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  • Writer's pictureZoe

The Best Books I Read in 2020

It's officially 2021!

Whether you watched the ball drop or fell asleep a little too early, we're now in a brand-new year. Maybe you're reflecting on the unexpected perks of 2020...or just celebrating that it's a fresh year with a fresh start. Either way, you can't do 2021 without books!

In this post, I'm recapping some of my top reads of 2020. These picks are the perfect way to start out your new Goodreads Reading Challenge or work on your New Year's resolution.

Without further ado, seven of my favorite books I read in 2021!

Winner in: Philosophical Fiction

If your New Years Resolution was to: challenge your mind...

This book will keep you turning the pages but also push you to think of the world in new and different ways.

Amazon description:

One day fourteen-year-old Sophie Amundsen comes home from school to find in her mailbox two notes, with one question on each: "Who are you?" and "Where does the world come from?" From that irresistible beginning, Sophie becomes obsessed with questions that take her far beyond what she knows of her Norwegian village. Through those letters, she enrolls in a kind of correspondence course, covering Socrates to Sartre, with a mysterious philosopher, while receiving letters addressed to another girl. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up? To unravel this riddle, Sophie must use the philosophy she is learning―but the truth turns out to be far more complicated than she could have imagined.

Winner in: Cozy Read

If your New Years Resolution was to: be more content...

When all her friends leave for college, Emily has to learn how to be happy with her situation. The relatable heroine Emily teaches important lessons about pulling up your bootstraps and finding joy.

Amazon description: This standalone novel by the author of the beloved Betsy-Tacy series, Emily of Deep Valley is set in Betsy Ray's Deep Valley and tells the story of a young woman who longs to go off to college following her high school graduation, but whose family commitments demand she stay close to home. Resigning herself to a "lost winter," Emily nonetheless throws herself into a new program of study and a growing interest in the local Syrian immigrant community, and when she meets a handsome new teacher at the high school, gains more than she ever dreamed possible.

Winner in: Memoir

If your New Years Resolution was to: love yourself (and your story)...

This painfully honest memoir will tug on your heartstrings and inspire you to own what makes you you and create balance.

Amazon description:

All her life, Andie Mitchell had eaten lustily and mindlessly. Food was her babysitter, her best friend, her confidant, and it provided a refuge from her fractured family. But when she stepped on the scale on her twentieth birthday and it registered a shocking 268 pounds, she knew she had to change the way she thought about food and herself; that her life was at stake.

It Was Me All Along takes Andie from working class Boston to the romantic streets of Rome, from morbidly obese to half her size, from seeking comfort in anything that came cream-filled and two-to-a-pack to finding balance in exquisite (but modest) bowls of handmade pasta. This story is about much more than a woman who loves food and abhors her body. It is about someone who made changes when her situation seemed too far gone and how she discovered balance in an off-kilter world. More than anything, though, it is the story of her finding beauty in acceptance and learning to love all parts of herself.

If your New Years Resolution was to: read harder books...

If you wanted to push yourself in 2021, why not pick up a book that won a Pulitzer Prize? But don't think awarded means boring...this novel is definitely a page turner.

Amazon description:

A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink.

Winner in: Humor

If your New Years Resolution was to: have more fun...

You'll laugh out loud at the mishaps lovable Patty gets into and be inspired to live your life a little bigger.


The author of Daddy Long-Legs creates another hilarious heroine in Patty, a schoolgirl who can't help but get into scrapes. Patty stirs up trouble at her all-girls school, challenging harsh teachers, pranking her friends, and discovering fascinating new neighbors. Reading like a collection of short stories, Just Patty is the light-hearted book we need this year.

Winner in: Childrens'

If your New Years Resolution was to: empathize with others...

This touching story of a Japanese-American family during World War II will show you a new perspective and empathize with the characters. (This is a great read-aloud for older elementary and middle school students)

Amazon description:

World War II has ended, but while America has won the war, twelve-year-old Hanako feels lost. To her, the world, and her world, seems irrevocably broken. America, the only home she's ever known, imprisoned then rejected her and her family...because of their Japanese heritage, because Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Japan...where they were supposed to start new and better lives, is in shambles because America dropped bombs of their own--one on Hiroshima unlike any other in history. And Hanako's grandparents live in a small village just outside the ravaged city...but how can Hanako help them when there is not even enough food for her own brother?

Hanako feels she could crack under the pressure, but just because something is broken doesn't mean it can't be fixed. Cracks can make room for gold, her grandfather explains when he tells her about the tradition of kintsukuroi--fixing broken objects with gold lacquer, making them stronger and more beautiful than ever. As she struggles to adjust to find her place in a new world, Hanako will find that the gold can come in many forms, and family may be hers.

Winner in: Wanderlust

If your New Years Resolution was to: travel more...

If you've spent the last year dreaming of places to travel to, this book is for you. Whether or not you'll be jet-setting this year, you can travel the best literary spots in New York through the pages of this book.

Amazon description:

A Booklover's Guide to New York is a love letter to everything literary in New York City. It is a book all about books...

Rediscover New York in the most fashionably literate way: whether you are in need of an exceptionally rare edition of your favorite novel (perhaps to be found in the dark and musty backroom of The Center for Fiction), or the most tranquil place to devour a short story on a wintry day (an empty underground food court in a Midtown skyscraper), or if you are looking to follow in the footsteps of a beloved author or novella character (like Capote's Grady and Clyde in Central Park Zoo), this will be your ultimate companion.

Part guide, part sophisticated scrapbook and part desirable object, A Booklover's Guide to New York is an absolute must for any book-savvy person--the young bookworm or old scholar, the visiting tourist or homegrown New Yorker, the aspiring writer or doting parent.

What was the best book you read in 2020? Let me know in the comments! Ciao, Zoe.

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