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As we close the books on 2020, we asked our editorial staff to reflect on newly published reads that they loved. We also wondered what books, from any year, they turned to for help processing everything that’s happened, from a pandemic to the climate crisis to electoral politics to a renewed push for racial justice—a decade’s worth of content in just 52 weeks, as one Mother Jones engagement editor put it. The resulting list, “The Books That Got Us Through 2020,” is wide-ranging and surprising, with everything from highly publicized picks like Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste and Elena Ferrante’s The Lying Life of Adults to an unconventional “speculative narrative about wayward Black women at the beginning of the 20th century,” Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals. As the coronavirus continues to exert its deadly toll and winter lockdowns descend, our reading list offers an escape hatch.

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