The Best Books I Read in 2020

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to read 25 books. I got a Kindle at the end of 2019, so I was fully equipped to knock out my goal. I loved nearly every book I read, so either Amazon’s recommendations were perfect or I just have a knack for picking good books.

These books stood above the rest as the five best books I read in 2020:

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

This is the best story I’ve ever read. It might just be the best story ever. Endurance is about a man’s ambitious plan to cross the Antarctic in the 1910s. In the middle of their journey the ship is trapped in pack ice and the crew is forced to sit idle for months. Finally the ship is crushed and slowly sinks. The 28 man crew is now in the middle of the Antarctic sea hundreds of miles away from the nearest land or any hope of rescue. After an unbelievable journey Shackleton’s entire crew is rescued successfully.

2020 may have been the perfect time to read this book. Stay-at-home orders around the country may have led to a bit of cabin fever, but 9 months in a dark, frozen sea would have led me to absolute insanity. The 28 men were able to stay in good spirits for all of it, and even maintained hope of survival.

Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson

I’d read books by Hunter S. Thompson before, but this one is definitely my favorite. The Hell’s Angels are wild. The TV specials about the rowdy and violent group don’t do the Hell’s Angels justice. Hunter S. Thompson embeds himself with the Angels and provides a picture of the sex, drugs and violence within the infamous group of bikers.

The Club King: My Rise, Reign, and Fall in New York Nightlife by Peter Gatien

Peter Gatien was one of the most recognized names in the New York hospitality industry for decades. He is the former owner of Club USA, The Limelight, Palladium, and Tunnel. Gatien is the ultimate entrepreneur before it was the “cool” pursuit that it is today. The book covers his rise to notoriety and his downfall that resulted from drug use in his clubs.

My time working at a nightclub in college led to a fascination with large clubs in places like New York, Miami and Las Vegas. This book gives a look inside the wild, fascinating industry of bars and nightclubs. Gatien was a genius when it came to running nightclubs — and this book tells his story.

The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution by Gregory Zuckerman

I read an article about Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies a few years ago so I was familiar with the mathematics-based investment firm. Renaissance Technologies controls the Medallion Fund, which has consistently out-performed the S&P 500 by an insane percentage for decades.

This book tells the story of how Jim Simons went into finance even as his academic peers advised him against it. He led the finance industry to adopt algorithmic trading strategies, and clearly he has figured out how to make it work.

My Week at the Blue Angel: And Other Stories from the Storm Drains, Strip Clubs, and Trailer Parks of Las Vegas by Matthew O’Brien

This book is like a real life account of a Charles Bukowski book. O’Brien is a journalist and author who lived in Las Vegas for 20 years of his life. This book covers people living off the strip and in the older, dirtier, and poorer parts of Las Vegas. He spends a week at the Blue Angel which is a seedy motel on East Fremont Street. The motel is known for prostitution, drug dealing and violence and O’Brien gives us a look at the people who live and work at the Blue Angel.

One of my favorite parts of this book is a trip that O’Brien takes into the storm drains and sewers of Las Vegas. He talks with people living in the “underworld” of Las Vegas and shares their stories.

Published by stewofkc

I write stuff in Kansas City.

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