Beatles Craig Brown (started September 11)

  31. Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks Adam Nayman (started September 26)

  32. The Fire Next Time James Baldwin (started October 4)*

  33. Essayism: On Form, Feeling, and Nonfiction Brian Dillon (started October 12)

  34. Collateral Damage: Britain, America, and Europe in the Age of Trump Kim Darroch (started October 13)

  35. Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life John Gray (started October 19)

  36. The Bellarosa Connection Saul Bellow (started October 21)

  37. Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia John Gray (started October 23)

  38. Pandemic 2! Chronicles of a Time Lost Slavoj Žižek (started November 5)

  39. Inadvertent Karl Ove Knausgaard (started November 10)

  40. My Struggle: Book 6 Karl Ove Knausgaard (started November 11)†

  41. The Silence Don DeLillo (started November 25)

  42. Autumn Karl Ove Knausgaard (started November 26)

  43. The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion (started December 1)*

  44. Blue Nights Joan Didion (started December 4)

  45. South and West: From a Notebook Joan Didion (started December 5)

  46. Where I Was From Joan Didion (started December 6)

  47. Notes on the Cinematograph Robert Bresson (started December 8)

  48. Eyes Wide Shut (BFI Modern Classics) Michel Chion (started December 10)

  49. Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick Frederic Raphael (started December 11)

  50. Intimacy Idiot Isaac Oliver (started December 12)

  51. In the Land of the Cyclops: Essays Karl Ove Knausgaard (started December 14)

  52. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now Jaron Lanier (started December 19)

  53. Valentino Natalia Ginzburg (started December 24)

  54. Lessons in Stoicism: What Ancient Philosophers Teach Us About How to Live John Sellars (started December 25)

  55. Intimations: Six Essays Zadie Smith (started December 30)

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