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10 Overlooked Gems of 2020

December 3, 2020


Here are ten amazing books and movies that you may have missed during this overwhelming year. With a special focus on women authors and actors!


This is the story of a rumored high school sexual assault and how it reverberates through multiple lives. If this piques your interest at all, do not read another word about it. It’s much better to go into this one blind.

I was bowled over by these smart and beautifully written stories, many of which have amazing last lines (my personal measure of short story greatness).

Advice: don’t read the synopsis of this because it’s confusing and frankly, off-putting. Just know that this book about the dark side of social media is not only fun and addictive but has a great payoff at the end.


The most fascinating book I read this year was this portrait of Natchez, Missisippi, “a place where race relations are complex, eccentricity is elevated to an art form, and a cryogenically frozen relic of high society still celebrating the Old South in hoopskirts and Confederate uniforms co-exists with a community progressive enough to elect a gay Black man for mayor with ninety-one percent of the vote.” (Country Roads)

This is an uplifting read about our local hero, Dolly Parton. If the author’s name sounds familiar, that’s because she wrote the acclaimed memoir Heartland.

This made the list because reading her essay on The Fugitive is the only time I have laughed so hard that I cried DURING THIS ENTIRE GODFORSAKEN YEAR. This is the most purely enjoyable book I read in 2020.


Miss Juneteenth

Miss Juneteenth

Nicole Beharie’s portrayal of Turquoise Jones in this affecting mother/daughter drama made this my #1 movie of the year. Unfortunately we can’t offer it because it hasn’t been released on DVD yet, but I hope you will track it down elsewhere!

The eyebrow work in this movie should win a special Oscar.

Tonally, this reminded me of Short Term 12, one of my favorite movies of the last ten years.

This music documentary is pure joy, with exuberant footage of Aretha Franklin singing at the inaugural gala, a jazz concert with Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Hancock on the White House South Lawn, and Carter hanging out at the White House with the Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Bob Dylan.

beth winter


Beth works in the Collection Development department.  She loves short stories, memoirs, documentary films, and cookbooks.  Her favorite things about working at the library are knowing in advance about all the new releases and the easy access to her library holds.

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