I have to admit that I’m a little bit disappointed in myself. Considering that I pretty much spent 9 months on lockdown, I didn’t read anywhere near as much as I should have in 2020.
Certainly, when I was first told that I’d be working from home, I thought to myself, “Finally! I can work my way through my library!” I thought I was going to read a book a day and watch 100 movies every week. It didn’t work out that way. To be honest, I got so frustrated with the whole endless lockdown thing that I often couldn’t focus enough to do anything productive with my time. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
That said, I may not have read as much as I was hoping to read but I still read some very good books. So, without further ado, here are my top eight non-fiction books of 2020!
- Made Men: The Story of Goodfellas by Glenn Kenny — Goodfellas is one of the best films of all time and Glenn Kenny’s examination of both the movie and it’s place in pop culture is perhaps one of the best film books of all time. Kenny not only details the true story behind Goodfellas but he also examines the film scene-by-scene. This book is full of unexpected insight and behind-the-scenes trivia. It’s everything you could want from a film book.
- Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused by Melissa Maerz — This is a frequently fascinating oral history about one of the greatest Texas films of all time, Dazed and Confused. Maerz was able to interview almost everyone involved with the film and the end result is funny, touching, and thought-provoking look at a classic film. This is worth it just for the chapters on Shawn Andrews.
- Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! Deep Inside Valley of the Dolls, the Most Beloved Bad Book and Movie of All Time by Stephen Rebello — This fun book details everything you could possibly want to know about the film version of Valley of the Dolls. Especially interesting are the chapters that deal with the actresses and actors who were considered for the film. There are indeed some surprising names to found.
- Taking Shape II: The Lost Halloween Sequel by Dustin McNeill and Travis Mullins — Probably the only thing I like more than a good book about the production of a film is a good book about a film that didn’t go into production. Taking Shape II is an exhaustive look at all of the sequels that have been proposed for Halloween over the years. The book not only details what each film could have been but also why they ultimately weren’t produced. If you’re a horror fan, this is essential reading.
- Cinema ’62: The Greatest Year at the Movies by Michael McClellan and Stephen Farber — Was 1962 the greatest year in film? This book makes a good case that it may have been.
- The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood by Sam Wasson — This is another fascinating behind-the-scenes look at a classic film. The Big Goodbye not only tells you everything you could want to know about Chinatown but it also places it in its correct cultural and historical context.
- The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene — This oral history of my favorite sitcom is both a funny tribute to a great show and also a rather sad look at how The Office was often screwed over by NBC. The only thing keeping this book from being ranked higher is the lack of fresh interviews with Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and some of the other principles. Indeed, much of the “oral history” is lifted from various DVD commentaries. Still, Greene does a good job of organizing the information and the book will definitely make you want to sit down and rewatch the show.
- Gone at Midnight: The Tragic True Story Behind the Unsolved Internet Sensation by Jake Anderson — This is a thought-provoking examination of the mysterious death of Elisa Lam and the internet culture that sprung up around the video of her final hours.
TSL Looks Back at 2020:
- Lisa Marie’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
- Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
- My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
- 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
- Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
- Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
- Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
- Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
- Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
- Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)