nut free nerd

thoughts of a nut allergic book lover

The best books I read in 2020

I thought making this list would be easy. Yet this year has gone by so quickly in hindsight (and so, so slowly in the moment) that somehow I forgot just how many fantastic books I read this year. In the midst of everything that became 2020, I managed to read 70 books, several of which have stuck with me through these chaotic, messy months. Here, in the order that I read them, are my favorites of the 2020 bunch:

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. Reading this book of letters between a reader (Hanff) and a bookseller felt like reading a book that someone crafted just for me. It truly is a mix of all my favorite things: books about books, a memoir-like feel, letters, and a nostalgic connection with England (hello, Oxford! I miss you!). I know that this is a book I’ll come back to time and time again in the future, especially when I need to be cheered up or comforted. Definitely a new all-time favorite read. {My review}

Sourdough by Robin Sloan. I listened to this audiobook on a whim, not quite sure what to expect. A few hours of listening later, I was completely enthralled. Sourdough is charming and bizarre and unexpectedly inspirational. If you ever need a little pep talk to go out there and do what you’re truly passionate about, then this is the novel for you. {My review}

The Falconer by Dana Czapnik. This book was gifted to me by a very dear friend for my birthday last year, and I finally got around to reading it this year. I distinctly remember reading it in my bed and absolutely breaking down into tears during one specific scene. I truly wish this book had been around when I was in high school and early college. It perfectly captures the feeling of being a teenager and not knowing what to do or who to be or how to feel about certain experiences. Definitely an under-rated, under-appreciated read. {My review}

The Second Persephone Book of Short Stories by various authors. I bought this book at the Persephone Bookshop in London when I visited my friends in England last summer, and had been saving it to read ever since. Finally this year I decided that there was no time like the present to read it, and I am so glad I did. This collection gave me a newfound appreciation for short stories and introduced me to so many writers that I had never heard of before. I especially liked reading the little bio of the writers in the back of the book. Would highly recommend for anyone looking to get into reading short stories! {My review}

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Every summer I choose a Big Book to read, and this summer The Count of Monte Cristo was it. This is one of the most exciting, gripping, plot-twisty classics I have ever read. Despite its length (all 1200 or so pages!) I was glued to the story and felt surprisingly emotional at the end. So glad I chose to read this thought-provoking, strangely charming classic in the midst of what was the oddest, most nerve-wracking summer. {My review}

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. There are several Patchett books I could have chosen for this list, but I decided to go with the one that started it all for me. Earlier in 2020 I listened to The Dutch House because it was new and looked interesting and Patchett’s name sounded vaguely familiar from seeing her books on library shelves. Several podcast interview episodes later, I was hooked on Patchett’s writing and life story (she is an author AND a bookshop owner?!?!). In addition to The Dutch House I also read This Is the Story of A Happy Marriage, What Now?, and Truth & Beauty. I am very, very excited to read more of Patchett’s work in 2021. {My review}

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion. During my last semester of college I was assigned to read Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, and it truly changed the way I look at so many different experiences and feelings. This summer I finally got around to reading my first novel by Didion and, as expected, it floored me. Didion’s writing is so raw and honest and blunt. There’s something about it that keeps pulling me back. I’m looking forward to reading much, much more of Didion’s work in the future.

Writers & Lovers by Lily King. Usually I’m not one for romances, so I didn’t expect to enjoy this book nearly as much as I did. Although this book sounds like (and is often marketed as) a romance, and although it certainly has romance in it, this novel struck me more as an exploration of main character’s selfhood as she struggles to make her way through her messy life. It was such an important reminder that all lives are messy, each in their own way.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Similar to Sourdough, I decided to listen to this audiobook on a whim because the blurb sounded intriguing. Not only is this one of the most bizarre novels that I have ever read, but it also tugged at my emotions in a way I did not expect. The less you know about this book at the start, the better–besides that it is strange, funny, charming, sweet, and so bizarrely wholesome.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of the best books I read in 2020. Despite all of the turmoil and chaos of these past 12 months, 2020 ended up being another great reading year.

How was 2020 for you in terms of reading? What’s the best book you read? Let me know in the comments below!

Wishing you all a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!




9 responses to “The best books I read in 2020”

  1. Great list! 84, Charing Cross Road and The Dutch House are both amazing.

    Sourdough has been on my TBR since it came out. Seeing it make your favourites makes me want to prioritize it!


  2. Books about books, bookshops or libraries are just my favourite. I’m also very intrigued by Sourdough. I saw it spoken about on BookTube so now I’m definitely going to have to give it a go! Happy New Year and I hope you have lots of amazing reads in 2021!


  3. Some amazing books on here Holly! I loved 82 Charing Cross Road too and The Dutch House has been sitting on my shelf a while. I’ll have to get on with that!
    Happy new year to you. All the best. X


  4. Great list, Holly! My favourite this year was Autoboyography, Priory of Orange Tree, Blood of Stars Duology, Eudora Honeysett and The War Widow. There are some more I loved but haven’t made a list yet. Happy New Year!


  5. Great list! I always forget about Sourdough, but I loved that book! And I’m planning on reading The Count of Monte Cristo next year, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much! Hopefully I will, too 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It was fun to read through this list because I haven’t read any of these yet.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Awww, 84 Charing Cross Road is just the best love letter to books! Picking a Big Book for summer is a good idea, I might try that next year (and The Count of Monte Cristo is a candidate).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I really like The Count of Monte Cristo, those others look interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Charming yet bizarre is definitely a great way to describe Sourdough. 😀 Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

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About ME, Holly

former english major, current twenty-something book lover, allergic to nuts. drop me a line at or on instagram.


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