The 2020 Top Ten!

I think we can all agree that 2020 sucked, right?  Well, if there are any positives to be gained from this garbage fire of a year it’s that I had more time than ever to read.  As of this writing, I have read 95 books!  I’m hoping to get to 100 before January 1st (which I am confident I can do).  That being said, here are what I consider the best books I read in 2020!

(I reserve the right to add some more honorable mentions should I read something exceptional before the year is out.. which I can totally do.. because it’s my blog).


The Kingdom – Jo Nesbo

The Kingdom – Jo Nesbo (2020)

Jo Nesbo’s THE KINGDOM completely blew me away this year.   His novel about deeply buried secrets and the unbreakable bonds we forge with our siblings has earned its spot amongst my favorite fiction of 2020.

A Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts – Paul Tremblay (2015)

Paul Tremblay’s 2015 novel, A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS, had me gripped from beginning to end – and what an ending it was!  The novel’s finale completely destroyed me and wouldn’t leave my head for days.

Blacktop Wasteland – S.A. Cosby

Blacktop Wasteland – S.A. Cosby (2020)

Cosby’s gritty southern novel about a career criminal forced back into the game was a big surprise for me in 2020.  Cosby’s blistering take on the getaway driver who will do anything to protect his family is one of 2020’s best novels.

The Dirty South – John Connolly

The Dirty South – John Connolly (2020)

Believe it or not, the eighteenth novel in Connolly’s Parker series is a perfect book for new readers.  Connolly takes Parker back to his early days, before the events of the first novel, when Parker didn’t hold back his anger quite as well as he would learn to do in the future.

The Likeness – Tana French

The Likeness – Tana French (2008)

The second installment in her critically acclaimed Dublin Murder Squad series sees Cassie Maddox go undercover in a house filled with college hipsters to find out why their flatmate Lexie was found dead.  The twist?  Cassie is a dead-ringer for the now deceased Lexie and the residents now seeing Cassie, believe her to be Lexie.  The premise is beyond ridiculous, but French makes it work.  Excellent stuff.

Honorable mentions: Broken – Don Winslow (2020), Dead Girl Blues – Lawrence Block (2020), Cascade – Craig Davidson (2020), Strange Planet – Nathan Pyle (2020)


The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 – Garrett M. Graff

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 – Garrett M. Graff (2019)

Garrett M. Graff captures the chaos, death and tragedy perpetrated on that early September day.  This book shook me to my core and had me in tears on more than a few occasions.  An unbelievable work of non-fiction that was the best book I read in 2020.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea – Barbara Demick

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea – Barbara Demick (2009)

Barbara Demick offered something rarely seen – a glimpse into the secluded nation of North Korea.  I always knew it was bad in North Korea, but nothing could have prepared me for what I learned through Demick’s reporting.  Reading about the famine that took place between 1994 and 1998 crushed me.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons From The Crematory – Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory – Caitlin Doughty (2014)

Caitlin Doughty’s journey from an entry level position in a funeral home to one day running her own was endlessly interesting and entertaining.  Not enough people talk about what happens to us after we die, so we find the whole ordeal difficult to understand.  Caitlin does her best to pull back the curtain and educate her audience.

Burke’s Law: A Life in Hockey – Brian Burke (with Stephen Brunt)

Burke’s Law: A Life in Hockey – Brian Burke (with Stephen Brunt) (2020)

This is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable memoirs I’ve ever read.  Having held just about every job imaginable within the world of hockey, Brian tells you his life story like you’re sitting down with him knocking back a few beers.  Cannot recommend this one enough.

A Promised Land – Barack Obama

A Promised Land – Barack Obama (2020)

In the first of two volumes, Barack Obama brings the reader inside his political life as both a state and United States senator and ultimately, the highest office in the land.  Ending just after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Obama is surprisingly candid when speaking about the biggest moments within his first term.  Funny, too.

Honorable mentions: We Have Always Been Here – Samra Habib (2019), Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland – Patrick Radden Keefe (2018), Solutions & Other Problems – Allie Brosh (2020), From the Ashes – Jesse Thistle (2019)

2 thoughts on “The 2020 Top Ten!

  1. Very impressive list. The Only Plane In The Sky seems like a book that would be hard to put down. Also Brian Burke’s book sounds like it would be very insightful regarding the whole business of hockey.

    • Thank you! Both were excellent reads. I can’t recommend The Only Plane in the Sky enough. Brian Burke’s memoir was such a breath of fresh air from the sometimes cookie-cutter style of other sports memoirs.

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