A Book About Current Events: Picks for the TPL Reading Challenge 2020

October 22, 2020 | Nalini

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When the TPL Reading Challenge staff team finalized the 2020 categories last year, we had no idea current events would be... what's the word?... unprecedented. 

So much has happened this year. Here are some recent topics we've been reading about.


Rising Strong by Brené Brown

2020 has been a challenge for most of us. This book by Brené Brown, a professor and researcher in social work, shares stories of resilience and emotions, and how to be brave during times of struggle and strife.


Had It Coming by Robyn Doolittle | Penguin Random House Canada

Had It Coming: What's Fair in the Age of #MeToo? by Robyn Doolittle

Robyn Doolittle, a reporter with the Globe and Mail, investigated how Canadian police handled sexual assault cases for two years. This book picks up where that investigation ended. It's about women, assault, consent and trauma in the period of the #MeToo movement.


The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power: Cole, Desmond:  9780385686341: Books - Amazon.ca

The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole

Journalist, activist, and author Desmond Cole chronicles a full year's worth of struggles against racism in Canada. Cole questions the government, legal, and law enforcement systems of Canada, revealing the harassment, intimidation, and violence Black Canadians face. He also recognizes the struggles the Indigenous people of Canada face. This is truly a recommended read for everyone in Canada.

– Nalini, Senior Branch Head


Cover image of Intimations : six essays

Intimations: Six Essays by Zadie Smith

I'm a huge fan of Smith's writing style and was excited to find out that she was publishing a collection of essays this year. In Intimations, Smith shares her thoughts and reflections of the life-changing events of 2020, and the many emotions roused from life during lockdown.

– Sarah, Assistant Branch Head


Solved: How the World's Great Cities Are Fixing the Climate Crisis: Miller,  David, McKibben, Bill: 9781487506827: Books - Amazon.ca

Solved: How the World's Great Cities are Fixing the Climate Crisis by David Miller

I haven't read it yet, but I'm excited to read former Toronto Mayor David Miller's new book. I'll take whatever hope I can get right now...

– Wendy, Digital Content Lead


How Simon Doonan Wrote The Complete History Of Drag

Drag: the Complete Story by Simon Doonan

Drag is definitely having a moment in popular culture. Millions are watching RuPaul’s Drag Race (and the various spin-offs!), and not just members of the queer community. So while this book is a fascinating look at the new and now of Drag, it also explores the roots! I found it absolutely fascinating and the imagery to be striking, beautiful and thought-provoking.

This would also work for a book about history!

– Amy, Communications Officer


Cover image of What Kids Did : Stories of Kindness and Invention in the Time of COVID-19.

What Kids Did: Stories of Kindness and Invention in the Time of Covid-19 by Erin Silver

This is such an inspiring book and talks about what children did all over the world to help people in their community during the pandemic. 

– Rosanna, Public Service Assistant

The Hate U Give: Amazon.ca: Thomas, Angie: Books

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Although it was published in 2017, it is more relevant now than ever. From minor to major events in the story, it brings awareness and perspective to what's happening in the world. As a reader, you can be brave vicariously or be motivated to learn more and do more. There's also the film from 2018, but I haven't seen it yet.

– M.T., Branch Head


Cover image of The meaning of Matthew : my son's murder in Laramie, and a world transformed

The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie and a World Transformed by Judy Shepard

This book is about an older event: the murder of Matthew Sheppard, written by his mother, Judy. It is still tragic and relevant 22 years later. I thought about him when I saw this Advocate article and his mother's message to Supreme Court nominee and conservative judge, Amy Coney Barrett. It does feel like things are going backwards in the US and history – even recent events – helps provide caution and warning. Hopefully there are people listening.

– Ab, Manager (Innovation)


Cover image of Son of a trickster

The Trickster Trilogy by Eden Robinson

This trilogy bridges youth and adult audiences, and has recently been adapted as a CBC Gem series, lead by a primarily Indigenous cast and crew. Son of a Trickster is the first in the series, followed by Trickster Drift. The last book, Return of the Trickster, will be published in 2021.

– Michelle, Manager (Rare Books and Archives)


Humankind: A Hopeful History: Bregman, Rutger, Moore, Erica, Manton,  Elizabeth: 9780316418539: Books - Amazon.ca

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

I hear Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman is... well, hopeful. He uses history and biology to assert that really humans aren't that awful, although he does acknowledge the dark sides of humanity too. 

– Margaret, Librarian


Cover image of All are welcome

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

There are so many great picture books being published about community, inclusion and love (is love is love is love). All of Us by Carin Berger, Everybody's Somewhere by Cornelia Maude Spellman, The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates, All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, and We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands by Rafael Lopez. There also great to read to ensure little ones (and ourselves) that even though we are all apart right now, we are still together.

Katherine, Library Assistant


Recommendations from the Facebook Group

These are just some of the recommendations from our Facebook TPL Reading Challenge 2020 discussion group.



We'll be hosting an online discussion for this category, along with "a book about climate change" on Wednesday, November 18 from 4 - 5:30 pm. Everyone is welcome! And if you miss the event, we'll be having another virtual TPL Reading Challenge event in December.

Which current event has captured your interest? Do you have other book recommendations? Share in the comments below!