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MCPL Staff Members Choose Favorite Books of 2020

Best of 2020

December 29, 2020

2020 has been an odd and challenging year for everyone, and it’s likely that many folks needed an escape this year more than ever before. Luckily, books can take you anywhere, and can provide a welcome distraction from all that’s going on in the world.

We here at the Marathon County Public Library read numerous books each year and have no shortage of recommendations to give. Looking back at the past year, our staff has managed to pare down all of the books we’ve read and have compiled a list of our favorites. The selected books didn’t have to be published in 2020, but rather read at some point in the last 12 months.

What’s your favorite book that you read this year? Have you read any of our staff favorites? Let us know in the comments. And if you like what you see here, you can read our staff reviews any time of the year. Just keep an eye out for new reviews posted here on mcpl.us, on our Facebook page, on our Twitter page and on our Goodreads account.


Book Cover: FROM ALASKA WITH LOVE

"FROM ALASKA WITH LOVE" by ALLY JAMES

Paula L., Library Specialist at MCPL Wausau, says: "What attracted me to this book was its cover with a picture of a house, a mailbox and a yellow lab wearing a winter hat. Each of these items are part of the plot and ending of this feel-good book. It's a fairly quick read that will make you smile."

Book Cover: MY DARK VANESSA

"MY DARK VANESSA" by KATE ELIZABETH RUSSELL

Hannah D., Library Assistant at MCPL's Rothschild Branch, says: "This book gave me a sinking feeling in my gut but stuck with me for a long time. It's heartbreaking, beautifully written, and thought provoking."

Book Cover: HENCH

"HENCH" by NATALIE ZINA WALSCHOTS

Julie K., Adult Services Librarian at MCPL Wausau, says: "I loved this book because it was an in-depth look at what it would be like to be a henchman for an evil villain, especially in this day. The novel posits all kinds of fun stuff - temp agencies for people looking to work as henchmen, the triumph of evil over good. It was fun."

Book Cover: HARRY POTTER, BOOKS 1-7

"HARRY POTTER, BOOKS 1-7" by J.K. ROWLING

Taylor W., Children's Librarian at MCPL Wausau, says: "In stressful and hard times, Harry Potter is a comfort, a joy, and it gives me hope that goodness will always prevail."

Book Cover: HOW NOT TO DIE

"HOW NOT TO DIE" by MICHAEL GREGER

Sarah M., Mosinee Branch Coordinator, says: "My favorite book this year was the extremely impactful and important How Not to Die. It's an absolute must-read for anyone interested in their health."

Book Cover: THE GREATEST GENERATION

"THE GREATEST GENERATION" by TOM BROKAW

Heather B. Hatley Branch Coordinator, says: "While I am admittedly not an avid history or non-fiction reader...I found that was a book that kept my attention, and I liked that the audiobook was read by Tom Brokaw."

Book Cover: THE STARLESS SEA

"THE STARLESS SEA" by ERIN MORGENSTERN

Jen T., Athens Branch Coordinator, says: "This was one book I could not put down. Every chapter was bewitching with magical depth. Morgenstern crafts a beautiful, dream-like world filled with fables, fairy tales and myths. I highly recommend this book If you are are looking for rich fantasy and imagination."

Book Cover: WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN

"WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN " by SEAN DIETRICH

Colleen Y., Library Assistant at MCPL Wausau, says: "Despite having lived through many very difficult life experiences, Sean Dietrich ('Sean of the South') has written what is ultimately an uplifting story."

Book Cover: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR

"THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR" by JOHN GLATT

Robin W., Library Assistant at MCPL's Hatley Branch, says: "This is the true story of the thirteen Turpin children, their imprisonment and (finally) their escape. I wouldn’t say the book was masterfully written but the story it tells is heartbreaking and well worth the time to read."

Book Cover: GAP CREEK

"GAP CREEK" by ROBERT MORGAN

Deborah A., Library Assistant at MCPL's Rothschild Branch, says: "I felt this book gave a glimpse of what my great, great grandmother must have struggled with, and the appreciation of the many blessings we have today."

Book Cover: THE FLATSHARE

"THE FLATSHARE" by BETH O'LEARY

Laura W., Rothschild Branch Coordinator, says: "This book was absolutely joyful - the main character was quirky, clever, and not your typical romance heroine."

Book Cover: CRASHING THROUGH

"CRASHING THROUGH " by ROBERT KURSON

Dana C., Library Assistant at MCPL's Edgar Branch, says: "This book was very compelling and takes the reader through the experience of a man that overcomes challenges, takes on adventures, and in the end has to make a very important decision about his future."

Book Cover: HOWARDS END

"HOWARDS END" by E.M. FORSTER

Elizabeth L., Library Assistant at MCPL's Marathon City Branch, says: "I love this book because even though it is over 100 years old, it's a story about people - and people are still people! It somehow feels both historic and modern at the same time."

Book Cover: HOLLYWOOD PARK

"HOLLYWOOD PARK" by MIKEL JOLLETT

Jeff P., Library Assistant at MCPL Wausau, says: "This autobiography about Mikel Jollett, the lead singer of The Airborne Toxic Event band, was great, and was also nominated for Goodreads' Choice Awards."

Book Cover: WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEARS

"WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEARS" by JEANNIE GAFFIGAN.

Ashley H., Library Assistant at MCPL's Rothschild Branch, says: "Despite the serious health diagnosis that Jeannie received, she found strength and resilience through her faith, family and humor. I laughed out loud more times than I could count, and she may even be funnier than her husband, Jim!

Book Cover: THE CHOICE: EMBRACE THE POSSIBLE

"THE CHOICE: EMBRACE THE POSSIBLE" by DR. EDITH EVA EGER

Kathy G., Library Specialist at MCPL Wausau, says: "Dr. Eger had to face many challenges not of her own choosing; how she navigated those challenges to live a meaningful life is an uplifting story of courage and purpose."

Book Cover: WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

"WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING" by DELIA OWENS

Deb J., Library Specialist at MCPL Wausau, says: "I enjoyed reading about the 'Marsh Girl,' Kya Clark, as she was not what the people in town said about her and her possible connection to a murder."

Book Cover: THE WOMEN OF THE COPPER COUNTRY

"THE WOMEN OF THE COPPER COUNTRY" by MARY DORIA RUSSELL

Lynelle C., Page at MCPL Wausau, says: "The book takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and describes mining life in the early 1900s and how the wives and daughters of the miners worked to improve their safety and standard of living."

Book Cover: PRACTICAL MAGIC

"PRACTICAL MAGIC" by ALICE HOFFMAN

Dan R., Library Marketing Specialist at MCPL Wausau, says: "I've read this novel numerous time in the past, and this story of love, magic, and familial bonds is just as captivating as it was the first time."

Book Cover: THE DISASTER ARTIST

"THE DISASTER ARTIST" by GREG SESTERO

Tara H., Youth Collection Development Specialist at MCPL Wausau, says: "After being introduced to the cult film 'The Room,' it was fascinating to get an inside look at the peculiar individual who wrote, directed, produced, and starred in what is often considered to be the worst movie ever made."

Book Cover: HOW TO WALK AWAY

"HOW TO WALK AWAY" by KATHERINE CENTER

Audrey K., Spencer Branch Coordinator, says: "This book has it all! I found some parts to be very funny and others to be sad, but the book takes overcoming tragedy and turns something negative into a positive."

Book Cover: AMERICAN DIRT

"AMERICAN DIRT" by JEANINE CUMMINS

MJ N., Stratford Branch Coordinator, says: "The author had me from the opening paragraph! This book helped me to figuratively walk a mile (or several hundred!) in another person's shoes, and it enlightened and moved me a great deal."

Book Cover: FREE CYNTOIA

"FREE CYNTOIA" by CYNTOIA BROWN-LONG.

Darla R., Library Assistant at MCPL's Stratford Branch, says: "It was my favorite because it caused me to think and be aware of human trafficking and the progress that has been made on this topic."

Book Cover: WASHINGTON: A LIFE

"WASHINGTON: A LIFE" by RON CHERNOW

Ken B., Library Assistant at MCPL Wausau, says: "Considered by many to be the best one-volume biography ever written about George Washington, this very readable biography compliments previous major biographies of Washington by Freeman, Flexner, and others."


Adults Books Library Staff Reading Recommendations

image credit: MCPL