Top Ten Titles for One Maryland One Book 2020

January 10, 2020
by Eden Etzel, Maryland Humanities

It’s January, which means it’s time for the Maryland Center for the Book at Maryland Humanities to announce the top ten books for One Maryland One Book 2020! The theme for this year is “friendship” and there is a strong array of titles among the top ten.

There are two nonfiction titles this year. (CW: sexual assault.) Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco explores the friendship between Jeannie and Mark, the boy that raped her when she was a teenager, before and after the assault. Whereas Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Chapter of Harper Lee describes Harper Lee’s attempt to write her own true-crime account of a vigilante murderer, similar to her friend Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, which she helped him research. Filled with complex friendships, each of these titles bring about their own sense of crime and justice.

High-schoolers who participate in One Maryland One Book may be excited to read the one young adult title among the list: Tiffany D. Jackson’s Monday’s Not Coming, follows Claudia, a girl who is searching for her best friend Monday who seems to have disappeared overnight. Other books on the list that explore female friendships are Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women and Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter, which take place in the locales of Korea and India.

William Kent Krueger’s This Tender Land follows four orphans on an unforgettable odyssey across America during the Great Depression. Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black follows the journey of the titular character, an eleven-year-old slave, and his relationship with his new master across continents.

Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and Karen Thompson Walker’s The Dreamers follow the relationships of those stuck in communities thrown into chaos. And Jacqueline Woodson’s Red at the Bone delves into a family’s history to show how young people are forced into decisions they’re not ready to make.

Only one of the previously mentioned titles will be the One Maryland One Book! If you’ve read any, let us know what you think. Hopefully, we’ve helped expand your to-be-read lists! Our pick for 2020 will be announced in March.    

29 thoughts on “Top Ten Titles for One Maryland One Book 2020

  1. I read Washington Black by Esi Edugyan and thoroughly enjoyed it. It would make and excellent selection for One Maryland One Book.

  2. Furious hours was remarkable. Great research and great story telling. Worth more thAn one read, so much to discuss. It would be one of the top MD one books, and by a MD author

    1. Having a lot to discuss is an important part of the program, Carol, so that’s great to hear! It would be interesting to have a Maryland author.

  3. A young slave in Barbados is literally lifted to freedom. His journey asks questions about friendship, identity, imagination and finding your potential. A beautifully written exploration of multiple cultures, race, and the origins of modern science. A good selection.

  4. I’ve read both Washington Black and Little Fires Everywhere. My favorite of the two was Washington Black – excellent read. I have This Tender Land and the Island of Sea Women on my “hold” list already!

    1. Glad to see you’re making it through the top ten, Pam! Washington Black is getting a lot of praise and we can’t wait to see if it will make it to our top three.

  5. We just read Washington Black for our Book Club and each of us LOVED it. It’s such a rich book for dialogue, beautiful visual imagery, and history. Seeing science through the lens of the early 1800s was fascinating–and the parallels between racism then and racism today are reminders of how little progress has been made in this country and across the globe.

    1. Excited to hear that Washington Black is so popular with book clubs. The book has a lot of discussion potential, that’s for sure!

  6. Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl by Jeannie Vanasco was both artful and illuminating. She raises so many important questions that are extremely relevant to the times. It explores friendship, honesty, language, and forgiveness. I think this is the book that should be chosen.

    1. Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was A Girl would definitely generate important and thoughtful discussions. Thank you for your input, Tricia!

  7. I read Lisa See’s book the Island of Sea Women. It is beautifully written and Lisa’s research is impeccable. Reading her books I always learn something about a part of the world I’m not familiar with. A very moving story of these women and their strength. I definitely feel this book should be chosen.

  8. The Island of Sea Women shows the strong bonds between women and what they can accomplish. The depth of friendships is heartwarming and the skills these women developed and shared through the generations is amazing. I have recommended to all my friends.

  9. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See was an excellent book about friendship, redemption, and the empowerment of women. Our book club loved it, and learned a lot we did not know in the process. I would highly recommend it.

    1. The Island of Sea Women is highly recommended by our followers. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed it so much. We’ll see if it makes it further along in the process!

  10. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa Sea is a really well written book with so much information about the lives and culture of the Korean divers and their community as well as the time of the Japanese occupation and then American occupation. The friendships and families are all well defined and compelling. I highly recommend it!

    1. Thank you for your feedback, Margaret. It looks to be a fascinating read! People will definitely learn a lot from The Island of Sea Women!

  11. The Island of Sea Women definitely fits the theme and was a fascinating look into another culture and time. I didn’t think The Dreamers was as strong as Karen Thompson Walker’s Age of Miracles. I’ve heard Red at the Bone is amazing on audio, so I’m waiting for my Libby hold to come in!

    1. Thank you, Diana. Yes, The Island of Sea Women definitely fits this year’s theme of Friendship. We hope you enjoy Red at the Bone!

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