• Andrew G. Cooper

All the Plays and Books I Read in 2020 (and My Top Ten Recommendations)

So 2020 was a hell of a year. And 2021 is already shaping up to be much better! Two weeks ago I made my annual theatre review post ranking the top productions I saw in the year. I didn't see as many plays as I usually do (you know, the whole global pandemic thing) but did that leave me more time to read more plays and books?


Well...no. I was still busy working full-time for the first time in...many years. So between my artistic practice and producing full-time, even during a pandemic, I didn't read as much as I would like. However, I did get some great reading done and I'd like to share what I read in over the last twelve months.


I've been doing those theatre reviews for a few years now and I've decided 2020 is the perfect time to add to the ranks, so I'm now going to share all the books and plays that I read last year!


I have a loose goal to read 52 plays a year (one a week) and 26 books a year (about one every two weeks). In 2020 I very close to filling those quotas, thank you very much. I should note that I count audiobooks, audio play readings, as well as typical "word" books/plays. Since this is my first jump in, I'm not going to rate the whole list, but treat this more like a snapshot of what my year was like.


So here are all the books I read in 2020 in chronological order. I'll let the list speak for itself in terms of my tastes:

  1. Notes on Directing by Frank Hauser, Russel Reich

  2. The Tower of Swallows by Andrzej Sapkowsku

  3. The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

  4. Fundamentals of Directing by Rick Knowles

  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  6. The Green Thumb Collection: Plays for Children, Youth, and Young Adults edited by Green Thumb Theatre

  7. True and False: Heresy and Common Sense for the Actor by David Mamet

  8. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

  9. Mouse Guard: Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales by David Petersen

  10. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allen Poe

  11. The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku

  12. Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey

  13. The Art of the Turnaround: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Arts Organizations by Michael M. Kaiser

  14. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

  15. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

  16. Billions & Billions by Carl Sagan

  17. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

  18. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

  19. The Lady of the Lake by Andrzej Sapkowski

  20. You Win or You Die: The Ancient World of Game of Thrones by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov

  21. The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

  22. The Illustrated World of Tolkien by David Day

  23. When I Grow up by Emma Dodd

  24. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs

Since I know you're dying to ask, yes I'll give you some recommendations. Here are my top five picks from last year for books:

  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

  2. The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

  3. Billions & Billions by Carl Sagan

  4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

  5. The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman


And here is the list of plays I read in 2020. I should also note that some of these plays I read for work and some of them are from audiobooks/podcasts so they may be unpublished. Once again, glean from it what you will:

  1. Donny's Brain by Rona Munro

  2. Mustard by Kat Sandler

  3. King Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare

  4. Please Continue by Frank Basloe

  5. The Boy in the Moon by Emil Sher, based on the book by Ian Brown

  6. Photograph 51 by Anna Siegler

  7. Blind Spot by Meghan Gardiner

  8. King Henry VI, Part II by William Shakespeare

  9. King Henry VI, Part III by William Shakespeare

  10. Mistatim by Erin Shields

  11. Instant by Erin Shields

  12. Richard II by William Shakespeare

  13. Crawlspace by Karen Hines

  14. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

  15. Local Diva by Liam Salmon

  16. The Two Gentleman of Verona by William Shakespeare

  17. The Hobbit by Kim Selody, based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkein

  18. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

  19. Things You Shouldn't Say After Midnight by Peter Ackerman

  20. Suspension by Hayley Moorhouse

  21. King John by William Shakespeare

  22. Prime: A Practical Breviary by Heather Christian

  23. Gather by Robert O'Hara

  24. Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire

  25. The Message by Mac Rogers

  26. Outtakes by Qui Nguyeb

  27. Behind the Sheet by Charly Evon Simpson

  28. The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

  29. A Dangerous View by Krista Marushy

  30. Lola, Nanay, Anak by Maggie Mackenzie and Kodie Rollan

  31. The Folly by Madeline Hunter Smith

  32. The Xeno Station by Krista Marushy

  33. NIGHTNIGHT by Lucas Hnath

  34. Cowgirl Up by Anna Chatterton

  35. The Explorers Club by Nell Benjamin

  36. Carried Away on the Crest of a Wave by David Yee

  37. Venus in Fur by David Ives

  38. Boy Factory by Milo Cramer

  39. The Edge of Night by Kristen Childs

  40. Take D Milk, Nah? by Jivesh Parasram

  41. Niitahtaastsi (The Rivers) by Troy Emery Twigg

  42. Don't Get Me Startered by Mark Crawford

  43. Raking Light by Jordan Tannahill

  44. Of Human Bondage by Vern Thiessen

  45. Einstein's Gift by Vern Thiessen

  46. The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble by Beth Graham

  47. Struck by Eric Rose

  48. A Brotherhood of Man by Constantine X. Anastasakis

  49. Angels in America: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner

  50. Angels in America: Pereskroika by Tony Kushner

  51. Act Without Words I by Samuel Becket

  52. 887 by Robert LePage, translated by Louisa Blair

  53. Diving by Margaret Hollingsworth


You want to read more plays in 2021, don't you? I bet you do! So here are five recommendations for plays for you to read:


  1. Einstein's Gift by Vern Thiessen

  2. Venus in Fur by David Ives

  3. Of Human Bondage by Vern Thiessen

  4. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare

  5. Angels in America Parts I and II by Tony Kushner

Also, it's not on this list but I would be remiss if I didn't add that I think you should read my adaptation of Frankenstein. You can purchase the script though Canada Play Outlet here.


And that's it for this year! I am now officially done with 2002! I'd love to hear what you all recommend for reading from last year. Leave a comment below or shoot me a message on twitter. As you can guess, I'm always on the search for new books and plays to read. Now it's time to dive into 2021 and get to reading (and listening) all over again! Happy Reading to all of you!