News & Opinion

The 2020 Porchlight Personal Development & Human Behavior Book of the Year

Blyth Meier

December 31, 2020


We will be announcing the overall winner of the 2020 Porchlight Business Book Awards on January 14. Until then, we are taking a look back at the books in contention for the award. Today, we have the books in the Personal Development & Human Behavior category, and a look inside the one we chose as the best among them.

As we come the end of this most unusual year, the refrain I most hear is: “The winter is going to be hard.” Even with a vaccine on our doorstep, we all know the next several months will still challenge us with longer stretches of isolation than previously imagined. The cold and snow will create even more separation between many of us and our neighbors, friends, family, and the strangers that usually float in and out of our days. 

The best books 2020 had to offer in the Personal Development & Human Behavior category can help. The runners up this year were:

And the 2020 Personal Development & Human Behavior Book of the year is Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May, Riverhead Books


Katherine May’s Wintering is just the loving guide we need to gently redirect our thoughts, create new habits of kindness, and walk with a grounded determination through this most difficult time. We don’t need to be fervently productive right now, or reconfigure our time management tools. What we do need is to be kinder to ourselves and others. We need to learn how to keep going in the face of it all. And, most importantly, we need to be able to spot our own personal times of wintering coming across the horizon, and discover how to move through them without paralysis. May’s book provides a season’s worth of survival strategies to shed new light on old habits, from the unexpected pleasures of winter swimming to the hopeful greeting of the post-solstice dawn to mark the turning of the year. Her tenderly observed stories and beautiful use of the language will surely reframe the season for her readers. 

Here’s to hoping this time of global suffering will allow a more compassionate spirit to shine through on the other side. Even though we have all walked different paths in 2020, they have all been paths strewn with rocks and fallen trees. We have seen the world we know fall apart in bad and good ways, and from that wreckage we will build something new together. Or as May says: “We, who have wintered, have learned some things. We sing it out like birds. We let our voices fill the air.”

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