by: ZINC Staffers
The ZINCsters are at it again! This time last year, we shared our favourite reads from 2019 – and we’re back again to share this year’s top book picks. With 2020 bringing us lots of extra downtime, we spent these socially-distanced hours getting inspiration – and a little escape – from new books.
Whether you’re looking for an uplifting holiday read or lessons in entrepreneurship, these are the fiction and non-fiction books that made this year’s list:
COLLEEN’S book PICKS
BEARTOWN BY FREDERIK BACKMAN
Beartown is a hockey town – first and foremost. But at the core of that town and beloved game, there is a cast of people trying their best with what they have. When one girl finds the strength to report a sexual assault by a hockey player, everyone will be forced to decide where they’ll stand – regardless of what they had hoped a winning team could bring to their community. This is a powerful story because of the powerful characters in it – many facing personal challenges and important life decisions, as they settle on their shared vision of the future.
TALKING TO STRANGERS BY MALCOLM GLADWELL
When I look back on 2020, I think Malcolm Gladwell may be the voice of my narrative memory. His podcast, Revisionist History, is a favourite, so when I saw his book Talking to Strangers, I pounced. The premise? A look at the question of why, when we are talking with people who we don’t know, are misunderstandings so prevalent. Sure – as a communicator, this was also a bit of professional development – but in a year loaded with challenging topics, this gives everyone some valuable insight about possible flaws in the way we interpret people.
SETTING THE TABLE: THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF HOSPITALITY IN BUSINESS BY DANNY MEYER
I think I suffer from recency bias when choosing my favorite books – they’re often ones I’ve just finished! Recently I DEVOURED books by two inspiring experts in the hospitality world. Danny Meyer’s New York Times Bestseller has sage advice on treating your staff right, plus candid insights into how he built his NYC-based restaurant empire from the Union Square Cafe, to Shake Shack and beyond.
I HEAR SHE’S A REAL BITCH BY JENN AGG
Toronto-based restaurant visionary Jennifer Agg is renowned for building and running 12 very different restaurants in the past eight years. She shares the highs and lows in I Hear She’s a Real Bitch, a great read with lessons for any entrepreneur and/or restaurant lover, which will have you laughing the next time a waiter hovers over you to ask “Are you still working on that?”
Both writers have been eloquent and impassioned in recent months as they fight to ensure the future of restaurants during COVID-19. If I could order takeout for delivery here to Vancouver Island to support them I would. For now, I’ll keep ordering from my favorite local restaurants in Victoria and the Comox Valley to support the amazing local chefs, staff, and producers that make them great.
DANA’S book PICKS
THE GREAT ALONE BY KRISTIN HANNAH
This coming-of-age story is set in 1970s Alaska, where a family moves to find a fresh start and live off the grid. Having not prepared for the harsh Alaskan landscape, they must learn how to homestead to survive. This book highlights the spirit, magic and wildness of Alaska, with many captivating descriptions of scenery, as well as the power of community and the potential for human endurance/resiliency.
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING BY DELIA OWENS
While this novel has made many notable ‘best of’ lists over the past years, I couldn’t help but include it here too. For me, the blend of romance, nature and mystery made it the perfect summer read. Kya Clark, a young girl whom townspeople call “the marsh girl” lives by herself in an isolated shack near a marsh, which is the setting for many colourful depictions of the creatures that live there. In this story, there is the obvious intrigue of the murder mystery (Kya is accused of murdering a beloved local boy), but also so much beauty in Kya’s growth as a writer and a young woman.
SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR – DICK BELL’S STORY AS TOLD TO PEGGY BELL
I’ve chosen to highlight a project that had me reading about/researching my family history over the past year – a book I’m creating that highlights the incredible story of my grandfather’s brother. As the title suggests, Dick Bell was a very positive, humble and giving person – despite the challenges he faced early on in his life. When he was 10 years old, he was in a train accident that resulted in amputation of both his legs. As you can imagine this was quite the news story in 1940!
But, this didn’t stop him from living a life filled with love and philanthropy. Over the years, he and his wife (of 59 years) started an annual charity golf tournament, built residential respite and group homes, and adopted three children of their own. While teaching me a lot, this project has also kept me busy and inspired – and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!
What do you ZINC about our 2020 reads? Have suggestions for books we should read in 2021? Send us a note at email@example.com with your ideas.