A finished reading 33 books this year. To some bookworms, that might not seem like a lot but that’s a pretty good number for me and I’m proud of it. I read a combination of physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks. I also read a lot of great books this year but these 10 were my very favorites. Keep in mind that I don’t limit myself to reading only new releases so a lot of these are not from 2020.
My Favorite Non-Fiction of 2020
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou (2018)
When the pandemic first struck my home province, my husband and I were sharing an office at home for the first time ever. Finding an audiobook that suits my tastes and his is a little tricky so I was excited to find Bad Blood available via my local library’s digital collection. I’d seen the documentary based on the book so I was familiar with Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos before… but holy crap. The documentary just skims the top of a very deep and twisted tale of fraud, lies, tech, and money. Fantastic book. You can read my full review over here.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez (2019)
Looking to get infuriated by an unfair world? Just read a few pages of Caroline Criado Perez’s excellent and rage-inducing book like I did. Meticulously researched, Invisible Women looks at several facets of daily life designed around only half the population, ignoring the needs, health, and safety of women. Read my full review here.
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson (2020)
My feelings about this book are complicated. It really was a phenomenal read, I won’t deny that. However, Larson paints Churchill as a flawless (albeit a bit eccentric) hero to all and doesn’t mention his many harmful actions towards and racist beliefs about non-whites, giving an extremely narrow view of the wartime prime minister. I repeat: I really did love reading this book, but it was a tainted enjoyment. You can read my full review over at The Lazy Historian.
My Favorite Fiction of 2020
The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan (2017)
This novel checked so many boxes for me. WWII historical fiction, Blitz drama, family and friend conflict, quaint English village, multiple points of view, women realizing they are stronger than they ever thought possible. Check, check, check. The audiobook even includes a few musical bits of a women’s choir singing which was a really nice touch. You can check out my review here.
Daughter of the Reich by Louise Fein (2020)
This was my favorite new release of 2020. Daughter of the Reich is beautifully written and heartbreaking. It’s 560 pages but I finished the audiobook quickly because I just did not want to stop listening. And yes, there were tears. Read my full review here.
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (2016)
I’ve been meaning to read Jane Steele for ages and finally got my butt in gear this year. I really shouldn’t have delayed so long. What I thought might be a lazy knockoff of Jane Eyre was an exceptionally great book. Faye’s prose are outstanding—truly beautiful. I adored the combination of 19th century etiquette and knife-wielding ladies. Really fun. Read my review here.
To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters (2020)
This regency romance novel is real spicy in all of the best ways. It was so much fun and frustrating in a delicious OHMYGOD-JUST-MAKE-OUT-ALREADY sort of way. Delightful and saucy. You can check out my review here.
The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham (2019)
Italy wasn’t on my bucket list before reading The Secret Messenger but it certainly is now. This WWII novel takes you to the canals of Nazi-occupied Venice and its underground antifascist rebellion. Exciting and suspenseful, this was a great read. Read my full review here.
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel (2020)
This was another WWII-based historical fiction novel that made me cry. Follow the lead characters as they help Jews escape Nazi-occupied France, putting their own lives and futures at risk. Hard on the emotions but one hell of a great book. Full review can be found here.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2017)
Daisy Jones & the Six was one of my very favorite books I read last year so I wanted to check out one of Jenkins Reid’s other novels. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is told in a very similar style but only tells the story from one point of view instead of several different angles. It’s an interesting way to tell a story but in a way, I feel like this novel was a warmup to the pure excellence that Daisy Jones would become after. A must-read if you love old Hollywood glamour and drama of cinema’s early days. You can read my full review over here.