Best Reads of 2020 (Plus Runners Up, Surprises, and a Few Audiobooks)

It's getting close to midnight here on New Year's Eve and I'm trying to keep myself awake (while not watching The Hobbit with my son and husband, since reading it once was enough Tolkien to last me a lifetime). I'm determined, though- I a seeing this bitch to the door. Good riddance, 2020.

I did manage to meet my Goodreads goal of 73 books a few hours ago, sealing the deal with a few hours to spare. Guess that what means? Yup. Lots of stats, lists, and, of course, my top ten of the year.

If I am being honest, I am deeply disappointed in myself that I didn't surpass 73, since I read 72 last year and was ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO GO PLACES. It feels like I should have had oodles of extra time to read in excess, comparatively, but I guess I chose to doomscroll, try to distract my son from the fact that he never gets to hang out with kids his own age, and deal with a puppy (all three things not being quite so relevant in 2019). I know we're supposed to be "gentle" with ourselves while we sit in a bubble bath having "me time," but that's not how I roll. I have a long list of grievances with myself from 2020, but we won't go there tonight. Where we'll go: all the books. 

2020 Stats:

73 books
22,977 pages (63 pages/day)

Fiction: 46 books
Nonfiction: 27 books

Female authors: 48
Male authors: 27

BIPOC authors: 22

A Few Good Audiobooks (not counted in my yearly total of 73):
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
One Life by Meghan Rapinoe

Some Good Surprises
Misery by Stephen King
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell 
Portage: A Family, A Canoe, and the Search for the Good Life by Sue Leaf

Some Bad Surprises
The Cactus League by Emily Nemens
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (sorrrrryyyyyy)
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes (Elissa Sloan)

And now, the moment we've been waiting for... 
Top Ten of 2020 (in no particular order)

1. The Body: A Guide for Inhabitants by Bill Bryson Bryson thoroughly discusses every component of the body in his typical "I can make pocket lint fascinating" style. 
2. Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell Mitchell can do no wrong, as far as I'm concerned. This kaleidoscopic novel details the rise and fall of a British rock band that offers a stellar story told is flawless prose. 
3. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado This book was deeply disturbing for me, making it a tough read. That being said, the response garnered my immediate respect. 
4. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong This novel is intense, heartbreaking, and written impeccably.
5. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett Bennett is a great writer, as we see once again in her sophomore novel, but the story kept me interested from the first page to the last.
6. Portage: A Family, A Canoe, and the Search for the Good Life by Sue Leaf I read this in the early summer when I should have been getting ready to go on a trip, so I deeply appreciated Leaf's way of making her canoeing adventures so vivid and reflective. 
7. Writers & Lovers by Lily King I loved King's last novel, but this one coupled novel writing and restaurant life, which are two topics I love to read about. 
8. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell This was the first book I read of the year and I still think about it to this day. A family owns an alligator theme park in the swamps of Florida and have to work to save it, and their family. There's a massive twist at the end that I didn't see that totally rocked my world. 
9. Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl This is one of my favorite memoirs of all-time, as Reichl's recounting of her time as editor of Gourmet magazine is a perfect blend of food, publishing, and New York City.
10. Rodham by Curtiss Sittenfeld- This fictional account of what Hillary's life would have been if she would have passed on Bill amused me to no end. I thought Sittenfeld totally nailed Clinton and was fascinated playing the "what if" myself. 

Runners Up:
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 
- Make it Scream, Make it Burn by Leslie Jamison
- Me by Elton John
- Lost Children Archive by 
- The Rise of the Ultra Runners by Adharanand Finn

All 73:


  1. Weirdly enough, I read 73 books in 2020 too, although I had no goal. And I also felt like "why didn't I read more, it was a pandemic and I wasn't doing anything!!" Unlike you, I actually read LESS than in 2019 - shame!! We should give ourselves a break, though... obviously some part of our psychology needed the doomscrolling and binge-watching (well, all the binge-watching was me, not you).

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