I call 2020 the Year of Abandoned books.
On top of everything else, COVID-19 also affected my reading habits. At first, I could barely read at all. Then I gravitated toward easy, fluffy reads, totally abandoning nonfiction to go read a novel. I ended the year with a plethora of psychological thrillers—not my usual genre!
But in between almost every book I finished, there were a handful I let go after the first few chapters.
I suppose my patience dwindled when I thought the world was ending. Not that I thought the world was actually ending…but you know what I mean. 😉
Thankfully, every abandoned book freed up more time to discover new authors and stories.
5-Star Reads of 2020
Out of 43 books (fewer than last year), I gave a five-star rating to 5 of them–all fiction. Most fall into that psychological genre I mentioned earlier. So if reading unexpected twists is your jam, you’ll love the following recommendations.
But don’t worry, I’ve also sprinkled a delightful royal series, a couple self-help books, and historical fiction in there as well! So scan the list below and go read a novel!
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
What do a kidnapped teenager, a quirky math tutor, and a charming stranger have in common? As you read, you will spend the entire book trying to find out.
I loved how the author jumped from storyline to storyline as you work to piece the past and present together. In fact, this trend defines many of my recommended books. I think this particular structure keeps plot lines interesting and moving quickly!
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
I had a really hard time putting down this thriller. I read it in two days. Why is this woman is so intent on stalking her ex-husband and “her replacement”!?
This chilling thriller follows a tangled web of characters…each with their own peculiar motives. You will make assumptions as you read. Assume NOTHING. Because those assumptions will be wrong no matter what.
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Amber wakes up in the hospital, but she can’t move…or speak. She’s in a coma with enough brain function to realize that she’s lost her memory, and she can’t shake the uncanny feeling that someone wanted to hurt her.
Every few chapters my eyes popped wide open as the author peeled away more and more layers, with childhood diaries playing a pivotal role. This thriller is amazingly well-written with twists and turns no one can predict. Move it to the top of your TBR list STAT!
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
This book starts off slow, but you will learn to love this emotional coming-of-age story. I just adored Leni’s character. She defied the odds of a broken family while navigating the cruelty of the Alaskan wilderness.
Some say the entire book was depressing, but I prefer the terms “raw and realistic.” This is my first Kristin Hannah book, but it won’t be my last!
The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes
This time period is not my usual genre, but I trusted a friend’s recommendation enough to crack open the first page. She didn’t steer me wrong.
Jojo Moyes brilliantly weaves a love story that surpasses time…and timing as you bounce back and forth between the year 2003 and the 1960’s, following a woman who loses her memory and discovers old letters secreted away inside her home…written by a man who is not her husband.
4-Star Reads of 2020
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
- American Royals & Majesty by Katharine McGee
- America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
- Abraham: One Nomad’s Amazing Journey of Faith by Charles Swindoll
- Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
- Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers
- How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
- Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen
- Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt
3-Star Reads of 2020
- Shard of Glass by Emily Deady
- Didn’t See That Coming by Rachel Hollis
- The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
- A Change of Heart by Jordan Kimberly Rae
- On Writing Well by William Zinsser
- The Princess Trials by Cordelia Castel
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- Followers by Megan Angelo
- All That’s Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment by Hannah Anderson
- The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
- The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
- Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews
- Flipping into Amazon FBA by Wes Davis
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
2-Star Reads of 2020
- Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
- A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson
This Year’s Abandoned Books
Like I mentioned before, there were quite a few titles I did not finish this year. I’m never afraid to stop reading a book if it doesn’t live up to the hype and isn’t worth the time I’d invest in finishing it.
So this is me giving you permission to do the same!
- The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
- Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
- Accidental Presidents by Jared Cohen
- Point of View by Elizabeth Hasselback
- The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
- The Lakotas and the Black Hills by Jeffery Ostler
Plus a few others that I didn’t write down because, obviously, they were not that memorable!
Side Note: I was disappointed to find that whenever I started a historical non-fiction book, I could not read it without falling asleep. If you have any recommendations for historical books that don’t read like actual history textbooks, I’d love to try them! Comment below!
Is one of your goals this year to read more (or more intentionally?)? You also might be interested in How to Know What to Read Next (Every Time).
How I Track My Reading
I track all of my books on Goodreads so I can see my progress toward my reading goal (and house all of my many lists!), but this year I also added a page in my bullet journal called “Books By Month.”
I wanted to know which months were my best reading months, as well as how many books I read via various mediums:
- Borrowed from the library via Overdrive
- Read through Kindle Unlimited
- Owned myself
- Borrowed from a friend
This Books by Month layout became very popular on Instagram, so this year, I created a printable version to add to The Brainbook Printable Library. Grab yourself a membership if you’d like this printable and over one hundred more!
If you’re looking to read a novel soon, I hope you enjoy picking up some of these books yourselves, especially if our literary styles are a match made in heaven.
Want to see my newest booklist? Here are my favorite reads for 2021.
What was your favorite book from 2020?
Did you struggle with reading this year like I did?
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