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2020 So Far: The Best Nonfiction Books Published This Year

So far, 2020 hasn’t exactly been a banner year but at least great nonfiction books just keep on coming. Here are a few of our favorites.
by Michael Benninger | Aug 4 2020

During the past several months, we’ve all watched as many industries have ground to a halt as the coronavirus has worked its way around the world. From sports and tourism to dining and entertainment, the pandemic has negatively affected many facets of modern society. Yet one industry that hasn’t been completely held up by the current health crisis is the business of book publishing, which has continued to release exciting new titles week after week. But with everything else going on in these crazy times, even the biggest of bibliophiles may have struggled to keep up with today’s bestsellers.

Now that over half of the year is in the rearview mirror, we figured it’s a good time to bring readers up to speed with the latest books and authors making waves in the world of nonfiction. So if you’ve lost touch with today’s top titles, here are 14 books published in 2020 that we at Blinkist think are worth your time.

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener

Exposing the seamy underbelly of Silicon Valley, this memoir recounts Anna Wiener’s experience as an ambitious Millennial who abandoned a publishing career in New York City to pursue a lucrative life in San Francisco during the peak of the tech boom. Based on her time working at three startups over the course of four years, Uncanny Valley offers a warts-and-all look at Wiener’s life in the Bay Area, surrounded by egotistical tech bros backed by millions of dollars in funding. The book also explains how once Wiener witnessed the sinister side of tech, she began to view her own skills in a different light, allowing her to abandon her high-paying job and find more meaningful work.

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

Based on all of the ugliness in the news recently, it can seem like humans are innately uncooperative, antagonistic, and perhaps even evil. Yet what if that’s not actually the case? In Humankind, Rutger Bregman offers a fresh perspective on human history and argues that — despite today’s horrific headlines — evolution has actually hardwired us to be kind and trusting rather than dishonest and combative. According to Bregman, this view of our species isn’t fantastical, but rather it’s realistic and has enormous implications for our society. And the sooner we accept the fact that humans are inherently altruistic, the sooner we’ll be able to fundamentally transform society for the better.

You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

Now that many of us are surrounded by screens from the moment we wake up till the time we fall asleep, we’re similarly surrounded by ceaseless distractions that have significantly shrunk our attention spans. In You’re Not Listening, Kate Murphy explains how listening has become a lost art, and in the rare instance that someone actually devotes their undivided attention to a person speaking, it can create an instant bond between two individuals. To prove her point, Murphy shares several anecdotes about the world’s leading listeners, and she also provides readers with helpful tips for getting more out of conversations by learning to listen to others more closely.

In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life by Alissa Vitti

In the FLO details how women and trans men can tune into their hormonal health and work in sync with their cycles in order to live happier, more fulfilling lives while also achieving lasting success at work and in relationships. Author Alissa Vitti offers invaluable advice about how readers can make the most of their menstrual cycles by paying attention to their food, loves, and ovaries (FLO). She emphasizes the importance of planning schedules around the body’s fluctuations, and she further explains how being mindful about menstruation can alleviate stress, boost creativity, and even enhance sexual experiences.

Get a Life! Creating a Successful Work-Life Balance by Rick Hughes

As millions of people continue to work from home in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, striking a balance between our careers and our individual interests has become a considerable challenge for many of us. In Get a Life!, author Rick Hughes addresses this imbalance and helps readers learn to establish and maintain equilibrium between their personal and professional selves. He explains how we can achieve greater harmony between work and play by carefully making decisions that align with a well-rounded life. Hughes also highlights the steps we should take to establish healthy relationships and create more meaningful experiences at work. It all begins with finding time to nurture ourselves while also focusing on boundaries and efficiency.

Brain Wash: Detox Your Mind for Clearer Thinking, Deeper Relationships, and Lasting Happiness by David Perlmutter MD and Austin Perlmutter MD

Compared to earlier eras in human history, we now have an incredible amount of options and opportunities when it comes to how we lead our lives. Yet, at the same time, we’re experiencing more anxiety, depression, and isolation than ever before. In Brain Wash, Dr. David Perlmutter and his son Austin explain how modern society manipulates our minds and can lead us to make decisions that undermine our ability to experience happiness. To address this issue, the authors have developed a 10-day program to help readers break bad patterns and build healthier habits. They offer numerous tips for leading a more content life, and they demonstrate how it’s possible to reprogram our brains in order to achieve long-lasting happiness.

Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein

In this follow-up to The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, author and TV host Marie Kondo explains how her signature KonMari Method isn’t merely limited to organizing our closets and cupboards. Rather, the same approach can be applied to the spaces in which we work. In Joy at Work, Kondo outlines simple ways we can transform our desks, offices, and cubicles into joyful areas that can enhance our productivity. She also offers tactics to help readers organize their email inboxes and file storage services, and she provides advice on extending her approach to our calendars and daily schedules. By abiding by these practices, it can become easier to stay focused and achieve goals at work and in life.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

With a focus on how little we know about schizophrenia, Hidden Valley Road offers an in-depth look at the Galvin clan from Colorado Springs, considered by some to be the most mentally ill family in American history. Author Robert Kolker recounts the story, which revolves around Don Galvin and Mimi Blayney, who met in 1937 and stayed together until Don’s death in 2003. Between 1945 and 1965, the couple had 12 children, half of whom were eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. And aside from experiencing parental neglect and violence at home, several of the children were also victims of sexual abuse — often perpetrated by their own siblings.

Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognize Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad

Now more than ever, it’s imperative to understand that we live in a world defined by white supremacy — and whether we’re willing to admit it or not — many of us are part of the problem. In Me and White Supremacy, author Layla Saad sheds light on how all Caucasian people benefit from white privilege, and she explains how, when white people try to engage with people of color in a positive way, they often end up reinforcing racial stereotypes. If you want to deepen your understanding of the problems surrounding white supremacy while also learning how to become an ally of people of color, consider this book a powerful tool in the fight against racism.

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe

You Never Forget Your First offers an amusing look at America’s original commander-in-chief, dispelling many of the myths that surround the man and instead revealing the Founding Father’s many flaws. Author Alexis Coe exposes this lesser-seen portrait of the president, whose actual life was much more complex — and more scandalous — than what many of us were taught in school. From Washington’s disadvantaged childhood to his illustrious military career, Coe shows readers many sides of the glorified general, proving that the historical hero was just as human as the rest of us.

Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living by Glennon Doyle

In Untamed, a true tale of unexpected romance, author Glennon Doyle reveals how her efforts to become the ideal mother, wife, and Christian, took an abrupt turn when she fell head over heels in love with a woman. Doyle explains how she never questioned her aspirations prior to meeting the love of her life, but afterward, she was forced to reassess her beliefs and embrace her intuition. By finally learning to tune into her actual desires and live life on her own terms, Doyle was able to become her authentic self. Based on her experiences, she offers several strategies readers can use to embrace their own desires and lead fulfilling lives.

Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun

Although many of us are familiar with the concept of the male midlife crisis, American women — especially members of Generation X — are also likely to experience similar phases in their own lives. Why We Can’t Sleep explains that this is largely attributed to the fact that women who were born between 1965 and 1980 grew up believing that nothing could stop them from obtaining a successful career, having a healthy family, and leading an active social life. In reality, however, these women have faced enormous challenges, including a disastrous job market, persistent gender discrimination, and severe imbalances when it comes to caring for children and elderly parents. Author Ada Calhoun paints a picture of what midlife crises actually look like for Gen X women, and she outlines what kind of support can truly help.

Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World by Vivek H. Murthy MD

This year, perhaps more than any other, many of us have learned how painful it is to be truly alone. Shelter-in-place orders meant many people remained untouched for months in a way we’d never had to experience before. Together is a timely, powerful treatise on the high personal and societal cost of loneliness and how, as individuals and communities, we can create a world that foments connection rather than prevents it. As social animals, we need companionship, understanding and physical touch in order to feel and function at our best. Therefore, the problem of loneliness is one that can have a wide range of knock-on effects on our physical and mental health. By creating spaces for connection and community and finding ways to reach out to, and include, the most vulnerable people, we can pave the way to a much healthier, happier world.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Despite that many arguments that now question his legacy, there’s no denying that Winston Churchill is an icon of modern history. Having stepped into Number 10 Downing Street in May 1940, he helmed Britain through the darkest days of the Blitz and World War II to become one of the most internationally-recognizable prime ministers Britain has ever had. The Splendid and the Vile focuses on the turbulent first year of Churchill’s premiership, which saw the Third Reich cross the Maginot Line to invade France less than a week after he took office. Though Britain entered the war on the back foot, savvy military tactics and diplomacy coupled with powerful oratory helped Churchill to create grass roots support in Britain and appeal to the US to form an allyship that would eventually win the war.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these recently published books, Blinkist makes it easy to explore the key takeaways from each of these titles in as little as 15 minutes. So what are you waiting for?

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