Below I share the 10 best books I read last year, in 2020.

I usually have no problem reading about a book a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. Until lockdown reading was like eating and breathing. If I didn’t find some time to read each day I would soon get grumpy and restless.

2020 however, has been different.

Why I didn’t read as much in 2020

You would have thought with national lockdowns, and ridiculous amounts of time on our hands, that reading would go through the roof. I should have had no problem hitting my one book a week target.

But for some reason, reading was difficult in 2020!

Perhaps it was the anxiety, the constant worry of what was going on in the world. My brain has been on overdrive, but not often about the right things. Worry, self sabotage, Covid anxiety, work or lack of work fears…

Maybe it was the lack of travel. I certainly didn’t spend much time on trains after March, which was where I did most of my reading.

Or it could have been my proximity to the TV at all times, which last year seemed to always win over reading.

I had more time last year than ever before, but only read about 25 books. Less than half my usual amount. There were a fair few started and lost interest books too. My mind just could not focus. Anything slightly hard going or non fiction just was not the one this year!

I wanted easy ‘drift away to another life’ reading. Easy reads were, in the main, the only thing that stuck!

Did you have difficulty focusing on reading this year?

So without further delay, here are the books I DID manage to read this year, or at least my top 10!

This post contains affiliate links and I will get a small commission if you buy from me link. At no extra cost to you. Small independent bookshops will also get a percentage of profits too.

The Best Books I Read in 2020

The best books I read in 2020

These aren’t in any particular order, I couldn’t chose a favourite. To be honest, it’s been hard to even remember even my favourite books. My mind just hasn’t been in it.

This year will be different though and I am almost finished with my first book of 2021 already.

The Giver of Stars – Jojo Moyes

I absolutely loved this book. I bought it for my sister and then mum read it too and both loved it. I knew I had to give it a go.

It was a beautiful mix of forbidden love, unlikely friendships and the power of books to change people and bring communities together. I highly recommend for a feel good read.

The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

Another brilliant book that had me hooked from the start.

A really interesting look at race and identity, as it follows the lives of twins who take their lives in very different directions. The book is set across 5 decades and shares the ups and downs of different relationships over the twin’s lives.

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

I really want to start each of my reviews with LOVED THIS BOOK! But seriously if I did have a winner for the year it would probably be this one. That said I can’t remember if I read it at the start of 2020 or the end of 2019, but hey who’s counting.

Nature, relationships, life. The descriptions, the characters, the locations… loved it all! Read it now!

Away with the Penguins – Hazel Prior

Anything that involves the Antarctic and penguins is an instant yes from me. I ‘might’ have said this before, but, my dad lived in the Antarctic for two years before I was born and I was brought up on stories of penguins and life in the middle of nowhere! So this book instantly jumped out from the shelves and I loved every moment of it.

A grumpy rich old woman finally finds her long lost relative and somehow ends up in the Antarctic annoying the researchers. It’s an easy read, a feel good friend and just what you need on long winter nights to keep you company.

The Stationery Shop of Tehran – Marjan Kamali

If you’re not seeing a theme already, anything that involves love, books and different countries wins my vote.

Another story of forbidden love, a book (and stationery) shop and secret adventures large and small. It is in equal parts mesmerising and heartbreaking. I love books set in the Middle East too and enjoy learning about different cultures both now and in the past.

Untamed – Glennon Doyle

This book had a lot of hype when it came out and I can see why. The short chapters with unique personal stories, blended with lessons, make it easy to keep reading ‘just one more chapter’ despite it being non-fiction.

That said I am not sure I loved it as much as everyone else seemed to. Perhaps I couldn’t relate to Glennon or the fact that is was part memoir, part self help book didn’t really work for me. Not sure why I put it in my top ten to be honest…

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Attwood

I read this while I was watching the TV series, which was an interesting dynamic. Especially when the TV series goes off on its own crazy tangents and the book comes to an end.

That said I loved them both! Atwood is a legend! Incredible characters and a crazy dystopian world make for a unique novel. I can see why it is such a classic. I have The Testaments, but have been saving it for an indulgent weekend of reading.

Sprint – Jake Knapp

100% non-fiction this book lays out the process of Google Venture’s 5 day sprints. As an Agile Coach there are some similarities and some differences to the types of sprints I am used to.

It’s a great step-by-step guide to running a 5 day sprint to help solve big problems quickly. It’s kinda like Agile on steroids. You really need a good committed team to make it work. I would love to give one of the 5 day sprints a go.

Sabotage – Emma Gannon

A quick easy read to help with self sabotage, something I think we are all capable of. Last year I think I was particularly cruel to myself and this book helped remind me of a few tips to treat myself with kindness and stop sabotaging.

Only takes a couple of hours to read and some good lists to go back to as a reminder when needed too.

Looptail – Bruce Poon Tip

A business book from travel brand, G Adventures Founder, Bruce Poon Tip. This book was written a few years ago and it would be interesting to read an update after this crazy year of NO travel! I love a good business book, especially honest reviews of developing a real life business, rather than generic tips.

Bruce has focused on giving back throughout his business and creating a travel empire through the G brand. I hope they make it through Covid ok! We need more businesses like G Adventures.

So there you have it, the best books I read in 2020. The majority of the other books were easy read fiction books and I probably read two thirds of the 25+ books I read this year in the first 3 months… AKA before Covid!

I hope this year will be more fruitful and I can get back to my one book a week. I already have a big pile of books ready and waiting next to my bed. and with Bookshop.org having launched I am excited to keep supporting small independent bookshops from the comfort of my sofa.

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The best books I read in 2020

2 Comments

  1. I had a goal of reading one book a month, let alone one a week! I managed to read 18 and thought that was good – your 25 put me to shame… I loved Where the Crawdads Sing too – brilliant book.

    • Jen Lowthrop Reply

      18 books is impressive too. It’s not really about the numbers though. As long as you’re enjoying yourself. I tend to just stop reading if I am not enjoying a book. Sometimes you know it’s going to be worth the effort of getting through the first few chapters, but sometimes a book just isn’t worth the time.

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