The Best Books I Read in 2020

Monday, January 04, 2021

The Best Books I Read in 2020 | Book Recommendations for 2021 | What To Read in 2021 | A Memory of Us

In 2020, I set a goal to read 60 books. I am an avid reader - a few years ago I set a goal to read 100 books in a year and I actually finished book 100 on NYE. Since I was having a baby in January, I figured 60 would be a stretch. However, I found that I actually got through more books than anticipated because I listened to audiobooks while my son was nursing. It was a great way to entertain myself during the middle of the night. Between that and quarantine, I actually managed to read 84 books this year! I still prefer a physical copy of a book to an audiobook, but listening to books was a nice way to get through a few more books on my "to read" list this year. 

This year I had very few books that I read and really, truly loved. In fact, I only gave one book all year five stars on Goodreads. (Five star books to me are the ones that I pick up my phone after I finish and immediately tell all my friends they need to read.) I was apparently brutal in my Goodreads ratings this year and gave 11 books one star... yikes!  Below are my favorite books I read in 2020, starting first with the only book that I gave 5 stars to in the year. 

What was your favorite book from last year? Let me know in the comments! I kept my reading goal at 60 books for 2021, so I'll be looking for more to add to my list this year! Links below are affiliate links. 

1. After Anna by Lisa Scottoline: After Anna was the sole 5 star recipient for me in all of 2020. It is a mystery/thriller novel. Anna is Maggie's daughter, who she lost custody over after battling postpartum psychosis. Seventeen years later, Anna's father dies and Anna comes to live with Maggie and her new husband, Noah. Things are going smoothly for awhile... until they aren't. Noah thinks Anna is fighting the rules and manipulating the family, but Maggie doesn't see it. Family drama ensues until Anna is murdered and Noah is the number one suspect. The book is told alternating between Maggie and Noah and in reverse order. Maggie is past tense to present day and Noah is present day to past. The difference between the two perspectives keeps you on your toes. The twists and turns kept me guessing throughout. I was able to guess some or part of the twists, but not all! After Anna is the only book in this post I listened to as an audiobook. The rest I had physical copies of the book to read. I do think you get a different impression of a novel based off how you consume it... but I did love this book! 

2. Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine and Killman Creek by Rachel Caine: Stillhouse Lake is a 5 part series all about Gwen Protcor - wife of a serial killer. Book 5 comes out in March 2021 - you can see all 5 books here.) Gina Royal was your average Midwestern housewife. She thought she was in a happy marriage with her husband, Melvin Royal. Until one day, a car crashes into their garage and reveals a house of horrors. In the garage, Melvin tortured and killed women. Gina changes her name to Gwen in an attempt to escape her past. Stillhouse Lake (book #1) starts with Gwen and her kids trying to relocate and live a normal life. However, they can't escape Melvin as they are continually harassed online by Internet Trolls who think she was an accomplice. Eventually, a body turns up in the lake near their house with eerie similarities with Melvin's victims. Gwen fights to clear her name and protect her kids. Killman Creek (book #2) continues on with a similar theme but I cannot get into the description without giving away the ending of book #1.  I read both books so quickly as I always wanted to know what would happen next. I can't wait to read books #3, #4, and #5 in 2021! 

3. The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel: If you are fans of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (one of my all time favorite books), you need to add The Room on Rue Amelie to your list as it is another great story set during World War 2. In this book you follow, Ruby, who lives in Paris and helps with the French resistance.  Ruby helps hide Allied soldiers and pilots who have landed in enemy territory. Ruby's neighbors are Jewish and she also tries to help them as much as she can. Eventually, Ruby falls in love with one of the pilots who she is helping. The story is sad, intriguing, and somehow full of hope all at the same time. This book told a new-to-me story relating to World War 2 and I really enjoyed it. 

4. The Friend Zone and The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez: The Friend Zone is a romantic comedy that tells the story of Kristen and Josh. Kristen is best friends with Sloan. Sloan is getting married and the girls share everything. Except Kristen is keeping a big secret - after the wedding she is getting a medical procedure that is necessary to resolve some health issues she is having. This procedure will make it impossible for her to have children. Josh is the best man in Sloan's wedding. Josh and Kristen meet and are frequently together due to all of the wedding festivities. Josh and Kristen hit it off, but Josh wants a big family. Even though Kristen likes him, she thinks he is better off with someone else because of the secret medical procedure she is about to get. The Happy Ever After Playlist tells the story of Sloan, but I can't get into it without revealing the ending of The Friend Zone. I really enjoyed these books, but some of the reviews do say it is hard to read if you are experiencing infertility. A third book, Life's Too Short, is coming out in this series in April 2021. 

5. The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand: The Perfect Couple is all about a wedding taking place in Nantucket. The groom's parents have spared no expense and the wedding is sure to be the event of the year. Unfortunately, it becomes the event of the year for all the wrong reasons. The maid of honor turns up dead on the day of the wedding.  I started this book thinking it would be a nice, easy "beach read" but it had many twists and turns. Everyone in the wedding party is a suspect. They all have secrets... but are they a murderer? Or did the poor maid of honor just suffer a terrible accident? 

6. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes: Evvie Drake Starts Over is another romantic comedy I read and enjoyed this year. While predictable at times, the characters are likeable and you are rooting for them the entire novel. Evvie was widowed a year ago, after her husband was killed in a car crash. Evvie is still grieving, and hardly leaves the house. Evvie's best friend is Andy. Andy has a childhood friend, Dean, who is a major league baseball player suffering a real career slump. Dean is being attacked by the media, and Andy invites him to come visit. Dean ends up moving into the apartment in back of Evvie's house. What starts as a friendship develops into more as Dean and Evvie both come to terms with their life changes and try to move forward.  A quick read you will love as you root for Dean and Evvie to find their happy ending. 

7. One of Us is Next by Karen McManus: One of Us is Next is the sequel to One of Us is Lying and honestly both are fantastic. You will need to read One of Us is Lying first. In One of Us is Lying, 5 high-schoolers go into detention on a Monday: the smart one, the popular one, the athlete, the outcast, and the troublemaker. Only four kids come out of detention alive. What happened during detention and how did the outcast, Simon, end up dead? Simon ran a gossip website at school. The four surviving students are all suspects as it is soon reveled that the next day, Simon had planned to reveal horrible secrets about the others in detention. Did one of the four surviving students murder Simon to keep him quiet? How did Simon know what he knew? This book keeps your attention and hooks you fast! In One of Us is Next someone is copying Simon and trying to keep his legacy alive. The books are described as "the breakfast club with a criminal twist". They are fast reads as you will continually want to know what happens next! 

8. Verity by Colleen Hoover: Verity is the name of a very popular author with a best-selling book series. An accident leaves her injured and unable to write the remaining books in her contract. Her husband, Jeremy, reaches out to another writer, Lowen, to fulfill the contract in her name. Lowen goes to stay at Verity's home for a few days so that she can go through Verity's notes to start writing the next book. While going through the notes, Lowen stumbles across a manuscript written by Verity that reveals horrible things about her. Lowen starts to develop feelings for Jeremy and struggles with the idea of showing him the manuscript. If she shows him, it would crush him, but would it make Jeremy leave Verity to be with her? A chilling story that even at the end leaves you guessing about the truth about Verity, Jeremy, and the manuscript. 

9. The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda: The Safest Lies tells the story of high-school student Kelsey. Kelsey lives a very sheltered life and was raised to see the danger in every situation. Kelsey's mom was kidnapped when she was younger, and when she escaped she was pregnant with Kelsey. Kelsey and her mom try to keep a low profile as her mom's kidnappers still haven't been caught. Everything changes when Kelsey is a car accident that makes the news. One evening, Kelsey returns home and her mother is missing. Kelsey must save herself, and find her mom, before anything horrible happens to her. A bit predictable at times, but I read it quickly and it kept my attention! 

10. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: American Dirt is all about Lydia Quixano PĂ©rez. Lydia lives in Acapulco, Mexico and runs a bookstore. Lydia strikes up a friendship with a man, Javier, as he shops in her store and they discuss some of their favorite books. Javier is the boss of a drug cartel in Mexico, but Lydia doesn't know that. One day, Lydia's husband publishes an expose on Javier and the drug cartel. From then on their lives are in danger. Lydia and her son, Luca, flee Acapulco in an attempt to get away from Javier after tragedy strikes their family. The book tells their story as they try to outrun the cartel and escape into America. I found this book captivating, but it does have some vastly different opinions on Goodreads. Some people found it to portray a horrible description of what it is like to try to escape a drug cartel, and recommended other more authentic books instead. If nothing else, it is at least sparking conversations about an immigrant's experience. 

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