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2020 Staff Favorites

Check out what Berlin-Peck staff read and loved in 2020!

December 29, 2020

Check out what we read and loved in 2020!

In this list:

  • biography and memoir
  • non-fiction
  • graphic novels
  • science fiction
  • fantasy
  • horror
  • romance
  • cozy mystery
  • mystery and suspense
  • realistic fiction
  • historical fiction

 

Biography & Memoir

Finding Chika

Finding Chika

Mitch Albom

Recommended by Carrie
The best-selling author of Tuesdays With Morrie traces the inspirational story of a child from The Have Faith Haiti Orphanage, whose short life of poverty and incurable illness prompted her loving adoption into his family

From Scratch

From Scratch

Tembi Locke

Recommended by Carrie and Laurie F.
An African-American actress recounts her romance with a Sicilian chef whose traditional family disapproved of their marriage and how she sought solace in their close-knit community after his death.

Hollywood Park

Hollywood Park

Mikel Jollett

Recommended by Laurie F.
The frontman of indie band The Airborne Toxic Event reveals his upbringing in the infamous Church of Synanon cult, where he endured poverty, addiction and emotional abuse before slowly working his way toward college and a music career.

I'll Be Seeing You

I’ll Be Seeing You

Elizabeth Berg

Recommended by Maryanne
The New York Times bestselling author, in this moving memoir, shares her experiences caring for her parents in their final years, charting the passage from the anguish of loss to the understanding that even in the most fractious of times, love can heal.

Just Kids

Just Kids

Patti Smith

Recommended by Jonathan
In this memoir, singer-songwriter Patti Smith shares tales of New York City : the denizens of Max’s Kansas City, the Hotel Chelsea, Scribner’s, Brentano’s and Strand bookstores and her new life in Brooklyn with a young man named Robert Mapplethorpe–the man who changed her life with his love, friendship, and genius.

My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me

My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me

Jason B. Rosenthal

Recommended by Jonathan
An inspiring memoir of life, love, loss, and new beginnings by the widower of bestselling children’s author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal, whose last of act of love before her death was setting the stage for her husband’s life without her in a column in the New York Times.

 

Nonfiction

Charged

Charged
The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration

Emily Bazelon

Recommended by Anne
A Times Magazine investigative journalist exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America’s mass incarceration crisis, offering strategic recommendations for reversing discriminatory practices without changing the law.

Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Jon Krakauer

Recommended by Jonathan
A portrait of Chris McCandless chronicles his decision to withdraw from society and adopt the persona of Alexander Supertramp, offering insight into his beliefs about the wilderness and his tragic death in the Alaskan wilderness.

A Most Beautiful Thing

A Most Beautiful Thing

Arshay Cooper

Recommended by Carrie
The moving true story of a group of young men growing up on Chicago’s West side who form the first all-black high school rowing team in the nation, and in doing so not only transform a sport, but their lives.

The Office

The Office
The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s

Andy Greene

Recommended by Andrea
The untold stories behind The Office, one of the most iconic television shows of the twenty-first century, told by its creators, writers, and actors.

So You Want to Talk About Race

So You Want to Talk About Race

Ijeoma Oluo

Recommended by Laurie F.
A Seattle-based writer, editor and speaker tackles the sensitive, hyper-charged racial landscape in current America, discussing the issues of privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word

Stamped from the Beginning

Stamped from the Beginning

Ibram X. Kendi

Recommended by Anne
A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists.

A World Without Work

A World Without Work
Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond

Daniel Susskind

Recommended by Andrea
From an Oxford economist, a visionary account of how technology will transform the world of work, and what we should do about it.

 

Graphic Novel

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse

Charlie Mackesy

Recommended by Anne
A modern, illustrated fable for readers of all ages that explores life’s universal lessons from beloved British illustrator Charlie Mackesy.

Locke & Key

Locke & Key

Joe Hill

Recommended by Andrea
Presents the story of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them–and home to a hate-filled creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Robert Kirkman

Recommended by Jonathan
Follows police officer Rick Grimes and a few human survivors as they battle hordes of decomposing zombies.

 

Science Fiction

11/22/63

11/22/63

Stephen King

Recommended by Jody
Receiving a horrific essay from a GED student with a traumatic past, high-school English teacher Jake Epping is enlisted by a friend to travel back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a mission for which he must reacclimate to 1960s culture and befriend troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald.

88 Names

88 Names

Matt Ruff

Recommended by Andrea
A romantic cyberthriller set in a world of fluid identities follows the experiences of a paid guide to online role-playing games who comes to believe that an anonymous wealthy new client is actually a violent dictator.

After the Flood

After the Flood

Kassandra Montag

Recommended by Mike
A tale set in an anarchic near-future America of mountaintop colonies surrounded by rising oceans finds an independent woman trading for supplies and information about the daughter who was stolen from her eight years earlier.

The Dog Stars

The Dog Stars

Peter Heller

Recommended by Jonathan
Surviving a pandemic disease that has killed everyone he knows, a pilot establishes a shelter in an abandoned airport hangar before hearing a random radio transmission that compels him to risk his life to seek out other survivors.

 

Fantasy

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea

TJ Klune

Recommended by Anne and Jody
Given a curious classified assignment to evaluate the potential risks posed by six supernatural orphans, a case worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth bonds with an enigmatic caregiver who hides dangerous secrets.

Neverwhere

Neverwhere

Neil Gaiman

Recommended by Andrea
Richard Mayhew’s life is forever changed after he rescues a young girl named Door and finds himself living in a city of monsters, saints, murderers, and angels, and he must help Door on her mission to save this strange underworld kingdom from destruction.

Ninth House

Ninth House

Leigh Bardugo

Recommended by Jody
Surviving a horrific multiple homicide, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks is unexpectedly offered a full scholarship to Yale, where her mysterious benefactors task her with monitoring the university’s secret societies

 

Horror

Boy's Life

Boy’s Life

Robert R. McCammon

Recommended by Jonathan
The witnesses to a horrific murder, Cory Mackenson and his father investigate and come face to face with the vicious Blaylock clan, a secret society united by racial hatred, and a reptilian creature inhabiting the river.

Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark

Riley Sager

Recommended by Mike
Twenty-five years after her father published a wildly popular nonfiction book based on her family’s rushed exit from a haunted Victorian estate, naysayer Maggie inherits the house and begins renovations, only to make a number of disturbing discoveries.

Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country

Matt Ruff

Recommended by Mike
In 1954, young Army veteran Atticus Turner travels to New England with his uncle and childhood friend to search for his missing father, only to encounter human and supernatural terrors at the estate of a descendant of slave owners.

Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Recommended by Mike
A reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel follows the experiences of a courageous socialite in 1950s Mexico who is drawn into the treacherous secrets of an isolated mansion.

The Patient

The Patient

Jasper DeWitt

Recommended by Mike
A young, overconfident psychiatrist chronicles in a series of online posts his new job at a mental asylum, where he catastrophically attempts to treat a profoundly disturbed patient who has been in the hospital since early childhood.

 

Romance

28 Summers

28 Summers

Elin Hilderbrand

Recommended by Maryanne
A tale inspired by the film “Same Time Next Year” follows a man’s discovery of his mother’s long-term relationship with the husband of a Presidential frontrunner.

In Five Years

In Five Years

Rebecca Serle

Recommended by Carrie
An ambitious young lawyer on the brink of having it all disregards a vivid dream about how different her life will be in five years, before meeting the man in her vision nearly five years later

The Sight of You

The Sight of You

Holly Miller

Recommended by Carrie
Unable to help falling in love with a woman who offers him a second chance, a man who secretly experiences dreams about the future makes a difficult choice in the face of a daunting premonition about their future together.

 

Cozy Mystery

For Whom the Book Tolls

For Whom the Book Tolls

Laura Gail Black

Recommended by Laurie D.
Accepting shelter and a job from her uncle in the wake of unsavory events in her Charlotte hometown, Jenna finds her uncle murdered in his antique bookstore and teams up with new friends to clear her name of suspicion.

Tea & Treachery

Tea & Treachery

Vicki Delany

Recommended by Laurie D.
When real estate developer Jack Ford–who was trying to drive her and her grandmother, Rose, out of business–is found dead on Rose’s property, Lily, the owner of a traditional English tearoom, discovers that Ford was brewing trouble all over town as shetries to clear Rose’s name.

 

Mystery & Suspense

The Chain

The Chain

Adrian McKinty

Recommended by Mike
A parent receives a panicked phone call from a stranger who reveals that both of their children have been kidnapped by someone who demands that they abduct another child to prevent the murders of their own.

The End of Her

The End of Her

Shari Lapena

Recommended by Laurie D.
When a woman from her husband’s past shows up and raises questions about the death of his first wife, Stephanie remains loyal to her husband until a newly opened police investigation starts eroding her trust and her marriage.

The Guest List

The Guest List

Lucy Foley

Recommended by Laurie F.
An expertly planned celebrity wedding between a rising television star and an ambitious magazine publisher is thrown into turmoil by petty jealousies, a college drinking game, the bride’s ruined dress and an untimely murder.

The Last Flight

The Last Flight

Julie Clark

Recommended by Carrie
Working for months on a plan to escape her secretly violent husband, Claire impulsively swaps airline tickets with a stranger also on the run before a fateful accident compels her to assume the other’s identity.

Mr. Nobody

Mr. Nobody

Catherine Steadman

Recommended by Laurie D. and Maryanne
Treating a man found on the beach with no memory of his identity, a neuropsychologist who would hide her own past is confronted by her patient’s mysterious knowledge of her secrets.

Night Film

Night Film

Marisha Pessl

Recommended by Jonathan
When the daughter of a cult horror film director is found dead in an abandoned Manhattan warehouse, investigative journalist Scott McGrath, disbelieving the official suicide ruling, probes into the strange circumstances of the young woman’s death.

The Other Mrs.

The Other Mrs.

Mary Kubica

Recommended by Laurie F.
Unnerved by her husband’s inheritance of a decrepit coastal property and the presence of a disturbed relative, community newcomer Sadie uncovers harrowing facts about her family’s possible role in a neighbor’s murder.

Saint X

Saint X

Alexis Schaitkin

Recommended by Carrie
When a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with one of the men originally suspected of killing her sister, Claire, hoping to gain his trust and learn the truth, forms an unlikely attachment with this man whose life is forever marked by the same tragedy.

Tell Me Everything

Tell Me Everything

Cambria Brockman

Recommended by Carrie
A college senior on the cusp of graduation uses her extraordinary insights to uncover her friends’ closest-held secrets before a devastating chain of events culminates in a murder that tests the limits of her capabilities.

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone

Lisa Jewell

Recommended by Laurie D.
Struggling to put her life back together a decade after her beloved teen daughter’s disappearance, a divorced woman bonds with a charming single father whose young child eerily resembles the woman’s own lost daughter.

A Time For Mercy

A Time For Mercy

John Grisham

Recommended by Maryanne
Court-appointed lawyer Jake Brigance puts his career, his financial security, and the safety of his family on the line to defend a sixteen-year-old suspect who is accused of killing a local deputy and is facing the death penalty.

Troubled Blood

Troubled Blood

Robert Galbraith

Recommended by Anne
While visiting his family in Cornwall, Private Detective Cormoran Strike agrees to take on a cold case involving a woman who went missing in mysterious circumstances in 1974, and as Strike and his partner in the agency, Robin Ellacott, investigate the disappearance, they come up against a fiendishly complex case with leads that include tarot cards, a psychopathic serial killer, and witnesses who cannot all be trusted.

The Whisper Man

The Whisper Man

Alex North

Recommended by Jonathan
Mourning the death of his wife, a father and his young son move to Featherbank for a fresh start but find their new town has a dark past involving a serial killer named “The Whisper Man.”

 

Realistic Fiction

After the End

After the End

Clare Mackintosh

Recommended by Carrie
Disagreeing for the first time when their son falls ill and they receive conflicting doctor recommendations, a devoted couple finds a unique way for both of their preferences to become possible.

Always the Last to Know

Always the Last to Know

Kristan Higgins

Recommended by Carrie
After their father suffers a stroke, two sisters must return home and deal with the paths both their lives have taken as well as their parents’ relationship in this new novel from the author of Good Luck with That.

Anxious People

Anxious People

Fredrik Backman

Recommended by Anne
Taken hostage by a failed bank robber while attending an open house, eight anxiety-prone strangers–including a redemption-seeking bank director, two couples who would fix their marriages, and a plucky octogenarian–discover their unexpected common traits.

The Authenticity Project

The Authenticity Project

Clare Pooley

Recommended by Anne
When Julian Jessup, an eccentric, lonely artist who believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other, writes the truth about his own life in a green journal and leaves it behind, others start writing in their own truth, which leads to unexpected friendship and love.

Come Away with Me

Come Away with Me

Karma Brown

Recommended by Carrie
After a devastating car accident, Tegan and Gabe Lawson embark on a soul-searching journey around the world to escape their grief over the loss of their unborn child, but find that acceptance comes when they least expect it.

A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood

Therese Anne Fowler

Recommended by Carrie
A gripping contemporary novel that examines the American dream through the lens of two families living side by side in an idyllic neighborhood, and the one summer that changes their lives irrevocably.

Migrations

Migrations

Charlotte McConaghy

Recommended by Jonathan
A woman who has dedicated her life to protecting the environment convinces a fishing captain and his salty crew to follow the world’s last flock of Arctic terns on a migration of dark revelations.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Christopher Scotton

Recommended by Jonathan
Witnessing his younger brother’s accidental death, teenaged Kevin spends the summer traumatized in his grandfather’s Appalachia coal-mining community, which is fighting plans for a massive mountaintop-removal operation

Stay with Me

Stay with Me

Ayobami Adebayo

Recommended by Carrie
Secure in the love of her husband in spite of pressure for him to have a polygamous marriage, Yejide is overwhelmed by shock and pain when her inability to become pregnant compels her husband to take a second wife, sending her on a desperate quest to conceive a child.

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age

Kiley Reid

Recommended by Carrie
Seeking justice for a young black babysitter who was wrongly accused of kidnapping by a racist security guard, a successful blogger finds her efforts complicated by a video that reveals unexpected connections.

The Great Believers

The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai

Recommended by Carrie
A novel set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris follows the director of a Chicago art gallery and a woman looking for her estranged daughter in Paris who both struggle to come to terms with the ways AIDS has affected their lives.

You’ve Been Volunteered

You’ve Been Volunteered

Laurie Gelman

Recommended by Carrie
A follow-up to “Class Mom” finds Jen Dixon agreeing to school-parent her son’s third-grade class only to find herself overwhelmed by her husband’s late hours, her daughters’ early adulthood, and the needs of her aging parents.

 

Historical Fiction

The Alice Network

The Alice Network

Kate Quinn

Recommended by Laurie F.
When pregnant American student Charlie St. Clair is banished to Europe by her family to have her baby, she takes the opportunity to head for London to find her missing French cousin and teams up with Eve, a former spy from the Alice Network, to solve the mystery.

The Book of Lost Names

The Book of Lost Names

Kristin Harmel

Recommended by Laurie D.
Escaping from Paris in 1942 after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew, a graduate student finds refuge in a small mountain town, where she forges identity documents to help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis.

Code Name Helene

Code Name Helene

Ariel Lawhon

Recommended by Anne
A novel based on the life of spy Nancy Wake follows a woman who kills a Nazi and becomes one of the most decorated women in World War II.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Mitch Albom

Recommended by Jonathan
Sent to America at age nine with nothing but an old guitar, Frankie Presto achieves success on the mid-twentieth-century music scene before becoming overburdened by his ability to affect people’s futures through his music.

The Nickel Boys

The Nickel Boys

Colson Whitehead

Recommended by Jonathan and Carrie
A follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning, The Underground Railroad, follows the harrowing experiences of two African-American teens at an abusive reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

The Room on Rue Amelie

The Room on Rue Amelie

Kristin Harmel

Recommended by Laurie D.
An American newlywed whose romantic dreams are shattered by the realities of war, an 11-year-old Jewish girl witnessing the horrors of mass deportations and a British Royal Air Force soldier who wonders if he is making a difference are brought together by fate and loss in Nazi-occupied Paris, where together they find the courage to survive.

The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

Brit Bennett

Recommended by Maryanne
Separated by their embrace of different racial identities, two mixed-race identical twins reevaluate their choices as one raises a black daughter in their southern hometown while the other passes for white with a husband who is unaware of her heritage.