I’ve always been a voracious reader, and love digging into books from many genres. At the beginning of 2020 I set a personal goal of reading 100 books during the year, and had no idea how much reading would be a necessary escape for me during the long months of quarantine.
I have been keeping track of my books in my paper planner (heyo Golden Coil!), and decided I would write this blog post to have a place to both see the list more easily and share it with you! I’ve marked each title with a star rating 1-5 (★★★★★) so you can easily see my very favorites.
As of posting, there are a couple weeks left in 2020 and I have a stack of books yet to read on my nightstand. I’ll update as I finish through December. Next year I already plan to post as I go onto a master Book List, so you can follow along in real time!
Here is the list of books I have read this year, each with a (very) short review. The next time you’re looking for a good read, jump onto this list and see what catches your eye! ps click on any cover for more info and reviews
Books I’ve Read In 2020:
Little Fires Everywhere ★★★★★
I devoured this thrilling, fictional story, and was engrossed in the characters decisions and secrets the whole time.
The Farm ★★★★
This eye-opening fictional story about gestational carriers for high society families was captivating. I loved it, and it made me think.
Lori is hilarious, transparent, and this non-fiction book feels like a must-read for anyone who feels alone in their sometimes complicated feelings.
Well-paced and entertaining, this fun, contemporary fiction made me laugh, and I enjoyed it for some easy entertainment.
Start With Why ★★★★
I had heard a lot about this non-fiction book, and it lived up to expectations. A deep dive into our purpose is clarifying.
This book was fun and unexpected. An easy, entertaining read with a little bit of whimsy and a little bit of romance.
I was fascinated and saddened by this historical fiction. I was also happy that while not cliche, the ending was satisfying.
Westering Women ★★★★
This is a great historical fiction with strong female characters and a great story of friendships.
An unexpected women’s fiction telling the story of family, love, secrets, and making the best of your unexpected circumstances.
Britt Marie Was Here ★★★★
I listened to this one on Audible and was drawn in immediately to the quirky Britt-Marie. She is easy to root for in this funny and heartwarming fiction.
I’m working on a historical fiction novel as a passion project, and this book was so helpful for understanding the typical story structures and plot lines of traditional fiction. Definitely a must-read for writers.
This was one of my favorite books of the year. A beautiful, lyrical fiction about love, loss, and following your heart.
The Golden Hour ★★★★
I was drawn into this historical fiction based on the gorgeous cover, and ended up really enjoying the interesting storyline, bold protagonist, rich writing, and stage set in WWII Bahamas.
Spiritual Solutions ★★★★★
Although I had heard of Deepak Chopra, this was my first foray into his writing and philosophy. I loved it and his ideology rings so true for me. Great perspective-shifter.
Digital Minimalism ★★★★★
I’m a huge fan of Cal Newport, and this non-fiction is no exception. I found myself evaluating my habits and relationships with technology and creating personal guidelines to better serve my life!
Mr. Nobody ★★★★★
Wow this book was unexpected and so thrilling. A true page-turner for me. I was drawn in and pulled along. It isn’t happy or uplifting, but interesting and fascinating. Great psychological thriller.
Look Both Ways ★★★★
This middle grade fiction tells several, parallel stories of families living all along ten blocks. Each story is interesting and fun to read. Great writing. It doesn’t read like a traditional story, however. Definitely a great starting place to open conversation with your middle grade kids about things they might be going through.
Also a middle grade fiction, this book has been one of my very favorites since I was a teen. This year I read it with my own kids and loved it just as much as ever.
Gabby Bernstein shares the types of thoughts and beliefs that I am working on adopting in my own life. This nonfiction spiritual guidebook is definitely not a deep dive into true mindset change, but offers some hopeful mantras.
This novel was engaging and entertaining, if not totally believable. The author held my curiosity through the whole thing!
Lion Down ★★★★★
We discovered this middle grade Fun Jungle series this year, and all of my kids love them. Fun characters, great mysteries, and silly predicaments. They’ve been fun to read aloud.
American Dirt ★★★★★
This book is steeped in a little controversy for not being authored by an Own Voices author (Jeanine isn’t of Mexican heritage). The ethics of that aside, I really loved the story, captivating writing, and characters in this fiction. I would totally recommend it.
I was gifted this beautiful, coffee table-style book at a conference this year and found myself pleasantly surprised by how fun it was to not only look through, but read! There are some fun recipes and tips in addition to the absolutely breathtaking style.
An insightful and interesting historical memoir of the authors’ grandmother’s life and decisions. I was engaged by the characters, themes, and lively writing.
Just Mercy ★★★★★
Just Mercy is a must read. The real life stories of Black men facing death row for crimes they did not commit are gut wrenching, and Bryan Stevenson shares with such honesty and subtle hope. I loved it.
Girl From Nowhere ★★★★
I was thrilled to finally get to read this fast-paced, spy, YA fiction that I have heard about for years! My friend authored Girl From Nowhere, and the book is engaging, entertaining, and so fun to read. Bonus, my 11-year-old said it’s the best book he’s ever read.
Would Like To Meet ★★★★★
I don’t know what it was about this book, but I absolutely loved it! It is funny and engaging and so well-paced. I wanted to read the sequel. A whole series!
This was a library grab that didn’t quite pan out for me. For whatever reason I couldn’t quite get very deep into the story.
This on made me laugh out loud and cheer for the characters. So well written and such a sweet story.
They Tell Me Of A Home ★★★★★
Dave recommended I read this insightful Southern fiction. I was immediately drawn into the characters, the town, families, and the almost palpable feelings of coming back home.
The Scent Keeper ★★★★★
Erica Bauermeister wrote my very favorite fiction novel so I was excited to read more of her work. This story is interesting, but is is the deliciously descriptive writing that really makes it for me.
Another random library shelf grab, and this one came through! Sweet characters, sweet story.
I am admittedly new to the world of Glennon Doyle (I haven’t read her other books). This one is 100%. I nodded along to the truth she spoke about women being able to BE who they want to BE, and shed some of the social and cultural conditioning. I loved it.
Truly, Madly, Guilty ★★★★
Ah this one took me a few chapters to really get into, but then I was IN. Loved the mystery, the character development, and the unexpected ending.
Modern Lovers ★★★
The truth, I remember reading it, but not much else. I think I enjoyed getting lost for a little while in someone else’s story, but this story just wasn’t that memorable!
Another read aloud Middle Grade Fiction mystery (can you sense my kids have a genre?) This is part of another series that we really enjoy. We have gone on to read all of them!
I liked the voices, characters, and story. I had a hard time wrapping my head around the reality of the circumstances, but it was a fairly fun read.
The Hazel Wood ★★★★★
This one I loved. Anything even slightly scary is normally outside of my comfort zone, but I was really enthralled with the world Albert created in The Hazel Wood. I am already looking forward to the next.
Playing With Matches ★★★★
A friend lent this one to me and I liked it! The story was funny and current, and the writing felt engaging and also breezy. Fun poolside or beach read.
Craft, connection, women’s empowerment all in one novel? I’m in. I loved this story, the women, and wish Walker and Daughter wasn’t a fictional store because I’d like to visit.
Love and Other Words ★★★★
I loved and was rooting for the love in this book. It was a curious and refreshing story of young friendship-turned-love and I didn’t see the twist coming.
The Wedding Date ★★★
I was a little caught off guard by some of the steamier moments in this book. That said I liked the story, loved the characters, and enjoyed reading it.
I have listened to a few interviews with Angela Duckworth and finally dug into this perspective-shifting book. I nodded along as she reminded me of truths that felt so familiar, but that I sometimes forget. Such a great read.
More Myself ★★★★
I love Alicia Keys, and loved this memoir. She is talented and hard working and shared her story and lessons with such grace and generosity.
Kitchen Garden Revival ★★★★★
Guys, did you see my kitchen garden this year? It was all inspired by Nicole and her Kitchen Garden Revival. Although I bought the book after my own backyard garden was built and planted, I love the inspiration images, and simple garden tips.
Radical Compassion ★★★★
We read this one for my digital book club and I didn’t realize how much I needed it. The reminder to slow everything down and get present before creating judgement for myself or others. So good.
Party In My Plants ★★★★★
Talia cracks me up in real life and through the pages of this engaging plant-based cookbook. It’s more like a self-help/memoir/cookbook, full of stories AND recipes. Worth the read, no matter your diet!
White Fragility ★★★★★
I picked this book up in February and didn’t read it until June. When I did, it was a little like a lightbulb turned on. I can see and understand my privilege and responsibility more clearly now, and am continuing to work on my internalized bias and unconscious racism.
I absolutely loved this book. The story was beautiful, and I loved the setting. I was captivated for the two days I listened to it and wished it had gone on longer. So good.
90 Miles To Havana ★★★★★
My 11-year-old and I read this together, and both enjoyed it! I loved the chance to get to talk about Cuba and the Cuban revolution, immigration, and other poignant topics as they came up.
Clean Getaway ★★★★★
I have loved following Nic Stone on Instagram, and finally grabbed a couple of her books. This middle grade fiction is a fun, dynamic story with lovable characters and a clear opportunity to talk to kids about the impact of racism historically and now.
How To Be An Antiracist ★★★★★
Such a well researched, thoughtful, impactful book inviting real change of heart and action. I appreciated the clear invitations for becoming actively antiracist in my everyday life.
One Crazy Summer ★★★★★
Fascinating, engaging, informative, a little bit sweet and a little bit heart wrenching, this book delivers on so many levels. It is written for middle grade, so I loved reading it with my kids and discussing the hilarious sibling dynamics, the “what would you do” and of course the inherent dynamics of race and power.
I was on a race roll in June. This one is another beginner guide to race, racism, and recognizing the systems that uphold it in America. I highly recommend.
Dear Justyce ★★★★
Another Nic Stone, this one has fierce characters and such good dynamics. There was a bit of language and some more adult themes I didn’t expect for a YA fiction. (Then again, it’s been long time since I was a teen?)
When I ordered Stamped, I didn’t realize it was the youth version of the book. I actually loved the candid, conversational discussion of history and race. It was just the right speed for me to stay engaged and feel inspired.
Belong To Me ★★★★
This book delighted me. I loved the audacity of Piper and the cool of Cornelia. It drew me in and I couldn’t put it down for a couple days.
The Vanishing Half ★★★★★
After my sister (and the whole country) recommended this one, I dove in and really enjoyed the honesty and thoughtfulness. The writing felt modern and lovely, and I kept shaking my head in admiration at the plot, relationships, and truths.
Again, a mad grab at the library gave me an interesting, if not totally captivating read. I enjoyed the story and the quirky characters.
Under The Rainbow ★★★★
I was impressed by the unique treatment of the LGBTQ experience, through the lens of a family moving to the most homophobic town in America and crusading for social change and acceptance. I liked the pacing, the interwoven story lines, and wished I could have dug in a little deeper with a few of the characters.
While I loved the premise of weaving together the historical and family characters, I got lost a few times. I pressed on, trying to simply enjoy the story that was being told in each chapter, but overall came away a little confused.
Sex + Vanity ★★★
I’m a Kevin Kwan fan (I read the whole Crazy Rich Asian Series), so it was no surprise that I lost myself in the dynamic and opulent world of this novel. The story wasn’t super believable, but what about this world is to me?
Pretty Things ★★★★
This was a page turner for me from the beginning. I felt so sad for all of the characters and how they try to make up for their own disappointments and dissatisfaction with life. Interesting twists at the end.
As I prepared to homeschool this year, I appreciated the prospected of long-time homeschooling mom Arment. While I don’t take every single suggestion to heart, there is some great encouragement for free range parents.
I really liked this one, despite a few friends saying it was just okay. I am always a little bit drawn to babysitter stories and dynamics, because I did that for so long growing up. These characters were fascinating to me.
I got lost in this the way I got lost in Sliding Doors in high school. It is so interesting to play things out to the. end on both sides of a simple moment. Great stories.
Midnight Sun ★★★
Okay, okay, I couldn’t help myself. I loved Twilight back when the series came out (I’m easy to please…) and it was actually really fun to re-live the familiar story from a different perspective.
My Lady Jane ★★★
I listened to this one after it was highly recommended, and I like it. I had a hard time really getting into it, but once I caught on to the story and characters I really enjoyed the performance.
Another digital book club book, and gosh is it fascinating. I knew connection was important, but reading the research about how we are wired for relationships really emphasized how I need to prioritize them (even in 2020!)
This one had such a sad premise, and told a really thoughtful story about escape and choice and living presently. I really liked it.
Winter in Paradise ★★★★
Elin Hilderbrand writes some of my favorite, light hearted beach reads. This new series is fast and fun and I love it.
Sequel to Winter in Paradise. I loved it and have the third on pre-order.
Hello, Universe ★★★★★
This is a sweet, middle grade fiction that speaks to friendship, bullying, and purpose. I loved the effortlessly diverse cast of characters.
The Identicals ★★★★
I couldn’t wait for the third in the Winter in Paradise series, so I grabbed another Hilerbrand for some lightly romantic escape. Sometimes you just need an easy read.
I loved this book a surprising amount. I had no idea what it was about going in, and was delighted by the depth of the stories and characters.
This is a beautiful tale of how we are all connected, and the small moments matter. I was lost in it and loved it.
The Cuckoo’s Calling ★★★★
I told a friend I had run out of things to read/listen to and she recommended this series. It is gripping and gruesome.
The Silkworm ★★★★
Second in the series. There is a third, but by the end of this one I was ready to move onto lighter, more uplifting stories.
The Self-Driven Child ★★★★★
I think this should be necessary reading for all parents. Such great research and examples of letting our kids figure things out on their own so they can develop the strength of character to succeed.
Winter Garden ★★★★★
I have a little fascination with Russian historical fiction, and the little pieces of that in this beautiful story of mother daughter relationships pulled me in. Great characters, heartbreaking story.
Esperanza Rising ★★★★★
My fourth grader would have been reading this middle grade fiction in school this year, so we read it at home. I really loved the main character development, the story of finding yourself amid change, and of course the themes of culture, immigration, and class.
Really captivating, uncomfortable, and somewhat raw. I had a hard time relating at all to the main character (a sexy, early-twenties black women), so I found myself mostly a rubber-necking bystander of the train-wreck of relationships.
Tales of Magic ★★★★
After a few heavy reads, I wanted something to just sweep me away. This YA fantasy did just that. I liked the intricately woven worlds here, and was excited I could devour the sequel right after I finished.
Tales of Witchcraft ★★★★
Tale number two in the series and the story continued to just delight me. I really loved the development of characters in this second and how we continue to learn from how everyone makes different choices.
The Dance of Anger ★★★★★
Bravo to this book published in 1985!! I read this one with my digital book club and LOVED it. I’ve been thinking about anger differently ever since.
Then She Was Gone ★★★★★
This heartbreaking story sucked me in. The tragedy. The lost-in-plain-sight-ness of it. I wasn’t satisfied by ending, but then I couldn’t have been.
Beach Read ★★★★★
Laugh out loud funny and easy to read, this one. was a perfect escape. For some reason I really love books about writers. I feels a little meta, in a good way. This one is good. (And a little steamy).
I really like the truths that Rachel Hollis teaches. I have enjoyed watching her rise to fame and notoriety from before Girl, Wash Your Face was a bestseller. This one has good points, but the release timing felt a little distracting for me.
Ask Again, Yes ★★★★
Once again I had no idea what I was getting into with this novel, and I loved it so much. It felt real and relatable and so sad but also hopeful.
The Fringe Hours ★★★★
This one I could simply nod along to as I read, because I share so many of the authors views on making space for ourselves as moms. I did wish for a few more actionable bits of advice.
The Wife Between Us ★★★★★
I probably should have seen it coming, but I DIDN’T so I was floored. This is a great, dynamic page-turner that kept me up to finish the next chapter. Call it a relationship thriller.
What Kind Of Woman ★★★★★
After seeing this book of modern women’s poetry float around the ‘gram, and then become an instant New York Times Bestseller, I had to pick up a copy. I read it in one sitting and will go back and back again.
Anger Is A Gift ★★★★★
This tragic, deeply moving YA fiction had me laughing and crying. It examines race, gender, sexual orientation, and class so dynamically and through heartbreaking narrative. The closing line: Stop killing us.
Knit The Season ★★★★
Whiplash back to a fun, holiday story. This one is a sequel to the Friday Night Knitting Club, that I read earlier in the year. I still enjoyed the characters (now older) and the woman power.
Such A Fun Age ★★★★★
Wow I loved this book. I laughed out loud at some of the conversations, they were so relatable. I also loved the treatment of race and power as a central theme without being the only story.
Year Of Yes ★★★★★
This hilariously candid book reads more like a conversation with a good, old friend. I love the premise and the inspiration to really go for it in your life. Fun way to end the year (and begin the next!!)
I had no idea what this book was about when I started listening and was immediately pulled into the candid, heartbreaking, heroic story. Dave and I listened together, laughed and cried.
Lily and the Octopus ★★★★
This story was so unexpected and quirky! I loved the narration, and rooted for the characters, even when it went way off the rails. Great for an entertaining listen on a long drive.