20 Books Worth Adding to Your ‘Early 2020’ Reading List

February 18, 2020
Photo from PxHere.

Few hobbies are more weather-proof or recession-proof than reading. Whether you prefer hardcovers or e-books, you can read just about anywhere. Fortunately, 2020 has begun as yet another great year for exciting books, and below are 20 recommendations for those seeking some new titles for their winter reading lists.


Elycia Rubin “No Biggy!”
Elycia Rubin is a prolific Los Angeles-based writer and author. For 10 years she worked as a programming executive at E! and was also one of the original founders of The Style Network. Her content creation credits include Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Aniston, Zac Levi, Shailene Woodley, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Hart, and Awkwafina, and her television appearances credits include the “Today Show,” “The Doctors,” “E! News,” “The View,” “Access Hollywood” and “Good Morning America.”

Her latest book is “No Biggy!,” which was designed to help the entire family manage frustration with humor and heart. Subtitled “a story about overcoming everybody obstacles,” the book — including illustrations by Josh Talbot — was praised by “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen as follows: “This is a perfect book for both kids and grown ups. You’ll love it.”

Carew Papritz “The Legacy Letters”
Carew Papritz, also known as “The Cowboy Philosopher,” is the author of the multi-award winning book “The Legacy Letters.” Though fictional, “The Legacy Letters” has won acclaim as a life lessons book for all generations, reportedly gaining the distinction of being the only book in publishing history to win awards in both fiction and non-fiction categories. A Renaissance Man in an age that lauds the specialist, The Huffington Post said that Papritz “intrigues and enlightens, charms and catalyzes change for every reader.”

But in more simple terms, “The Legacy Letters” reveals to us the rediscovered private letters from a dying father to his children—and his wife. His words of wisdom, interwoven between deeply personal stories and poignantly-told memories, ultimately become the practical, moral, and spiritual guidebook for his children he’d never live to see, and for his wife, his redemptive act of love.

Julian David Stone “No Cameras Allowed: My Career As An Outlaw Rock & Roll Photographer”
“No Cameras Allowed” tells the story, in words and photos, of how Julian David Stone – entirely by sneaking his equipment into concerts – amassed an incredible archive of over 10,000 rock & roll photos. Starting by simply stashing a camera in his socks, then taping equipment all over his body, to finally customizing a jacket to hide equipment from security guards, he shot dozens of the greatest acts, including Prince, U2, The Police, R.E.M., The Ramones, Elvis Costello, The Talking Heads, The Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, and David Bowie. Culled from Stone’s incredible, never-before-seen archive, “No Cameras Allowed” contains over 250 of his best photos, along with some of the craziest adventures he had as he evaded oversized roadies, aggressive security, and more than a few drunken fans.

In short, expect a visually-stunning 12×12 coffee table book with over 250 pages, covering 40 different music artists and bands and hundreds of never before seen photos,

Chef Emeril Lagasse “Power AirFryer 360 Cookbook”
Emeril Lagasse’s Power AirFryer 360 rotisserie spit can accommodate up to a 6-pound chicken and ensure the meat is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The rotation of the meat allows the protein to cook evenly in its own juices, more so than if one were to cook the protein on a cooking rack, with easy cleanup. The intuitive heating elements ensure the protein reaches the perfect temperature every time, so there’s no need to stand in front of a hot oven or fussing with a meat thermometer.

Accompanying the AirFryer 360 is a cookbook which is full of top-notch, Lagasse-approved recipes. This includes recipes for a Turkey Roulade with Peach & Sage and Cornish Game Hens with Honey, Lemon & Thyme. Rarely does a new kitchen applicance inspire creativity, but Lagasse’s latest cookbook ought to do that and more.

Marty Stuart “The Pilgrim: Wall-To-Wall Odyssey”
On Valentine’s Day, country music legend Marty Stuart  released “The Pilgrim: A Wall-to-Wall Odyssey,” a beautifully-illustrated, 11″ by 10.5″ tabletop book that details the making of his seminal record “The Pilgrim.” Interestingly, the book also comes with a CD.

“The Pilgrim,” Stuart’s tenth studio album, was originally released in 1999. While not a commercial success at the time, “The Pilgrim” represents a rediscovery of Stuart’s roots and a creative rebirth that has since become a modern-day country music classic. This hefty hardcover volume, however, is about much more than just one landmark album. It’s about spiritual discovery, artistic integrity, and a vision that set Stuart on an enlightened path.

Originally available in limited release during the 20th anniversary celebration of the album in the fall, “The Pilgrim” book is now available as a wide-release title via BMG, which began publishing music-related books in 2017. The aforementioned accompanying newly-remastered CD includes the original album, along with 10 bonus tracks that feature a wide array of top-tier guest performances, including Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, Uncle Josh Graves, Earl Scruggs, and Stuart’s wife, Grand Ole Opry legend Connie Smith. Meanwhile, the book includes intimate photographs of Stuart making music with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Rick Nelson, Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard,B.B. King, The Staple Singers, Tom Petty, John Lee Hooker, Willie Nelson, Keith Richards, George Jones, and Dolly Parton, among others.

Ben Sidran “The Ballad Of Tommy LiPuma”
Award-winning musician, writer and broadcaster Ben Sidran tells the little-known story of music executive Tommy LiPuma in the aptly-titled new biography “The Ballad of Tommy LiPuma.” Available on May 5th, Sidran’s book was largely based on more than 80 hours of interviews of LiPuma by Sidran, who recorded three albums for LiPuma’s Blue Thumb Records in the early 1970s. It’s an inspired account of how music saved one man’s life, and how he went on to affect the lives of millions of others.

Without giving too much away, it spins the engaging story of LiPuma’s career, from his origins as a jazz-obsessed tenor saxophonist in Midwestern territory bands to fame and fortune as the Grammy Award-winning producer of titles by George Benson and Natalie Cole and a peer of superstars like Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney and Willie Nelson. It also 

delves deeply into LiPuma’s deft work as a jazz producer prior to his Blue Thumb days. LiPuma was a one-of-a-kind character in many ways, and Sidran’s well-written title helps reinforce that concept.

Sonia Kurtz & Steven Grasse “The Good Reverend’s Guide To Infused Spirits”
Subtitled “Alchemical Cocktails, Healing Elixirs, and Cleansing Solutions for the Home and Bar,” this title provides over 100 recipes for infusions, tinctures, cocktails, cordials, elixirs, punches, and even household cleaners. Ultimately, this handbook will teach you to replicate famous liqueurs and classic cocktails, and help you prepare perfect garnishes and celebratory toasts. With step-by-step instructions and photos, you will learn processes culinary, scientific, and alchemical to improve everything from your parties to your health. In turn, you willl learn the processes of osmosis and dissolution that create the perfect infusions.

Related to Kurtz and Grasse’s book, Good Reverend’s Universal Spirit Vodka is a 151-proof vodka and serves as the main ingredient to each recipe in the book. Offering a multitude of versatile uses, this high-ABV spirit is corn-based and can be used to create infusions such as tinctures and cordials, energy cleaning concoctions, and cocktails. Described as a “DIY-kit in a bottle,” the Universal Spirit allows its users to create their own concoctions at home, saving them both time and money. Notably The Universal Spirit is a product of Art In The Age. The Philadelphia-based Art In the Age Tasting Room & Home Bar Supply is the workshop and testing ground for Quaker City Mercantile, and the only place to taste the company’s newest innovations. It serves as a designated satellite location for New Liberty Distilling, allowing the store to sell New Liberty’s products as well as new Art In The Age products bottled there.

Lou Brutus “Sonic Warrior”
Lou Brutus is arguably one of the most influential and respected rock radio hosts of the century. That labeling aside, Brutus is a music industry legend and a self-proclaimed “professional music fan” and was arguably the first DJ to introduce the world to Slipknot, Disturbed, Godsmack, Avenged Sevenfold, Sevendust and countless others.

On April 14th he will release his first book “Sonic Warrior: My Life As A Rock N Roll Reprobate (Tales Of Sex, Drugs & Vomiting At Inopportune Moments.” “Sonic Warrior” is a collection of insane-but-true stories from his storied career. Each chapter is a separate tale that careens around his 40+ years of covering concerts, interviewing music’s biggest stars and influencing generations of radio listeners. The book also features a foreword by his friend Corey Taylor, Grammy Award-winning singer for Slipknot and Stone Sour, as well as an original illustration for each chapter by artist Alan MacBain.

Alan Leeds “There Was A Time: James Brown, The Chitlin’ Circuit & Me”
In the mid-1960s, Alan Leeds was a young DJ looking for his way into the music business. He had no way of knowing that an interview with James Brown would lead to the opportunity of a lifetime. Brown ultimately hired Leeds to help coordinate the remainder of his tour and before long, Leeds was wearing many hats and traveling around the world with Brown as his official tour manager.

In his new book, “There Was A Time” — part-memoir and part music-history –Leeds gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Chitlin’ Circuit during America’s most vital period of soul music and weaves a new, remarkable portrait of James Brown as an artist and businessman who determined to stand out from other soul artists of the time.

Spoiler alert: Leeds would also go on to serve as tour manager for Prince, Chris Rock, D’Angelo, and Kool & The Gang.

Douglas Esper “Reintroducing Chuck Mosley: Life On & Off The Road”
Original Faith No More vocalist (and later Bad Brains frontman) Chuck Mosley inspired multiple generations of musicians. Case in point, said Jonathan Davis of Korn about Mosley: “I was blown away by his voice. So original. Chuck has a great style that you can tell it’s him as soon as he starts singing. I’m a big fan and I was honored when he asked me to appear on his new stuff.”

For “Reintroducing Chuck Mosley,” author Douglas Esper — Mosley’s “fan, band mate, cheerleader, unknowing drug mule, AA plus one, friend” and more — chronicled their 150+ shows together on the row and plenty more. Notably, Esper will appear in the upcoming horror film “Dwellers,” as produced by Dave Ellefson of Megadeth’s Ellefson Films.

Evie Farrell “Backyard To Backpack”
Author Evie Farrell is a suburban mother who traveled the world with her daughter for two and a half years, building a life of love and adventure after leaving behind her corporate career. Subtitled “A solo mum, a six year old and a life-changing adventure,” this title is an inspirational true story that may have you asking yourself, “What might be if you took a chance, stepped off the path of expectation and created your own adventure?”

Without giving too much away, Farrell and her daughter camped on the Great Wall of China, hung in train doorways in Sri Lanka, swam with mantas in Indonesia, donated much-needed blood in Cambodia, spotted wild orangutans and pygmy elephants in Malaysian Borneo, prayed in Buddhist temples in Taiwan and were chased by monkeys everywhere. The two ultimately learnt more about each other and the beautiful world around them than Farrell had ever expected.

Tara Henley “Lean Out”
In 2016, journalist Tara Henley was at the top of her game working in media. She had traveled the world, from Soweto to Bangkok and Borneo to Brooklyn, interviewing authors and community leaders, politicians and Hollywood celebrities. But when she started getting chest pains at her desk in the newsroom, none of that seemed to matter.

Part-memoir, part-travelogue, and part investigation, “Lean Out” tracks Henley’s journey from the heart of the connected city to the fringe communities that surround it. Tara uncovers a parallel track in which everyday citizens are quietly dropping out of the mainstream and reclaiming their lives from overwork. Underlying these disparate movements is a rejection of consumerism, a growing appetite for social contribution, and a quest for meaningful connection in this era of extreme isolation and loneliness.

Sarah Baxter “Hidden Places”
Sarah Baxter is an author and journalist. She was Associate Editor of Wanderlust Magazine, the bible for independent-minded travelers, for more than 10 years and has written extensively on walking and travel for a diverse range of other publications. Baxter has also contributed to more than a dozen Lonely Planet guidebooks.

In “Hidden Places,” through Baxter’s eyes, you will wander off the beaten track to uncover the world’s most secret destinations. This includes discovery of an ancient gateway to the Mayan underworld, a mysterious underwater monument sunken off the Ryukyu Islands in Japan and a prehistoric village covered for centuries by a huge sand dune in the Orkney Islands. Expect to simultaneously learn and be entertained.

Kristi Charish “Voodoo Shanghai”
The third and final installment in Kristi Charish’s thrilling urban fantasy series, “Voodoo Shangai” finds beloved heroine and voodoo practitioner Kincaid Strange shanghaied away from Seattle and pursuing the ghost of a serial killer in Portland. Just when Kincaid Strange thinks her life is back on-track and she’s finally put her time as a paranormal practitioner with the Seattle PD to rest, her ex (and Seattle cop) Aaron asks her for help with yet another strange and ominous case.

“Voodoo Shanghai” aside, Kristi Charish is one of the famous novelists of America. Apart from being a successful author, Charish is also a co-host of the “Adventures In The Sci-Fi Publishing” podcast.

Derek Sandhaus “Drunk In China”
“Drunk in China” — as subtitled “Baijiu & The World’s Oldest Drinking Culture” was released in November 2019 and won the 2020 Gourmand Award in Spirits. “Drunk In China” follows Derek Sandhaus’s journey of discovery into the world’s oldest drinking culture. He travels throughout the country and around the globe to meet with distillers, brewers, snake-oil salesmen, archaeologists, and ordinary drinkers. He examines the many ways in which alcohol has shaped Chinese society and its rituals. He visits production floors, karaoke parlors, hotpot joints, and speakeasies.

Sandhaus is also a co-founder of the Ming River Sichuan Baijiu and author of “Baijiu: The Essential Guide To Chinese Spirits,” the first English-language book on the subject. A smart gentleman, to say the very least..

Paul Rees “The Ox: The Authorized Biography Of The Who’s John Entwistle”
Simply put, author Paul Rees has written the definitive, no-holds-barred biography of John Entwistle, The Who’s legendary bass guitarist. In the 18 years since the untimely passing of Entwistle, the bassist remains an enigmatic yet undeniably influential figure. However, many of unlike his fellow influential musicians, Entwistle has yet to be the subject of a major biography until Rees got on the case.

For the first time, and with the full cooperation of the Entwistle family, “The Ox” shines a long overdue light on one of the most important figures in rock history. Drawing on his own notes for an unfinished autobiography that he started before his death in 2002, as well as his personal archives and interviews with his family and friends, “The Ox” gives readers a never-before-seen glimpse into the two very distinct poles of John Entwistle. On the one hand, he was the rock star incarnate-larger than life, self-obsessed to a fault, and proudly and almost defiantly so.

Extravagant with money, Entwistle famously shipped vintage American cars across the Atlantic without having so much as a driver’s license, built exponentially bigger and grandiose bars into every home he owned, and amassed an extraordinary collection of possessions. But beneath this fame and flutter, he was also a man of simple tastes and traditional opinions. “The Ox” explores all of that and plenty more.

S. Theresa Dietz “Complete Language Of Flowers”
For centuries, symbolic flower meanings have fascinated readers, writers, poets, and suddenly smitten couples alike. Extremely popular during the Victorian era, these floriographies flourished and versed the public on the hidden meaning of popular flowers like peonies (bashfulness) and tulips (passion).

In turn, “The Complete Language Of Flowers” is a comprehensive dictionary for over 1,001 flower species. The 20+ years of ongoing research put into the subject of floriography symbolism and powers by author S. Theresa Dietz were driven onward by her fascination with all things magical and mysterious, along with her deep abiding love of all trees, plants and flowers.

Along with a visual depiction, each entry by Dietz provides the flower’s name, characteristics, and historic meanings from mythology, medieval legends, folklore, and flower poetry. Coupled with stunning full-color illustrations, this beautiful reference is a must-have for gardeners, florists, and flower enthusiasts. Priced around the same amount as a nice bouquet, yet this beautiful-looking book is bound to last far longer on your display shelf.

Jenny Boyd “Jennifer Juniper”
Raised in Kenya, Jenny Boyd and her sister Pattie were among London’s top fashion models and witnessed the evolving British music scene firsthand. As Beatle George Harrison’s sister-in-law — 

and later Eric Clapton’s as wel — Jenny Boyd accompanied The Beatles on their well-documented trip to India to study meditation, worked in The Beatles’ London shop Apple, helped run a clothing boutique in San Francisco’s North Beach during the momentous “Summer of Love,” and became part of the chaotic 1970’s traveling circus that was Fleetwood Mac while married to the band’s Mick Fleetwood (twice).

Her journey to find her own sense of self and creative ability makes her story both captivating and inspiring. “Jennifer Juniper” comes out on March 26 via Urbane Publications. Boyd will launch the book in the U.S. at the annual New York Metro Fest for Beatles Fans from March 27-29 and will be in the U.S. until early May 2020.

Janet Devlin “My Confessional”
Five years in the making and preceded by three successful singles, the time has finally arrived for Irish singer/songwriter Janet Devlin to unveil her stunning new concept album “Confessional” in tandem with the publication of her astonishing autobiography “My Confessional.” A 46,000-word companion piece, “My Confession” is a rollercoaster of powerful emotions, with each chapter running parallel to the singer’s life.

Noted Devlin in a prepared statement: “Taking this album, and the book on tour will be the final piece of this massive puzzle. I’m looking forward to bringing my experiences of hope and survival out to the people who may need to hear it and hopefully feel empowered and supported. We need to begin having more conversations, start a debate and look these issues straight in the face. That’s what this whole idea of ‘confession’ has been about: to show people that no matter how dark your life can get, there is always a light to aim for.”

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